Kindle Direct Publishing: How to Make Real Money on Amazon

Kindle Publishing for Beginners: How to Make Your First $1,000 on Amazon

With Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), you can self-publish your book on Amazon and start making money in as little as 24 hours.

Sounds a whole lot better than waiting months or even years to find an agent, get a book deal, and go through all the rigmarole of working with a traditional publishing platform, right?

And that’s not even the best part…

  • Amazon lets you keep more of your money. A lot more.
  • With over 90 million Prime subscribers in the United States alone, Amazon’s Kindle store reach is huge.
  • Self-publishing with Amazon KDP is absolutely, positively, 100% free.

In short:

Kindle publishing makes it so that anyone can self-publish a book and sell it on Amazon.

The only problem?

If you want your book to be a hit, if you want it to make real money, you can’t simply “publish and pray.” You need a strategy.

That’s why I created this comprehensive, step-by-step guide.

I’ll show you how to validate your book idea before you begin writing, how to set up a pre-launch sequence, how to properly price your book, how to promote it, and more.

Let’s jump in…

How to Validate Your Book Idea (Before You’ve Written a Single Word)

If you want your powerful words to be read by millions, you need to make sure there’s an existing audience of millions waiting to read them.

No one wants to waste their time writing a book nobody will want to read.

That’s why it’s important to validate your book idea by sizing up the competition. You do that by answering three questions:

  • Are there similar books? If you can’t find a book similar to yours in the Amazon marketplace, it means you don’t have a good idea (because no one is that original).
  • Can you compete? Checking the competitive landscape gives you an idea of how well your book can sell.
  • Are there enough buyers? You want to make sure enough people want the type of book you plan on writing to make it worth your time.

You can find the answers to these questions in three steps:

Step #1: Find Your Category On Amazon


First, you’ll need to find a suitable category for your book idea on Amazon.

Here’s how:

Go to amazon.com and navigate to Departments > Kindle E-Readers & Books > Kindle Books.

Navigate to Kindle books

Next, click Best Sellers & More in the menu.

Click Best Sellers and more

Scroll down until you see the menu below and click Kindle Best Sellers.

Click Kindle Best Sellers

Select Kindle eBooks from the menu.

Select Kindle eBooks

Pick a category and subcategory that fit closest to your book idea.

For my book, I chose the category Self-Help and the subcategory Personal Transformation.

Select a book category for your Kindle eBook

Once you’ve picked a subcategory, it’s time to investigate your potential competitors.

Step #2: Check Your Category’s Top 20 Books For Similar Topics


The premise for my book was self-reinvention. I didn’t need to find a book with the exact word “reinvention” in the title, but I did need to find books with similar themes like behavior change, personality change, and life change.

I found some books that were similar to mine (#3 and #5 below explicitly state they’re about change, while #4 is a book about improving your life in general).

Check your category for top 20 books for similar topics

At the end of this step, you’ve answered the first question. You know whether there are similar books to your idea.

If you can’t find any similar books, you need to go back to the beginning. Go through your list of book ideas and try again.

However, if there are similar books to yours, you can proceed to the next step. It will answer the final two questions:

  • Can you compete, and
  • are there enough buyers?

Step #3: Check The Best Seller Rank Of The Top Books In Your Category


If you want to know whether you can compete in a category and whether there are enough buyers, you need to know how well the books in your category sell.

You won’t find any actual sales numbers on Amazon, but through their “Best Seller” rank you can get a decent estimate.

You can find a book’s Best Seller rank by scrolling down its product page. The rank will be listed under Product Details.

Find a book's best seller rank on Amazon

The higher the rank (with #1 being the highest), the more copies it sells — but also, the harder it will be to beat. You have to look for categories where the average best seller rank is neither too low nor too high.

Here’s how it generally breaks down:

  • Rankings above 1,000 will have great sales numbers, but will be very competitive.
  • Rankings from 1,000 to 30,000 are less competitive, but will still have decent sales numbers.
  • Rankings of 30,000 and lower are the least competitive, but will also have lower sales numbers.

As you can see, the sweet spot is in the middle. You don’t want a category that’s too competitive, and you don’t want a category with low sales numbers.

Aim for categories where you think you can crack the top three books.

If you follow the strategies laid out in this post, you should be able to reach the top three in categories with medium competition.

And if you can get your book featured in the top three when you launch, the chances your book will be featured highly in the Hot New Releases list will skyrocket.

If you appear high enough in that list, your book will get lots of exposure. Amazon will feature your book in a highlighted section above other books that are similar to yours, like this:

Amazon featured book

People browse for books by categories, but they tend to skim through the category pages. The higher you are in a category, the higher the chance that someone will click through to buy your book.

That’s why picking the right category is crucial.

If you don’t think you can crack the top three books in your initial category, see if you can feature your book in an alternative category where the competition is less heavy.

Final Note: Even if you think you have a great book idea, it’s important to validate before getting to work. Don’t skip this step.
 
 

How to Package Your Book Like a Bestseller

You can write the most amazing book on earth, but if you don’t package it in an appealing way, few people will read it.

In this section, we’ll cover four important steps to packaging your book:

  • The title
  • The cover design
  • The formatting
  • The book description

Step #1: Create a Memorable, Descriptive Book Title


According to bestselling author Tucker Max:

What you title your book is the most important book marketing decision you’ll make, period.​

Or, to put it another way:

A good title won’t make your book do well. But a bad title will almost certainly prevent it from doing well.

