10 min 49 sec

Finance Employee Sells 200,000 Self-Published Romance Novels

When she can’t find anything good to read, a finance employee starts writing romance novels of her own. The books go on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies and pull her family out of debt.
Amazon eBooks Product Self-Publishing Writing

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What It's About

A woman pulls her family out of debt self-publishing her romance novels

Business Model
Skills Required
Writing & Publishing
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

When Carey began the task of writing her first book, like most new authors, she made many mistakes. In novel writing there are two types of people: plotters and "pantsers." At first she was a pantser, as in "fly by the seat of your pants," and her stories went wherever her imagination was going at the time.

That kind of writing can be freeing for a while, but it’s not necessarily great for readers. Halfway through the first draft, she realized she had no conflict in her story, and anyone who reads fiction knows why this is a big problem—what's the point of reading a story with no conflict? It took her six months to write that first draft and then another five months working on edits and rewrites before she published it.

Fun Fact

Since that first book came out, she’s sold over 200,000 copies worldwide. Her books have been translated into German, Czech, Spanish, and are also available as audiobooks. Carey is paid monthly royalties from these sales. With Amazon, if her book is priced $2.99 or higher, the royalty is approximately 70%. For ebooks that retail under $2.99, the royalty is closer to 30%.

Since she’s in charge of everything, she can set her own prices. She usually opts for a price of around $3.99, meaning that she earns about $2.80 on every book that’s sold. The income she’s earned has allowed her to pay off some debt that she struggled with before she began publishing. It's given her the financial freedom to travel and save for the future.

Notes from Chris

Episode 65

If you're like Carey and are interested in writing a book, you'll want to learn about the business of publishing—but you should also make sure you’re learning a lot about the structure and art of writing books.

Pay attention to the books you read. Read thoroughly within your genre but also read outside of it. And remember—good writers tend to pull in experience from other fields, just as we see through lots of different Side Hustle stories.


  • CareyHeywood.com: If you'd like to learn more about Carey and her books, visit her website!
  • Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing: Carey used Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing for all of her eBook romance novels. You too can self-publish eBooks and paperbacks for free in 5 minutes, and reach millions of readers on Amazon.
  • Smashwords: She also signed up with Smashwords, another service that fed her books to additional ebook retailers like Barnes & Noble and iBooks.
  • Draft2Digital: Another great service that Carey uses to feed her eBooks to other retailers because she feels that their website is more user friendly.

  • The Unconventional Guide to Publishing: In this comprehensive toolkit, you’ll learn how to navigate the publishing industry, especially in regards to getting a traditional book deal
  • Writer's Digest: A popular resource for writers, celebrating the writing life and what it means to be a writer in today's publishing environment
Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

Chris Guillebeau



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Quote of the Day
"If you want something done right, sometimes you have to do it yourself."
—Carey Heywood #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau