The Creative Penn

Six Figure Success Self-Publishing Non-Fiction Books With Steve Scott


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The Creative Penn

Joanna Penn

Description: writing, self-publishing, print-on-demand, internet sales and marketing…for your book

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Six Figure Success Self-Publishing Non-Fiction Books With Steve Scott

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If you want a six figure income from your books, it’s a good idea to model people who are already making this kind of money.

Steve Scott seemed to burst onto the indie non-fiction scene in early 2014, but in fact, he has 42 books and has had an internet business since 2006. I interview him about his (not so secret) strategies for success.

In the intro, I talk about my impressions of Frankfurt Book Fair and some of what I learned there, as well as an update on my writing.

This podcast is sponsored by Kobo Writing Life podcast for interviews with successful indie authors.

Kobo’s financial support pays for the hosting and transcription, and if you enjoy the show, you can now support my time on Patreon. Thank you!

Steve Scott is a bestselling non-fiction author of self-help books focusing on habits, including the mega-bestselling Stitcher.

  • Lessons Steve has learned from his first internet businesses and affiliate marketing, which he started in 2006. Focusing on one business niche and genre, and specifically around building and nurturing an email list. His views of what works in publishing has changed, and now focuses on the hard work over the long term and little things on a daily basis. Steve has become very visible in the last year, but he has been working on this since 2006. The success he has had off the back of Habit Stacking was due to the years of ground work before that.
  • On sharing income in public. Steve posts his income in public, part of a trend online as people openly share how their businesses work. For April – June 2014, Steve reported $125,857.37 and he breaks down exactly what that consists of. If you want this kind of success, based on this kind of business model – then copy what Steve is doing! (and when I say copy, I mean in the sense of modelling, not plagiarism!)
  • Practicing the fundamentals every day is the way to this kind of success. Write a good book. Consistent butt in chair at least 5 times a week and write. Very good cover images. Building an email list and understanding good email marketing. There is no secret and it’s not rocket science. Produce good books and connect with your audience consistently for years.
It’s hard work, more good product and time.
  • On copywriting skills and creating good non-fiction titles. Steve keeps a swipe file of ideas from blogs like The Copywriter’s Handbook: A step by step guide to writing copy that sells.
  • The process of writing a non-fiction book from ideas to finished product. You can also get Steve’s checklist for book publishing here. Steve uses physical index cards for ideas, especially as it gets him away from the computer.
  • On disconnecting from the internet and digital fasting. On unlearning self-destructive behaviors that Kindle authors tend to fall into e.g. checking stats. Zen Habits, a big influence on Steve.
What do non-fiction audiences want?
  • Steve talks about splitting big topics into micro-topics, which stems from his blogging background. His books are around 15,000 – 25,000 words and delve deep, rather than being the ‘be all and end all’ megabook which is more like the traditional publishing model. I talk about how, as a speaker, my business model for non-fiction includes professional speaking, which means having a chunkier book is something that enhances your authority. Steve’s model is NOT about speaking, business model.
  • How to stand out in the huge volume of new books. It’s a matter of building up your products and your platform, and asking your audience what they want and what they like. Keep trying different things. This is a long term game and you can’t stand out with one book. There are a few outliers, but most people only make a good living with a lot of books. Focus on what you need to do, not on what others are doing. Stop comparing yourself. I talk about how I met Alexis Grant online 5 years ago, and how many people have disappeared along the journey. If you stick with this long term, success will come. Most people will drop away.
  • The tipping point into a full time income came when Steve fully committed himself to the model of Kindle publishing in Sept 2012, and wrote a book every 3 weeks. The tipping point to the big league earnings was in May 2014 when Habit Stacking took off, and having 40+ books available helped make more income from the back list. Focus on the genre and the niche and write content within that and build up a brand and a series. Be consistent in your writing. Make it a habit.

You can find Steve at

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