August marks 3 years since I’ve begun learning how to make money online in a residual (automated) manner. For the longest time, I’d experimented with niche and affiliate marketing, birthing websites focused on highly specific topics with WordPress and the Google Keyword Tool. Macro- or micro-authority, I learned that while I’m okay at putting together a niche and conceptualizing a site around it, my true strength has always been that of writing.
I’m neither James Baldwin nor James Chartrand, however, my writing still flows with a sense of fluidity… perhaps too fluid. Especially when the topic pertains to something I’m passionate about or highly interested in learning more of. So when I came upon the idea that I could make money writing books for Amazon Kindle, I decided it would be the perfect opportunity to experiment with my writing muscle, and mix a little of my Internet Marketing skills in the mix.
I started writing books in February 2011. I made $5.58 that month.
By the end of 2011, I grossed $2,300.
This year? So far, my calculations reveal a gross of $3200. Combined – that’s $5500 of residual income.
Without a niche site or any marketing.
Here’s how I did it – and what I’ve learned.
Amazon Kindle Ebooks: From 0 to $2300, then $3200
I read a special report from the Warrior Forum on generating hundreds of dollars monthly from Amazon Kindle. While I didn’t fully agree with the author’s system, I figured I’d create a small book based on a topic I had currently been studying. If the book sold, fine. If it didn’t, I’d try it again until I hit the jackpot somewhere.
By the end of the month, I just happened to check my reports and I had sold – to my surprise – 2 copies. A grand total of $5.58, which isn’t a lot, but it’s definitely better than I had been doing compared to how long it took to make an AdSense payout. (Close to a year and a half.)
Turning Up the Heat
If you remember my Hot Sex on a Platter piece, I discussed how sexual transmutation, or harnessing sexual energy and transforming it into creative energy, was a secret to becoming successful. I put this very theory into action one Sunday afternoon at Panera. I finished my schoolwork early, and felt very… inspired. So, I figured, what’s the harm in creating a bite-sized pocket manual that helps women perform better in bed? And, if, by any chance, men were turned on by this, then I’d hit a second target market and boost my sales this way too.
So, yes, I wrote an adult book on Kindle and catered it to a very specific niche, one that’s full of information, but can never have too much information. A taboo, yet highly excitable niche, especially in life and in digital marketing.
Writing the book felt good. It was a release… a powerful one at that.
Although the book wasn’t long by any stretch of the imagination, it was concise and got to the point, allowing readers to take the information and go with it. However, I was scared when I initially published it. I was fearful it was too short, too explicit… and perhaps just not good enough. I wrote it over the course of several hours in one sitting, and it was largely off my own experiences and bias. And I’ve been told I’m an interesting one at times… so, how would people take it?
By the end of March – I had made $126 – and most of it was the new book.
Sex Sells – Literally
Over several months, I made striking progress in sales. It seemed sales were doubling almost every month at first, then I hit a high of approximately $520 in May, and then there was a sharp decrease in sales. Much of this is evidenced in the chart below, which looks at the curve of sales over time. I eventually averaged between $120 – $200 a month, and $2300 in gross sales by the end of 2011.
How I Made Nearly $1k to Date This Month ALONE in Kindle Sales
Getting comfortable and getting used to the money coming in, no matter how small, got the best – and worst – of me. I was happy to know I was making money on the side with Kindle, but I never leveraged it to create a product. I did end up training a few people on writing their book and finding their voice. Much of it was highly inspired by my personal risk of writing on such a naughty and risque subject, but nevertheless, because I made money, I was still sought after.
I also put my time into working as a retail auditor for a mystery shopping company. I was driving all over the US, taking assignments anywhere from Pueblo, Colorado to the Boston metro area of Massachussetts. The money was decent, but it seemed good at the time, especially because I got to travel often and spend time working on my affiliate marketing businesses. I kept telling myself I’ll work on a longer book, or even more books, but I spent a bit of time buying books on the subject(s) and not sitting down to make myself right. (I also wasn’t organized; more on that later.)
Well, the large retail chain eliminated their audits with the company, and while I wasn’t let go, there was no work from February until the July. I was struggling, bills weren’t getting paid, and while I went on a lot of interviews, I was either overqualified or just not what the company was looking for. Mystery shopping in and of itself helped, but I noticed the only funds I could truly count on were the Kindle royalties. Those came in rain or shine, and I said “Damn, why am I NOT leveraging this?”
Add to this, a boost in my income came when I enrolled my books in Amazon’s KDP program. I had previously given my books to Amazon and PubIt, but I never ever saw sales coming in from PubIt (they handle digital books for nook) like I did with Kindle. When I stopped publishing them for nook readers, my income increased – and even replaced my royalties on PubIt, so I never looked back.
In June, I released another book, a follow-up series to the first book. By the end of June, my lagging sales for 2012 jumped to over $400. By July, they were over $600. Today, with a full week left in August, I’m hitting near the $1k mark with just over $950 in sales.
Right now, I’m waiting for my June payment to arrive… but I’m really hoping to definitely push past $1,000 on or before August 31, and continue pushing past to at least $3k a month from here on out.
