How to Make Money Self-Publishing Short Romance Novels on Amazon

Today, I have a great article from Yuwanda Black. She has an interesting side hustle making extra money writing romance novels. In one month, she was able to make $3,211.57 doing this! Enjoy!  I’m a freelance writer – I have been since 1993. I started publishing romance novels in 2013. Before we get into what…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: June 6, 2022

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure for more info.

Today, I have a great article from Yuwanda Black. She has an interesting side hustle making extra money writing romance novels. In one month, she was able to make $3,211.57 doing this! Enjoy! 

Did you know that you can make money writing romance? In one month, this person was able to make $3,211.57 writing romance stories for adults!I’m a freelance writer – I have been since 1993. I started publishing romance novels in 2013. Before we get into what it takes to make money writing romance, let’s start from the beginning, so you can have some context about how I started my romance writing career.

I come from a legal publishing background. I worked for Matthew Bender, a trade publisher in New York that was bought by the conglomerate that owns LexisNexis. In 1997, I left Matthew Bender for good to join my sister in a company she founded – Inkwell Editorial.

The firm started out as an editorial outsource agency. We did copy editing, proofreading, word processing and coding. We’d hire independent contractors (freelancers) to get the work done. The company expanded into on-site staffing in 1998, and it quickly became our biggest source of business; even though we still had an outsource division.

Note: Please make sure you check out my free Making Money Writing Romance ecourse that teaches you how to make money writing and self-publishing romance novels.

Related blog posts on how to make extra money:

 

My First Self-Published Ebook

When temps/contractors found out that we occasionally had off-site projects, they wanted to know how to land those assignments. I was getting so many questions about it that I decided to write up a pamphlet answering the most frequently asked questions about how to get freelance work as an editorial professional — mainly copy editing, proofreading and writing jobs.

This was in 2002, and that was my first ebook. It was just a simple pdf file that I uploaded to the website. It didn’t even have a cover. And when buyers ordered, they had to wait for me to send them the file. I wasn’t even savvy enough to know about instant delivery. That’s how antiquated my “self-publishing” system was back then. 

In reality though, self-publishing wasn’t even “a thing” in 2002 – not like it is now. It would be seven more years (2009) before Amazon launched its self-publishing platform, and it became all the rage.

I finally got up to speed and got more sophisticated with self-publishing. I went on to write over 50 more ebooks – all of them in the how-to, non-fiction niche – mostly in/on/about freelance writing, self-publishing and small business.

Fast forward to 2013 – that’s when I wrote my first fiction book, a romance novel.

 

Why I Started Writing Romance Novels

Romance was never something I thought about writing. I’ve been a prolific reader of romance since my early teens. I’ve read hundreds of Harlequins and as I got older, historical romances, which are my favorites.

But it never occurred to me to write a romance until one of my sisters – who’s also a writer – wrote one. Unlike me, she’d always written fiction (and non-fiction too).

She took a trip to Texas once for a few days, and she said an idea for a romance novel came to her and just wouldn’t let go. So she wrote it just to get it out of her head. It was called Loving a Texan from New Orleans. She uploaded it to Amazon, and promptly forgot about it.

 

Why I Chose to Self-Publish My Romance Novels

Just to back up a minute, my sister worked at Matthew Bender, the legal publisher in New York, too. In fact, she got me the job there when we were both in college. I point this out to say, because both of us had a background in publishing, so it never occurred to us NOT to self-publish. And that’s mostly because we were well aware of what it took to get a traditional book deal.

Also, by this time (2013), we’d both been self-publishing for years; me since 2002 and my sister since 2008. So not only were we comfortable with self-publishing, we liked the freedom and control it gave us over our works.

Ironically, after self-publishing for years, I landed a traditional book deal – in 2015 for a non-fiction book. My prolific self-publishing background was one of the reasons the Acquisitions Editor who recruited me was attracted to my credentials in the first place.

So, self-publishing can lead to a traditional book deal; just throwing that out there. Now, back to how I got into writing romance.

 

A First-Time Romance Author Earns Over $1,100/Month in 3 Weeks

So, my sister had uploaded her book to Amazon one afternoon. She wasn’t expecting much in the way of sales. But to her surprise, when she logged into her Amazon publisher’s account the next morning, she had sold a dozen copies or so. And, throughout the day, the sales kept coming.

During the first three weeks, she sold 541 copies of this “little romance that could,” earning her over $1,100. For those who don’t know, Amazon pays authors 70 percent of all novels priced between $2.99 and $9.99. So you net about $2.09 on a novel priced at $2.99, which is where she priced hers.

