Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing
Amazon is the largest online retailer in the world. Amazon Kindle is the most popular eReader on the market today, by far. Combine the two, and it makes for a perfect place for online business seekers who want to create passive income by selling books on Amazon Kindle, the money generator itself.
1.1 Finding a Niche
Browse around the Kindle store and check out the best sellers. This is a list of the bestselling books that are currently on Kindle. This is extremely valuable information, because it shows you the hot markets where people are already spending their money.
Another way to get a sense of successful topics is to check out the categories. If you go to Amazon > Shop by Department > Books & Audible > Kindle Books, you will see a full list of categories on the left hand side of the page. Click on “Nonfiction” to sort out the fiction books.
This is where you click around and start brainstorming ideas for topics. You should try to find 12 or more topics that interest you. Even more specifically, look at the keywords of the popular books and write those down. In the screenshot above, some examples of popular keywords would be “Millionaire” or “War” or “Money.” In a top 20 list, you could expand even more. There was a book about metabolism, one about great salads, and one about changing your habits.
You aren’t getting to your niche yet. At this point, you are only finding your broad target market.
A common mistake that new entrepreneurs make is creating products that they think will sell. They invest hours in researching the topic, creating the product, and posting it for sale only to find out it doesn’t sell at all.
You can publish a New York Times bestseller quality book that has a great topic, a great cover, and great content, but if there is no market for it, it won’t make you much money. Find the market first. Create the product second.
Finding the Best Keywords
Your first step in the market research process is to find the exact keyword or phrase that people are searching for on Amazon. Always make sure you are doing this search in the Kindle store, not the larger Amazon marketplace. Otherwise, you are researching physical products instead of books, and that will throw you way off.
Once you have Kindle Store selected, you will want to type in your keyword in the search bar. Amazon will automatically provide suggestions of popular searches that people are typing in. This is extremely valuable information to find out what the hot topics are and where the demand is.
In our keyword research above, we identified “Millionaire” as a potential topic. Let’s type that in the search bar and see what comes up.
You now have a list of seven potential sub-topics that you know people are actively looking up for you to base your book on.
Let’s say you move forward and use “millionaire fastlane” as your keyword. If you type that in, you’ll see there are 57 results in the Kindle Store for those keywords. The more books, the more competition, and the more difficult it will be to rank at the top of this list. The less competition, the easier it will be to get to the top — but don’t get discouraged by thousands of results. After all, Amazon suggested those keywords because they’re popular and common.
You can analyze the search results more carefully for a better idea of your future competition. Remember, people who search for something typically choose between the top 3-5 results, so that’s where you want to be. Analyze those top results. If they are weak listings, with few or unfavorable reviews, you can easily outrank them and take over the position.
The most important thing to worry about here is the strength and quality of those first few Kindle books for your chosen keywords, so don’t focus on the whole list so much as those first five slots.
Find What Sells
You can check to see if those top 3-5 search results products are actually selling. For this step of the research, you want to focus on books that are similarly priced to the book you want to sell and with a reasonable number of reviews. We will stick to a range of $2.99 – $3.99 for this and avoid the books that are selling for $12 and have hundreds of reviews. The publishers of those books likely have means that you as an individual don’t.
Using our keyword “millionaire fastlane” from earlier, I chose a book priced at $2.99 with just a few reviews. To find out if this book is making any money, scroll down to the Product Details section.
Every book that is in the Kindle Store is ranked by how well it sells. This one, for example, is ranked #1,012,664. It’s best to find books that are ranked #100,000 or better. Based on the leading industry research, if a book is ranked in the top 100K, selling at $2.99, and with a 70% royalty, it is probably making around $50 per month. If that book is ranked 10,000-50,000, it could very well be making hundreds of dollars per month at the same price.
With one of the top results ranking only #1,012,664, it may not be a worthwhile pursuit to publish a book with these keywords. To be sure, you can investigate a few others from the similarly priced top results. If those aren’t selling well either, it may be best to try your next keyword.
Let’s try another search phrase, like “high protein low carb diet.” When I start typing the keywords, Amazon suggests a number of popular searches, including the keyword we’re investigating. This is a very positive sign.
I typed in “high protein low carb diet,” and up popped 388 search results. Let’s examine similarly priced and reviewed books and see if this topic has potential.
The first book that came up has product details as follows:
Ranked #86,986. That fits our criteria, so things are looking good. This book probably makes well over $100 per month. Don’t base your results on one book — continue examining the next three or four to get a solid picture of the market for this niche.
The second book also produced good results.
This one comes in ranked even better at #55,783.
On to search result #3:
This one comes in ranked outside of our criteria at #284,482, so it’s probably not making too much money. We can settle for books ranked outside of 100,000 if they are priced slightly higher than our target price of $2.99. If a book is ranked 150,000, but is priced at $3.99, that book can still be making over $100 per month.
