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“Just Start. Don’t Overthink It.” – Hassan Osman, author on the side
1. How and when did you make your first dollar online?
The first dollar I made online was from a book that I published back in 2006.
I was a newly-minted graduate with a master’s degree in information security management and had started a consulting job in the same space. So I thought I would document everything I learned about how anyone can protect themselves from hackers, and I packaged all that info into a short book.
I published the ebook version on Amazon, and the paperback version on CreateSpace (a print-on-demand publisher that’s now part of Amazon).
I made my first dollar when someone bought the ebook and I saw my balance increase on the Amazon KDP dashboard.
The book didn’t end up selling a lot of copies but it was a great learning experience. I also fell in love with the process of sharing my knowledge online. Since then, I‘ve published a total of 16 books (all while working a full-time job).
I’m writing my 17th one now.
2. How long did it take between the idea and this first dollar?
The first book took me a long time because I had no experience (everything was new to me).
It took me around a year or so between coming up with the idea, writing it, publishing it, and making my first dollar.
Today, it takes me anywhere between four and six months to write and publish a new book.
In some cases, it can take me a lot less time than that.
I recently live-tweeted how I wrote and published a book in just 4 hours:
3. What best actionable advice would you give someone who wants to start TODAY?
Don’t overthink it.
If you’ve been thinking about writing a book for a while, then you need to take the first step now. Most people want to wait for the right time or the right circumstances to get started. In 99% of the cases, the right time is today, not tomorrow.
How do you start?
First, pick a general topic. Choose something you’re interested in, something that you have an interest in, and something that has an active buy/sell market.
Next, narrow the topic down. Take your general topic and turn it into a concrete goal that your reader can accomplish. You can do this by narrowing down the outcome and narrowing down the audience.
Third, choose a title and subtitle for your book. Pick something that grabs attention, explains the outcome, and defines the audience. Adding keywords also helps.
Then write your book. If you’d like to learn more, check the answer to the next question about resources
4. What resources would you recommend to a beginner?
I published a short book called “Write Your Book on the Side”.
It’s the only resource you need to get started (no fancy tools required).
And it’s 100% free.
Many beginners have downloaded it and learned how to write and publish their first nonfiction book while working a full-time job (some even made it to the Amazon bestseller list).
5. Who would you recommend to follow?
Low-risk way to start by writing a newsletter: Louie Bacaj
How to write books on Amazon: Greg Lim
Published 16 books on Amazon and 11 courses on Udemy while employed.
I talk about how busy employees can turn knowledge into income.
Download the # 1 Amazon Bestseller (100% Free): Learn how to write & publish your first non-fiction book while working a full-time job