As a self-published author of many non-fiction books, those kinds of sales were not common. So, I was like, “Hmmmm, this romance writing thing may have something to it. And, the books don’t have to be updated like non-fiction.”

So I was eager to try my hand at romance writing.

Now remember, I’d never written non-fiction before – ever. It didn’t even occur to me that I could; nor did I have a burning desire to do so. But, I was intrigued and I thought, “If she can do it, so can I.” So I wrote my first one within a couple of weeks of witnessing my sister’s success. This was in March of 2013.

I had no idea about how to go about writing a romance novel, so I literally sat down and googled “How to Write a Romance Novel.” 

It was just what I needed, because I had no idea what the heck I was doing. That outline was a lifesaver; it told me exactly what to do. I followed it to the letter and 28,000+ words later, I’d seamlessly written my first love story.

 

Writing My First Romance Novel: Sales Results

I excitedly uploaded it. When I got the email from Amazon that it had been published and was available for purchase less than 24 hours later, I couldn’t sit still. I had ants in my pants waiting for the sales to start rolling in.

But they didn’t. I kept refreshing my screen. Nothing. I looked for it on Amazon and clicked on the link to make sure that nothing technical was going on. Oh, it was there, but apparently the only person clicking on it was me – and the six loyal souls who bought copies that first month.

Yep, in my first month, I sold six copies of my romance novel. I was crushed. I thought it was a pretty good story. Sure, my sister has always been a better writer than me, but my story wasn’t that bad, was it?

“Oh well,” I thought, “I gave it a shot.” I turned my energies back to writing non-fiction, which had provided over half my income as a freelance writer since 2010. So although romance didn’t work out, I was still making a living writing and self-publishing my own books. I thought that was the end of that.

Then, my sister said something that resonated; she said something like, “Maybe you should try writing interracial romance. Maybe that had something to do with your lack of sales.”

You see, my first romance novella had been an African American love story; my sister had written an interracial romance. But I thought, “Love is love; I can’t see it making that much of a difference.

Boy was I wrong! In the spring of 2014, I wrote my second romance novella – an interracial love story. Bam! Sales. See?

Did you know that you can make money writing romance? In one month, this person was able to make $3,211.57 writing romance stories for adults!

I sold 241 copies in the first month of my second romance novella – an interracial love story. And get this, that month (March 2014), 9 copies of my first novella sold too!

The second month (April 2014), I sold 159 copies of that second romance; and 11 copies of my first one sold.

See what’s happening? That new book was spurring sales of the old one; even though they were in different genres, they were both romance novels.

 

How to Make Money Writing Romance Novels: 9 Lessons Learned after Writing 40+ Novels

My head hurt from all the pinging going on when I looked at the numbers. Following are some lessons I learned about what it takes to be successful as a romance writer.

 

1. In Romance Writing, Genre Matters

It’s not enough to just write romance; choosing the right genre can make or break your sales. Some genres just tend to do better than others. According to Romance Writers of America, following are the most popular genre in romance – in print and ebook format:

Print: romantic suspense (53%); contemporary romance (41%); historical romance (34%); erotic romance (33%); New Adult (26%); paranormal romance (19%); Young Adult romance (18%); and Christian romance (17%).

E-book: romantic suspense (48%); contemporary romance (44%); erotic romance (42%); historical romance (33%); paranormal romance (30%); New Adult (26%); Young Adult romance (18%); and Christian romance (14%).

And within each genre, there are subgenres, eg., the following are common themes of Contemporary Romance:

  • Action/Adventure
  • Baby Love
  • Bikers
  • Billionaires
  • Chick Lit
  • Cowboys
  • Humorous
  • International Lovers
  • Love in the Workplace
  • Medical
  • Rock n Roll
  • Rubenesque (also Curvy or Plus Size)
  • Sports
  • Vacation Love

I discovered that genre matters quite by accident. I’m glad my sister said something, or I might never have realized it. 

 

2. When Writing Romance, It Helps to Publish Prolifically

At the peak of my romance writing career – between 2014 and early 2016, I published over 35 novellas; most of them were published during a 12 month span. I was publishing a novel every 7 to 14 days or so.

Yeah, it was crazy – and no, I don’t advise doing that. But every time I put out a new novel, sales of previous ones spiked. That’s the point I want to make.

You’ll find that even if a novel isn’t a “hit” (however you define that), when you publish a new book, invariably sales from previous works will go up – sometimes surpassing sales of your newest title.

So if you want to make money writing romance, I advise publishing prolifically. Now that I’m back to writing romance regularly, my goal is one title every 30 to 60 days, which brings me to my next tip.

