How I made $160,000 from non-fiction books
I've sold over 40,000 non-fiction books on Amazon and made over $160,000 in six years while writing on the side.
I have a full-time job and three young sons; I can't spend 40 hours a week writing. This article describes my journey.
I write mainly tech books:
Thanks to my readers, many wrote positive evaluations. Several are bestsellers.
A few have been adopted by universities as textbooks:
My books' passive income allows me more time with my family.
Knowing I could quit my job and write full time gave me more confidence. And I find purpose in my work (i am in christian ministry).
I'm always eager to write. When work is a dread or something bad happens, writing gives me energy. Writing isn't scary. In fact, I can’t stop myself from writing!
Writing has also established my tech authority. Universities use my books, as I've said. Traditional publishers have asked me to write books.
These mindsets helped me become a successful nonfiction author:
1. You don’t have to be an Authority
Yes, I have computer science experience. But I'm no expert on my topics. Before authoring "Beginning Node.js, Express & MongoDB," my most profitable book, I had no experience with those topics. Node was a new server-side technology for me. Would that stop me from writing a book? It can. I liked learning a new technology. So I read the top three Node books, took the top online courses, and put them into my own book (which makes me know more than 90 percent of people already).
I didn't have to worry about using too much jargon because I was learning as I wrote. An expert forgets a beginner's hardship.
"The fellow learner can aid more than the master since he knows less," says C.S. Lewis. The problem he must explain is recent. The expert has forgotten.”
2. Solve a micro-problem (Niching down)
I didn't set out to write a definitive handbook. I found a market with several challenges and wrote one book. Ex:
- Instead of web development, what about web development using Angular?
- Instead of Blockchain, what about Blockchain using Solidity and React?
- Instead of cooking recipes, how about a recipe for a specific kind of diet?
- Instead of Learning math, what about Learning Singapore Math?
3. Piggy Backing Trends
The above topics may still be a competitive market. E.g. Angular, React. To stand out, include the latest technologies or trends in your book. Learn iOS 15 instead of iOS programming. Instead of personal finance, what about personal finance with NFTs.
Even though you're a newbie author, your topic is well-known.
4. Publish short books
My books are known for being direct. Many people like this:
Your reader will appreciate you cutting out the fluff and getting to the good stuff. A reader can finish and review your book.
Second, short books are easier to write. Instead of creating a 500-page book for $50 (which few will buy), write a 100-page book that answers a subset of the problem and sell it for less. (You make less, but that's another subject). At least it got published instead of languishing. Less time spent creating a book means less time wasted if it fails. Write a small-bets book portfolio like Daniel Vassallo!
Third, it's $2.99-$9.99 on Amazon (gets 70 percent royalties for ebooks). Anything less receives 35% royalties. $9.99 books have 20,000–30,000 words. If you write more and charge more over $9.99, you get 35% royalties. Why not make it a $9.99 book?
(This is the ebook version.) Paperbacks cost more. Higher royalties allow for higher prices.
5. Validate book idea
Amazon will tell you if your book concept, title, and related phrases are popular. See? Check its best-sellers list.
150,000 is preferable. It sells 2–3 copies daily. Consider your rivals. Profitable niches have high demand and low competition.
Don't be afraid of competitive niches. First, it shows high demand. Secondly, what are the ways you can undercut the completion? Better book? Or cheaper option? There was lots of competition in my NodeJS book's area. None received 4.5 stars or more. I wrote a NodeJS book. Today, it's a best-selling Node book.
So long. Part II follows. Meanwhile, I will continue to write more books!
Follow my journey on Twitter.
This post is a summary. Read full article here
More on Entrepreneurship/Creators
6 months ago
A simple go-to-market formula
“Poor distribution, not poor goods, is the main reason for failure” — Peter Thiel.
Here's an easy way to conceptualize "go-to-market" for your distribution plan.
One equation captures the concept:
Distribution = Ecosystem Participants + Incentives
Draw your customers' ecosystem. Set aside your goods and consider your consumer's environment. Who do they deal with daily?
First, list each participant. You want an exhaustive list, but here are some broad categories.
In-person media services
Financial education and banking
Draw influence arrows. Who's affected? I'm not just talking about Instagram selfie-posters. Who has access to your consumer and could promote your product if motivated?
The thicker the arrow, the stronger the relationship. Include more "influencers" if needed. Customer ecosystems are complex.
3. Incentivize ecosystem players. “Show me the incentive and I will show you the result.“, says Warren Buffet's business partner Charlie Munger.
