I’ve made over $100,000 in commissions as an Amazon affiliate and sold my top Amazon site for six figures as well so I had a lot of great info to share in a Kindle book.
In early 2013 I really wanted to flex my writing muscle and write a book once a month, but I was always busy with other business opportunities. With that said, I do plan to write more marketing books because I really do have a lot to teach but also because I enjoy writing.
Yada yada yada you just want me to tell you how much my Kindle book made in the past year right? Ok let’s dive in.
One Year Income Stats From One Kindle Book
In one year I’ve made on average $377.87 per month for a total one year earnings of $4,534.41 by selling my book for $2.99 (the vast majority of the time it was $2.99). Now because it’s a tremendous pain in the butt to actually go through every Excel spreadsheet from Amazon KDP and pull out my numbers I went a little overboard on some visual chart porn for you:
What probably sticks out first is just how much the United States and the United Kingdom take up in sales. Over 95% of the sales come from the US and UK and while you make think that it’s just the niche for my book but with my other pen names in other non marketing niches I’ve seen similar numbers.
Holy Cow Batman – $377 Per Month – I Should Go Buy A New Car!
If I were a younger version of myself (more of an idiot that is to say) I could go out and buy a new car for about $25,000 with 3% interest and a 6 year term and this one book could pay for my car payments.
But you are not like the younger me are you? You’re reading this blog, working on ways to make extra money and – most importantly – keeping your personal expenses low so you can both retire sooner (if that’s your thing) and have money to invest in your business.
You may even buy a cheapo house like me as well right?
(Perhaps in your country or your part of the US $130k isn’t cheap, but compared to West Seattle homes at $500k where we were looking it is cheap)
Of course it’s not certain that I will continue to earn $377 per month from this book either. The internet is always changing and certainly the material in my book will need some degree of on going attention and updating.
I’ve already updated the book roughly 5 times to account for changes with Google (i.e. removal of Google Adwords Keyword Tool, reduced influence of exact match domain names etc).
Make Money With The Kindle Owners Lending Library Program (KOLL)
For this book I joined KDP select which allows me 5 free days to give the book away for free every 90 day period (good for promos and to get early reviews). This is an exclusive program which requires you to not publish the book anywhere else other than Amazon.com.
With that said the KOLL program is something different that allows Amazon Prime members to borrow one free KDP select book per month. To compensate authors they will pay you when Amazon Prime members borrow your book for free – nifty right?
So how much money can you make from people borrowing your book for free?
So what does this tell us? Well it should tell you to go borrow my books if you aren’t going to pay for them ya cheap bastard so I can get paid. Nah I’m just kidding (or am I?)
Really what it tells us is that roughly 10% of the revenue from this book came from people who just borrowed the book for free. I have Kindle author friends and acquaintances that in some niches see this borrow income account for 50% of their revenue though so my figure again is just an example.
How Does Sales Rank Correlate To Total Sales?
Based on these stats you can see that a rank of roughly between 20,000 and 30,000 translates to roughly $377 per month in revenue when priced at $2.99.
What Should You Price Your Book At?
Through the KDP Select program you can price your book between $.99 and $2.98 to receive 30% of the sale price. When the price is $2.99 or more you can get 70% of the sale though.
You need to sell 7 times as many books at 99 cents to earn the same money as pricing it at 2.99
99 cents ~ $.30 to you
2.99 ~ $2.09 to you
7 books x $.30 = $2.10
Should you ever price a book at 99 cents?
Yes of course, if the book is shorter and doesn’t warrant a higher price point (e.g. less than 10,000 words) then you can price it at 99 cents.
If you’re first releasing the book then 99 cents is a good price point as well because you can get more buyers and more early reviews (that is if you don’t want to give away your book for free).
When you price your book lower and you’re giving away a bonus in your book to add people to your email list then pricing the book at 99 cents can be an effective strategy with the idea that you can sell something of higher value to these subscribers later.
Why not sell at $9.99 or more?
If you’re doing a really long book, can prove the value and do a massive promotion leading up to your launch this more traditional pricing structure can work. The information I’m providing is based on the new $2.99 style pricing for shorter books that I’ve been doing.
Bonus tip: Just a day before I published this post Amazon released a new feature for KDP select members to include a count down timer for your book between price increases.
Real scarcity is a powerful marketing tactic and I’ll certainly be using this new feature in my books going forward as well.
So I’ll likely release future books at 99 cents for the first 24 hours and automatically up the price after that. In the past there was some lag between price changes so here you can actually do a price raise perfectly on time. (Amazon is a great partner. They keep making things better for us.)
Should you ever give your book away for free?
I’ve already shared my opinion that when you give something away for free people are less likely to do anything with the free information (than compared to those that paid for the information).
I have at least two dozen Kindle books that I’ve downloaded for free that “I’ll read later”
With that said, it’s still an effective strategy to give your book away for free – if you don’t have an established platform and audience to sell your book to so that you can get some early reviews which can help with your long term sales.
How much money does an average book generate?