 

3. Short Romance Novels Sell – So Write Them

I write short romance novels (novellas) and that’s why I can publish so prolifically. They’re usually in the 20,000 to 30,000 word-range; although one of my most successful titles is just under 10,000 words long (Just Sex Please: 9,658 words to be exact).

Many readers will complain about the shortness of a book (know that going in); but they’ll still buy. So ignore the noise and publish short if that appeals to you. Amazon even has categories for “shorts,” eg:

Do you think Amazon would dedicate a whole category to short novels if they weren’t selling the heck out of them?!

Exactly.

 

4. Romance Novel Covers Matter – a Lot

According to a survey by BookSmugglers, 79 percent of those polled said that a book cover plays a role in their decision to buy a book. So yeah, covers matter – a lot; and authors who are serious about their romance writing careers will take heed. 

Gone are the days when you can put up an amateurish cover and sell a lot of books. These days, when you look at the covers of romance novels by many self-published authors, it’s hard to tell them from the covers on books put out by large publishers.

The covers of my books won’t win any awards, but they will clue you in as to what genre I write in (interracial romance), which is the very least a cover should do, in my opinion.

FYI, here are some great tips on how to design a book cover that sells.

 

5. Start a Mailing List When You Write Romance Novels

One of the first things you should do as a romance writer is to collect the email addresses of your readers. Some authors debut at #1 on Amazon’s list in their romance category based on the strength of their list alone.

You see, reviews are one of the factors figured into Amazon’s ranking algorithm. So if you have a book that gets 30, 40 or 50 or more reviews when it’s first released, Amazon takes note of that. Its algorithm kicks in to help you sell more books. How? By “recommending” it.

Ever notice the “customers who bought this item also purchased this/these items” when you buy or browse for something on Amazon? That’s its algorithm at work.

Another reason to start a mailing list is you can pre-sell books to your subscribers. If readers like your work well enough to part with their email address, many of them will purchase when you come out with a new release – especially if you offer them a special deal for being a subscriber.

 

6. Write Series

My sister followed up her popular romance with successive parts, and she noticed that when she did that, a large percentage of readers would double back and pick up previous parts of the series.

This clued us in to two things: (i) new novels spur sales of previous books; and; (ii) new parts of an existing novel will sell too – especially if a book is particularly popular.

Much like a soap opera, readers get invested in the characters and even if you don’t plan on writing a series when you write the first part, most of the time, reader will practically demand successive parts.

The more I wrote and got a feel for what readers of my novellas wanted, I started to plan series from the beginning. Right now, roughly 20 percent of my catalog consists of series. My plan is to push that up to a third to half as I publish more.

Writing series is one of the easiest ways to make more money writing romance. Also, it’s cost-effective because you don’t have to come out of pocket for things like cover art. All you have to do is add Part II, Part III, etc. to the existing cover — and that’s it.

Finally, series tend to be easier to write because you’re already familiar with the characters. There’s an established history to build story lines around, so you don’t have to start from scratch.

I personally love writing romance series; you get to delve deeper into the characters, which makes for a richer reading experience in my opinion.

 

7. Publish On Amazon

I know a lot of self-published authors have a love/hate relationship with Amazon. But in order to be successful writing romance, especially when you’re first starting out, it’s a platform you can’t afford NOT to be on.

 

Earning $3,200 in One Month Writing Romance Novels

In May of 2015, after writing 23 novellas in just over 12 months, I earned $3,211.57 – in one month. Almost $2,800 of that was from Amazon, which continues to be the site where that produces the most sales for me. Following is a breakdown of that highly successful month:

AMZ Sales: $2,763.51

  • US 2,685.82
  • GBP 29.68 (43.55 USD)
  • CAD 26.39 (21.09)
  • EUR 11.31 (13.05 USD)
  • Total Units Moved: 1437
  • Returns: 46
  • Free Giveaways: 0
  • KU/KOLL Units Borrowed: 8
  • Actual Units Bought: 1429

Barnes & Noble Sales: $333.20

  • Total Units Moved: 181
  • Returns: 0

All Romance Ebooks (ARE) Sales: $85.51

  • Total Units Moved: 48
  • Returns: 0

Note: This site went out of business in December 2016

Google Play Sales: $29.35

  • Total Units Moved: 18
  • Returns: 0

Note: Google Play hasn’t been accepting new authors into its self-publishing platform for a while now.

TOTAL ROMANCE SALES FOR MAY 2015: $3,211.57

I had a couple of popular series — A Lover for Beth and Priced Out of Love — that caught fire.  See how continuous publishing equals rising profits? You just never know what book will take off on you, or when. So publish regularly.

