It’s like blogging. You can publish a blog post from several years back. Every single day that content is on the Internet, somebody might take a look at it or somebody might see an ad on that page and click on it. Depending on how you have set up the ad, you can make money.
Imagine that! Publishing something a while back and still making money in the here and now. That’s exactly the kind of passive income opportunity you get with online book publishing.
The Good News with Earning a Passive Income Publishing Online Books
About 10 years ago, the idea of making a passive income from books was more theoretical than anything else. Seriously. There are a lot of seminars that teach people the ins and outs of publishing a book but, let’s face it, without a massive platform where people can easily publish books and enjoy massive traffic to buy those books, online publishing was more of a wish and a dream rather than a reality that makes cold, hard cash every single day.
Fast forward to today and the rise of the Amazon Kindle self-publishing system, and it’s a completely different ball game. Now, obscure and previously unknown authors from all over the world can publish books on Amazon’s KDP system and earn money on auto-pilot. I know you probably heard the phrase “make money while you sleep.” That’s exactly the kind of thing that can happen if you publish a book that becomes a bestseller on Amazon Kindle.
The following guide steps you through the process of publishing a book to generate passive income profits. Let me give you an advanced warning. Forget about what you’ve heard. Publishing a bestseller on the Amazon Kindle platform requires a lot of work. There are lots of guides out there and self-proclaimed gurus who tell you that you just need to have the right insight and the right inspiration and be a good writer.
Guess what? Even if all those things were true but you don’t know how market research works, you’re probably not going to make much money. I don’t care how good of a writer you are. If people aren’t exposed to your quality work, they’re not going to buy. That’s the bottom line. So, follow the steps below instead so you can increase your chances of making real passive income from Amazon Kindle.
Before We Begin: How Much Money are We Talking About?
How much many can you make on Amazon Kindle? If you go to a Kindle author forum called KBoards.com and check their top author earnings page, your mind will get blown. I know mine was. I didn’t know that people were making one million, two million, even up to four million dollars every single year on the Amazon Kindle platform.
I know. I’m not talking about the good old days when people used to publish X-rated novels or adult erotica to get quick profits. We’re talking about the here and now. Stuff like young adult fiction, vampire novels, sci-fi fantasy, anime fantasy, you name it. As long as you know what you’re doing, you stand to make some real money. That’s how much is at stake.
In the nonfiction segment of Amazon Kindle, the same story holds. There are lots of niches out there like, for example, picking up women that earn their authors six figures every single year. Even if your book isn’t as hot as these examples, you only need to rank 10,000 in Amazon’s sales rankings to be almost guaranteed $10,000 per year.
If you live in the United States or Western Europe, you might be thinking that’s chump change. Ten thousand dollars is not much money. After all, if you were to try to get an apartment in Los Angeles, $3000 per month is probably going to get you a fairly low-level apartment.
Think of it this way: People who publish nonfiction books on Kindle actually publish many books. They try to dominate that niche. It’s not at all surprising to find out that authors actually have 20, 30, or even 50 books under their belt in the same nonfiction category.
Let that sink in. Do the math. There is space to make tremendous amount of passive money on Amazon Kindle provided you have the right plan.
You have to Start with a Solid Kindle Publishing Plan
As the old saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you’re really planning to fail.” This can’t be any truer than on the Amazon Kindle platform. I know this firsthand. I learned this the hard way.
I remember when I first started out publishing books on Amazon, I got all excited by the fact that it’s so easy for me to write books and then publish them. I couldn’t wait to count how much money I would make.
Guess what happened? I waited and waited and nothing happened because I wrote the wrong book. I didn’t even know what category to classify it under. I didn’t even know if there was a demand for the book. I definitely didn’t care about the quality of the cover. I didn’t even bother with a nice intro or even went through the hassle of promoting it. In other words, I just published, and I waited and waited and waited.
I don’t want that to happen to you. So, the first step that you need to do is to have a solid plan. Your mindset should be all about planning. I know you’re excited about just jumping in there with both feet and publishing away. Believe me, I was in the same boat; however, passion can only take you so far. A bit of brain power and thinking would serve you better.
Pay Close Attention to the Category You’re Going to Publish Under
The first thing that you need to decide on is whether you want to publish fiction or nonfiction. Do you like telling stories? Do you like directing mental movies for people? Do you like to create new worlds? If so, I would suggest that you focus on fiction.
On the other hand, if you have personal knowledge of a specific type of information that people are looking for and you have the facts and experience to back that up, you might want to consider nonfiction.
A lot of people are under the impression that nonfiction pays less than fiction. That’s not true. There are many fiction genres that really don’t pay all that well compared to nonfiction. It really all boils down to market research. The first up is to decide which type of book best fits your capabilities and interests.
Step #1: Start with What You’re Actually Interested In
Even if you decide later on to outsource the writing of your book, you still have to sit down and pay close attention to what you are personally interested in. Are you into vampires, young adult fiction, urban romance, or any other fiction genre? Write that down.
How would you know you’re truly interested? If you think about topics that fall under those genres, or you normally talk about topics that are related do these fiction categories, there is a good chance that you are naturally interested in them. It wouldn’t take much effort for you to start talking about them and getting excited about them.
On the other hand, if it feels like you’re pulling teeth when it comes to certain topics, then you probably would be better off steering clear of those genres and topics.
The problem with this stage of the analysis is that the only person who would know for sure is you. You know yourself better than anybody else. You have to be completely honest with yourself. Don’t worry about market appeal just yet.
Just write down the things that you are personally interested in. This could be topics. Maybe you’re into angels and demons. Perhaps you love detective stories.
If you’re still stumped, pay close attention to the kinds of movies that you like. What type of movies are they? Are they suspense, horror, action, drama, comedy? Write down everything that you’re interested in.
The same applies to nonfiction. With nonfiction, pay close attention to the topics that you’re interested in.
Step #2: Scope out the competition
Now that you have a long list of stuff that you’re actually interested in, the next step is to look for those categories on Amazon Kindle. Check out the different categories and subcategories. Take a peek at the top-selling in those subcategories. Are these the kinds of books you would personally want to buy?
Pay close attention to their sneak preview. Do you see anything that would interest you? Put yourself in the shoes of a consumer. Would you want to buy books that talk about these topics or tell these kinds of stories?
Again, the only person who can know for sure is you. I can’t read your mind obviously.
Next, pay close attention to the sales rank of the top-listed book and the number 10 book. Are they fairly close in rank?
Subsequently, pay attention to when the books were published. If these books were published six months ago and they still have a very decent sales rank, that should tip you off.
On the other hand, if the book were recently published, then you should ignore that book’s sales ranking. Whoever published that book probably did promotions so it distorted its sales rank.
To judge the commercial fitness or feasibility of a particular category or subcategory, you have to look at books that were published six months or earlier. Try to compare the top-selling book with the lowest top-ranked book in that category.
Are they fairly close together? If so, then hang on to the category. There’s obviously enough demand for that book category to sustain those sales rankings. On the other hand, if you notice that the rankings are fairly low, you might want to look for another category.
How Amazon Sales Rank Works
Amazon sales rank is published in ascending order. This means that the higher the number of the rank, the lower its actual sales rank. Put in another way, the closer you get to number 1, the better the sales rank. So, look for low numbers in the sales rank. The lower the number, the more copies that book sells every month.
Warning on Amazon Kindle Competition Analysis
In addition to looking at the original publication date of the books, pay close attention to who published them.
If you recognize a big publishing house like Random House or Bantam Books, you need to ignore that book. Its sales rank is distorted because, obviously, it has a very big professional publishing house behind it. They know how to promote books. They have a network of sellers. Whatever sales rank that book has doesn’t really help you.
Look instead for self-published books. These are publications issued by publishers you haven’t heard of before or it actually says “Amazon” on the publishing credits. Pay close attention to the self-published books when determining demand levels.