In short, it’s imperative you nail your title. And to do that, you’ll need to spend considerable time brainstorming the two components of your title: the main title and the subtitle.

Your main title should be punchy and memorable. It should hint at the book’s topic, and it should resonate with your audience.

Your subtitle is a bit different. You want it to clarify how your book will help your reader. So, ask yourself:

  1. Which of my reader’s pain points will my book solve?
  2. What positive outcomes will the book provide?
  3. What kind of person will the reader be after reading your book? How will their life change?

For my book, I brainstormed 50 different main titles and 25 subtitles. They weren’t all fantastic, but that’s the point.

When brainstorming titles, write down whatever comes to mind. Then review, crossing out the options you don’t like (or don’t like as well). Your favorites will remain.

To give you a glimpse of some ideas I had, here were some contenders for my main title:

  • You 2.0
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Starting Over
  • The Power of Reinvention

And these were some favorites for my subtitle:

  • Unlock the Secrets that Keep You Stuck and Reprogram Your Mind for Success
  • Stop Feeling Stuck, Reinvent Yourself, and Become a Brand New You
  • Redesign Your Life, Find Your Mental Blind Spots, and Master the Art of Personal Transformation

The final title became: You 2.0: Stop Feeling Stuck, Reinvent Yourself, and Become a Brand New You — Master the Art of Personal Transformation.

Editor’s Note: Another great tip for creating a descriptive title is sprinkling in sensory words that appeal to your readers’ sense of sight, sound, touch, taste, or smell.
 

Step #2: Get a Cover That Grabs Attention


I cannot stress the importance of this step enough. You need a good cover for your book, or it won’t sell.

The cover gives potential buyers their first impression of your book. If it looks cheap and sloppy, they’ll assume it’s not worth their money.

A good book cover has, at the very least, the following characteristics:

  1. A clear, legible title. Most of your potential buyers will see your cover as a thumbnail first, so your title should be easy to read when shrunken to that size. Avoid small, hard-to-read letters and scribbly fonts.
  2. A design that stands out. Whether it stands out through a bold color or an interesting graphic, you want your cover to catch the eye.

Now, if you’re tempted to design your own cover, I have one word of advice: Don’t.

Unless you’re a professional cover designer, you’re better off handing this responsibility over to someone else. This is not something you want to pinch pennies on.

Personally, I hired Happy Self Publishing to create my cover. Their name kept coming up in writing communities, so I gave them a try. I was not disappointed. They struck a good balance of professionalism, quality, and price.

Editor’s Note: Author and illustrator Jaime Buckley is another great option. If you’re on a super-tight budget, you might also try Fiverr. Just be sure to check the designers’ samples. You want your book to look professional, not amateurish.

When I hired Happy Self Publishing, they sent me a questionnaire to gather my book information (title, subtitle, description, etc.) and my preferences for the cover design (preferred colors, fonts, etc.):

Sample Kindle eBook covers

I filled out the questionnaire, gave the designer my directions, and submitted samples of covers I liked.

Within days, he came back with several mock-ups.

We went through several rounds where I told him what I liked and disliked, and he’d send me new mock-ups based on my (and my audience’s) feedback.

Eventually, we settled on my final cover.

Here’s how my cover evolved over time:

Evolution of book cover design

Step #3: Make Your Book Look Pretty Inside


In addition to your cover, you also need to make the inside of your book look good.

If all the text is mushed together, it’s full of syntax errors, or it’s written in a terrible font, people won’t want to read your book.

To prevent this, you need to format your book — specifically, you need to format and save your book in a Kindle-friendly file-type like .mobi or .epub. This way your book will look good in all Kindle devices.

Now, you can do this yourself, or you can hire a professional to do it for you.

I formatted my book myself using an easy-to-use piece of software called Vellum, which uses a simple WYSIWYG (“What You See Is What You Get”) editor. You just copy and paste your chapters into it, change the formatting as desired, and export.

The only problem? Vellum is only available on Mac.

If you’re on a PC, you have alternative options like Reedsy and Book Design Templates.

A do-it-yourself approach will save you some money, but if you’re not very tech-savvy and want to make sure the book is formatted properly, hire someone.

Happy Self Publishing, the company I used for my cover, also provides an affordable formatting service, or you can find hundreds of freelancers on Upwork who can do it for you.

When the formatting is done, don’t forget to proofread the book with a Kindle or on the Kindle app.

Make sure there are no formatting bugs that need to be fixed.

Step #4: Write a Description That Sells Your Book for You


After your title and cover have lured someone to your Amazon sales page, the next thing they’ll do is read your book description.

Readers will want to know exactly what your book is about and how it’ll benefit them.

If your description is flabby and packed with weak writing, it won’t be compelling enough for readers to click the buy button.

Now, the key thing to understand when writing your book description is that you shouldn’t treat it like a summary of your book; rather, you should treat it like a sales letter.

Your description shouldn’t inform potential buyers of the contents of your book — it should persuade them to buy.

Here’s mine, for example:

Write a description that sells the book

See how I focus the description on benefits to the reader?

See how I use the bullet points to foster curiosity rather than give away the main points of the book?

These are basic sales letter techniques you should use in your description.

Imagine if the second bullet had read, “Goal setting doesn’t work because [reason].”