 

8. Diversify Where You Publish Your Romance Novels

As you can see from the numbers above, most of my sales come from Amazon. This is still the case, but I like to “publish wide;” ie, on many outlets.

I tried their Amazon’s exclusive program (KDP Select), and it didn’t work for me. When you’re in KDP Select, your ebook (not paper) can’t be published any place else – not even on your own website.

I’m a big believer in diversification. While Amazon remains the big kahuna, the markets for self-publishers continue to grow. And, via outlets like Draft2Digital (which I use and recommend), you can have your book(s) published on many of these outlets just by uploading it once.

 

What is Draft2Digital?

They’re an ebook distributor for writers who can’t, or don’t want to, directly publish their works to a particular platform. I upload my books to Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Google Play myself. For all other outlets, I use Draft2Digital, which will publish your book to the following markets for you.

  • iBooks
  • Barnes & Noble*
  • Kobo (including Kobo Plus)
  • Inktera (formally Page Foundry)
  • Scribd
  • 24Symbols
  • Tolino
  • Playster
  • OverDrive (libraries)

*Because I’m familiar with Barnes & Noble’s platform, like I said above, I upload my books myself to this outlet. I figure, why give someone a cut of what I already know how to do.

But for the other outlets, I have no idea about how to upload a book there. Sure, I could learn, but I’d rather spend my energy writing new books and marketing existing titles, not formatting books for a dozen different outlets.

FYI, it’s free to upload a book to Draft2Digital. They get paid by taking a percentage of each of your books’ sales; so they don’t make money unless you make money. Their fee is roughly 10 percent of the retail price (technically 15 percent of net royalties). And, they pay out like clockwork every month.

 

9. Price Your Romance Novels: The Simple Formula I Use

I keep pricing pretty simple for my romance novellas. For the more erotic, steamy ones, I charge $3.99. For the less spicy, regular contemporary stories, I price them at $2.99.

Also, if a book is longer – I have one that’s almost 40,000 words — I’ll price it at $3.99. This simple formula has worked well for me.

 

About Pricing Romance Series

For the first book in a series, after it’s been out a while and is performing pretty well — and hence warrants a successive part — I’ll drop the price to 99 cents (from $2.99), when successive parts come out. That’s because research shows that readers are more likely to give a series a chance if the first book is priced lower than successive versions.

Your head can spin there’s so much info on how to price romance novels out there. But as my books are in a particular genre and are a defined length, this pricing has worked pretty well for me.

Maybe I could earn more if I experimented with pricing more, but as I have a lot of books out now, I rely more on volume than anything else to make sales.

FYI, here’s some good insight into how to price your romance novel to maximize sales.

 

Conclusion on making money writing romance novels

One of the things I enjoy about writing romance is that there’s a ready-made audience. Romance readers are some of the most prolific readers around. Proof?

According to statistics from Romance Writers of America, 64 percent of readers in this genre read more than one book per month, and 35 percent buy romance more than once a month. And, they’re long-time fans of the genre; over a third (35.1 percent) have been reading romance for 20 years or more.

All you have to do if you want to make money writing romance is find your niche in this genre – and feed them new material regularly. And if you choose to go the self-publishing route, you get to keep the lion’s share of the profits, as well as complete control.

Making money writing romance just doesn’t get much better than that.

About the Author: Yuwanda Black is the publisher of InkwellEditorial.com, a site devoted to teaching people how to make money writing … for themselves (eg, self-publishing, ecourse development), or for others (eg, freelancing). If romance writing appeals to you, check out her free course on How to Make Money Writing Romance to learn more.

Are you interested in learning how to write romance novels?


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Amazon is by far the ultimate marketplace for buying and selling. In fact, one can experience more success selling on Amazon vs. eBaY. I’m pretty much late to the Amazon sellers marketplace, but may try my hand someday. Many Amazon sellers end up being multi-millionaires and featured in magazines. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Jayliz

      Where do we get covers for ebooks? Or how do we go about getting the covers/images?

      1. Val

        Shutterstock and deposit photos are the two main ones that I know about. I’m sure there are others. With those 2 sites, you can purchase a stock photo for a low price. There’s also selfpubbookcovers.com. Their prices start at $69. They have professional looking covers too. I hope this helps! ๐Ÿ˜Š

  2. jenn from much to my delight

    This was a fascinating and timely read for me. I just finished a book of essays and have started reaching out to literary agents, but the more I’m learning about publishing on amazon, the less disheartened I feel when I get those rejection emails back:). Thanks for publishing this!