Step #3: Find subtopics that are in demand
At this stage, I’m assuming that you have found a handful of subcategories that you would want to publish in. I’m also assuming that these subcategories have manageable levels of competition and sell fairly well.
At this stage, I need you to look at the actual reviews of the top 10 books in a category. What do the three-star and lower reviewers keep saying? Do they say that the book in the genre does a lousy job of talking about certain topics? Do you keep seeing the same suggestion or a complaint over and over again?
Pay attention to this because this is a very important part of consumer research. These negative reviews of those existing books are actually telling you if there are gaps in the market. These are unfilled or badly fulfilled needs of book buyers in that particular subcategory market.
You have to go through different reviews to get a clear understanding of where the top sellers fall short.
Step #4: Create a composite of a book that will “fill the gap”
Now that you’ve done an extensive review of the books in your genre and you noticed certain complaints that keep coming up, try to create a connection between these different complaints. Do they lead you to a particular plot line? Do they direct your attention to a specific range of characters that are somehow underserved in your market?
On the nonfiction end, did you discover the common weaknesses of the top-selling books regarding particular topics? Did they lead you to subtopics that you should be focusing on?
Step #5: Outline your entry into your subcategory
After studying what’s missing and what people are complaining about, put together your entry or your answer to their needs. Basically, you are going to come up with something that the market needs and existing books simply do a bad job of serving.
Pay Attention to the Following Details
How many pages does the market like or is used to? This means looking at all the books that are currently published in that category and noting the average number of pages and chapters.
Mirroring the Plot Line or Topics that Your Target Audience Expect or are Used To
Pay close attention to the most common elements of your competing books and use this as a base foundation on which you’re going to build. Of course, most of your book is going to be about stuff that other people are not talking about or aren’t adequately addressing. However, you need to start with a firm foundation of the things that people are already talking about and the topics that people already expect.
Step #6: Create a tight outline that emphasizes the new stuff that you offer
Now that you have a clear understanding of baseline topics and themes and plotlines, the next step is to create an outline that emphasizes what’s different with your book. This is how you sell the book.
Remember if you’re just going to offer the same stuff as everybody else in your category, you’re not going to sell too many books because your target audience would rather buy those books from people who have already built a name for themselves. They’re not going to take a chance with some complete unknown.
Instead, speak their language regarding the common themes that people are already talking about but direct their attention to what your book brings to the table in terms of novelty, new plot twists, or just a higher quality spin on topics and elements that other books are not doing a good job with.
Step #7: Validate your market research with hard numbers
This is where keyword research and sales rank tracking tools come in. You can try to do this by hand but, let me tell you, if you’re just starting out, it’s probably going to take too much of your time you might get so frustrated that there’s a good chance that you would quit. That’s the last thing you’d want to do. So, take it the easy on yourself and use the following cheap tools that would at least give you some rough numbers to work with so you can make better decisions.
Remember when you’re writing a book or outsourcing one to a ghost writer, it takes a lot of time and effort. You don’t want to find yourself barking up the wrong tree. You’re spending all this money, and it turns out that the market is too small or the particular twist that you have for a specific category of book doesn’t really have that much demand.
Use Amazon Kindle Publishing Keyword Tools
There are certain Kindle keyword detection tools out there that would give you a rough idea of the market demand for certain categories and subcategories of books. People are entering these keywords into search engines because they’re looking for information regarding those topics. It would help you tremendously when it comes to making a final decision on which book to create if you can have some objective basis for determining demand. Keyword search volume is definitely one way to do this.
Another set of tools that you should seriously consider so you can make a better decision with your Kindle book involves sales ranks. There are lots of tools out there that track sales ranks on Amazon Kindle. They correlate this with book categories to see if certain niches or sub-niches in Kindle are growling in demand slowing down, or flat-out dying.
Quick Warning about Tools
It’s always a good idea to base your decisions on hard numbers. At least there is some sort of objective support for the business decision you’re about to make.
