A general question. The short answer is yes, of course, you can make money self-publishing on Amazon. Many people, myself included are making a decent income self-publishing on Amazon alone.
But I am sure you want a lot more detail on this question as there are many levels to finding success on Amazon KDP (and many other platforms) and within the online publishing world in general so I have added a table of contents to help you find your way around this post!
Why Do I Always Recommend Amazon KDP?
Amazon self-publishing is one of the easiest ways to build an online book business and make money. The turnaround is very fast in comparison to other services like it and it doesn’t require a lot of skills.
If you had your book ready as a PDF on your hard drive and had your cover already designed, all you would need to do is add the title, keywords and description and set a price. Within 72 hours, your book will be available for sale all around the world and you could start making money.
Understanding the right strategy allows you to make money consistently for the long term. Many people choose Amazon first because they benefit as Amazon grows, as they are one of the largest and fastest growing companies in the world.
The book industry is a massive industry with multi-billion dollar investments in Amazon alone. Using Amazon gives you access to 90 million Prime members in the United States alone.
I typically recommend new aspiring authors to publish their books on Amazon because it is a very newbie-friendly platform. Honestly, had it not been for the many failed manuscript uploads and quality control problems on my first go round, I would have had my first book uploaded and up for sale within one week of being approved on the platform.
I have also mentioned many times, the Amazon self-publishing cost is pretty low, especially if you compare it to the cost of traditional publishing, it's actually quite affordable.
Of course, if you manage to get your book picked up by a traditional publisher, you get an advance and are not typically worrying about the cost of book covers, editing, marketing etc.
But the cut they take can be significant- usually upwards of 50%. So even if your book is doing quite well, you may not be seeing a lot of money coming in. And if it's not doing well… Well, then you're really in trouble.
Self-Publishing Is A Trend
With the increase in the trend of self-publishing, it is becoming more challenging to publish a book and generate incredible sales figures with minimal effort as it once was.
The world is changing fast, and many people seek out this space as a means to an end. Amazon self-publishing is by far the most popular route independent authors take to get their books on the digital shelf, so the competition is higher than it has ever been.
Writing is no longer just a passion or hobby for many people in the publishing space, but also a massive opportunity for pretty much anybody with a computer.
Amazon self-publishing is big business:
- It is absolutely free of cost, easy to use, and provides a decent loyalty structure.
- 310 million book buyers accounted for $178b in sales on Amazon.
- Approximately 70% of self-published books are sold on Amazon.
- KDP is trusted and reputable, your book is sold alongside those of renowned authors.
If your book is of good quality, influential, entertaining and well-formatted, it will likely be successful. That is, of course, once people know it exists.
It could take some time, but once you get the ball rolling, you will start to generate more and more sales. Although, it is easy to feel disheartened at first when your account isn't going wild with sales, especially when you have high expectations for your first book.
Steps for Making Money from Self-Publishing:
Amazon states that KDP authors have made more than $1.1b from the Kindle Unlimited program in 2019 and 1000 of them earned $100,000 royalty.
Anyone can self-publish on Amazon, but there are some specifics to know from setting your KDP account to the pricing of the book. You can earn up to 70% royalty from KDP with publishing free of cost.
If you follow the steps and strategies described in this post, you will be able to make some decent money by self-publishing.
Find the Right Category for Your Book
Publishing a variety of books in different genres will certainly take some time, but over time you would learn what works well and which categories and genres have a good volume of organic search traffic.
A quicker method is simply taking the time out to do the research and learn what people want to read. This can save you a lot of headache.
- First, validate your book idea by making sure that there is an existing audience. Because you wouldn't want to waste time writing an amazing book that nobody wants to buy.
- Next, find a suitable category and subcategory for your book idea. This is a huge mistake many authors make and they end up putting their book in a category that will not serve it well. You can avoid this by checking the best seller rank of top books in your category.
The higher the rank of the book more copies it sells. You can then choose the category which has neither too high nor too low competition.
Some people strike gold with this while others make one failed attempt to capture an audience that is already overwhelmed by good quality content, and they rule '
making money through self-publishing' out.
Rule of thumb
Ranking above 1000: It will have greater sales but competition will also be great.
Ranking from 1000 to 30,000: It has less competition and decent sales for the book.
Ranking of 30,000 or lower: It is the least competitive and also has fewer sales.
⭐️ Top tip: You can also use this method to reverse engineer successful books and implement their strategies, some tools can even show you which keywords they are ranking for!
How Much Does An Average Self-Publishing Author Make (On Amazon)?
Stats from Forbes and The Guardian shows that the average earning of self-published authors is $10,000 per year, while half of the authors made just $500 per year.
The fact is many independent authors don't do well. But there really are no 'average self-published author earnings', which you can see from the information above, $10,000 and $500 are miles apart. And, to be honest I am not even sure how it is possible for the average to be one thing while 50% make something so far from that 🤔
What one person makes will vastly differ from another and depends heavily on a multitude of factors.
