Rachel Richards, a licensed financial analyst, and advisor took on the challenge to simplify finance education for young females by writing and publishing financial books in 2017, and now her efforts earn her $97 000 per year in passive income online.
As a financial analyst and advisor, one thing she noticed was that most of the financial books she had come across were boring and a few were targeted toward young women. So she thought to herself, ‘How can I make this topic sassy and fun and simple?’
This led her to the idea of writing two financial books that she successfully published on Amazon in 2017 and they earn her $97 000 per year in passive income.
In this article, we are sharing with you her come-up story as she shared it with the team at CNBC from her background to how she embarked on the journey of self-publishing the books to how she promotes them online to ensure that her book sales do not run out.
Rachel started her career working as a financial analyst at a manufacturing firm and later on got her real estate license and started working partly as a real estate agent.
A lot of people who learned of her finance expertise asked her lots of questions about personal finance which ended up stressing her.
“I began to wonder, ‘Why aren’t they learning on their own? Why aren’t they reading books, or listening to podcasts or looking on websites?’”, she says.
This was the point when realized that most of the financial books she’d come across were boring and esoteric, bordering on intimidating. And few were targeted toward young women.
So she thought to herself, ‘How can I make this topic sassy and fun and simple?’
Rachel began writing her first book, “Money Honey” in January 2017 and she self-published it on Amazon that September. According to her, it was a success from the get-go as it brought in $600 in its first month. The next month it brought in $1 000 and after that, Rachel says that it was pulling in $1 500 a month consistently.
Later on, in 2019, she published her second book “Passive Income, Aggressive Retirement” which details her strategies for early retirement.
By July 2022, her books had sold about 50 000 copies on Amazon earning her more than $97 000 in profit. Here’s how she did it.
Rachel, like many aspiring authors, dreamed of seeing her name in print through the window of her local bookstore. She also hoped that she would land a traditional book deal with a publisher who would handle the labor-intensive task of promoting the book. That turned out not to be the case.
She learned that the route of using the traditional method to publish books would leave her at a disadvantage as she would have to give up a big percentage of the earnings to the publisher.
“When you get a book deal, you earn a 10% to 15% royalty. When you publish on Amazon, you earn a 35% to 70% royalty.”
Choosing the self-publishing route guarantees creative control but it comes with a cost upfront. Rachel says that she spent around $2 000 for the first book and $3 500 for her second book. The main expenses are on hiring an editor and a cover designer for the books.
Self-publishing on Amazon has given Rachel the ability to offer her books in different formats for different types of readers. Amazon allows publishers to offer their books as e-books, audiobooks, and paperbacks.
Rachels published her first book with both 3 options and its e-book sells for $9.99, the paperback goes for $15.99 and the audiobook costs $17.46.
During the self-publishing process, it became clear to Rachel that she would still need a launch team. Her launch team would be a dedicated group of supporters who would buy and spread the word about her book. But in 2017, she didn’t have a large social media following or an email list of clients.
But she was involved in several Facebook groups filled with younger women.
“I was in groups with over 13 million female millennials. The groups weren’t necessarily financial, but I would go on and say, ‘My name is Rachel. I’m a former financial advisor. Here’s what I think,’” she says.
After a while, Rachel became the go-to person in the groups for financial advice which helped her build credibility among the women.
Rachel began introducing the idea that she was working on a book. She asked her fellow group members to vote on potential titles and cover designs.
“They became emotionally invested and were my informal launch team,” Rachel says.
Once the book was published, Rachel began interacting 1-on-1 with everyone she thought she could get interested in the book:
“I would personally message people and say, ‘Hey it’s out. Could you go download it?’ I sent out hundreds of emails. I texted every contact on my phone. I was aggressive.”, she says
Getting Initial Book Reviews
Her other big ask besides downloads was getting reviews. Rachel says that getting reviews early on is as important as getting sales. Amazon will put your book in front of more organic people if they see you have a lot of reviews and activity.
After its first few days on the market, Rachel’s book had 60 reviews.
Finding a Niche
Rachel believes that her book wouldn't be a success if she hadn't chosen to stick with a niche. She says that you need to have a unique value proposition to give people a reason to buy your book over the thousands that are already out there.
Her unique value at that time was that there weren’t many books out there that made finance funny with sassy and sarcastic humor. Most of the books were boring.
Initially, after the launch, she offered a five-day period in which the book could be digitally downloaded for free. She aimed to make the book available and attractively priced for different types of readers and also to quickly ramp up the number of reviews.
Rachel says, “It’s worth giving up some profits to get the book into the hands of more people.”
Rachel has played around with the pricing over the years to see how it affected profitability but always kept an eye on her competitors.
“I always wanted to be priced a little bit lower. If [a competitor’s book] is at $6.99, I intuitively want to be at $5.99.”
After some recent pricing changes, she now earns the largest royalty from sales of her e-book versions of “Money Honey.” Her book prices stand as follows:
Rachel reveals that eventually, her books started to help her readers to solve real-life financial situations, and they would write back to the email to thank her.
“I published telling myself that if I could help one person, I’d be happy,” she says. “And then about six months after I published I started getting emails from strangers and random people all over the country.”
She says that readers had paid off their student loans, and credit card debts and more people kept telling her how the book had changed their lives.
Rachel had spent just $75 to advertise her book, and here it was doing more than she had ever set out to do.
“I thought it must be selling off word-of-mouth,” she says. “And if it’s helping people like this, I must have written something good.”
Rachel being a financial advisor, turned the inconvenience of being asked for financial advice all the time that she hated into a source of passive income by creating finance ebooks that were fun and easy to understand for the majority of people. This helped her earn over $97 000 in book sales passively after self-publishing the books on Amazon.
Self-publishing books online helped her to avoid losing lots of money which would go to book publishers who tend to charge huge percentages of the sales made.
Rachel now is an active real estate investor and she has published more online courses on personal finance that generate her passive income while still enjoying the benefits of passive income from the books that she published over 5 years ago.