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With that said, please understand that even if you make your decision based on hard numbers, the success of your book will still depend on several factors that you may or may not be able to control. The most obvious, of course, is how much value your audience members see in your book. You can control this to a certain extent but, ultimately, it’s their call.
Also, other factors that come into play are the cover quality of your book, the length, how similar it is to other books that may be competing against it, how well you target certain keywords with your book, and what category you choose to classify your book under. These play a big role in who gets to see your book and what their expectations are.
Step #8: Make a final decision on your book
At this stage, you’re going to be making a final decision on several key factors.
First, you’re going to decide what sub-category and category your book will be filed under.
Next, you’re going to decide the subject of your book and what it will focus on and what will riff on. By riffing, I’m talking about giving some coverage to create context for people looking to read your book. If you set them at ease about certain topics that are big in your niche, then this would probably lead them to want to buy your book.
Step #9: Decide whether to write or outsource your book
There are lots of excellent Kindle specialist ghostwriters out there like Gene Eugenio, an American writer who charges as little as little as $99 per Kindle book. There are many other American native English speaker writers like him who graduated from US universities. I only mentioned Gene Eugenio because he is the most renowned in that field. He is also the most well-known for charging so little for books that end up becoming bestsellers. However, I’m sure you can find many of these writers just by searching for personal ghostwriting services.
You have to decide whether you should write your book. Here is a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of these two options so everything is clearing in your mind before you decide.
The Advantages of Writing Your Own Book
When you’re writing your own book, you are fully in control of the creative process; you call the shots, and you are almost guaranteed to be satisfied with the results because you are in control of the whole process.
The Disadvantages of Writing Your Own Book
If you have decided to write your own book, get ready to buckle down because it’s going to take a lot of time, focus, and attention to detail. A lot of writers take months, if not years, to finish one book because they have a day job to take care of, they have families, they have other responsibilities. Life gets in the way, and a book that could have been written in six months ends up taking six years.
You have to make a decision whether the amount of time you’re going to save can be reduced into dollar figures that you are willing to pay a ghostwriter.
The Advantages of Hiring a Ghostwriter
The big advantage of hiring a ghostwriter is you save a tremendous amount of time. Expert ghostwriters are able to turn around a book that has tens of thousands of words in about a week or so. Of course, the more expensive the writer, the longer it takes. Still, they’re doing the work, not you. You can go on with the rest of your life and take care of your priorities all the while your book is being created.
The Disadvantages of Using Ghostwriters to Produce Your Amazon Kindle Books
The big downside to hiring a ghostwriter is the expense and the lack of control. At the end of the day, your ghostwriter cannot read your mind. That’s the bottom line.
If you are a micro-manager when it comes to plot development and niche topic coverage, it’s going to be a rough experience for you. It would really be unfair for you to demand certain changes or revisions to your book when you didn’t clearly communicate them from the get-go.
This can cause all sorts of problems with your ghostwriter. Maybe the writer has produced a bestseller for you in the past but good luck getting that person to write for you again because you are wishy-washy and couldn’t quite make up your mind.
Ghostwriters don’t make all that much money. They really don’t. Even top-ranking ghostwriters who command tens of thousands of dollars per book still feel they’re not making enough money. How come? If they crank out one bestseller after another, it probably really burns them that they did not publish those books under their name.
Do you see the problem? This is why most ghostwriters don’t want to go through revisions. The more revisions they go through, the less money they make because they could have spent that time writing their own books or taking on new paid assignments.
Step #10: If you’re going to outsource, write a tight outline and get everything together
If you’re going to hire a ghostwriter, make the process easy on both yourself and the ghostwriter you end up hiring. Make sure you have a tight outline that you’re happy with. Make sure you have gathered all sorts of support notes and other supporting materials. Make sure you have organized all these material so they are very easy to process and incorporate into the final product.
The more disorganized you are, the longer the process will take and the more expensive it will be. Don’t play any games on yourself. Don’t think that you could somehow come up with some random idea and have the ghostwriter just put everything together as if it’s magic. It doesn’t work that way.
