8 Ways To Make Money From Your Book Before Landing a Publisher

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You can start turning a profit on your manuscript even before you’ve landed the book deal that gets your words to the shelves.
Updated May 13, 2024
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If you’re serious about making a living through writing, you have to find time to write while still earning extra income to support yourself. Writing a book can be a years-long process, and you might not see a cent of income until you’ve secured a book deal with a publisher.

But did you know it’s possible to make money off your words before you pitch a single book idea to a publisher? Here are eight ways you can start turning a profit on your writing career, whether you’ve already secured a book deal or not.

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Launch your own marketing campaign

undrey/Adobe working on new website design

You don’t have to wait for a publisher to start hyping your book. Spreading the word about your book — in your own way and on your own time — is a great way to get an audience excited about your book well before it launches.

It also ensures you’re in control of how to market your book, something you won’t have much of a say in once you’re working with a publisher.

Find podcasts willing to interview a homegrown novelist and schedule a recording session. Turn your social media platforms into book advertisements. Or consider paying a few dollars to advertise your book on Facebook. Every little bit of publicity helps.

Hire a cover artist

snowing12/Adobe woman choosing color swatch samples

In the world of publishing, you have to spend money to make money. If you plan to run ads and promote your book on social media, you’ll need a visual representation of your book — and if you aren’t a visual artist yourself, that means commissioning a freelance cover from an artist you trust.

Once you have a cover, you can more clearly communicate your vision for the book to your target audience. Most importantly, your ad content will be more engaging.

Pitch yourself as a coach

nenetus/Adobe making a video conference

Maybe you don’t have a published novel under your belt yet, but if you’ve put words on a page, you’re way ahead of plenty of aspiring authors. 

If you’re passionate about encouraging others to reach their own literary expectations, setting up a coaching business can help you turn a profit while further cementing your writing expertise.

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Appeal directly to your audience through crowdfunding

alvaro/Adobe iphone screen showing patreon app

If you know your audience will love the book you’re midway through writing, why not cut out the middleman and appeal directly to your readers for financial backing? Sites like Kickstarter, Patreon, and Ko-fi let readers support their favorite content creators on a one-time or recurring basis, no official publishing deal required.

Create subscription-based content

N Lawrenson/peopleimages.com/Adobe working on web project

One great way to keep an interested audience reading? Self-publish your content a bit at a time through a service like Substack, Patreon, or even weekly Tumblr updates. You’ll build up anticipation while creating a tuned-in audience, always eager for the next bit of content.

Find a freelance writing or editing gig

deagreez/Adobe writing a composition for essay

Writing while holding down a 40-hour-a-week job doesn’t offer the flexibility most writers need to produce enough content for a novel. Freelance writing might not have the financial security of a regular nine-to-five, but it lets you control your own schedule — which means it frees up time for you to work on your passion projects.

Plus, freelance writing or editing means writing for a living. Every sentence you write in your freelance career helps you hone your writing skills. It also helps you build a financial foundation you can rely on as you cement your book-writing career.

Boost other books on your own site

terovesalainen/Adobe networking site in laptop screen

Other aspiring authors need a helping hand as much as you do. Promoting others’ books on your own website — by writing a review, sharing a publishing announcement, or hosting a sidebar ad — means you’re actively contributing to a community of writers you can turn to for help when you need it.

It can also earn you a little ad revenue in the form of an affiliate link to your fellow author’s book on Amazon. And if you agree to promote a friend’s book for free, that gives you a favor to call upon the next time you need promotion for your project.

Find speaking engagements

bnenin/Adobe businesswoman giving the lecture

Podcasting might be the easiest way to get the word out about your book in an audio medium, but it’s not the only way. 

Good old-fashioned face-to-face workshops, lectures, and speaking engagements can be a solid way to build your brand. Consider promoting a webcast or lecture series where you teach others everything you know about writing.

Bottom line

nikkimeel/Adobe college student looking at camera

Making money off your book before finding a publisher to hear your elevator pitch is a lot of work, but it’s doable and can help you stretch your paycheck further

Plus, depending on how successful you are at freelancing and marketing, you might be able to sit back and wait for the publishing houses to come to you.

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Author Details

Michelle Smith Michelle Smith has spent a decade writing for and about small businesses. She specializes in all things finance and has written for publications like G2 and SmallBizDaily. When she's not writing for work at her desk, you can usually find her writing for pleasure near large bodies of water.

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