Strong distribution strategies encourage others to promote your product to your target market by incentivizing the most prominent players. Incentives can be financial or non-financial.
Usually, there's money. If you pay Facebook, they'll run your ad. Salespeople close deals for commission. Giving customers bonus credits will encourage referrals.
Most businesses underuse non-financial incentives.
Motivate key influencers without spending money to expand quickly and cheaply. What can you give a client-connector for free?
Here are some ideas:
Are there any other features or services available?
Titles or status? Tinder paid college "ambassadors" for parties to promote its dating service.
Can I get early/free access? Facebook gave a select group of developers "exclusive" early access to their AR platform.
Are you a good host? Pharell performed at YPlan's New York launch party.
Distribution? Apple's iPod earphones are white so others can see them.
Have an interesting story? PR rewards journalists by giving them a compelling story to boost page views.
More time spent on distribution means more room in your product design and business plan. Once you've identified the key players in your customer's ecosystem, talk to them.
Money isn't your only resource. Creative non-monetary incentives may be more effective and scalable. Give people something useful and easy to deliver.
1 month ago
The Top 14 Software Business Ideas That Are Sure To Succeed in 2023
Software can change any company.
Software is becoming essential. Everyone should consider how software affects their lives and others'.
Software on your phone, tablet, or computer offers many new options. We're experts in enough ways now.
Software Business Ideas will be popular by 2023.
ERP software meets rising demand.
ERP solutions automate and monitor tasks that large organizations, businesses, and even schools would struggle to do manually.
ERP software could reach $49 billion by 2024.
CRM software is a must-have for any customer-focused business.
Having an open mind about your business services and products allows you to change platforms.
Another company may only want your CRM service.
Healthcare facilities need reliable, easy-to-use software.
EHRs, MDDBs, E-Prescribing, and more are software options.
The global medical software market could reach $11 billion by 2025, and mobile medical apps may follow.
Presentation Software in the Cloud
SaaS presentation tools are great.
They're easy to use, comprehensive, and full of traditional Software features.
In today's cloud-based world, these solutions make life easier for people. We don't know about you, but we like it.
Software for Project Management
People began working remotely without signs or warnings before the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.
Many organizations found it difficult to track projects and set deadlines.
With PMP software tools, teams can manage remote units and collaborate effectively.
App for Blockchain-Based Invoicing
This advanced billing and invoicing solution is for businesses and freelancers.
These blockchain-based apps can calculate taxes, manage debts, and manage transactions.
Intelligent contracts help blockchain track transactions more efficiently. It speeds up and improves invoice generation.
Software for Business Communications
Internal business messaging is tricky.
Top business software tools for communication can share files, collaborate on documents, host video conferences, and more.
Payroll Automation System
Software development also includes developing an automated payroll system.
These software systems reduce manual tasks for timely employee payments.
These tools help enterprise clients calculate total wages quickly, simplify tax calculations, improve record-keeping, and support better financial planning.
System for Detecting Data Leaks
Both businesses and individuals value data highly. Yahoo's data breach is dangerous because of this.
This area of software development can help people protect their data.
You can design an advanced data loss prevention system.
AI-based Retail System
AI-powered shopping systems are popular. The systems analyze customers' search and purchase patterns and store history and are equipped with a keyword database.
These systems offer many customers pre-loaded products.
AI-based shopping algorithms also help users make purchases.
Software for Detecting Plagiarism
Software can help ensure your projects are original and not plagiarized.
These tools detect plagiarized content that Google, media, and educational institutions don't like.
Software for Converting Audio to Text
Machine Learning converts speech to text automatically.
These programs can quickly transcribe cloud-based files.
Software for daily horoscopes
Daily and monthly horoscopes will continue to be popular.
Software platforms that can predict forecasts, calculate birth charts, and other astrology resources are good business ideas.
Traditional study methods are losing popularity as virtual schools proliferate and physical space shrinks.
Khan Academy online courses are the best way to keep learning.
Online education portals can boost your learning. If you want to start a tech startup, consider creating an e-learning program.
Software is booming. There's never been a better time to start a software development business, with so many people using computers and smartphones. This article lists eight business ideas for 2023. Consider these ideas if you're just starting out or looking to expand.
6 months ago
Ads Coming to Medium?
Could this happen?
Medium isn't like other social media giants. It wasn't a dot-com startup that became a multi-trillion-dollar social media firm. It launched in 2012 but didn't gain popularity until later. Now, it's one of the largest sites by web traffic, but it's still little compared to most. Most of Medium's traffic is external, but they don't run advertisements, so it's all about memberships.
