Episode # 42 – Earning Around Self-Publishing with Bryan Cohen

In Business, Full time writing, Rapid writing, Social Media by Julius S12 Comments

Bryan Cohen cover

Bryan wasn’t satisfied with his self-published books income, so stated looking for other great ways to make money writing. This interview looks at what he did. He didn’t want to go back to the 9-5 world so decided to look into how he could make money writing elsewhere and earn additional income around his books. We don’t just look at this writing income in this episode, but everything that surrounds his core writing business – from having a successful online video course, to doing speaking gigs at the beach, Bryan has experimented with a lot of things. If you’re thinking of going full time, but worry about the cash flow, listen to this interview for some great inspiration and ideas on how to make money writing.

Like what I’m up to?

If you do why not join my weekly newsletter? You’ll get exclusive content you won’t find on the site and I’ll send you my free report showing you 5 free writing tools you can use to improve your writing today!


1000 Creative Writing Prompts

Amazon Profile



Stephen Covey – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Google Keyword Tool – For researching topics and finding a title for the book that people will search for.

Make a Killing on Kindle – Lots of advice on Amazon optimization.

Tim Long’s Interview on this show

WattPadGreat place to test short stories out. Perfect for those who want to make money writing fiction, but want to test the waters on a story first!

Udemy – Online course marketplace where Bryan posted his course.

BabelCubeA book translation service that works on a revenue share basis.

Show notes:

Bryan started with a website about writing prompts. He wanted to get past writers block so started writing about writing prompts believing that you learn the best by teaching it to other people. In the last two years he has published over 30 books about writing fiction.

Write What People Want

If you want to make money writing, you need to bear in mind what the market wants. Bryan wrote several books and found that some were far more popular than others. When he knew what was selling he was able to expand on those and get books out that were similar.

Facebook Event

After hearing the Timothy Long interview about doing Facebook events Bryan decided to run one of his own and brought together a group of authors (16) who had books about writing. They all came together live on Facebook to answer questions from guests who came to the event. He originally approached 40 authors and eventually got 16 to attend, this wasn’t much fun as he doesn’t like asking people to commit to something, but the response was great and 16 out of 40 is a great result!

Bryan also had a stack of questions that he wanted to put out to the group so they’re wouldn’t be any quiet time during the day. The event had well over 600 guests and Bryan saw a boost of 1000 people coming to his personal site that day.

The authors who are in the event also agree to discount their books for the day to 99cents. They sold about 200 copies each and it was a great boost to their profiles and rankings. Bryan saw a boost in sales after the event, but doesn’t have data on how authors have done, but imagines they saw similar boosts afterwards.

He also saw a boost to the number of people who liked his page and also saw 200 new subscribers to his newsletter which is huge.

One problem he identified was that Facebook does send out a lot of emails and they all appear to be from the host. A person who had subscribed to the event got angry about this and came to vent their anger in the event.

BuildCreativeWritingIdeas.com – Bryan’s Blog

Bryan’s site where he gets a significant amount of organic traffic from Google which he then sends to his Amazon book and he can track this through affiliate links. Although he says that this is very important he still thinks that most of his sales are still just from people searching in Amazon.

Creating a blogging platform is important for an author, not just for the traffic, but because it can be a great way to test the response for a book. As mentioned, if you want to make money writing, you have to consider what the market wants. This is especially true when it comes to selecting a non-fiction subject. Write several blog posts and expand the one that were successful into books. Bryan says that this could also work for fiction by writing a short story and see if it gets interest. This isn’t really going to work in the sense of targeting keywords as that doesn’t work for fiction authors. Therefore it can be a better idea to put your test short stories on sites such as WattPad.

Income Around Writing

Bryan was living in Chicago and wanting to make a living for himself, and his income from writing alone wasn’t really cutting it. He started looking around for other ways he could create products to sell from his writing. He created a course on Udemy called “How to Work for Yourself” a large part of which was based on his experience working for himself in self publishing.

He used Screenflow and Keynote to create his course after watching another course about making Udemy courses. He managed to get a lot of courses sold at the start and it was featured by Udemy which really made it take off. This was one of Bryan’s many experiments in and around self-publishing.

Bryan has also taught courses in person at local education centers. He recently taught a course about writing for comics. He has also spoken at a few places which have paid him as a speaker. Many of these are not profitable for him (especially when you consider his time) but he hopes that the connections he makes will be valuable in the future.

Blogging for Others

As Bryan is not making enough money to live off from his own book sales alone he is also freelancing as a blogger for some websites. This currently makes up about half of his income and while he does say that it saps some of his energy it is great practise as he has to write everyday without fail or he’ll get fired! If you want to learn how to write fast and get the work done, freelancing some writing can be a great thing to do (it’s also one of the most common ways that people make money writing on the internet).


“You need to write what people are searching for”


Leave a comment below or get in touch with Simon by email at simon@rockingselfpublishing.com

Listening Options:


RSS Feed

Right click here for a direct MP3 download

Julius SEpisode # 42 – Earning Around Self-Publishing with Bryan Cohen
  • Bryan

    Thank you so much for having me on the show, Simon!

    • SimonRSP

      You are very welcome Bryan, I think this is a cracking episode!

      • Bryan

        Thanks! I also believe I hit my goal of being one of your longest interviews :).

        • SimonRSP

          It couldn’t have been any shorter if we tried 🙂

  • Jim Cogan

    Another fascinating episode, Simon, nice work again! Have to say, the whole Facebook/online event thing really caught my attention. I’d obviously missed Tim Long’s interview (sorry, am downloading it right now!) so hadn’t heard about these kinds of events – I was dubious, but having listened to Bryan and since checked out his very detailed write up, I have to say it’s an awesome idea. Perhaps Rocking Self Publishing ought to hold a promotional event like this of it’s own? And I’m definitely considering it as a marketing possibility for when i (finally) start to self publish my own writing.


  • Bryan

    Thanks for listening, Jim. I’d definitely show up for a Rocking Self Publishing event :).

  • Douglas Dorow

    Gentlemen, a great episode. As an author looking to make my fiction visible and as an author who enjoys helping other authors, gave me lots to think about and check out. Thanks for sharing.

    Simon, keep up the mix of non-fiction/ fiction guests. All the shows are fantastic.

    • SimonRSP

      You’re welcome Douglas, thanks for the kind words! I’ve got some exciting non-fic interviews coming up to blend in with the fiction ones, so stay tuned :).

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Douglas! Glad you liked it. Good luck in your artistic and helpful endeavors :).

  • Michael Coorlim

    Always good to see other Chicago authors representing themselves. Great interview.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Michael! I listened to yours the week it came out. Very inspirational.

      And hooray for Chicago’s first non-winter weekend of the year :).