I published my first book on the Kindle at the end of September about how to make money as an Amazon Associate. Now after nearly 2 months I wanted to share what I learned from the experience, how many books I’ve sold since then and other advice I’ve learned along the way.
How To Come Up With Book Ideas
The first Kindle book I wrote was on how to make money with Amazon’s affiliate program. Amazon income is what helped me break away from my 9-5 day job in the first place back in 2009 and I already had a solid outline to complete a book on the topic so that’s primarily why I picked it. In my (limited) experience I found the easiest way to pick a book idea was to simply select from a range of topics I already knew a lot about. Having gone this route I’ve since learned that this isn’t always the best idea. Let me explain why…
Are there only a few books competing for your target market? That’s not necessarily a good thing
I like to draw comparisons between the Kindle book market and competing in Google with SEO because they are fairly similar. When it comes to SEO the process is relatively simple. Find a profitable keyword that is searched frequently and build a website to target that keyword. There’s a lot more to it, but part of what removes a lot of the guess work from this process is because Google provides a tool to determine how many people are searching for a specific keyword phrase; however, there isn’t an Amazon equivalent to see what types of book topics people are searching for. Because no such tool exists you’ve got to look at other factors such as the number of books already published on a topic AND the Kindle sales rank for the books already available:
The problem with my niche is that there simply aren’t enough people on Amazon searching for a book like mine which could be because it’s on a very narrow aspect of the small overall “how to earn money online” market. I’m getting a tad ahead of myself, but simply put I should have paid more attention to the sales data of the existing books within my niche before I decided to write on the topic that I did.
If you’re looking for step by step directions on how to come up with a book idea, analyze what a Kindle book sales rank equates to the number of units sold I highly recommend Steve Scott’s book on How To Discover Non-Fiction Book Ideas.
How To Actually Write The Kindle Book
When it comes to writing anything whether it’s a blog post or in this case a Kindle book I always start with an outline or at the very least a list of all the main points I want to cover. This allows me to simply expand upon the main topics or points I want to cover in my writing. Now when it comes to actually writing the content I like to put in a ton of hours late at night when there are no distractions. I routinely would start writing from 10:00 PM at night and move into 5:00 AM in the morning. This process reminds me of my college years where I’d wait until 12:01 AM at night to start work on a paper that was due that day (and I still got great grades – college is too easy).
If you still have a full time job and are not sure how to make some income on the side I will restate that the best thing I ever did was to put a few hours of work every evening after dinner trying to earn money online. There are probably much better ways to write a book but I have an odd productivity period as a night owl.
How To Format A Kindle Book
You can’t just write a book in MS Word and upload it to Amazon. What I found to be really helpful in the actual book formatting process was following along with this great PDF from Amazon that outlines how to write a book in the proper kindle format here:
How To Format Your Book For Kindle
(You can also watch a really boring, terribly sounding step by step video on that page. They really should have a professional redo these videos).
How To Get A Nicely Formatted Description On Amazon.com
Consider your book listing as a sales page and you’ve got to convince people why they should spend their money on your book. Part of that process involves making a nice looking description. Simply writing out your text “works” but it looks much better when you have a proper headline (just like you would at the top of a sales letter). To accomplish this you basically use HTML code but you replace the < with and then you replace the > with
What I’ll do is get the code from an HTML editor and then pop it into notepad and do a simple search and replace.
The orange headlines found in book descriptions are from using an H2 tag in the description like this:
The only thing you can’t create are HTML links.
How To Market A Book
There are books that make money from Amazon by keyword searches (again just like you might try and get traffic from a Google ranking for a website) and this is something you should think about when deciding on what topic to write about as well as the title of your book. With that said, sometimes the most effective way to market a book would be to actually promote it by sending traffic to the book page yourself. For example with my Kindle book I took this as an opportunity to thank all of my blog readers, newsletter subscribers and/or customers an opportunity to download it for free for a limited time. I then marketed to them using my email list and a blog post.
Why Offer The Book For Free At All?
1. Customer appreciation
2. Great way to reach a new audience of readers on the Kindle
3. Helps to get reviews on your book as soon as possible
Overall it’s a really effective marketing tool as well – read this real life case study from a fiction book writer.
Email marketing has always been the most consistently valuable marketing tool at my disposable but the key is to use all of your following (website visitors, Twitter followers etc) to send traffic to your book page.
Mark Cuban wrote one tweet and got to #1 in every book category he’s in:
This is an over the top example, but if you really want to drive sales nothing trumps sending traffic to your book page.
How Effective Was My Free Book Promotion?
To thank the thousands of customers, readers and subscribers I made my first Kindle book available for the first 48 hours. In that time frame I received roughly 3,500 downloads and held #1 free in both of my book categories. The highest overall number I saw was #119 in free for the entire Kindle store. It updates hourly but I only checked it a handful of times throughout the day. The fact that I peaked at #119 in the Kindle store tells me that in order to break the top 100 free you probably need 2,000+ free downloads in a single day:
Here Are My Income Results From My First Month
In total I gave away roughly 3,500 copies of my book for free in 48 hours. The total amount of books I sold in October was only about 200 including all territories (but the US and UK made up the vast majority). I also had roughly 40 books borrowed by Amazon Prime members – I can’t remember how much money I make for these but overall it’s safe to say I made $350+ from direct book sales (whoopty doo). The book is currently priced at $2.99 and I get 70% of the book sales which Amazon says is $2.06 (if you price the book at $.99 you only get 30% of book sales).
Amazon US Sales Screenshot Click to see
Amazon UK Sales Screenshot Click to see
I said it earlier, but it’s incredibly important to pick a topic that has a large enough market just like you would when analyzing what type of niche to build a website around. I’ve spoken with other Non-Fiction Kindle authors who sell 100+ books a day and that was one of the points they reiterated to me as well. Any future books I write will focus on a larger niche so that I can capitalize on Amazon search traffic. There are probably only 5 books on the Kindle market about Amazon associates which gives you an idea of how little competition / demand there was for a book on the topic I wrote about.
How To Handle Negative Reviews
The day you put yourself out there in the form of publishing a Kindle book, blog post or selling a product you’re going to have positive responses and negative responses. People that don’t like what you’re doing and don’t say so in a constructive manner are what I like to call haters. You can think and say what you want about this blog, me, whatever because sometimes haters gonna hate:
You should listen to negative criticism when it’s something you can improve but sometimes it’s just not useful. In the case of this book I wrote it for complete beginners with some of the tips and strategies likely helping out intermediate level people as well. I got primarily positive reviews, a handful of negative reviews and only actually responded to one negative review to help clarify and address a few of the criticisms. It’s not worth completely arguing with someone in the reviews section of your book because again as I said before sometimes haters gonna hate, but if you can address the problems the reviewer has without coming off as confrontational it helps potential buyers that are on the fence decide if they should buy your book.
Will I Write Another Kindle Book?
I really enjoyed the process of writing the Kindle book and making money from yet another income source, but if I do another book sometime I want to focus on a much larger niche to avoid the mistakes I made with this book. I won’t be publishing anything else this year though because I’m entirely focused on launching a new software business that many of you will be really interested in checking out. I won’t say much more than that for now, but I’m really excited that the last six months of hard work are about to come to fruition.
Feel free to ask any questions you may have about the Kindle book writing process. I hope that what I’ve shared will help in a Kindle book you write sometime in the future.