Giving the reason away would defeat the need for the reader to purchase the book. Instead, I trigger curiosity by leaving it open.

If you want to learn more about writing persuasive descriptions, the following resources helped me a lot while writing mine:

 

Before Your Book Launch: How to Create a Rock-Solid Plan

Your launch makes or breaks your book.

So, you shouldn’t wait until the week of your launch before you start planning it.

Instead, you want to have a plan in place and have your marketing materials prepared weeks before you hit publish.

Here are a few things you should do to prepare for the launch of your book.

Step #1: Create Your “Street Team” (Launch Minus 6+ Weeks)


Before your launch, you should assemble a so-called “street team” to help write reviews for your book and promote it during launch week.

I reached out to people in my network — fellow authors and bloggers I’d met over the years since I started my blog — and asked them to join.

If you don’t have a well-established network, you can leverage your email list, like Kevin Kruse (a New York Times bestselling author) explains in this video:

When you reach out to people in your network, explain what’s expected of them. Ensure they understand what it means to be a member of your street team:

  • Explain they are to read an advanced reader copy of the book and prepare a review to post at the beginning of the launch.
  • Encourage them to share the book on social media or with their email lists. Explain this is optional, but you’d be very grateful.

For the number of reviews you want, double that number of people on your street team, because chances are only half of them will actually review your book.

At minimum, aim for 25 reviews. This means having 50 people on your launch team.

Step #2: Start Teasing Your Book to Your List (Launch Minus 6+ Weeks)


Once you’ve written your book and you can see your launch on the horizon, you want to gently tease your subscribers so they know it’s coming.

You need to build anticipation.

Up to this point, I had been keeping my list engaged by sending Monday Motivation emails every week, as well as an update every time I published a new blog post.

As I was preparing for launch, I added teasers at the end of my emails, like this:

Example:

P.S. I’m finished with my new book, You 2.0.: Stop Feeling Stuck, Reinvent Yourself, and Become a Brand New You.

It details everything I’ve learned in the process of transforming my life from broke, addicted, and depressed to finding my passion, tripling my income, and succeeding. I’m really excited about it. Stay tuned.

You don’t have to sell it hard at this point. Just make them aware the book is coming.

Step #3: Map Out Your Launch Plan and Prepare Promotional Materials (Launch Minus 6+ Weeks)


You should never be winging it when you launch a book.

If you’re smart, you’ll plan every single step you’ll take leading up to the launch, as well as the days and weeks afterward.

You need to create a schedule so you know exactly which promotion happens when, and what actions you should take each day.

(I’ll share my own promotion timeline in the next section, which you can emulate.)

Once you have planned everything, the next step is to prepare everything.

In the weeks leading up to my launch, I prepared:

  • The email sequence promoting the book to my subscribers
  • The emails I’d send to my street team
  • 30 days’ worth of promotional articles that I’d publish on Medium
  • Social media posts to promote the book

For the promotional articles, I also prepared a few new incentives geared toward promoting the book:

eBook promotion incentives

When you don’t prepare for your launch beforehand, you will feel frazzled and frustrated throughout the launch.

You’ll be scrambling to promote the book instead of having a strategy that makes you feel confident the book will sell.

Plan ahead, and you’ll launch with a bang.

 

Book Launch: Step-by-Step Guide (with Examples)

Now we get to the good stuff.

You may think your launch happens when you publish your book on Amazon and put it up for sale.

And you’re not wrong. Technically, that is when you officially launch your book.

But the launch process is a bit more involved than just clicking a publish button, and it starts much earlier than your official launch.

It starts with your first big promotion. That’s when you start selling your book.

Below, you’ll find the timeline I used when launching my book. Feel free to copy it, tweak it, and use it as your own.

Step #1: Send “Free Sample” Emails (Launch Minus 4 Weeks)


Four weeks ahead of your official launch, you want to send your subscribers free samples. Send them one free sample each week.

This will give them a taste of what’s inside your book.

I sent my own subscribers the introduction to my book, Chapter One, and Chapter Two.

Of course, you don’t have to use your first chapters. You can choose to share any chapter you wish.

Share the ones you think will make your readers hungry for more.

Here’s an example of one of my “Free Sample” emails:

Hey friend,

The launch date for my new book, You 2.0: Stop Feeling Stuck, Reinvent Yourself, and Become a Brand New You, is just around the corner.

I put my heart and soul into writing this book and I wanted to share some of it with you today because I’m confident reading some of it will inspire you to want to read the whole thing to transform your life.

As follows is the introduction to the book:

[Book Intro Goes Here]

In the next week or so, I’ll share even more sections of the book. Why? Because my primary goal is to get you to read the book and use it to change your life. That matters to me more than money.

Keep an eye on your inbox 😉

Step #2: Publish Your Book on Kindle Direct Publishing [And Set Your Price] (Launch Minus 1 Week)


You should never wait until your official launch date to publish your book on Amazon. You should publish it one week in advance.

This way, you can ask your street team to write early reviews.

These early reviews are important — you’ll need to have at least 10 reviews if you want to use book promotion sites during launch week.

(And you do, as they can give you a huge surge in early sales. We’ll discuss them later.)

To publish your book on Amazon, you need to create an account on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

Then follow these steps to publish your book:

#1. GO TO “CREATE A NEW TITLE” AND CLICK “+ KINDLE EBOOK”

Create a title for your Kindle eBook

#2. ENTER BOOK INFORMATION (LANGUAGE, TITLE, SUBTITLE, ETC.)