We got two out of three that were in our criteria. This could be a good market to pursue, but don’t be afraid to keep searching for a keyword that comes back positive for the first five results.
You should analyze the search results for other factors too. Check out the number of pages, the number of five star reviews, etc. If a top-selling book with your keyword has 300 pages, it will be hard for you to create a cost-effective alternative with a 50-page book.
If the #3 book has 24 reviews, but they only ranked at three stars, you know you can do better than them — so go for it! Create a better cover, come up with a catchier title, get more great reviews, add more pages, etc. These are all things you can do to make your book stand out.
Creating a Great Title and Cover That Sells
Your book will sell based on a few major factors: title, cover, and reviews. When people are looking for a book to read, they likely have no clue who you are and they have no idea if your book is crap or gold. They base their decision solely on whether your book stands out from the rest.
You must have your primary keyword in the title of your book. Amazon will even rank your book better based on how early the keyword appears in the title. Keyword optimization, much like Search Engine Optimization, is the most important factor in your titles. Put your keywords at the beginning.
You can add related keywords to your title as well. That way, you will rank higher for all similar keywords in addition to your main keywords. This strategy can increase your sales dramatically. For example, if your primary keyword is “high protein low carb diet,” put that as your first five words, but then add something related. A great title for this topic would be, “High Protein Low Carb Diet: Simple High Protein Low Carb Diet Recipes to Help You Lose Weight.” Now your book will rank for your primary keyword, and it will also rank for a secondary keyword like “high protein low carb diet recipes” or “low carb diet recipes.” Don’t be afraid to make your title longer to be more descriptive.
Most of us are not very creative, so don’t try to be. To create a high quality cover that sells, get a professional to do it on fiverr.com or upwork.com. It shouldn’t cost you more than $5 to $10. Just type in “Kindle cover” on either site and you’ll get a whole list of people who will create a cover for you.
Always filter these results based on ratings. Some of the top-rated people will charge more, but it’s better safe than sorry. If they have thousands of great ratings, they do great work.
The designer will likely request the information they need from you once you place an order, but feel free to send them the details so they can get started right away. You will want to send them the title, the subtitle, and an image to start with, if you have one. If you don’t have an image, they can do that for you, too.
Books with images tend to sell better than ones without. An eye-catching image will help your book stand out from the crowd, more so than a cover that just uses text. If you have a preference about fonts or colors, make sure to tell your designer upfront which fonts and colors to use for the cover.
People these days have extremely short attention spans. Shorter books tend to sell better on Kindle because the majority of people don’t want to spend too long reading a book. For Kindle books, think less is more — even 50 pages is fine. This will also limit your cost of production, which is key since we don’t know how well any particular book will sell.
The quality of your book will not be determined by the length. There are plenty of books in the Kindle Store with over 300 pages that don’t sell at all and are full of fluff. Instead of length, focus on value: make sure your content is useful and actionable. The length doesn’t matter.
If you want to write your own Kindle books, you won’t be able to produce very much, and you’ll find yourself struggling to generate enough content to generate a worthwhile income. A better option is to have a ghostwriter do the writing for you.
Again, you can use upwork.com or fiverr.com for this as well. Make sure that you are hiring native English speakers to write your books. This is key. It’s nothing against other languages, but if English isn’t the writer’s first language, it will come across in the writing.
You can give the writers as little or as much detail as you want. You could just provide them the title and subtitle and tell them to have at it, or you can provide them the research articles to use as the basis. Either way will work, as long as you choose a good writer based on ratings.
You can even go as far as providing a book template for your writers to follow. Once you get a few books under your belt, you will find this makes things much easier because you’ll know exactly what to expect in the finished product.
Before you publish your book, you will want to have it formatted and proofread. Sometimes the ghostwriter will offer to do this for you, but it is probably best to get fresh eyes on it. Throw out another few bucks and have someone else format it and proofread it for you. Think about how many errors you missed in your own school papers growing up. With your Kindle books, you’re not just getting graded — you’re (hopefully) getting paid, so hiring a proofreader or editor is a valuable investment.
Publishing on Kindle
The first step to publishing your book on Kindle is to create an account. Head on over to kdp.amazon.com and sign up for your account. If you have purchased items from Amazon before, you will just need to log in.
You will need to complete all required information that Amazon asks for. The details that the site requires for opening a new account can vary depending on where you’re located, so we won’t cover that here.
Once you finish creating your account and have everything set up, head to your “Bookshelf.” This is basically a dashboard, just like every other e-commerce site — Amazon just used a clever name. Once you navigate to your Bookshelf, click the “Add New Title” button. This will bring you to a page requesting detailed information.
