This is my first short book, it wrote it to give social awareness.

But I would also like to make some money (to avoid dying of hunger).

Any suggestions?

  • 7
    Sell it to your Mom. Could you define "easy", "fast" and "short"? Commented Mar 12, 2011 at 15:40
  • 3
    Easy and fast money in writing? Hm...time to read some biographies of famous authors - I'd start with Dostoevsky.
    – justkt
    Commented Jul 27, 2011 at 13:03
  • 1
    I can show you how, but it will cost you. Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 9:49

7 Answers 7


Easy and fast money in publishing? I'll teach you all the secrets for the low, low price of $99.95.

Just visit: www.its-gonna-be-a-cold-day-in-hell.com

Sorry for the harsh sarcasm, but there aren't any shortcuts.

If you're looking for marketing advice, it would be more helpful if you could describe the specifics of your book: the topic, its intended audience, etc.

If you’re planning on a career as an author, assume that it will take you at least 10 years before publishing books will sustain you financially (if ever). In the meantime, you will need your “day job” to support you. You could take on freelance writing assignments to earn some extra cash, but that won’t count as “fast and easy,” either. Writing is a long-term investment, and by attempting to take shortcuts will do a huge disservice to your book and your writing career.

  • I had to upvote just cause it made me laugh. =P Commented Mar 12, 2011 at 18:10
  • @Ralph ditto ;-) Commented Mar 12, 2011 at 19:16
  • You are making the assumption that traditional print publishing is the only way to sell a book. E-books are now outselling paperback and hardback books all across the board, and it is very easy to create and sell an e-book. It's time to start thinking outside the box! Commented Jul 22, 2011 at 4:15
  • 1
    @StevenDrennon: For a beginning/amateur writer publishing an e-book is a very common and very viable way to earn some small amount of money. It's a long, long way from earning one a living though.
    – SF.
    Commented Apr 2, 2015 at 22:50

Publishing and writing is not a get rich quick scheme. If you're looking to make a lot of money very quickly, give up now and find a new profession. Writing and publishing take a lot of time and a lot of effort.

  • 4
    I blame The Sims 3 game for making people believe you can make loads of quick money by writing books.
    – iajrz
    Commented Mar 12, 2011 at 16:11
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    @iajrz - I think it's more that they suddenly see an author they never heard of make a million on a book. What appears to them as an 'overnight' success is actually the result of decades of work, but they don't see any of that. Commented Jul 28, 2011 at 11:55

While there are various venues and services which make it possible for you to make a bit of money off your book, it is unlikely in the extreme that you actually will. The only way any of these services will return any significant cash is if your book becomes wildly, extravagantly popular - which is unlikely to happen unless you've got an amazingly good book and some superb marketing and advertising. And probably not even then.

Or look at it this way: how many free, online books, providing some sort of revenue to their author, have you had occasion to read? Assume that's average for readers and web-surfers. Now, what's the odds they'll be reading your book specifically? Please note that if your answer to the first part of the question was "zero," then so is the answer to the second part.

In general, the only way for self-published works to achieve any financial success is with a lot of self-promotion. (This makes sense - after all, who would promote your book but the people who would benefit from its success? If you're publishing yourself, nobody's promoting your book but you.) That's hard work, and returns are dubious at best. Selling your work to a publisher is basically convincing somebody else to take this risk - and a lot of the responsibilities of marketing and production, and some creative control over the book - in return for guaranteed income. You wouldn't expect all that to be necessary if somebody could really make money simply by posting the story online according to some simple, revenue-generating process, would you?

In conclusion, I suggest you publish your book online, and make a few bucks babysitting or flipping burgers. As Ralph answered more succinctly, there is no way to make fast, easy money by writing, save by miraculous serendipity and/or acts of god.


You can self-publish your book as an e-book using Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing, and it doesn't cost a penny. You can also create an e-book at Smashwords.com, again at no cost to you.

The advantage of Smashwords is that they will allow you to set the price as free, while Amazon will not. You can also establsih a price at Smashwords and then generate a coupon code that you can use to send out to selected recipients so that they can download it for free, while others still have to pay for it.

The number you sell and how fast they sell will depend on a number of factors, such as how well the book is written and how much promotion you put into it. You may not ever sell enough to get rich, but if you sell only a few, it will still be more than you sold with the book just sitting on your computer.