Enter eBook information

#3. ENTER YOUR BOOK DESCRIPTION

Note: You can use HTML tags to change the way the content appears on your book page.

Enter eBook description

#4. CHOOSE YOUR KEYWORDS

Choose your keywords

Amazon allows you to use up to seven keywords to help readers find your books. You want to match your keywords with the terms readers will typically type into the search box.

To find good keywords, you can:

#5. CHOOSE YOUR CATEGORIES

Choose your eBook categories

Initially, you’re only allowed to choose two category/subcategory combinations from the list Amazon provides. Strangely, their list doesn’t include all their categories.

You’ll find a lot of the more niche categories are missing. (You’ll have a hard time trying to crack the top three in most of the broader categories.)

For now though, just pick two categories/subcategories that your book fits into:

Pick two categories and subcategories for your eBook
Pick two categories and subcategories for your eBook - 2

After you publish your book, browse books that are similar to yours and see which categories they are in. Then contact Amazon and request to have your book added to those categories.

In fact, if you’re smart, you can follow this process to be added to TEN categories, rather than just two.

Here’s a video from Kindlepreneur’s Dave Chesson that explains how to approach this:

#6. UPLOAD YOUR COVER AND MANUSCRIPT FILES

Upload Kindle cover file
Upload Kindle manuscript file

#7. ENTER PRICING INFORMATION

Enter eBook pricing information

How should you price your book?

Before we get into that, you need to understand Amazon’s pricing and royalty options:

  • For Kindle books priced from $0.99 to $2.98, you receive a 35% royalty on each sale.
  • For Kindle books priced from $2.99 to $9.99, you receive a 70% royalty on each sale.
  • For Kindle books priced above $9.99, you receive a 35% royalty on each sale.

Note: If your book is part of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, you’ll be paid based on the total number of pages read in a given month.

Now, you might think that pricing your book somewhere between $2.99 and $9.99 is the obvious way to go, as that will get you the most royalties.

But to start, I priced my book at $0.99.

I suggest you do the same. Here’s why:

The point of this isn’t to make a lot of money early, but to get a lot of sales early.

Amazon doesn’t look at the price of your book to determine how well it’s selling. It looks at the number of copies sold.

If you can sell a ton of 99-cent copies in the beginning, you’ll benefit from some algorithmic momentum even after you raise the price.

Plus, when you price the book at $0.99, you can use promotional sites to get your book in front of massive audiences during launch.

(You can also give your subscribers an incentive to purchase early — before you raise the price).

#8. SCROLL DOWN AND CLICK PUBLISH YOUR KINDLE EBOOK

Publish your Kindle book

Once you’ve clicked to publish your book, it will appear on Amazon in 24 to 48 hours.

Step #3: Ask Your Street Team for Reviews (Launch Minus 6 Days)


When you’re self-publishing books on Amazon, whether they’re written by you or a trusted ghostwriter, those first few days are critical.

If you don’t have anybody buying your book or leaving reviews as soon as you publish, the chances of it taking off are slim to none.

This is where your street team comes into play.

The moment your book goes live, you should send an email to your street team asking them to leave their reviews.

And this is important: You should ask them to download the book from Amazon first, and then write their reviews. If they don’t do it in this order, their reviews won’t be verified. They will still show up, but Amazon won’t give them as much weight.

If you’d rather not ask them to pay $0.99 in order to leave a review, you can enroll in “KDP Select” and run a free promotion for 72 hours.

That way, they can “purchase” the book for free, and Amazon should still mark their reviews as verified.

Step #4: Schedule Promotions (Launch Minus 5 Days)


I mentioned book promotion sites earlier. So what are they, exactly?

Basically, they’re sites that promote books while they’re free or priced at $0.99. These sites have massive lists of subscribers who love reading books, and they’ll all receive an email that links to your book.

These readers can give you a gigantic boost in early sales.

Here are the sites I used myself, along with the cost to use each:

  • Buck Books — $29
  • Books Butterfly — $40
  • Robin Reads — $55
  • James Mayfield — $10
  • Fussy Librarian — $30

I found these sites from a list compiled by Dave Chesson at Kindlepreneur.

Now, considering you’ll only make $0.35 per sale on a $0.99 book, you won’t make much profit from the use of these promotional sites. You might even lose some money.

So why use them at all?

Because you want to create a track record of sales success.

Amazon will promote your book for you if it sees you have sales of your own.

When authors make money, Amazon makes money, but like any good business, it won’t recommend products without profit potential.

You don’t have to use five services like I did. But use at least three.

Step #5: Launch Your Book With a Bang (7-Day Plan)


Alright, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for. It’s time to officially launch your book to the public.

During launch week, you should promote your book hard. Hopefully, you’ve done the work to prepare yourself so you’re not overwhelmed.

You should promote your book by:

  1. Sending a sales sequence to your email list. (Examples of each email will be given below.)
  2. Asking your street team to help promote the book on social media and/or to their email lists.
  3. Running book promotions you’ve set up. (You should have already scheduled these, as instructed in the previous step.)
  4. Promoting the book on social media. (I recommend using Buffer to schedule multiple social media posts per day.)
  5. Publishing content from your content marketing campaign.