    1. Jenn I worked in trade publishing in NY years ago (legal). I’ve also been traditionally published. Let me tell ya, I wouldnt’ trade self-publishing for anything You earn more — and the best part is, those big-name publishers will start looking for you (instead of the other way around) if you start selling a lot. By then, you probably won’t want to sign with them and if you do, it’ll be from a position of strength, not “Please publish my book” weakness.

      So IMHO, stop querying, and start writing and uploading your own books. TRUST ME, you’ll be so glad you did, and wonder why you ever thought you needed the backing of a publisher to do it.

  3. Beks

    Great information. I’m always happy to see others that are successful in self-publishing, because it’s my dream, too.

    1. Thank you Beks; what a kind thing to say. And it doesn’t have to be a dream — it can be your reality. I”m living proof of that! ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Nwando

        what are the legal requirements of self publishing online and also what steps can be taken to prove ownership of content.

        1. If you write it Nwando, you already own the copyright as for as a court of law is concerned (speaking of U.S. laws here, of course; not sure of laws in other countries).

          For more insight, see this post: https://www.authorhouse.com/GetPublished/copyright.aspx.

          I have never gone through the trouble of officially registering any of my books with the Copyright Office as I just don’t see a need for it. But, that’s up to each individual author, and it’s not expensive if you do decide to do it b/c it gives you peace of mind.

          Hope this helps.

  4. Oh wow this is such an interesting side hustle. I have never read any purely romance novels. I love how you share your self publishing strategy. That can be applied to many other kinds of books. Thanks for sharing!

    1. It can Ms. Frugal Asian Finance, but what I’d cautiously point out is, romance is a unique genre b/c readers are so rabid in the genre. I publish fiction and non-fiction, and it’s much harder to sell non-fiction than fiction, which is why I was so surprised by how relatively easy it is to sell romance.

      Of course stories have to be good and you have to find the right niche (among a few other factors), but really, if you love to write in this genre, you can make good money — without being a “breakout,” best-selling author.

  5. Josey

    I found this post very interesting for a couple of reasons.

    1) I tried my hand at selling physical products on Amazon about a year ago. Fortunately, I was able to break even. I say fortunately, because I launched my product with just two competitors. Within a month, there were about 15. Point being, I found Amazon way too saturated to succeed on. But your approach is different. Anyone can import products, but not everyone is a strong writer. This makes the competition reasonable.

    2) Everyone talks about the importance of finding a “niche” product. The way you write your eBooks is no exception. Your first one failed because it was a general romance story, but then you found more success as you honed in on interracial romance. Just another example of how important it is to find a niche.

    Congratulations on finding a solid, consistent online income! I hope to join you in the near future ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Thank you Josey. And yeah, take those hard-earned lessons and apply them to romance writing. I write fiction and non-fiction books. I’ve found romance to be one of the easiest niches to sell in (and there are TONS of profitable niches — something for everyone).

      Good luck if you decide to give it a go.:)

      1. Josey

        I may eventually. Right now I have so many projects going, I feel like I should be narrowing my focus – lol. But I might give it a shot eventually!

  6. […] I explain in a guest post on the Making Sense of Cents blog about how I came to write romance, your earning potential is practically unlimited. Iโ€™m not a big-name […]

  7. Dalila

    Hi Yuwanda, thanks for sharing such a great idea. Since the article mentions that you made over $3200 in May 2015, where are you at now in Jan/Feb of 2018?

    1. Dalia, the AMZ “all you can read” subscriber service which rolled out in the summer of 2014 tanked romance earnings for many authors, so I stopped prolifically publishing romancein late 2015. I have multiple streams of income; self-publishing non-fiction is one of them; as is writing for clients and ecourse sales, so I just switched focus to those.

      But to stop writing romance was a BIG mistake, as I discuss in a recent post on my blog. Companies like Google and AMZ will always make adjustments; you just have to recognize this and weather it. If I’d kept publishing, I have no doubt that I’d be earning $10K/month or more right now. And, that’s why I started publishing prolifically again this year (one new novel per month) — and will never stop again.

      Hope this insight helps.

      1. Oh, no. Just reading this after my previous comment. Is it even worth getting started at this point? I won’t be able to churn them out as quickly as you did. Does their subscriber service apply to self-published books?

        1. Katie this is an evergreen form of writing, so it’s a good time to start any time you’re ready. And yes, Amazon’s subscriber service applies to self-published book IF you as an author enroll them in the KDP program.

          Like I always stress, writing romance is not a get rich quick scheme. I can’t overstate that enough. BUT it is a fun way to make money over time if you enjoy writing in this genre. Even after not publishing for almost two years, I still earn money on auto pilot from the books I published back in 2013-2016.

