• Michael Linsin

Can You Really Make a Living Writing Books?

"Writing books can open doors of opportunity, but you can't make a living at it."

I've heard this statement a lot over the years, and I know it to be untrue. Because, you see, writing just six books - and three e-guides - over the past twelve years has been my primary source of income.

And not just skimping by.

I more than double my yearly income as a public school teacher year after year - despite it still being a side gig. I put in about 6-8 hours of work per week at Smart Classroom Management in order to grow and engage my readers and drive sales. That's it. It's hard work, to be sure, but it isn't long hours.

I don't say this impress you. I say it to show you what is possible and to point out that the naysayers are wrong. If you like to write and feel you have something important to say to the world, then you can make a good living at it. However, there are a few things you should be aware of.

1. You must grow your blog.

If I didn't have Smart Classroom Management as a platform for my ideas, I wouldn't sell many books. You must have a way to become known in your field. Some writers try to do this through Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram. But to me, it makes more sense as a writer to allow readers to sample your work through blogging.

2. You must be the publisher.

I have a few foreign publishers that own the rights to my books in other languages. I don't make much money from them. I get an advance from between $1500 - $3500 and 5-7% of the earnings. Even based on the number English-version books I sell, it's not enough to earn a living. You must be the publisher. This way, you can take home between 55 - 90% of the retail price of your books.

3. You must take advantage of every income stream.

When someone clicks through my website to buy one of my books on Amazon, as an associate I earn an extra percentage on my books as well as everything else the customer buys at Amazon - even big ticket items like computers and furniture. I also have audio and Kindle versions of my books and distribution to bookstores all over the world. The idea is to take every opportunity to increase your bottom line.

4. You must be consistent.

I've written a blog post every week for the past twelve years. The main reason is that I like to help teachers succeed. It gives me great joy. So I try to write something valuable every week. But I'm also aware that fresh content continually reminds readers that I'm here and my books and guides are always available to help at a deeper, more complete level.


I hope I didn't give the impression that blogging and making money writing books is easy. It's not. Although I don't put in a lot of hours, it takes daily dedication, near-constant thinking and strategizing, and laser focus.

You have to be all in for a long period of time.

I also want to point out that I made very little money my first few years. It wasn't until my sixth year of writing that I was able to match my teaching salary. You must also have a love and passion for your subject, a unique and valuable perspective, and a dedication to excellence.

Your books have to look like they were designed, edited, and written by professionals. They must be able to compete with the large publishing houses. The key is to get better every week. Put in the work and you'll be a pro eventually.

Never give up. Fight for what you want. And you'll get there.

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