Here’s how I scheduled these activities during launch week:

Day 1:

  • Send an announcement email (See example #1 below).
  • Ask your street team to promote your book on social media (or their email lists).
  • Publish promotional content on Medium.

Day 2:

  • Send a soft-sell email. (See example #2 below.)
  • Run 10 social media posts.

Day 3:

  • Run your first book marketing promotion (Buck Books).
  • Run 10 social media posts.
  • Publish promotional content on Medium.

Day 4:

  • Send another soft-sell email to your list.
  • Send a reminder email to your street team for social media/email list promotion.
  • Publish promotional content on Medium.

Day 5:

  • Run your second book marketing promotion (James Mayfield & Books Butterfly).
  • Run 10 social media posts.
  • Publish promotional content on Medium.

Day 6:

  • Send a hard-sell email to your list. (See example #3 below.)
  • Run 10 social media posts.
  • Publish promotional content on Medium.

Day 7:

  • Run your third book marketing promotion (Fussy Librarian & Robin Reads).
  • Send price change email. (See example #4 below.)
  • Publish promotional content on Medium.
  • Run 10 social media posts.

Here are some examples of each email in my sales sequence:

Example #1 — Announcement Email:

Do you wish life came with a “do over” button?

We all make mistakes. Time can pass quickly and we can come to a point where we ask ourselves, “How the hell did I end up here?”

If you’ve ever felt this way, my new book, You 2.0 — Stop Feeling Stuck, Reinvent Yourself, and Become a Brand New You, might provide the answers you’ve been looking for.

And it’s only 99 cents, a special price I’m revealing to subscribers only for the next 5 days.

I’m setting the price so low because I want you to read the book. At this point, I care about getting the book in as many hands as possible over making money.

Click here to learn more about the book.

Talk soon,

Ayodeji

 
Example #2 — Soft-Sell Email:

Hey friend,

For the past few weeks, I’ve told you about my new book, You 2.0 — Stop Feeling Stuck, Reinvent Yourself, and Become a Brand New You, which is available for 99 cents for the next few days.

(To those who have bought already, thank you SO MUCH — the book is now #1 in its category!)

The book tells the story of how I transformed my life and how you can too. It doesn’t tell theories, it shows what I’ve actually done.

See, before I reached my dream of becoming an author, my life was headed in the wrong direction. I was addicted to drugs and alcohol, working a dead-end job, and had no hope in sight.

Then, I decided I didn’t want to live my life that way and went through a ton of trial and error to become who I am today. I’ve more than doubled my income, gotten rid of bad habits, and have done many of the things I used to only dream of doing.

In the book, you’ll learn:

  • How to discover your passions (even if you have no clue what to do with your life)
  • How to get over your past and change your self-image (even if you think it’s set in stone)
  • How to find the motivation to change your circumstances (even if you’ve tried and failed before)

I try my best to share the message without the typical theme of most self-help books that are often judgmental and critical.

See, I don’t think you’re “too lazy to succeed” or “mediocre.” Life sucks sometimes, and we’re all doing what we can to cope with it. I wrote this book to share ideas to inspire you to change, not to shove inspiration down your throat.

So, I’m inviting you to check out the book at the price of 99 cents because I care about the message and want to spread it far and wide.

Click here to learn more about the book.

Talk soon,

Ayodeji

 
Example #3 — Hard-Sell Email:

Hey friend,

For the past few days I’ve been telling you about my new book, You 2.0 — Stop Feeling Stuck, Reinvent Yourself, and Become a Brand New You.

Today, I wanted to share a few reasons why I’m promoting the book and why I think you should invest in yourself by purchasing it.

I think you should invest in the book because:

  • At a minimum, you’re throwing 99 cents into the “fountain of karma.” I didn’t find prosperity in my life until I supported other artists and entrepreneurs.
  • Books are a great investment in yourself. Take the years of my trial and error and use it to your advantage.
  • You’re smart. Smart enough to know if I can help and smart enough to know if I’m genuinely interested in improving your life.

Click here to learn more about the book.

That’s it!

Talk soon,

Ayodeji

 
Example #4 — Price Change Email:

Hey friend,

Today’s the last day you can get my new book, You 2.0, for the low price of 99 cents. After that, the price goes up to $2.99 and it’ll only go higher from there.

Why the low price and continued promotion?

To get the message out there. I’m guessing you’re a part of this community because you’re looking for a change in your life and if I’m able to help you do that, it’s worth all the effort I put into writing the book.

Click here to learn more about the book.

Until next time,

Ayodeji

 
 

After Kindle Publishing Your Book: Keep the Book Sales Going and the Royalties Coming In

To make money writing, your book can’t be a flash in the pan.

You have to continue promoting the book to keep the sales rolling in.

Like I mentioned earlier, you want to give the book a good start with a boost of early sales to benefit from Amazon’s algorithms. But you should keep your momentum going longer than the first week.

During the weeks following the launch, you should continue engaging your list and keep spreading the message about your book to new readers.

Here are a few things you can do:

Step #1: Raise Your Price Once Per Week (and Let Your Subscribers Know)


As mentioned earlier, I set the price for my book at $0.99 for the first week. If I kept sales going at this price, my royalties would continue to stay low.

So, after the first week, I raised the price to $2.99, then to $3.99, and finally to $4.99.

Every time I was about to raise the price, I sent my subscribers a price change email.

This not only reminded casual readers to buy the book, but gave them an incentive to do so.