There are over 1 million books on the Kindle marketplace according to Amazon and with my book around the 20,000 – 30,000 range in the bestseller range I’m within the top 2% – 3% of all Kindle books (based on a fixed number of 1 million – there are more books than that though). I’m confident that most authors fail to sell their books for a few reasons:
1. The book genuinely completely sucks and they get bad reviews that tank the sales
2. The book is filled with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes (another source of bad reviews)
3. The cover looks like they opened MS paint and clicked around with the paint brush tool while blindfolded – pay for something sharp
4. The marketing behind the book is non existent – you’ve gotta have some traffic source that you send at the book if you want sales
5. The topic or niche of the book is terrible – seriously the history of hacky sack?*
I believe most authors are terrible at marketing which is the primary reason why they fail though.
Chris, does every book you release sell well?I’ve only released two marketing books and the other bundle of books I have published and in the works I’m not going to disclose here. But I did commit fatal mistake #5 with my second marketing book: Buying Websites – How To Invest In Online Real Estate
This book is all about buying and selling websites with real life case studies from me. You should buy it if you’re at all interested in learning how to buy and sell websites. 😉
I picked a terrible niche for my 2nd book. Buying and selling websites is a sub niche of a niche and there really just aren’t that many people experienced enough with available capital to invest in buying websites.
In total I’ve earned a measly $630.01 in six months with my second book. If the trend continued I’d earn roughly $100 a month from this book.
Even my first Kindle book that has made me ~$377 per month over the past year isn’t a huge success. I’d consider a book a huge success (for this new $2.99 style book pricing) if it earned me $1,000+ per month – without relying on heavy external promotion. To hit the WSJ bestseller list a book needs to sell tens of thousands of copies. Great related article here from James Altucher.
So how do you sell a lot of books?
One of the best strategies to sell books is to build a platform around your target audience. This can be done in a number of ways:
1. Create and scale a website about a specific topic – use this website to promote your book
2. Build a Facebook page and pay for likes to build your own traffic source – use this page to promote your book
3. Build an email list based on the traffic you get to your website, Facebook page etc and promote your book that way
4. Price your book low for launch to drive extra sales and then increase the price (scarcity works)
5. Offer a bonus for book buyers (i.e. companion video course, software etc)
There are a lot of book marketing strategies and tactics that you can employ (I could probably write an entire book on that once my Kindle income hits a higher level).
What if you just want to write some Kindle books to make some extra cash like I’m doing?
Follow the advice I already shared which basically boils down to:
Build an audience (traffic source) and send that traffic to your book pages.
Beyond the strategies I’ve shared what I specifically do for this book is include mini call to actions to buy my book inside the members area of the various Amazon software products I sell.
For example, if you buy EasyAzon – the best Amazon wordpress plugin on the market (I’m confident of this especially when we release the new version) – inside the members area I have a link for people to buy my book beneath the download page. If my customers paid to buy EasyAzon then a Kindle book for under $5 is a drop in the bucket.
Additionally I promote my Kindle books via this blog in blog posts and via my navigation bar:
For this book I gave it away when I first launched it via an email promotion to my list, but frankly I shouldn’t have. I already have a pretty well established platform and it devalues my work when at this stage of my life I’ve proven that I know quite a bit about marketing and in this specific case – quite a lot about Amazon affiliate marketing.
Something else I could do is include a follow up email in my newsletter directing people to check out my books as well but it’s not something I’ve done yet.
Overall – Can you make a day job killing income with Kindle books? ($5,000+ per month)
Yes. $5,000 per month is completely possible. I already have a few friends doing thousands per month and I interviewed a guy doing much more than that. My best month so far was just under $1,000 or so from the combination of my marketing books and the other books I’ve published under another pen name (and I’m just dabbling with this stuff for fun).
I’m confident that even if I completely outsource Kindle book creation to other writers I could hit over $5,000 per month and easily recoup my writing, editing and cover creation cost (and that’s what I’m setting out to do starting today).
At this stage of my business $5,000 per month isn’t a huge number (don’t get me wrong it’s still nice) but fortunately making money in new and fun ways just happens to be my hobby.
My goal 50 Kindle books in 12 months ~ $5,000+ per month
I’m taking the mass niche website approach and applying it to Kindle books. I know I should focus in on one thing as I said before but I’ve gotta have cool content to share with my you. So my current plan is to hit 50 books by November 1st 2014.
Will I write all of these books? Hah of course not. You c my grammer skillz and spellings? I cant right sentences very wel or quik.
I was only able to write 2 books in the past 12 months so at most I can write maybe 4 – 6 marketing related books in the next 12 months.
Instead I will be outsourcing all of the book writing, editing and cover creation to other freelancers.
How do I know outsourcing Kindle book creation will work?
I’ve already published 3 books that were completely outsourced – as in I didn’t even read them all the way through.
I paid someone else to write the content, paid someone else to edit the book and paid someone else to create the cover.
Needless to say it will still take some work from me but because the rest of my business is doing well I can’t let this project distract me so I’m only going to do this project outside of my normal work hours.
Overall, I’m excited about this case study and if you think it sounds fun I’ll do monthly income reports for this small portion of my overall business.
Congrats you’re a winner! You made it to the end
What started as a quick blog post to outline some specific numbers of a book I published one year ago turned out to be something much longer.
If you enjoyed what you read thank me by purchasing or borrowing one of my books for free. (I’m not afraid to sell when I know that the value I’ve provide is worth more than the price I’m asking):
Want to follow along with my case study? Join the email newsletter below this blog post that’s where I’ll send out updates. Feedback welcomed in the comments…
*Hah you totally clicked the link to the history of hacky sack didn’t you? Let me know if I tricked you.