Different authors achieve different levels of monetary success. Therefore what you make will be determined by;
- How good your book is
- How well it fits into the market
- Timing, and;
- Strategic marketing (a combination of sponsored ads, social media, social media ads, giveaways)
How Much Money Can You Make Through Amazon Self-Publishing?
This question and, 'will I make any money?' are the first question that arises in the minds of authors. Well, the precise answer is yes, you will make money if you publish a good book according to the reader's demand.
L.J. Ross (the lawyer-turned-writer) published a series of 19 novels on a "Holy Island" that sold a total of 4.5 million copies. Your success is available, but you have to work for it. What you make will be based on both your royalties and the number of books you sell.
Pricing and Royalties
The pricing of the book is entirely up to you. But the best range for a beginner is to maintain a price between $2.99 and $9.99.
⭐️ Top tip: A common strategy for ebooks is to start with the price at $2.99 and then gradually increase $1 or less per week until you are at your desired price.
Know the price of your competitor's works and compare whether you could sell at a higher or lower rate, but be careful not to undercut too much as overall this is not good practice for yourself or the market.
The next step in earning money from Amazon self-publishing is to select the royalty option. There are certain rules and regulations regarding 70% royalty that you should know as it might seem like a no-brainer, choosing 70% over 35% but these options will vary. Likewise, print books have separate pricing options.
In any case, during the publishing process you have the option of choosing the royalty.
35% Royalty: If you choose 35% royalty, it means you will get $3.50 cents if your book price is $10.
70% Royalty: If you choose 70% royalty, you will get $7 if the book price is $10.
For more info on royalties and fees, check out this post: Amazon KDP Self-Publishing–All Costs & Fees Explained
Types of Self-Publishing on Amazon
Three types of books are sold through Amazon self-publishing.
- EBooks - eBook authors earned $298.9 million collectively on average a year.
- Paperbacks - more than 85% of paperbacks are sold in the US market.
- Audiobooks - there were 2 Billion hours in listening time from Audible listeners in 2016 alone.
In addition, Amazon offers these services to boost access to your book.
- Amazon KDP, which is the starting point - providing the opportunity of fast and free publishing.
- KDP Select, which gives authors the chance to make more money and choose 70% royalty.
- Kindle Unlimited, an option for eBooks - KU estimates about 14% reads of all the eBooks of the Amazon community.
To maximize your sales you should utilise all of the above; making sure your book is available and accessible in all formats.
Focus on Content
While there are many low-quality books flooding the market, this will be short-lived as you might be able to trick somebody into buying something low quality with a great cover and description, but ultimately their reviews will tell another story.
Imagine yourself as a reader, what would compel you to read a book from cover to cover and leave a great review?
Rob Dircks (self-published author) has shared his story that he spent over one year writing his first book, “Where the Hell is Tesla”? Which sold 10,000 copies in the first twelve months of publishing.
Make sure your content is up to date, inspiring, has a well-designed cover, has gone through thorough editing and has a quality format. Give people a reason to choose your book over the others. Do proper research on what people want to read and then produce content of high quality. Whether it is non-fiction or fiction, research and quality content matter.
Great content can double your book sales!
Effective Marketing Strategy
Once you have self-published your book, you need to introduce it to the market.
To maximise on your sales, smart marketing is as important as great content. The ultimate goal of marketing is to convert the searchers skimming past your books into readers. If you can get a click then you should hopefully be able to convert that into a sale with the right description, on-page formatting and detailed reviews.
You can market your self-publish book using the following:
- Email Marketing: Use your email lists to promote the book. Send out a newsletter making people aware of your new book. Of course, this would require you to have an existing email list - if not and you plan on publishing more books then you may want to consider creating a website and building one for future reference.
- Social Media Marketing (no ads, organic traffic through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest - if you are new to this you might want to check this course out.)
- Ads on Social media: Run ads on social media platforms like Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. If you have a huge following, ads will be more beneficial.
- Amazon Ads: It is the best and most effective method to increase sales for your book. Even a small budget on an Amazon Advertising campaign can double the sales of your book.
Everything you do with regards to marketing will be insanely more effective the larger your following is, so it is worth learning how to grow an organic following of users who are interested in you, your genre and your books.
Role of Reviews
Reviews play a significant role in determining the credibility of your book. If your book has good reviews, then the sales will increase. It goes without saying that four and five-star reviews look more appealing than ones and twos!
Contact some people including your friends or relatives to give the book a five-star rating. If you succeed in getting the first 100 (4-5 star) reviews, it will make a base for the book to become popular. Your book will rank higher in the category and will provide a wide range of accessibility to readers.
⭐️ Top Tip: Some people opt for using advanced positive reviews as this is an excellent resource.
There are many alternative ways of winning honest reviews. You can send books to the members of Goodreads and request them for a review. Or you can write articles, posts on social media and guest posts to increase the reviews.
The more reviews, the more the Amazon will recommend your book to readers.