You will have the option of enrolling your book in the KDP Select program. This is a program for Amazon Prime members where they pay a fee and are able to “borrow” a book for free each month. You still make money when someone borrows your book, so don’t worry about losing profits. Enrolling in KDP Select will help your book rank higher in the results, and it allows you to promote your book for up to five days every 90 days for free through the program. Just keep in mind that you won’t be able to publish your book anywhere else for those 90 days.
Step one: enter the title of your book. You can leave the Edition and Publisher blank. You may want to select “This book is part of series,” as this will allow you to create a series title in which you can add additional keywords to help in search results.
The description of your book is extremely important. People will make the decision to buy or not based almost entirely on the description. If the description is interesting, they buy it. If it’s boring, uninspiring and bland, they don’t. You’re allowed 4,000 characters in KDP to write your description, and I suggest you use as much of it as possible.
Also make sure to include as many keywords and related keywords as possible in your description. This can boost your rankings even further.
The next section is for adding contributors. It is highly suggested that you use a pen name for this, unless you wrote the book yourself. Don’t feel weird about this — it’s extremely common among writers. Even Mark Twain, J.K. Rowling, and George Orwell were all pen names.
Now, onward to verify your publishing rights. In this case, since the book is 100% original and you own all content, you want to select “This is not a public domain work and I hold the necessary publishing rights.”
Kindle lets you select up to two categories for your book. You should think carefully about selecting the categories best suited to your particular book. Your goal here is being able to rank within the top 100 of that particular category. If you have selected a very competitive category, you can always come back and change it if you aren’t getting the desired results.
You also add in your “Search Keywords.” You are allowed to add seven keywords, and you want to use the keywords from your title or series title, subtitle, as well as important words used in your description.
Uploading The Cover and Book
Click on the “Browse for Image” button and select the cover that you had created using fiverr.com or upwork.com. You’ll have to make sure it’s in .jpg format. If not, you can always go back to your designer and have them send the cover in .jpg format.
Next, you’ll need to upload your book. You’ll see an “Uploading Your Book File” section which will ask if you want to enable digital rights management or not. If you select “do not enable,” others will be able to share your book. This can lead customers to other books you have for sale, so it can be helpful — but it’s not necessary, so feel free to select whichever option you’d like.
Then, you will see “Browse for book” option. This is where you select your actual book. It will need to be an .epub file. Once it’s uploaded, you can preview it and verify it looks right. After that, click “Save and Continue” to move on.
After you upload your book and hit Save and Continue, you’ll see that it asks to verify your publishing territories. Always select “Worldwide rights – all territories” as you want your book to be able to sell all over the world.
In the “Choose Your Royalty” section, you will have two options: 35% royalty and 70% royalty. KDP will pay 35% royalty if your book is being sold from $0.99 – $2.98. For the 70% royalty, you must sell your book from $2.99 – $9.99.
You obviously want to get the 70% royalty for your books, but we are going to price our books at $0.99 to start so that we can build up reviews and get some sales. Once we have some great reviews, then we’ll raise the price up to at least $2.99 and potentially higher if the book is selling really well.
Click on the 35% Royalty option and type in the price of $0.99. You should also check the boxes for all the other Amazon platforms so that your book is available to as many customers as possible.
Further towards the bottom, you will see “Allow lending for this book.” This will allow people to share your book with family and friends, which is good for us because we want to get it out in front of as many eyes as we can.
Posting Your Book
Lastly, click the final check box to confirm that you have all the rights and that you agree to the KDP Terms and Conditions. It’s a good idea to read the Terms and Conditions to make sure you’re complying with their rules.
There you go! You’ll get a message that your book is being published and will be online shortly. You’ll also get an email from KDP once the book is up for sale. Well done!
Your Book is Published, Now What?
Now that your book is published and available for sale on Amazon, you should head over to the Kindle store yourself and see where your book is currently listed when you do a search for your keywords. It won’t be near the top at this point, so you may have to dig a few pages deep to find it.
You’ll want to take note of which page it shows up on during this first search so that you can see the improvements once you start marketing and getting some sales. You’ll also want to note your current Amazon bestsellers ranking, which you will find in the same product details section that you used when doing your research.
It is also very important to find your ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number). This can be found in your product details section as well.
You should also check your listing and verify that everything looks the way you want it to. Check the title, the cover, the description, etc. If you need to make any updates, head back to your account and make the changes. The book will be updated within 24 hours.
Then get the link to your book. The link for the book of the product details image above is as follows:
You only need the link up to your ASIN number, which is highlighted in the URL above. For this book, the link for you to use in marketing efforts will be https://www.amazon.com/Low-Carb-Ultimate-Protein-Starving-ebook/dp/B0177ZN1M4
Reviews are arguably the most important selling factor for your book. If your listing has no reviews, no one will buy it.