Here’s a side by side of 2011 and 2012 – it’s cut off at August, but look at the growth and change over time:
Before now, I had played with creating a site simply for those of us who are interested in writing books. I really have had super-success with this, and it’s amazing to people, simply because I didn’t purchase an expensive $200 program to learn how to write, or paid anyone to tell me what to write. To be honest, I never even marketed the books I made. There was ZERO Marketing in my personal case study. It’s only now that I’m finding the cojones to get my act together, revise my material and create an even bigger and better version of my books for my customers – and I’m going to have a system in place to help older customers take advantage of bigger and better editions.
However, I’ve spoken to several of my peers, and a few other people, and decided to answer some questions once and for all regarding Kindle ebook profits. This isn’t a full FAQ on making money with Kindle… but it should give you some clarity out of the smoke and mirrors bullshit I’m starting to see some people put out there when it comes to creating a side income with Kindle.
Can you make money writing books?
Can you make money with ebooks? Hopefully, by now you know that you can. Anyone with an idea in mind who has the savvy, time, knowledge and finesse, and can do market research, can produce a profitable ebook for sale on the Amazon Kindle platform.
How much money can you make writing a book?
When it comes to making money writing ebooks, you can make 0 or you can go balls deep like Amanda Hocking and make millions. It really depends on what you write, the quality, the market and how much you promote your product after you’ve published it.
How fast can I make money with Kindle books?
If you’re interested in learning how to write ebooks and make money, it’s important that you realize that a quick and immediate turnaround isn’t always guaranteed. Your book sales may trickle in one at a time, but never fully take off. Furthermore, you might realize that different factors affect your level of sales. Perhaps your title and description isn’t catchy; you might need to optimize the copy on your description and in your title to spark interest. Other times, you might need to use some SEO and free Kindle promotion to induce natural web traffic and sales to your book.
Regardless, you get paid for your month-end royalties at the end of 60 days, so there’s still a waiting period.
If you wrote a book today, it’d be published in about 48-72 hours… and if you sold 10 copies and made, say, $20.80 (cause you sold it for $2.99), then you would get your money at the end of October, on October 31st. Directly to your bank account.
What’s the best price to sell my book at?
Amazon Kindle ebook prices vary, but the most profitable price points are between $2.99 and $9.99. Some people sell books for .99 cents as loss leaders, but I’ve tried that and it’s just not even worth it in my opinion. I want to scale my money the best way possible, and while selling your book for $2.99 may seem low, the truth of the matter is my sales have jumped significantly set at this price, especially combined with solid reviews.
When you publish your book, adjust your book price according to the market and when you see a price that works for you, maintain it. Don’t sell too many books at 99 cents because a million others do it, and don’t price it at the $9.99 to max out the $6.49 royalty you want to make. Plenty of people are making thousands of dollars – yes thousands - per month in Kindle book sales with books set between $2.99 and $9.99. (Please refer to Amanda Hocking.)
Write ebooks and make money – but just do not overthink the price. Test different models and go with the flow of things.
Can you tell me how to make money quick on line with Kindle?
No, because to be quite honest, I don’t really value the idea of making quick money online. Sure, some things you do can flip a profit within a matter of hours, but for the most part, you have to experience trial and error like everyone else. I know you want to make more money fast – shit, I do too – but not at the expense of quality. A quality book will always move with grace over a book done in a fly by night manner. And I’ll be honest, although I’ve written some books really quickly, I see how the quality could have been improved from the jump with patience. I now owe it to my customers and established audience to work on revising what’s currently out there for them, and giving away free updated copies of my books when I release them (date not yet determined).
Email, Tweet or Facebook Me with Your Questions
Now that I’ve hit $1k in sales (I’m claiming it, I know I will go over $1,ooo)… I’ve “found my place” in the digital market naturally. I’m going to put intense focus on strengthening my book development, and plan on going on a 30 to 31-day retreat where I shut a lot of the “this is how you make money/do social/be spectacular at life online” noise out and focus on what matters to me. Adult topics are a passion for me, sexcellent content is a passion for me, and right now, getting my health, fitness, beauty and spirit in order is a big passion for me. It’s an emerging need that matters in the long run, because these are the things that will directly affect my life – and the quality of my content also.
My mantra is to teach you to succeed without selling out, and I’m becoming a testimony how to do so.
I know this post doesn’t answer all of your questions, so if there’s more you want to know about writing a book on Amazon Kindle, let me know. Email me, send me a message on Twitter, or leave a comment on the Disqus system below.
I’m going to get dressed now. I’m literally sitting here in bed less than a few hours before my cousin’s wedding… and I had to leave work without getting paid this afternoon, so I wasn’t in the best mood, and still am not, but I know that right here, and right now, I’m the best possible position to thrive on my own digital empire with content publishing.
And who knows? I might even get my empire off the ground, find the Jay-Z to my Beyonce, then do like my cousin and have a “Lift Off” of my own before long.
Til then, stay #SexyFocusedAmbitious
… P.S. I also have taken Ash Ambirge’s Copywriting course through the Middle Finger Project – and all I have to say about it is #writersaresexy