  • 1
    You're pushing self-publishing pretty hard, Steven, but I looked at your Amazon numbers, and I'm glad you're pleased with them, but they're really not good by most standards. There are certainly some success stories that have come out of self-pubbed books, but they remain the exception rather than the rule. IF the only option is to leave a book on your computer, and IF you aren't trying to build a name for writing quality, then, sure, try self-pub. But it's still not what a lot of people are looking for.
    – Kate S.
    Commented Jul 26, 2011 at 20:08
  • I don't mean to be pushing at all, I just feel that this is something that is being overlooked as an option. As far as my personal numbers, they aren't at all where I would like them, but I'm not doing anything to promote them. I am part of a writer's group with over 300 active, self-published e-book authors who are doing MUCH better than me, mostly because they ARE promoting. Also, I have six books that I published under a pen name that ARE doing much better because they ARE being promoted. BTW - I resent the implication that self-published e-books lack "writing quality"! Commented Jul 26, 2011 at 20:42
  • 1
    Well, they don't automatically lack quality, but I think a lot of people self-publish because they couldn't get the books published in the traditional way. Now, maybe the books are just not 'popular' somehow, but often, it's because they aren't good. I don't mean to say that ALL self-published books suck, and I haven't read any of your work, so I certainly don't mean to criticize it specifically.
    – Kate S.
    Commented Jul 27, 2011 at 1:54
  • I belong to two other writer's groups/forums, each with over 300 very active members. Both of these groups are admittedly slanted towards self-publishing. I have reposted some of these same questions to those groups, and some of my answers reflected the group consensus from those sites. I have been trying to get some of those members to come over here to participate in the hopes of helping to get this site out of beta. So far, I have had 29 people who have told me they would never consider it because they feel it is "too formal", "too judgemental", and "out of touch with current trends". Commented Jul 27, 2011 at 13:53
  • There are definitely a lot of people who self-publish who seem very happy with the experience. I think that's great, but I think it's also great when beginning writers have the support of a publisher's editing, marketing, and distribution expertise. Self-publishing MAY be the way of the future, but I think it's still a gamble. I'm hoping to self-publish some of my work as an experiment, but I have an audience built up from more traditionally published work (not that I'm a star, at all). It's an exciting time to be a writer.
    – Kate S.
    Commented Jul 27, 2011 at 16:14

Disclaimer: My background is not in stories or novels. I deal with information products. So everything here comes from that perspective.

I am not certain what you mean by "short" so I can't use that to give any information. A more specific question would be much more helpful. "What specific steps could I take to monetize my 25,000 word novel?" or something like that. You said it would be available for download so I am assuming it's an eBook.

This sounds like a marketing question to me. If I were asking this question, the answer I would be looking for would be tactical. Something I could do right now.

Make certain that your are trying to sell, your product, is of the highest quality you are realistically capable of producing. Give it an honest look. Would you buy it? If you wouldn't pay for it, why should someone else?


Consider your goals. You mentioned specifically that social awareness was a key goal. If that is the direction you are going it may make the most sense to give it away. You don't have to rely on direct purchase for monetization, and it some cases that will hurt your goal of social awareness. Before you move on to the tactics you need to know how you are going to monetize your eBook.


I'll try to quickly cover a couple of tactical approaches. These are all part of "self promotion strategies" and I highly suggest you Google that phrase for more ideas.

Family and Friends: The simplest tactic is to sell to family and friends, as is mentioned in other answers. Ask them for help spreading the word about your book.

Social Network: Reach out to your social network. Twitter, Facebook, blog followers, etc. Let them know what you're doing. Ask for help. You'd be amazed how much you help you can get just by asking.

Teaser Marketing: Get a particularly good couple of paragraphs that can stand alone and make the reader ask, "What's next?" Put those in a nicely formatted PDF that explains they are part of your eBook and how to get the rest of the eBook. Post them on your web page, facebook statuses, or anywhere else you have access to. Give it to your friends and family to give to people they know.

When you get done with all of that you might make absolutely nothing. Measure your results, figure out what worked and what didn't, and try new things. Nothing is guaranteed to work, and there is no easy quick fix. There is NO replacing hard work on the road to success. Good luck!

I just joined the site today so I hope my answer isn't out of bounds. Let me know if I screwed anything up.


Fastest and easiest to make the first couple bucks: Sell to your family and friends, get them to recommend them. Post them on a Site and work some SEO on it. Offer the capacity for reading it online and place ads on the site.

ProjectWonderful works great for this, 'cause they pay you by second a person is in the page of the ad. Spread the word actively so that people get to your site and read, therefore translating that into money. It's basically the scheme used by many webcomic writers.

Something else you can do, if you plan on writing a lot of short stories, is selling merchandise relative to your work (I know of some webcomic guys who make a living this way, selling through topatoco).

Please, do work on it and post an answer with whatever worked for you.


It's unclear what kind of book you feel comfortable writing.

My first suggestion (for nonfiction) is to pick a niche subject that nobody knows about and which people might want to search out by subject matter. Of course, that involves identifying worthy subjects to study.

For fiction, it's going to require a lot more work to differentiate your writing, but the idea of trying to create and dominate a niche is a sound one. To use an absurd (and slightly offensive) example, check out the fiction for Chuck Tingle. He's a hack, but a very clever (and funny) one, but he delivers what he promises -- naughty, funny short gay fiction with a scandalous title and cover art. UPDATE: I wish to make it clear that I don't endorse Tingle's fiction -- it probably stinks -- but he's making good money writing short ebooks. Surely one should aim higher; dominating a niche doesn't guarantee literary or commercial success, but it's a decent strategy for starting out.

For fiction, the key is publishing frequently enough to build an audience....

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