It is not everyone's intention to become an author. Tucker Max became one by accident.
After he graduated from law school, his friends moved to different cities. He stayed in contact with his friends by writing emails about his drunk, stupid acts. His friends found those emails funny, which encouraged them to forward them to others.
Tucker's emails became quite popular and eventually became the book, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. The book was traditionally published by a small publisher.
It took the #26 spot on the NY Times Bestseller list within the first week of its launch.
Many authors aspire to have the NY Times Bestselling Author title. Some of them believe that winning a spot on that list will bring them five figure speaking fees and six figure book deals.
It is possible to become a millionaire from writing books. Although, it is not very likely anymore.
James Patterson is the world's bestselling author, selling over 350 million books worldwide. He is worth $95 million and among the few authors worth 10+ million dollars.
From the 1 to 10 million dollar range, the author pool widens a bit. However, it is still small compared to the total number of authors.
Then, there is the group of authors that fall within the six figure range. That author pool widens a bit more. Although, it is still small compared to the total number of authors.
So, you are probably wondering the average salary of an author nowadays. According to last year's numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for an American author is $60,250. The top 10% are making at least $114,530 a year.
Unfortunately, many first-time authors do not earn the median annual salary because they are not consistently promoting their books.
Having the NY Times Bestselling Author title attached to your name can help your career. It does not deliver any guarantees though.
Although, if your book remains on the NY Times list for months or even years, the book's success increases significantly.
I Hope They Serve The Beer in Hell was on the NY Times list for the first two weeks of the book launch. Then, it did not reappear on the list until 18 months later.
I asked Tucker about some of his strategies that helped put the book back on the NY Times list for five years. He stated that he had a large email list, which he attributed as the main factor for his success.
Tucker used email to fuel his word of mouth marketing campaign. This tactic initially got him a book contract. So, he just did the same thing to become a NY Times Bestselling Author.
Is it possible for an author's book to be just as successful without being a NY Times bestseller?
Absolutely! In fact, there are many books that sold more copies than short life NY Times bestsellers (books lasting only a few weeks on the list).
James Altucher's Choose Yourself did not make the NY Times Bestseller list because it was a self-published book. However, the book sold 500,000 copies, which still outsells most NY Times bestsellers.
None of Mark Dawson's books made the NY Times list either, but he does not seem to be worried. Why not? Well, Amazon pays him $450,000 a year. The average NY Times bestselling author is nowhere close to earning that much in book royalties per year.
Making the NY Times list may be like winning a gold medal, but it is not the only noteworthy list. There are others like the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller list. These lists would be more like a silver medal.
Although, it is worth noting that a bestseller does not always equal a commercial success. In my recent interview, Tucker revealed how authors are buying their way on the NY Times bestseller list, which shows that it is not a good measurement of a book's success.
"No bestseller list actually measures the bestselling books. They measure the books that are selling [well] in certain outlets." -Tucker Max (Co-Founder of Book in a Box)
The title, bestselling author (whether it is through the New York Times, USA Today, or Wall Street Journal) is just an accolade. It will probably not make you a millionaire.
A few months ago, I revealed the truth about the average author's earnings, comparing a traditional published author, an indie published author, and a self-published author.
Why do you want to be an author?
This is a question that Tucker asks many people. It is a legitimate question.
There are many responses to that question. Here are some common examples.
I want my book to help people.
This is a good intention. Some people write a book as a hobby and not even worried about the income potential. Other people want to make money from their book, but they realize that it starts with giving lots of value first.
I want to sell millions of copies and make millions of dollars.
This intention is not so good. The goal is possible, but it is also unlikely. People buy books based on the perceived value.
If your intention to make millions of dollars is your top priority, the content quality of the book will probably suffer as a result.
Also, if you are really passionate about your intention, people will notice it in your behavior. No one likes the aggressive salesman.
I want to establish myself as an expert in my niche.
This is a good intention. James Altucher advocates that a book is the best business card. Contrarily, Tucker calls it - the new college degree.
Either way, a book sets a great impression of you to others.
Let me ask you this question.
You are thinking about hiring a lawyer. Both have the same amount of experience and charge the same rates. However, one of them authored a book.
Which lawyer would you hire? If you are like me and most people, you are probably thinking that the lawyer with the book is the better choice.
I want to be famous.
This is an unrealistic intention. Only a few bestselling authors are famous. I am an international bestselling author and far from famous.
Do you really want fame? Do not write a book! Be an actor or musician instead.
I want my book to be a foundation for my consulting services, online courses, and seminars.
This is a good intention. If you are writing about a timely topic or already have a following, this business model can bring you clients forever.
"Most people do not want to write a book. They want what they think writing a book will get them.
Many people who want to write a book should not. It is not about the idea of the book. It is about the motivation behind the book. People should not write a book if they are doing it for the wrong reasons."
-Tucker Max (Co-Founder of Book in a Box)
So, why do you want to write a book?