Entrepreneur Boost header image

Entrepreneur Boost

≡ Menu

How much money can one Kindle book make? (1 year case study)

I published my first book on the Kindle back in October 2012 about How to Make Money as an Amazon Associate.

I’ve made over $100,000 in commissions as an Amazon affiliate and sold my top Amazon site for six figures as well so I had a lot of great info to share in a Kindle book.

In early 2013 I really wanted to flex my writing muscle and write a book once a month, but I was always busy with other business opportunities. With that said, I do plan to write more marketing books because I really do have a lot to teach but also because I enjoy writing.

Yada yada yada you just want me to tell you how much my Kindle book made in the past year right? Ok let’s dive in.

One Year Income Stats From One Kindle Book


In one year I’ve made on average $377.87 per month for a total one year earnings of $4,534.41 by selling my book for $2.99 (the vast majority of the time it was $2.99). Now because it’s a tremendous pain in the butt to actually go through every Excel spreadsheet from Amazon KDP and pull out my numbers I went a little overboard on some visual chart porn for you:

kindle book monthly revenue breakdown

kindle book monthly revenue breakdown by country

kindle book revenue total breakdown

What probably sticks out first is just how much the United States and the United Kingdom take up in sales. Over 95% of the sales come from the US and UK and while you make think that it’s just the niche for my book but with my other pen names in other non marketing niches I’ve seen similar numbers.

Holy Cow Batman – $377 Per Month – I Should Go Buy A New Car!

If I were a younger version of myself (more of an idiot that is to say) I could go out and buy a new car for about $25,000 with 3% interest and a 6 year term and this one book could pay for my car payments.

But you are not like the younger me are you? You’re reading this blog, working on ways to make extra money and – most importantly – keeping your personal expenses low so you can both retire sooner (if that’s your thing) and have money to invest in your business.

You may even buy a cheapo house like me as well right?

(Perhaps in your country or your part of the US $130k isn’t cheap, but compared to West Seattle homes at $500k where we were looking it is cheap)

Of course it’s not certain that I will continue to earn $377 per month from this book either. The internet is always changing and certainly the material in my book will need some degree of on going attention and updating.

I’ve already updated the book roughly 5 times to account for changes with Google (i.e. removal of Google Adwords Keyword Tool, reduced influence of exact match domain names etc).

Make Money With The Kindle Owners Lending Library Program (KOLL)

For this book I joined KDP select which allows me 5 free days to give the book away for free every 90 day period (good for promos and to get early reviews). This is an exclusive program which requires you to not publish the book anywhere else other than Amazon.com.

With that said the KOLL program is something different that allows Amazon Prime members to borrow one free KDP select book per month. To compensate authors they will pay you when Amazon Prime members borrow your book for free – nifty right?

So how much money can you make from people borrowing your book for free?

In total I made $451.76 from people borrowing my book for free

In total I made $451.76 from people borrowing my book for free
(KOLL income is already included in my total figures shown earlier)

So what does this tell us? Well it should tell you to go borrow my books if you aren’t going to pay for them ya cheap bastard so I can get paid. Nah I’m just kidding (or am I?)

Really what it tells us is that roughly 10% of the revenue from this book came from people who just borrowed the book for free. I have Kindle author friends and acquaintances that in some niches see this borrow income account for 50% of their revenue though so my figure again is just an example.

How Does Sales Rank Correlate To Total Sales?

 

11,003 appears to be the highest rank I hit with this book.  In my other niches I've had books hit the top 1,000.

11,003 is the best rank I hit with this book.
In my other niches I’ve had books hit much higher.

kindle sales rank for my book

The lower the number the better of course…

Based on these stats you can see that a rank of roughly between 20,000 and 30,000 translates to roughly $377 per month in revenue when priced at $2.99.

What Should You Price Your Book At?

Through the KDP Select program you can price your book between $.99 and $2.98 to receive 30% of the sale price. When the price is $2.99 or more you can get 70% of the sale though.