Medium isn't profitable, but they don't disclose how terrible the problem is. Most of the $163 million they raised has been spent or used for acquisitions. If the money turns off, Medium can't stop paying its writers since the site dies. Writers must be paid, but they can't substantially slash payment without hurting the platform. The existing model needs scale to be viable and has a low ceiling. Facebook and other free social media platforms are struggling to retain users. Here, you must pay to appreciate it, and it's bad for writers AND readers. If I had the same Medium stats on YouTube, I'd make thousands of dollars a month.
Then what? Medium has tried to monetize by offering writers a cut of new members, but that's unsustainable. People-based growth is limited. Imagine recruiting non-Facebook users and getting them to pay to join. Some may, but I'd rather write.
Tiered subscriptions ($5, $10, $25, etc.)
and these may be short-term fixes, but they're not as profitable as allowing ads. Advertisements can pay several dollars per click and cents every view. If you get 40,000 views a month like me, that's several thousand instead of a few hundred. Also, Medium would have enough money to split ad revenue with writers, who would make more. I'm among the top 6% of Medium writers. Only 6% of Medium writers make more than $100, and I made $500 with 35,000 views last month. Compared to YouTube, the top 1% of Medium authors make a lot. Mr. Beast and PewDiePie make MILLIONS a month, yet top Medium writers make tens of thousands. Sure, paying 3 or 4 people a few grand, or perhaps tens of thousands, will keep them around. What if great authors leveraged their following to go huge on YouTube and abandoned Medium? If people use Medium to get successful on other platforms, Medium will be continuously cycling through authors and paying them to stay.
Ads might make writing on Medium more profitable than making videos on YouTube because they could preserve the present freemium model and pay users based on internal views. The $5 might be ad-free.
Consider: Would you accept Medium ads? A $5 ad-free version + pay-as-you-go, etc. What are your thoughts on this?
Original post available here
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10 months ago
War's Human Cost
War's Human Cost
I didn't start crying until I was outside a McDonald's in an Olempin, Poland rest area on highway S17.
Children pick toys at a refugee center, Olempin, Poland, March 4, 2022.
Refugee children, mostly alone with their mothers, but occasionally with a gray-haired grandfather or non-Ukrainian father, were coaxed into picking a toy from boxes provided by a kind-hearted company and volunteers.
I went to Warsaw to continue my research on my family's history during the Holocaust. In light of the ongoing Ukrainian conflict, I asked former colleagues in the US Department of Defense and Intelligence Community if it was safe to travel there. They said yes, as Poland was a NATO member.
I stayed in a hotel in the Warsaw Ghetto, where 90% of my mother's family was murdered in the Holocaust. Across the street was the first Warsaw Judenrat. It was two blocks away from the apartment building my mother's family had owned and lived in, now dilapidated and empty.
Building of my great-grandfather, December 2021.
A mass grave of thousands of rocks for those killed in the Warsaw Ghetto, I didn't cry when I touched its cold walls.
Warsaw Jewish Cemetery, 200,000–300,000 graves.
Mass grave, Warsaw Jewish Cemetery.
My mother's family had two homes, one in Warszawa and the rural one was a forest and sawmill complex in Western Ukraine. For the past half-year, a local Ukrainian historian had been helping me discover faint traces of her family’s life there — in fact, he had found some people still alive who remembered the sawmill and that it belonged to my mother’s grandfather. The historian was good at his job, and we had become close.
My historian friend, December 2021, talking to a Ukrainian.
With war raging, my second trip to Warsaw took on a different mission. To see his daughter and one-year-old grandson, I drove east instead of to Ukraine. They had crossed the border shortly after the war began, leaving men behind, and were now staying with a friend on Poland's eastern border.
I entered after walking up to the house and settling with the dog. The grandson greeted me with a huge smile and the Ukrainian word for “daddy,” “Tato!” But it was clear he was awaiting his real father's arrival, and any man he met would be so tentatively named.
After a few moments, the boy realized I was only a stranger. He had musical talent, like his mother and grandfather, both piano teachers, as he danced to YouTube videos of American children's songs dubbed in Ukrainian, picking the ones he liked and crying when he didn't.
Songs chosen by my historian friend's grandson, March 4, 2022
He had enough music and began crying regardless of the song. His mother picked him up and started nursing him, saying she was worried about him. She had no idea where she would live or how she would survive outside Ukraine. She showed me her father's family history of losses in the Holocaust, which matched my own research.
