Writing a book seems to have become easier nowadays than ever before. In years past it seemed as if writing books was for a select few. These days more and more people are writing books. There is an endless list of niches in which people are writing books. The big question though is whether or not writing books is a lucrative venture. It is not quite clear-cut to say that it is a yes or no answer. The truth is that it can be either of the two. With that said it is vital to discuss why I am saying that.

Location And Reach Dynamics

When you look at it seems lucrative book writing is a tall order in Zimbabwe and Africa in general. When you look at the top millionaire and billionaire book writers, they are not in Africa. Some notable examples are James Patterson who has written 200 books, sold over 300 million copies and has a net worth of US$600 million. Stephen King has written 100 books, sold over 350 million copies, and has a net worth of US$400 million. Dan Brown has written at least 10 books, sold over 200 million copies, and has a net worth of US$178 million. Then we have JK Rowling (the Harry Potter author) who now has a net worth of over US$1 billion.

So you will notice that authors in developed countries stand a better chance of making it big. It stems from them having an enabling environment and culture that rewards good books. That is not the case this side where there is a questionable reading culture. They also have access to frameworks that enable them to have a global reach too. For instance, they have publishing houses that have a global reach. This side the story is quite different.

If one is to make significant money from writing books this side they have to do more. Consider Zimbabwe for example, already we have a small population. Then bring the poor reading culture into the fold and the prospective pool gets smaller. Add in how less likely people are to buy books then the pool gets even smaller. You then realize that the prospect of making money from writing a book here requires you to go regional, continental, and global.

Writing, Publishing And Selling A Book Can Be Costly

We cannot turn a blind eye to how costly it is to ultimately get a book in someone’s hands. Typically you will have to sign up with a reputable publishing house. You will have to pay some money for that and once they publish it they will get a percentage of the sales. This all compromises your ability to make significant money. No wonder why pushing volumes would increase the likelihood of making significant money.

If your book is not bought in droves then your chances will be quite slim. Bear in mind also that after realising a book there is need for book signing tours to maximize on sales. That all costs money and given how I said you must go beyond Zimbabwe that will be costly. Overall, given the several limiting characteristics of our Zimbabwean operating environment, the costs are extremely high.

Rethink The Approach

Physical And Electronic Copies

Given the dynamics I have just been explaining I can suggest that you rethink the approach. Instead of writing a book that will need to be physically published, why not diversify? I mean that you should explore two avenues namely, physical copies and electronic copies. That can significantly expand your possible reach especially on the online front. It is far less costly to put a book out there using online means. For example, you can get your book on Amazon Kindle and start realizing money without dealing with publishing houses. Even at a basic level you can sell online using social media platforms and messaging platforms like WhatsApp.

I remember in 2019 someone said something to me that got me thinking. They know I am a writer so they asked me when I would be writing my first book. I had never quite given that thought but they posited something interesting. They said, “Suppose you write a short yet relevant e-book on any topic – probably business and finance. Then you sell it for just a mere US$1. If you push it well by the end of a year you can make over US$100000.”

That got me thinking for sure and the model can actually work and presently I am working on some e-books. So in using a different approach, I think exploring e-books can be a worthy consideration. I also mentioned Amazon Kindle; it is also a worthy approach as well. Overall, considering both physical copies and electronic copies can increase the chances of lucrativeness.

Self-Publishing Can Be The Answer

Using a publishing house is of course costly. It even depends with the publishing house in question too. Some publishing houses are not well-equipped to get your book to as many people. Thus there is both a risk factor and a cost factor. Thanks to widespread advancements you can now self-publish. This means you can now publish a book without the use of a publishing house. There are many people across the world that have become millionaires through self-publishing books or e-books. You will of course have to rigorously ensure your books are proof-read and fact-checked amongst other things. The bottom line is that it is possible to self-publish nowadays and it is worth considering.

So, is writing books a lucrative venture? The answer is yes or no. It really depends on quite a number of variables some of which I highlighted in this article. I even feel there is still a lot of untapped potential in the Zimbabwe book industry. The industry needs to be redressed, tweaked, and streamlined to be abreast with 21st-century dynamics. Lastly, food for thought – it might be more lucrative to breakdown what could have been a book into articles, smaller topic-based books or e-books, journals, research papers, and what nought. That could be more lucrative? What do you think?