          I started publiishing again regularly this year (my goal is 1 book per month), and as soon as I did, sales started to spike up again.

          Hope this additional insight helps.

          1. Thank you, Yuwanda! This makes perfect sense. I really appreciate the inspiration.

            Katie

          2. Debbie

            It is now March 3, 2022 are you still writing romance and how is it compared to when you started? I am interested in writing and this sounds like something for me.

  8. As a person who reads and LOVES romances (and I rock my Amazon Prime) to also read a ridiculous number of free books too-I LOVE THIS POST!!! I’ve actually written out a couple of concepts and now you’ve inspired me to give it a “go.” This is officially one of my favorite posts on Making Sense of Cents.

    1. Blushing. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you Michelle. And please do give it a go; OMG you might be so surprised. Good luck!

  9. Oh my GOD, Yuwanda, where have you been all of my life?! I love Making Sense of Cents, but of all of the side hustle ideas on here, this is the very first where I’m like, YES. This makes sense for me. My only regret is that I didn’t think of this (or that you didn’t write this) back in 1999 when I was writing racy emails to my boyfriend and he told me they were good enough for publishing. Ha!

    Quick question regarding the mailing list: How did you collect emails? Through your business website? Also, what is the difference between your free course and your paid course?

    Thanks a million!

    1. Katie you’re too funny. I burst out laughing at this line <>.

      In answer to yoru questions, I collect emails via my fiction publishing site (InkwellEditorialPublishing.com). I also put links in the back of every book practically begging ppl to subscribe, and I have FB and Twitter SM accts (although I’m really bad about being interactive on them, as I have soooooo much else going on). But at the very least, you should put a subscriber box on your romance writing site (and of course get one of these; just a basic one will do).

      As for the diff b/t my paid and free romance writing courses — the free course walks you through all the normal fears you may have about starting this career. I share a lot of info in there about how I got started, sales numbers, etc. As one commentor recently said, “I am very pleased with this free course. It made me think, and it made me believe that yes, I can write romance novels”

      And that’s the whole goal of the free course – b/c so many get stuck at the “I don’t know if I can do this” gate.

      As for the paid course, it’s all the goodies — the how-to of EVERYTHING — from writing to marketing to starting your own publishing company if that’s what you want. All taught from first-hand experience, of course.

      Hope this helps.

  10. This is SO encouraging and inspirational!! As someone who has the story written and has already sent out query letters, I feel like I should go ahead and get cracking on the self-publishing front (bc who knows about the traditional publishing…). But I have 2 questions: Did you use a professional editor and did you use a professional for cover design?

    1. OMG Emily I BEG OF YOU to go the self-publishing route. Your manuscript will start to gather dust if you keep waiting on traditional publishers. If that’s what you really want, of course, dont’ stop trying, but in the meantime and between-time, self-publish. You won’t regret it, I promise.

      In answer to your questions, one of the biggest mistakes I made early on was not hiring a proofreader (never fel the need for an editor). I got some bad reviews b/c of minor grammar errors, and I own that mistake totally b/c I proofed my own novels (never a good idea). You can find very good proofreaders and editors on sites like Fiverr very easily.

      So these days, yes, I hire a proofreader (like I said, I don’t use editors as I’m pleased at my stories and don’t feel the need for them — although if I start to write longer stories, I will probably).

      As for cover artists, I do a mix of both — hire artists to do some; and some I do myself — the very simple ones, eg, couple on a cover with a title. The covers I design myself won’t win any design awards, but they clue readers into what genre a story is in (eg, interracial romance), and that seems to do the trick. It’s something I’m doing more of these days though (hiring cover artists) as my time is so limited.

      1. Emily

        Just an update–I’m SO glad I took your advice and just decided to self-publish on Amazon. I had my story proof-read and even sent it through a beta reader (pretty cheap) just for peace of mind. I literally uploaded it last night via KDP. At this point, it doesn’t really matter how many downloads it gets, I already feel so relieved and motivated by just getting it out there!

        Thank you so much for your words of wisdom!!

        1. Congrats on getting your story out there … and on such great reviews! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Logica

    This is great, I’m going to check out your free class.

    One question, any thoughts on using your real name or not when publishing?

    1. Logica I’ve done both, but it really is an individual decision. If you don’t want ppl to know that you write romance, then you might consider going with a pen name. If this is not a factor for you, then you might want to use yoru own name.

      Simply from a branding perspective though, I advise being consistent. When you put out a book, you want possible buyers to be able to find it based on author name (esp if it’s in the same genre) b/c that’s how reader loyalty is built.