After an hour of drinking tea and trying to speak of hope, I left for the 3.5-hour drive west to Warsaw.
It was unlike my drive east. It was reminiscent of the household goods-filled carts pulled by horses and people fleeing war 80 years ago.
Jewish refugees relocating, USHMM Holocaust Encyclopaedia, 1939.
The carefully chosen trinkets by children to distract them from awareness of what is really happening and the anxiety of what lies ahead, made me cry despite all my research on the Holocaust. There is no way for them to communicate with their mothers, who are worried, absent, and without their fathers.
It's easy to see war as a contest of nations' armies, weapons, and land. The most costly aspect of war is its psychological toll. My father screamed in his sleep from nightmares of his own adolescent trauma in Warsaw 80 years ago.
Survivor father studying engineering, 1961.
In the airport, I waited to return home while Ukrainian public address systems announced refugee assistance. Like at McDonald's, many mothers were alone with their children, waiting for a flight to distant relatives.
That's when I had my worst trip experience.
A woman near me, clearly a refugee, answered her phone, cried out, and began wailing.
The human cost of war descended like a hammer, and I realized that while I was going home, she never would
5 months ago
Reasons Why AI-Generated Images Remind Me of Nightmares
AI images are like funhouse mirrors.
Google's AI Blog introduced the puppy-slug in the summer of 2015.
Puppy-slug isn't a single image or character. "Puppy-slug" refers to Google's DeepDream's unsettling psychedelia. This tool uses convolutional neural networks to train models to recognize dataset entities. If researchers feed the model millions of dog pictures, the network will learn to recognize a dog.
DeepDream used neural networks to analyze and classify image data as well as generate its own images. DeepDream's early examples were created by training a convolutional network on dog images and asking it to add "dog-ness" to other images. The models analyzed images to find dog-like pixels and modified surrounding pixels to highlight them.
Puppy-slugs and other DeepDream images are ugly. Even when they don't trigger my trypophobia, they give me vertigo when my mind tries to reconcile familiar features and forms in unnatural, physically impossible arrangements. I feel like I've been poisoned by a forbidden mushroom or a noxious toad. I'm a Lovecraft character going mad from extradimensional exposure. They're gross!
Is this really how AIs see the world? This is possibly an even more unsettling topic that DeepDream raises than the blatant abjection of the images.
When these photographs originally circulated online, many friends were startled and scandalized. People imagined a computer's imagination would be literal, accurate, and boring. We didn't expect vivid hallucinations and organic-looking formations.
DeepDream's images didn't really show the machines' imaginations, at least not in the way that scared some people. DeepDream displays data visualizations. DeepDream reveals the "black box" of convolutional network training.
Some of these images look scary because the models don't "know" anything, at least not in the way we do.
These images are the result of advanced algorithms and calculators that compare pixel values. They can spot and reproduce trends from training data, but can't interpret it. If so, they'd know dogs have two eyes and one face per head. If machines can think creatively, they're keeping it quiet.
You could be forgiven for thinking otherwise, given OpenAI's Dall-impressive E's results. From a technological perspective, it's incredible.
Arthur C. Clarke once said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Dall-magic E's requires a lot of math, computer science, processing power, and research. OpenAI did a great job, and we should applaud them.
Dall-E and similar tools match words and phrases to image data to train generative models. Matching text to images requires sorting and defining the images. Untold millions of low-wage data entry workers, content creators optimizing images for SEO, and anyone who has used a Captcha to access a website make these decisions. These people could live and die without receiving credit for their work, even though the project wouldn't exist without them.
This technique produces images that are less like paintings and more like mirrors that reflect our own beliefs and ideals back at us, albeit via a very complex prism. Due to the limitations and biases that these models portray, we must exercise caution when viewing these images.
The issue was succinctly articulated by artist Mimi Onuoha in her piece "On Algorithmic Violence":
As we continue to see the rise of algorithms being used for civic, social, and cultural decision-making, it becomes that much more important that we name the reality that we are seeing. Not because it is exceptional, but because it is ubiquitous. Not because it creates new inequities, but because it has the power to cloak and amplify existing ones. Not because it is on the horizon, but because it is already here.
1 month ago
Read These Books on Personal Finance to Boost Your Net Worth
And retire sooner.
Books can make you filthy rich.
If you apply what you learn. In 2011, I was broke and had broken dreams.
Someone suggested I read finance books. One Up On Wall Street was his first recommendation.
Finance books were my crack.
I've read every money book since then. Some are good, but most stink.
These books will make you rich.