Types of Reviews
There are two types of reviews on Amazon:
– Amazon Verified Reviews
– Unverified Reviews
Amazon verified reviews are when someone purchases your book from Amazon and then leaves a review. You can find these in the Reviews section of any listing. They will have orange text in the review that says “Amazon Verified Purchase.” Positive, verified reviews help your book rank higher than a larger number of unverified reviews.
Unverified reviews are when a person didn’t purchase the book, but still left a review.
Number of Reviews
There is no magic number of reviews that you need to be successful. It all depends on your competition. It could be 15, 25, 35, or more. Check out your competition and see how many reviews the more successful books with your keywords have, and make that your goal.
How to Get Reviews
Organically: You can always just sit back and wait for people who buy your book to leave reviews. The biggest problem with this is that only 1 in 1,000 people actually post a review on a book they purchase.
Friends/Family: You can ask your friends or family to buy your book and then leave an honest review. You can even send the book to them as a gift by using the “Send as Gift” button on your book’s listing. You have to make sure their reviews meet Amazon’s review guidelines, so make sure you check that out.
Facebook/Social Media: Find a group on Facebook that might be interested in your book. If your book is about a low carb diet, find a group about that, or similar groups about weight loss or eating well. Then create a post for that group, offering to give the book for free to members who are interested in it. Interested members will message you; you can send it to them, then follow up a few days later by asking for an honest review.
Set Up a Free Promotion on Amazon: Once you start getting a few reviews using the strategies above, you can set up a free promotion by going to your KDP bookshelf and clicking “Promote and Advertise.” You will have an option to use a “Free Book Promotion,” which means that your book will be available for up to five days for free. Make the start date at least seven days from the current date when you set it up. Tip: Before you set up your free promotion, change the price of your book from $0.99 to $2.99. This will give your book more perceived value when it’s free, and will likely lead to more downloads.
All of the reviews you get don’t have to be 5 stars. It makes your listing look more natural if you have 4-star, or even 3-star, reviews mixed in. The goal is to make sure your overall rating is at least at 4 stars.
Improving Your Ranking
Besides getting reviews, there are a few other strategies you can implement to improve your ranking in the Amazon search results.
Amazon Wish List: On your book’s listing, under the “Give as a Gift” link, you will see an option to “Add to Wish List.” When your book is added to someone’s wish list, it tells Amazon that people are interested in this book and that it is popular. The more people that add your book to their wish list, the higher your rankings. People typically use this wish list around the holidays to show friends or family members products that they want, or as a way to bookmark items for purchase later.
Making $100,000 Per Year With Kindle
You’ve got your books published. They are getting reviews, ranking higher and higher, and you’re getting some sales. Congrats!
While generating $100/per month from one book may sound great to a lot of folks, generating $1,000/month sounds much better. Generating $10,000/month from Amazon Kindle alone sounds even better! So how can we get there?
Let’s say you only want to publish Kindle books and don’t want any backend sales funnel. Great! That will make this all the more passive once you get your reviews and ranking up. Based on the target we set earlier in this chapter of having an Amazon Bestsellers Rank of #100,000 or better, and having our book priced at $2.99, we can reasonably expect each book that we publish that meets that criteria to generate $100/month.
With that formula, we would need to get 100 books published on Kindle that meet the minimum criteria in order to reach our six figure goal. Sound like too many? Remember, you aren’t writing these books — you are hiring people on upwork.com to do it for you. That’s what makes this strategy so effective: it’s very easy to get a lot of books published in a very short period of time.
Maybe you don’t want to publish 100 separate books. That’s fine, too. There are other ways to reach the six figure goal with Amazon Kindle. For example, you can establish a blog or a website around the topic of your book, and then include a link to that site in your book.
When you start getting tons of sales, those readers will appreciate the value you provided in the book and want to check out your site. This is where you provide an opt-in page so they can subscribe to your list and receive any future updates on books, products, etc. related to the topic. Now, you have an email list of interested readers who have a much better chance of buying your future book or product than someone who has no idea who you are.
You can even put together a series of books related to the same topic. That way, when your first book becomes extremely popular and you’ve generated a nice email list, you send a quick email out to your subscribers letting them know you just published a follow-up book. Instant sales! Sales will become repeat sales and you will gain trust and authority with these readers, which will make them want to sign up to your website even more.
If you’ve ever heard the internet marketing saying, “It’s all in the list,” you now know what that means. I’ve heard of experts who have gotten hundreds of thousands of email subscribers to their lists. That’s basically a license to print money! These guys can make millions of dollars by sending just one email. So if you don’t want to publish 100 books, just set up a website and an email list and watch what happens!
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