If they didn’t get in on the low price that day, they’d miss out forever, and nobody likes missing out on a good deal.

Step #2: Keep Publishing Posts to Get People on Your List


After publishing your book, you should continue publishing articles with links back to your sign-up form. Every new subscriber is a new potential buyer.

Set up a welcoming autoresponder sequence that gives subscribers your incentive (and then pitch your book to them).

You can use the same (or a similar) sales sequence that you used for your launch.

I wrote a total of 30 posts for 30 days on Medium to promote the book, and this added 150 more sales during the first month of my launch.

Step #3: Create An Amazon Ad Campaign for Sales on AutoPilot


Amazon Marketing Services provides a “pay per click” advertising program for authors. I highly recommend you use it.

Here’s how you can create your own ads:

Sign up for AMS through your Kindle dashboard by clicking Ad Campaigns in the top menu.

Sign up for AMS on Amazon

Click new campaign:

Click new campaign

Next, choose Sponsored Product Ads.

Choose sponsored ads

Select the book you wish to advertise. (If you’ve only published one book, you’ll only have one option.)

Select the Kindle book you wish to advertise

Set your campaign name, budget, and select Manual Targeting.

Initially, $3–$5 per day is a good budget because you can get useful data without breaking the bank.

Less than $3 won’t give you enough data, and more than $5 can cause you to lose money if you’re not careful.

Set Kindle campaign budget duration

Scroll down to the Add Keywords section and click Add Your Own Keywords.

Add your own keywords

Next, find relevant keywords.

You’ll need a lot more keywords for your ad campaign than you did earlier when you published your book.

But you can use similar techniques to find them:

  • Type relevant words and phrases into Amazon’s search bar and see which keywords Amazon suggests (as pictured below).
  • Browse best seller categories and use popular book titles/author names as keywords.
  • Use the “customers also bought” section of books from best seller categories to find related book titles/ authors to use as keywords.
  • Download software. Kindle Spy and KDP Rocket are two tools that instantly provide relevant keywords for your book.
Find relevant keywords

Set the bid price for your keywords:

Set bid price for your keywords

A bid price is the largest amount you’re willing to spend if someone clicks on your ad.

I added 1,000 keywords — the maximum amount allowed per ad — and set the bid at 10 cents. I didn’t want to spend too much money until I knew the type of results I’d get.

If the ads worked well, I planned on increasing both my daily budget and keyword bids.

Once you’ve set your bid price, you’re ready to enter your ad’s marketing message:

Enter ad marketing message for your Kindle ebook

Finally, it’s time to preview your ad.

If you like what you see, click Submit Campaign for Review.

Preview your Kindle eBook ad

After 24–48 hours, your ad will be live (if it’s approved, of course).

Step #4: Boost Your Winning Ads and Drop Your Losers


After publishing your ad, let it run for two weeks. Then it’s time to analyze the data.

Here’s a screenshot of my ad dashboard:

Amazon ad dashboard

The key metrics you want to look at are:

  • Impressions: The number of times people saw your ad.
  • Clicks: The number of people who clicked on your ad.
  • aCPC: The average cost per click on your ad.
  • Spend: Total amount spent.
  • ACOS: Average cost of each sale. If your ACOS is 25%, you spend 25 cents of every dollar you make. If it’s 75%, you spend 75 cents of every dollar you make. If it’s 125%, you spend $1.25, for every dollar you make, which means your ad costs more than it makes.
Important note: You must keep your royalty rate in mind when factoring ACOS and ad spend. For Kindle books, you pay 30% in royalties, which means only 70% of every dollar you make lands in your pocket. That means if your ACOS is 70%, your ad is breaking even.

You can click into the campaign itself to see these same metrics for individual keywords. Use those metrics to adjust your campaign.

For instance, when you see a specific keyword is costing you more than it earns, you can pause that keyword.

Pause a keyword

Once you see how your keywords are performing, you can expand your campaign reach in the following ways:

  • Increase your bids. Once I saw my campaigns doing well, I increased the bids of keywords to 20 cents, then 30 cents, and eventually went as high as 50 cents per keyword.
  • Add more keywords. The more keywords you have, the more opportunity for new sales. I started an additional campaign with 1,000 more keywords.
  • Increase total spend. If you find your daily budget is being spent quickly, raise it. I raised my spend from $5 to $10 to $15, and then to $20. As long as my ads turn a profit, I will keep investing in them.

 

 

Common Questions (Not Covered Elsewhere)

Alright, we’ve covered a lot here.

And yet, there’s much more we could discuss. Let’s try to go over a few common questions some of you may still have:

Do I Need an Established Audience Before I Can Self-Publish on Amazon?


Not at all.

I only had 250 subscribers when I launched my first book. And even though I took a relatively passive role in promoting the book — I did a few promotions during launch to give me an early bump and then mostly counted on Amazon’s algorithm to drive sales — it earned its first $1,000 within five months.

That’s not a result worth bragging about, but it was enough to inspire me to write a second book and do much better.

So, for my second book, I was much more strategic, grew my audience larger, and promoted the book a lot more. And this time around, I got to $1,000 within the first month.

Even better: The book went on to make over $10K in its first year, which was a big improvement from the first book, which made $2K in that same time span.

The lesson?

You can make money writing even if you have a tiny list, and even if you take a somewhat passive role in promotion.