There is a good chance that your amazing idea translates to a lousy book because you were just so unclear about the details. This is especially true of fiction. If you just give your writer carte blanche, be happy with what you get because the writer is not a mind reader.
Step #11: Reverse engineer successful covers
I hate to be the one to break this to you but on Amazon Kindle, people do judge books by their covers. That’s the bottom line. I know you probably heard since you were a kid never to judge a book by its cover but that is the reality of business on Amazon Kindle.
Here’s the trick that I follow.
Find the “Industry Standard” in your niche or genre
A lot of books on Amazon Kindle don’t sell because the cover design is so weird, so far out of left field that people simply do not know how to react. The covers may be well executed. They may feature very nicely drawn or conceptualized images. However, at the end of the day, people are not moved to buy. How come? They’re simply too weird.
Believe it or not when you publish on certain subcategories or genres, people interested in those sub-topics and genres have a fixed range of cover elements in mind. They’re not conscious of it but, as long as they see those elements, they can easily tell themselves that the cover is actually about a specific type of book that they are interested in. It’s as if the cover speaks the graphical language that these buyers are most familiar with. If your cover is so weird or so unusual that it basically shocks the sensibilities of these people, don’t be surprised if your book doesn’t sell even though it is well written.
If you have a clear idea of your genre’s industry standard for covers, go to Fiverr and make small test orders with a wide range of e-book artists. You are bound to find somebody who can craft a cover within your niche genre for dirt cheap.
Prepare to spend a bit of money until you find the right artist though. It’s a good idea to test out as many artists as possible. Once you find the right one, keep ordering from that person as you publish book after book in your genre or sub-category.
Step #12: Invest in excellent proofreading
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times otherwise successful books end up sabotaging themselves because they were simply too rough for publication. When you look at the reviews, it’s as if the only thing people care about is just how badly written the book was. They don’t complain about the topic, the plot line, or the elements of the book.
Instead, they just focus on shallow technical stuff like grammar, typos, sentence construction, and other worthless stuff. There I said it. It’s worthless because these types of mistakes shouldn’t have been made in the first place.
If you were going to buy a book from Random House, the last of your worries would be typos. At the back of your head, you’re saying to yourself, “I bought this book from a well-known professional publisher. There must be no typos here.”
Buyers of your book have the same assumption. They’re paying good money for your book. The least that you owe them is to provide clean text. This is why I suggest even to the most amateur Amazon Kindle publisher to invest in tight proofreading. The text of your book must be tight as a drum. You don’t want to give readers any kind of excuse to give you a bad review.
Step #13: Put it all together with expert formatting from Fiverr
There are all sorts of software packages that you could use to format your Microsoft DOC file into a book you can publish on Amazon Kindle. The problem though is if you screw up the settings, your book is going to come off as really unprofessional. Leave all that to the professionals by hiring somebody for $10 on Fiverr to format your book into publishable form.
Step #14: Take the time to write a killer book description
This is where a lot of Kindle authors screw up. They really do. They just go through the motions and they just describe some of the stuff that they talked about in the book and call it a day.
I’m telling you that’s going to show because people who want to see what’s inside the book will probably take a sneak peek and pay attention to your Table of Contents. Instead, they’re looking for the ultimate benefit of the book. What is the actual value of this book?
That’s what the sales page is about. I call it a sales page, but Amazon calls it a book description. However, at the end of the day, it really is a sales page because this is your chance and, in many cases, your only chance to make a case for your book.
What kind of value does your book actually bring to the table? Does it help people explore the different aspects of the human condition? Does it transport them to a world that they never knew existed? Do they get to explore a wide range of emotional realities that can lead to deep, profound personal truths? Does your book enable people to overcome pain and past trauma?
In other words, you have to talk about basic human value. People are not going to care about how well written your book is. They’re already assuming that it is written well. They’re not going to care about surprise twists. What they ultimately care about is the value your book brings to the table. Is it at least worth the 99 cents that they’re going to have to let go to read your stuff?