      There’s nothing that says you can’t do both though, esp for example, if you want to write one type of romance where you don’t mind ppl knowing it’s you (eg, Christian), but another type that’s a bit shall we say “spicier” and you want to keep that little secret yourself. LOL! ๐Ÿ™‚

      AMZ and other distribution outlets doesn’t care. You can publish under a pen name or your own name with ease.

      Hope this helps.

    2. I’d definitely use a pen name. People are so prudish. Some of my “friends” even think online dating is weird.

      Using a pen name shields you somewhat from the haters out there.

  12. Natasha

    What a beautiful and thorough post! I bet many authors never dreamed of a day like this where one can publish their own works, be in control of it all, and make good money. I’m definitely taking nuggets away to apply to my self-publishing journey. Thanks!

    1. Thanks to outlets like Amazon Natasha, it is so possible. And the thing I love most about it is, the mroe you write, the more you can consistently earn. I’ve been tradtionally and self-published. And while my traditional publisher (A division of Simon & Schuster) was a dream to work with, I will forever self-publish. It’s just too darned profitable not to (if you publish consistently).

      Good luck on your self-publishing journey.

  13. I have self published books on Amazon too. Thank you for this information.

  14. […] Making Sense of Cents blog post about writing romance novels. […]

  15. Peters

    Thank you very much for this detailed information.

    I have a question
    I’m a Nigerian and I have about two novels in paper I wrote for fun (about 10000-15000 words)

    Can I self-publish them and earn money from Nigeria?

    1. Not sure. Sorry about that. Check AMZ’s publishing guidelines as they relate to your country.

  16. Jo C

    Hello Yuwanda!

    I’m so happy I came across this post today when I, too, googled “how to write a romance novel,” lol. I’m a little confused about the Amazon KDP platform– you point out that if you use this you are limited by the agreement and cannot post your book on other platforms. However, you still show that you post on Amazon AND all of those other services (barnes & noble, draft2digital for posts across multiple platforms, etc). Is there a different Amazon publishing service that is NOT KDP? Or how are you managing to continue posting content across multiple sources?

    Thank you!

    1. This is ONLY if you enter your book in AMZ’s KU (Kindle Unlimited) program. Then AMZ requires exclusivity.

      If you choose not to enter your book in this program, you can publish it anywhere else you want. Hope this clears that up.

  17. Nadia Rushedge

    This is by far the best article I’ve read on how to be a romance novel writer. Thank You! I’ve been considering it but lost interest when looking at traditional publishers and there more than 50k word limit.

    I do have a question: how do you recommend going about creating a mailing list? Would I need to have a blog set up etc, or just a link in the ebook?

    Thanks again for this article.

    1. This is answered above. See question from “Katie.”

      Good luck!

  18. Nadia

    Any recommendations for book cover designers/resources?

    1. Fiverr. Just do a search of ebook cover designers. Heres’ who does most of mine these days; she’s my “go to” gigger and she’s awesome: https://www.fiverr.com/priyanika

      1. Erin

        I have read so many of these ‘how to’ articles about following your own dreams in writing. Yuwanda – this is absolutely the best articles I’ve read on this subject. You are concise, sincere, clear, and extremely helpful in a way that I just don’t see from many other people who are competing in the same space as you. This is the first article I read that didn’t make me feel overwhelmed and still at a loss of where to start. You structured your response in such a cohesive way. I can’t thank you enough. You are making me feel excited about publishing my own work.

        1. Thank you Erin. Such kind words.

  19. Culin

    I’m trying my hand (this article has def inspired me). Any suggestions on websites? Which to use or who to go to for a standard functional site to promote my work and collect a mailing list?

    1. Culin I’d worry about the writing first. Get a few books under your belt — at least three. Then, you can dive into marketing. Money is made in self-publishing romance by consistently publishing.

      Two pieces of advice:

      1. Get an author website so you can stick a subsriber box on it and start collecting email addresses. Do this from day one. Why? Because building a mailing list is like gold; the more it grows — the more you can earn. And these are readers who are in YOUR control. Not Amazon’s. Not Barnes & Noble. Etc.

      You can market to them, get feedback from them — and get sales from them. In short, it’s some of the easiest money you’ll ever make as an author because they’ll become your loyal readers, and buy from you over and over and over again if they like your writing.

      2. Your next book is always your best sales tool. Never forget this.

      Good luck!

  20. Lorrain Allen

    Hello,

    I see that you recently started publishing romance again. Did you decide to strictly publish with Amazon or on multiple websites? What are your thoughts on audiobooks?