But that said…

What Can I do to Grow My Audience Before I Dive Into Kindle Publishing?


Here’s what I did to grow my audience larger for my second book:

Step #1: Create an Alluring Incentive For People to Join

People rarely part with their email addresses for nothing in return, so you need to offer them an incentive to join your email list.

To be honest, I cheated a bit here, because I offered something that I already had available. I offered my first book, The Destiny Formula.

Ideally, you want to offer an incentive that’s a perfect complement to the book you’re writing.

For example, if you were writing a book about the Paleo diet, you might offer one of these incentives:

  • 5 Delicious Paleo Recipes You Can Make in 15 Minutes or Less
  • 7-Day Paleo Quick-Start Email Course
  • The Ultimate Paleo Snack List (Includes 250 Different Snacks)

Step #2: Set Up a Landing Page for Collecting Email Addresses

If you want to build your email list, you need two things: an email marketing platform to store your list and a landing page where people can sign up to your list.

Now, you have a number of choices when it comes to email marketing platforms, but these are three popular ones:

Personally, I opted for ConvertKit because they built it specifically for professional bloggers. It comes with easy segmentation features that let you promote your book in a more targeted way. I highly recommend it, but any of these platforms will work.

Once you’ve set up your email marketing platform, you can create a landing page to capture people’s email addresses.

I used Leadpages to do so, which makes it simple to create landing pages. It comes with ready-made templates that you can modify with its drag-and-drop builder.

Leadpages - Drag and drop builder

You can choose one of their templates and customize it to your wishes.

Here’s a screenshot of the landing page I created:

Leadpages - Landing pages template builder

Once you have everything in place, all you need to do is send traffic to your landing page.

Step #3: Drive Traffic to Your Landing Page

My personal goal was to hit 3,000 subscribers before I published my book. My main strategy for reaching that number was publishing articles on Medium, each with a link back to my landing page.

Every article I published on Medium would include this offer at the end:

Link back to a landing page

But I didn’t stop there. I also guest posted on Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Addicted2Success, Thought Catalog, The Pursuit, and more.

While I got most of my traffic from Medium, publishing on these sites still grew my subscriber base by a significant chunk.

Between publishing on Medium and guest posting on these sites, I reached my goal of 3,000 subscribers within six months.

You don’t need to hit that same number of subscribers, but I do recommend you build your list to at least 1,000 before launching your book.

It’ll make things a lot easier.

How Can I Come Up With Ideas For My Own Book?


One of the worst mistakes you can make when self-publishing is picking a topic you know little about.

If you don’t have a concrete idea in mind yet, don’t fret.

Here’s an exercise to help you generate ideas. Grab a pen and paper and answer the following questions:

  • What do you find easy that others find difficult?
  • If you could only choose one section in a bookstore to read, which section would you choose?
  • What seems obvious to you that isn’t apparent to others?
  • What topic gets you talking to the point you won’t shut up about it?
  • What do friends and family tell you you’re good at?
  • What compliments have you received from strangers?
  • What types of articles do you read online?

Once you complete your inventory, review it to look for patterns.

Maybe you’re a great communicator. Maybe you have excellent financial habits. Or maybe you have a knack for motivating others.

The traits, knowledge, and skills you possess can be translated into topics for books.

Review the list and use your answers to come up with a few book ideas.

Are You Ready to Dive Into Kindle Direct Publishing?

I’m working on my next book right now.

With an even larger audience than I had when I launched my last book, my goal is to sell at least 10,000 copies of my third book within the first year.

How about you?

You now know how to validate your book ideas, package your book, create a pre-launch sequence, launch your book, and promote it.

You now know what to do and when to do it.

In short:

You now have a proven blueprint you can follow for writing a bestselling book on Amazon KDP.

So, there are no more excuses.

It’s time for you to join the ranks of bestselling authors. It’s time for you to make some real, tangible income as an author.

It’s time for you to stop dreaming and start doing.

Are you ready?

About the Author: Ayodeji is an author, writing coach, and the Digital Marketing director at MLT Group, a Minneapolis SEO company.

53 thoughts on “Kindle Direct Publishing: How to Make Real Money on Amazon”

  1. Wow, what a great article. You cover every step with so much detail! Thank you for posting this and answering so many questions all in one place!

  2. Wao. I read every single word, back to back. I love this article for two things. 1. The tone. It’s seducing. 2. The comprehensive guide. Thanks a lot for this.

    Please, could you be my personal mentor?????

    1. Hi Abbas,

      I’m glad you gained useful insights from the article. I don’t want to promote myself on the site, but feel free to find me online and reach out.

      Thanks for your comment!

  3. Wow – excellent article. Probably the most in depth article on self-publishing I’ve ever read (and you know that’s a lot). I completely agree that with the steps above, the goal is very approachable and you left no stone unturned.

    1. Hi Dave,

      As you can see, you’ve been a valuable resource to me and you’ve inspired me in more ways than I can count. The goal IS very approachable, which is one of the things I learned through studying your systematic approach,

      Thanks for your comment!

      1. I wish I had seen this earlier. I launched my website with 13 of my books, 5 novels and 8 short stories feeling on top of the world only to be visited by 16 visitors so far. I guess I will have to follow some of your advice and target readers from outside Nigeria. It’s quite tough in this part of the world. Thanks for this. I pray that it makes the fiction sales journey easy for me.