The Almanack of Naval Ravikant by Eric Jorgenson
This isn't a cliche book.
This book was inspired by a How to Get Rich tweet thread.
It’s one of the best tweets I’ve ever read.
Naval thinks differently. He nukes ordinary ideas. I've never heard better money advice.
Eric Jorgenson wrote a book about this tweet thread with Navals permission. A must-read, easy-to-digest book.
Seek wealth, not money or status. Wealth is having assets that earn while you sleep. Money is how we transfer time and wealth. Status is your place in the social hierarchy — Naval
Morgan Housel's The Psychology of Money
Many finance books advise investing like a dunce.
They almost all peddle the buy an index fund BS. Different book.
It's about money-making psychology. Because any fool can get rich and drunk on their ego. Few can consistently make money.
Each chapter is short. A single-page chapter breaks all book publishing rules.
Spending money to show people how much money you have is the fastest way to have less money — Morgan Housel
J.L. Collins' The Simple Path to Wealth
Most of the best money books were written by bloggers.
JL Collins blogs. This easy-to-read book was written for his daughter.
This book popularized the phrase F You Money. With enough money in your bank account and investment portfolio, you can say F You more.
A bad boss is an example. You can leave instead of enduring his wrath.
You can then sit at home and look for another job while financially secure. JL says its mind-freedom is powerful.
You own the things you own and they in turn own you — J.L. Collins
Tony Robbins' Unshakeable
I like Tony. This book makes me sweaty.
Tony interviews the world's top financiers. He interviews people who rarely do so.
This book taught me all-weather portfolio. It's a way to invest in different asset classes in good, bad, recession, or depression times.
Look at it:
Investing isn’t about buying one big winner — that’s gambling. It’s about investing in a diversified portfolio of assets.
The best opportunities come in times of maximum pessimism — Tony Robbins
Ben Graham's The Intelligent Investor
This book helped me distinguish between a spectator and an investor.
Spectators are those who shout that crypto, NFTs, or XYZ platform will die.
Tourists. They want attention and to say "I told you so." They make short-term and long-term predictions like fortunetellers. LOL. Idiots.
Benjamin Graham teaches smart investing. You'll buy a long-term asset. To be confident in recessions, use dollar-cost averaging.
Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. — Benjamin Graham
The Napoleon Hill book Think and Grow Rich
This classic book introduced positive thinking to modern self-help.
Lazy pessimists can't become rich. No way.
Napoleon said, "Thoughts create reality."
No surprise that he discusses obsession and focus in this book. They are the fastest ways to make more money to invest in time and wealth-protecting assets.
The starting point of all achievement is DESIRE. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat — Napoleon Hill
Ramit Sethi's book I Will Teach You To Be Rich
This book is mostly good. The part about credit cards is trash.
Avoid credit card temptations. I don't care about their airline points.
This book teaches you to master money basics (that many people mess up) then automate it so your monkey brain doesn't ruin your financial future.
The book includes great negotiation tactics to help you make more money in less time.
The 85 Percent Solution: Getting started is more important than becoming an expert — Ramit Sethi
David Bach's The Automatic Millionaire
You've probably met a six- or seven-figure earner who's broke. All their money goes to useless things like cars.
Money isn't as essential as what you do with it. David teaches how to automate your earnings for more money.
Compounding works once investing is automated. So you get rich.
His strategy eliminates luck and (almost) guarantees millionaire status.
Every time you earn one dollar, make sure to pay yourself first — David Bach
Thomas J. Stanley's The Millionaire Next Door
Thomas defies the definition of rich.
He spends much of the book highlighting millionaire traits he's studied.
Rich people are quiet, so you wouldn't know they're wealthy. They don't earn much money or drive a BMW.
Thomas will give you the math to get started.
I am not impressed with what people own. But I’m impressed with what they achieve. I’m proud to be a physician. Always strive to be the best in your field…. Don’t chase money. If you are the best in your field, money will find you. — Thomas J. Stanley
by Bill Perkins "Die With Zero"
Let’s end with one last book.
Bill's book angered many people. He says we spend too much time saving for retirement and die rich. That bank money is lost time.
Your grandkids could use the money. When children inherit money, they become lazy, entitled a-holes.
Bill wants us to spend our money on life-enhancing experiences. Stop saving money like monopoly monkeys.
You should be focusing on maximizing your life enjoyment rather than on maximizing your wealth. Those are two very different goals. Money is just a means to an end: Having money helps you to achieve the more important goal of enjoying your life. But trying to maximize money actually gets in the way of achieving the more important goal — Bill Perkins