Fiction Versus Nonfiction and Self-Publishing

What is the difference between self-publishing fiction and nonfiction?

Assuming you’re outsourcing and doing no marketing outside of releasing the next book, there is a huge difference between fiction and nonfiction sales over time. I like to call fiction a firework and nonfiction a candle.

For fiction, you get a huge amount of sales in the first month, then four months later there are next to no sales.

Nonfiction gets smaller sales over every month, but they last for years.

Which would you rather have?

  1. $400 in month one, $50 in month two, $10 in month three, and $0-$2 every month after that.
  2. $80 in month one, $70 in month two, $50 in month three, and $10-30 every month after that.

Situation 1 is your typical results with fiction writing. Situation 2 is your typical results with nonfiction writing. Of course, both will see a minor boost when you release the second, third, and fourth book under the same pen or pseudo name.

So now you have to ask yourself, what are you writing and/or building this business for?

Are you trying to produce an asset that pays you ever month for years to come, or are you trying to nail a big payday (good luck)?

My very first ebook I actually wrote and sold was adult fiction. I think over its lifetime has made me a whopping $7.

My second ebook I actually wrote was nonfiction and has been making me between $2 and $35 every month since March 2014. In total, it’s earned around $200.

I wrote that book over the course of a few hours and is only about 25 pages long. 

I found a specific problem that I knew the solution to and wrote about it. That’s just 1 book also. I have a few more than 1 book out on the market. That book was also the starter to the niche site I started a January 2016.

Unfortunately for me, I decided to go the fiction route primarily when I started outsourcing. So I have hundreds of good stories out there that are not doing anything for me. There are not many options I have to jumpstart those sales minus publishing again under those pen names.

The nonfiction I have that is essentially dead, I can reuse that content to create other products. Yes, the first nonfiction book I wrote is still getting me sales, but I’ve made more with my website in four months than I did with book sales and affiliate links in the book … and the book is still selling.

So what’s the final verdict?

If you’re a fan of fiction, want to become famous with fiction, or want a quicker payday (depending on the genre) go with fiction. If you’re trying to make money from fiction, stick to romance, erotica, and erotic romance. Those readers are voracious and read novels like it’s their job.

If you’re looking to create a product that you can use and reuse to create income over time, go with nonfiction. If you’re trying to make money from nonfiction, experiment a little bit.

I did a shotgun approach when I started nonfiction in December 2014. I hired 8 writers and had them go buck wild. The biggest niches that sell well: making money online and self-improvement. That should go without saying. The worst: humor.

Watch the video of me showing the breakdown of a few different fiction and nonfiction books.