  4. Wow! This is a really excellent breakdown. And, I love that a lot of your marketing focuses on the tried and true method of building your audience! Good luck with your next book launch.

  5. Congrats, Ayodeji! Great post! It’s so helpful to have all this excellent info in one place. I’m sure I’ll be referring people to this and using it myself. 🙂

  6. Hello, Ayodeji sir.
    This is a very informative post for me. I write on political on the subject in my diary. I am from India in a village area. I am fond of writing but I don’t know before reading your post this also happens that you can earn online by writing. I will surely try to write on amazon kindle so that i can earn also with my passion.
    thanks for sharing a good idea.

  7. Zarayna Pradyer

    Just a very quick but sincere thank you for organizing and posting such a comprehensive essay – an ebook in itself.
    Many congratulations – may your generosity bring you much further success.

  8. Good job AA. Step 1 is how you make things easier. I blog and love it, so I wrote an eBook about blogging because it was easy to write, simple to publish and because I could help folks freely through the creation. Self-publishing is SO different from going the publishing route.

  9. This was a really good and extremely comprehensive guide to Kindle Creation and Publishing. Why don’t you make it the subject of your next book?
    Thank you so much for your information; I have signed up to your email list.
    Also whilst I am on here, thank you to Jon for spotting the talent and sharing his wonderful knowledge.

    With Best Wishes
    Philippa

    1. Hi Phillipa,

      Honestly, there are a lot of great books on Self-Publishing and I’m more focused on writing personal development books because they’re my true passion.

      Thanks for joining the list! I’m glad to have you on.

  10. Ayodeji, Mind blowing post I have read since last few weeks. You have revealed everything which helped you get succeed! I appreciate your honesty and smartness, especially in the promotion / launch plans. This is too much for me to grasp right now so I will come again here to read it (I promise!)

    Many congratulations for writing your best seller and best luck for your next book!

  11. Hey!
    Thanks for this really detailed article. I thought of writing an ebook before and already did some research on the internet. Haven’t found anything detailed as yours- this is really helpful!👍🍀

  12. Thanks Ayodeji, you have no idea what you’ve done for me with this article—na pure expo, lol.

    Seeing as this is solely focused with non-fiction self-publishing, I was wondering, how would a fiction author apply this, especially as it relates to building an email list of interested readers and content marketing via guest blogging? I would be grateful to get your thoughts on the matter because I am primarily an author of fiction.

    Again though, thank you so much, it’s a really helpful article. *added to reading list*

    1. Hi Gilbert,

      To be honest, I don’t know much about the fiction market. The one thing I’ve heard works well for fiction authors is creating a series of books and giving away the FIRST book for free in exchange for emails. Then, if you wrote a great book, your readers will be hooked and want to buy the rest of the series. Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant, Kim Weiland, and Joanna Penn are all great resources for fiction authors.

      Thanks for your comment!

  13. Nice go-to resource for Kindle book publishing. Loved it very much. I run Amazon affiliate site. I will also try for a kindle book publishing. Keep sharing…..

  14. Damilola Olaniyi

    Hello Ayodeji,

    Even after so many thanks from other readers, I’d add mine. So, Thank You.

    This is the most detailed info I’ve found on self publishing. I’ve forwarded it to my friends and I will print it out and use it as a guide as much as I can (I write fiction and scripts).

    I saw in one reply that you mentioned some fiction authors who are self published. Again, thank you for your unselfishness. I will look up your blog and join your list.

    You’ve successfully unveiled this masquerade called self publishing. Keep it going!

  15. Ellen Frazer-Jameson

    Great information but I am not techie and really need someone to lead me through the process

  16. What a great resource and a nice, condensed, valuable complement to Ty Cohen’s Kindle Cash Flow and Dave’s KDP Rocket (fantastic!) program.

    If you call yourself any kind of an author you need Dave’s program!

    Great piece Ayodeji.

    Bert

  17. What a rich article just at the right time! Done three books and struggling with marketing. I have learned quite a lot here. Just hoping things work right. Adopting the stream building like immediately.

  18. I can’t believe ebook publishing is still such a huge monster after all these years. It goes to show that a good business can remain relevant indefinitely and not become just a fad.

    I have books that are still making me money between Amazon and Nook, even though i published them between 2011 and 2013, for the most part. While i haven’t published anything in about 4 years, i am slowing looking into this side of my business once again. Because why not?

    Elvis

  19. you made a really helpful post! Thanks for sharing this.This article is perfect for this time for me.Now i am joining digital marketing training institute in Delhi.

  20. Great Article my book is doing well but mainly through word of mouth etc. I realise in order to put it into the hands of that one very special person I wrote it for…it’s okay to self promote and use these marketing tools so the book can help reach out to more people…changing and hopefully saving more lives.

    Thank you!

  21. Thank you so much for this – it is is like a step by step guide. Your guidance is exactly what any aspiring author needs. Twenty years ago, I lost eighty pounds and have kept it off for twenty years. Now I am writing a book to help others stop the crazy diet wheel and get healthy. With your help from this article, I know I can succeed

  22. What a fantastic post! This is so chock full of useful information. I can’t wait to dig deep and start utilizing the resources you have given me.

  23. Great article! I recently completed a children’s book to honor a recently deceased pup (and a great friend of mine). I’m certainly going to leverage this template to launch it. I listened to your 2.0 book – thank you Audible lol

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