So you wanna earn significant income through ebooks? There’s definitely a lot of potential in that endeavor. But before you officially embark on your first masterpiece, you need to know what kind of ebooks sell. Last week I met someone who is an author of 10 books, all of which are available on Amazon. The problem is, not one of his titles have sold more than 10 copies. It’s a shame because it took him 12 years to create his material and he’ll go to his grave knowing that these years were wasted. And it’s not like he isn’t intelligent because he’s a retired chemist. If he had only done a few things differently from the beginning he would have been enjoying lots of passive income by now.
To get to the bottom of things, let’s look at the breakdown of the top 20 ebooks on Amazon Kindle.
3 romance: non-religious
1 romance: religious
3 fantasy: non-religious
1 fantasy: religious
7 murder/intrigue: non-religious
1 mystery/suspense: non-religious
1 mystery/suspense: religious
2 inspiration (fiction): non-religious
1 self-help: religious
Don’t feel that you have to deal with the underworld of publishing by compromising your style or accosting decision makers as they walk out to their cars. Out of the list of 20 titles, only 3 were New York Times best sellers and one other was in the Oprah Book Club. The 16 remaining ebooks got popular through acceptable methods that are within reach.
After a prolonged period of research, I was also able to glean that the vast majority of these passive income dynamos targeted women. I’m not talking about the ones who have made it through life unblemished. I’m talking about women who have been bruised and are parked at an undesirable station in life. Some are looking for an escape. Others view ebooks as the preferred venue for self-medication. The last main group in this demographic is looking for information to help them rise out of their situation (self-help material).
I was actually surprised that I didn’t see any diet books in the top 20. I was even more surprised that the largest group of best sellers was based on murder and intrigue. Honestly, I thought that at least half of the top twenty would be secretive, unbridled romance stories. But I found that only 3 solidly fit into this category with other ebooks incorporating this kind of subject matter as a sub-theme. Four of the top twenty are Judeo-Christian centered, which shows that religious material can fare well outside of the box office. It’s interesting that half way through the top 20 list, there was an advertisement for 10 vampire books. This plus the 7 murder/intrigue books made me realize that Americans haven’t lost their taste for blood. Authors who have settled into this category are earning more than just a couple dollars a month in extra income.
One quality that most of the listings shared is a really long description. With this strategy the author has the best chance of appearing in search results (targeted results as well as non-targeted). Anyone who has ever written a description for a book knows it’s really difficult to write a long one that doesn’t put people to sleep. Most of the authors in the top 20 got around this problem by simply pasting in accolades and reviews. No matter which way the authors chose to describe their books, I noticed they focused on words within a specific genre so like-minded readers would pull up the book in search results.
As for the amount of content for each book, only one was less than 175 pages. This anomaly was a Christian based self-help book called “8 Reasons Your Life Matters”. We can see that the subject deals with the ubiquitous problem of lack of purpose. Also, readers can see the number of main points in the title and the book length of 175 pages shows that each point is heavily expounded upon. Perhaps this can be a successful formula for success in the self-help category. But as a general rule of thumb for all book categories, shooting for over 250 pages seems to be the golden mean.
Although writing long books naturally projects authority, there is another strategy that you will need to experiment with. Instead of putting months of time in trying to write a masterpiece, write small books (80 – 100 pages) in order to find out which niches are the most profitable. This is a process called Design Thinking which I cover in this interview:
Essential ebook selling strategy
Not only can 3 well-promoted, small books earn more revenue than a large one, people are more attracted to material that’s focused. For example, if I wanted to learn about online promotion through Adwords advertising, I wouldn’t want to buy a book called “The Marketing Bible”. The latter would probably cover my topic of interest but in a vague way.
Let’s get back to my retired chemist friend. I decided it would benefit my own passive income strategy to learn from his mistakes so I pulled up all of his books on Amazon. One glaring problem that was reflected in his book descriptions was that his spelling and grammar was atrocious. If he had run his beginning works through a copy checker friend, maybe he would have done better. Also, his descriptions were SO SHORT. No one can find his books among so many millions of other titles. This is a problem that no author should take lightly. Despite having 10 books spread out between the categories of modern mystery, historical fiction and children’s material, his work never had a chance to get off the ground.
Book selling details
If you are an author that is about to launch an ebook, upload to Amazon and forget about iBooks for the first 3 months. I say this because during this time you need to be part of Amazon’s KDP Select program which prohibits selling digital copies of your book through other venues. You need to know that by being in Amazon’s graces, your book stands a bigger chance of being recognized and sold because members are able to share your material with friends. Since Amazon sells 70% of the online books in the world, don’t worry about losing money from other online stores.
Another byproduct of being in KDP Select is that Amazon is somehow trained to promote your book for the long haul. As of late, this promotion inertia has been dampened but not taking advantage of it can result in lost sales. After the initial 3 months of KDP Select are over you can upload your ebook to iBooks and other venues in order to supplement your existing sales.
Now here’s the second piece of information that you need to know in order to make your launch successful. From the time of the launch you must take the price of your book to ZERO for at least 2 days to ensure downloads and best of all, reviews. During this time you should alert your social media friends who will appreciate your free product. Your goal is to get reviews because other kinds of promotional venues want to see them; they prefer at least 5. After this initial promotion is over, visit this address.
On the bottom of the page you can submit to all of the major book promotion sites. Tell each site that your next ZERO price promotion will be 4 days away and will last for 2 days. They tend to want a few days notice. This time will also allow you to do the necessary edits to make your book unstoppable. After this 2nd period of gathering reviews you will only have 1 more day that KDP will allow for ZERO price promotion. Use this day strategically in the distant future so you can make even more changes based on the success level you’ve had.
You should know that making your book a free download will have minimal results in getting ratings and reviews. Even worse, you will be competing against “robo authors” who know how to game the system. These people put out books that are just plain bad and one of the big reasons why they rank in the top search results is that these authors pay others to give them 5 star ratings and reviews. They either do this or request good ratings from their Facebook friends with the promise that the deed will be reciprocal. Bogus ratings and reviews effectually promote sales and ultimately help books stay at the top. So this is what you are facing when publishing on Amazon but understand that nothing will stand in your way if you are determined.
Note: There is more you can do during the launch phase that is not covered here. Be sure to consult other sources to get a better grasp of this process.