This is where speaking in terms of personal benefits come in. Your book description has to speak to the needs of flesh-and-blood human beings. You have to step into their shoes.
For example, a book description for a young adult fiction is going to be different from a book description of a political thriller.
You’re probably scared about writing your book description. I really can’t say I blame you. The good news is there is a shortcut.
Read all the book descriptions of the top sellers in the category you’re thinking of publishing your book under. What do they all talk about? How do they position their book? What kind of values and benefits do they allude to?
Once you have a clear understanding of that, mirror that in your book. I’m not talking about copying and pasting stuff. I’m talking about using the same mix of emotion and positioning to write your book description.
Step #15: Launch your book correctly
Here is the secret sauce. I’m going to let you in on the secret to Kindle publishing that a lot of “Kindle how-to guides” charge $50 for. If you really want your book to be a success, you have to get reviews.
The problem is you’re not going to get reviews if people don’t know that you launched your book. If people don’t know that your book got published in the first place, how would they leave a review? If this sounds familiar, it should be familiar to you because this is the classic chicken-or-egg problem. Here’s the shortcut.
Set a launch date for you book. For example, you’ve finished having your book proofread, and the cover came back from the artist and it looks awesome. Your book got formatted, and your book description is ready. You can post all this stuff up on Amazon and launch today.
Instead, you’re going to set up a launch promo campaign. The first thing that you need to do is take out ads and offer snippets of your book for free. These are excerpts.
If you’ve heard of Reader’s Digest, that’s how Reader’s Digest got big because publishers would tease would-be book buyers with excerpts from the book.
You can do this with Facebook Ads or other platforms. The key is to build a mailing list of people who get the teasers for your book.
Once you have a mailing list going, send block after block of your book to them. Get them excited. Ask for a feedback.
Once you have incorporated their feedback into your book to tighten up the quality of your book, drop the bomb on your mailing list. Basically say to them that when your book launches on a certain date, it would be absolutely free for five days or three days.
The best part? They’re the only people who know. This should push your list members to get all excited about your book. They have something to look forward to.
You then tell them when you announce the launch, they should share your Amazon link with their friends and family. Ask them to share it on social media.
If you do this right, when you launch your book for free, you will get a lot of people downloading it, and a certain percentage of those people would actually want to leave a review. As I have mentioned above, the more reviews you have, the higher the chance your book will sell well. The key is to get those reviews. You’re obviously running a free promotion campaign on Kindle publishing so people can get access to your book and then review it.
Don’t get your hopes up though. Don’t expect a thousand reviews. That’s just simply not going to happen.
The good news is if you get only a dozen or a couple of dozen reviews, that’s good enough. If the majority of them are good, informative, and actually talk about the value that your book brings to the table, that is good enough because once the free period is over, people can see the reviews.
If they like what they see and then buy the book, and if you impress enough people, then the number of organic reviews that you get grows with time. This can lead to your book selling more in the future because you’ve established a base. The best way to do that, of course, is to start with a launch.
The Final Word about Kindle Book Publishing
I wish I could tell you that your first book is going to be a runaway bestseller. Unfortunately, if I were to say that you, I would be lying to you. The truth is successful Kindle publishers are able to achieve a bestseller the third, fourth, even tenth time they publish.
Why is this? You could look at their first few books as their learning period. They’re just figuring out how things work. They’re trying to get the hang of it. Eventually, they will get the formula down and they are able to sell more and more books until they reach a point where each and every one of their books is a bestseller.
How does this happen? When they build mailing lists with their books by asking people to sign up for mailing list to get a notification of free books and other freebies, they develop a large following. When their newest book is scheduled for publication, they only need to notify their list members and enough of these people would download the book for free and leave a review to create a critical mass for sales. That’s how expert publishers do it.
The good news is Kindle publishing is free. As long as you invest your time, your focus, and your energy on your plan, eventually, things will fall into place and you would have a nice passive source of income thanks to the Amazon Kindle system.