    1. Lorrain:

      I publish wide, meaning, to tons of outlets. I don’t believe in being exclusive to one (eg, Amazon). That’s just MY strategy though. It works for me. Many authors are exclusive to Amazon, and that works for them.

      The beautiful thing about self-publishing is you get to structure your biz any way you want.

      As for audiobooks, I haven’t published any yet. Most of my sales come from ebooks (even though I do offer some in print). I’m sure I’ll get around to audiobooks, but I’m just not in a rush. When I’m ready, it’ll be there is the way I look at it.

      And FYI, as an indie publisher, keep this in mind. Don’t rush to do everything. If a marketing tactic, outlet, etc. is legit, it’ll be there when you’re ready. There’s no need to feel pressured.

      Good luck! ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Gaurav Vyas

    Bang on!!! It feels so right to follow what you think…I am giving it a try on my first book which I am planning to write for years yet I guess it will take few days to complete it now.

    An honest THANK YOU !!!

    1. You’re welcome Gaurav. Hope the process went smoothly for you.

  22. A. J. Phillips

    This was a very informative article. I have a few books published on Amazon that were storylines I had to write just to get them out of my head. They have not really sold mainly because I have no clue who my target audience is. But they were my dream come true. The point is I am published. I recently changed my genre to romance instead of horror and twisted fantasy. The switch broke a year long affliction “winter’s block” I suddenly have 2 great storylines going and then I found this article. Thank you for the great information.

    1. That’s awesome A.J. I hope you finally got those ideas out of your head and into a book! ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Danie

    Hi
    Thnx for your wonderful artical. I admit Im unexperienced and lack your skills. I am a 66 yr old man from South Africa. My plea to you is: Im the author of an Afrikaans novel VERRAAD, which will also appear in E glish soon as TRIANGULAR TREASON. It is on eBooks at Amazon Kindle, but not selling. Can you please ho me. Tha ks Danie

    1. I don’t offer coaching services Danie. I’d never get any work done if I did. There’s tons of free info on my blog, so feel free to poke around there to see if you can find some helpful info.

      Also, you might try Amazon and/or Facebook ads. Many indie authors do very well with those. Good luck!

  24. Kerenza Terlesky

    Thank you so very much for posting this! I have begun working on a Romance novel, thanks to you ๐Ÿ™‚ I have never published on Amazon before, so this was super helpful. Kind of you to post all this information.

    Best wishes,
    Kaz

    1. Good luck Kaz, and you’re welcome. ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. This was actually really, really well written article. Very informative. I thought of writing a short novel and publishing it, but wasn’t sure about a genre. Now I feel more confident than ever to try this. 20k words should be okay, since I usually struggle when I get over 50k.

    Thank you again for your article, seriously. It’s nice to see some genuinely good content out there. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Glad you enjoyed Pete. ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Erika Cann-Moore

    Yuwanda,
    Thank you for your inspiring article, as well as the specific information/links you provided. This type of info can be life-saving for a beginner, especially for those of us getting a later start in life. I am checking out some of your books on my iphone right now! My dream is (was) to write comedy for TV & film. It never worked out for me (I’m presently teaching ESL); I have many notebooks-worth of ideas in my phone and half-written scripts nestled in my sock drawer. I am hoping to re-invision some of my TV ideas as romantic comedy novellas. My question is: Do you have any suggestions of how a self-published author might position/market their comedy/romance published ebook to other media outlets (such as Lifetime TV, Amazon PrimeTV)? In your opinion is comedy/romance a popular genre right now? Thx for any thoughts you might have!

    1. Erika:

      I have no experience with pitching to media outlets. I focus all of my efforts on self-publishing. So sorry can’t be of help there.

      As for genre, rom-com is a very popular category. If you have a knack for writing this kind of romance, you can do quite well, so good luck with it.

      Tip: Check out the top sellers in this category on AMZ. Read the blurbs to get a feel fo rthe story; study the covers to see if they have any similarities that can help you design a good one, see length, and read a few. The best way to infiltrate a genre successfully is to study it, and read a lot in it.

      Good luck! And, thanks for checking out muy books. I’m so honored. ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. Debbie

    alot of great information here, it is now March 3, 2022 where are you in your writing, this sounds like my kind of writing. thank you

  28. Thank you for the informative article, I am currently working on a novel and hope to publish soon on Amazon KDP. I have already published with KDP, as I drew 4 coloring books and am so happy with how they turned out. Can’t wait to hold my novel(s) in my hands as well soon ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. Yuwanda Black is now with the heavenly father. She actually passed away right here in my country of Antigua. I will miss her.