You need to sell 7 times as many books at 99 cents to earn the same money as pricing it at 2.99

99 cents ~ $.30 to you

2.99 ~ $2.09 to you

7 books x $.30 = $2.10

Should you ever price a book at 99 cents?

Yes of course, if the book is shorter and doesn’t warrant a higher price point (e.g. less than 10,000 words) then you can price it at 99 cents.

If you’re first releasing the book then 99 cents is a good price point as well because you can get more buyers and more early reviews (that is if you don’t want to give away your book for free).

When you price your book lower and you’re giving away a bonus in your book to add people to your email list then pricing the book at 99 cents can be an effective strategy with the idea that you can sell something of higher value to these subscribers later.

Why not sell at $9.99 or more?

If you’re doing a really long book, can prove the value and do a massive promotion leading up to your launch this more traditional pricing structure can work. The information I’m providing is based on the new $2.99 style pricing for shorter books that I’ve been doing.

Bonus tip: Just a day before I published this post Amazon released a new feature for KDP select members to include a count down timer for your book between price increases.

Real scarcity is a powerful marketing tactic and I’ll certainly be using this new feature in my books going forward as well.

So I’ll likely release future books at 99 cents for the first 24 hours and automatically up the price after that. In the past there was some lag between price changes so here you can actually do a price raise perfectly on time. (Amazon is a great partner. They keep making things better for us.)

Should you ever give your book away for free?

I’ve already shared my opinion that when you give something away for free people are less likely to do anything with the free information (than compared to those that paid for the information).

I have at least two dozen Kindle books that I’ve downloaded for free that “I’ll read later”

With that said, it’s still an effective strategy to give your book away for free – if you don’t have an established platform and audience to sell your book to so that you can get some early reviews which can help with your long term sales.

How much money does an average book generate?

There are over 1 million books on the Kindle marketplace according to Amazon and with my book around the 20,000 – 30,000 range in the bestseller range I’m within the top 2% – 3% of all Kindle books (based on a fixed number of 1 million – there are more books than that though). I’m confident that most authors fail to sell their books for a few reasons:

1. The book genuinely completely sucks and they get bad reviews that tank the sales

2. The book is filled with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes (another source of bad reviews)

3. The cover looks like they opened MS paint and clicked around with the paint brush tool while blindfolded – pay for something sharp

4. The marketing behind the book is non existent – you’ve gotta have some traffic source that you send at the book if you want sales

5. The topic or niche of the book is terrible - seriously the history of hacky sack?*

I believe most authors are terrible at marketing which is the primary reason why they fail though.

Chris, does every book you release sell well?

I’ve only released two marketing books and the other bundle of books I have published and in the works I’m not going to disclose here. But I did commit fatal mistake #5 with my second marketing book:

Buying Websites – How To Invest In Online Real Estate

This book is all about buying and selling websites with real life case studies from me. You should buy it if you’re at all interested in learning how to buy and sell websites. ;)

I picked a terrible niche for my 2nd book. Buying and selling websites is a sub niche of a niche and there really just aren’t that many people experienced enough with available capital to invest in buying websites.

kindle book sales of my other book

In total I’ve earned a measly $630.01 in six months with my second book. If the trend continued I’d earn roughly $100 a month from this book.

Even my first Kindle book that has made me ~$377 per month over the past year isn’t a huge success. I’d consider a book a huge success (for this new $2.99 style book pricing) if it earned me $1,000+ per month – without relying on heavy external promotion. To hit the WSJ bestseller list a book needs to sell tens of thousands of copies. Great related article here from James Altucher.

So how do you sell a lot of books?

One of the best strategies to sell books is to build a platform around your target audience. This can be done in a number of ways:

1. Create and scale a website about a specific topic – use this website to promote your book

2. Build a Facebook page and pay for likes to build your own traffic source – use this page to promote your book

3. Build an email list based on the traffic you get to your website, Facebook page etc and promote your book that way

4. Price your book low for launch to drive extra sales and then increase the price (scarcity works)

5. Offer a bonus for book buyers (i.e. companion video course, software etc)

There are a lot of book marketing strategies and tactics that you can employ (I could probably write an entire book on that once my Kindle income hits a higher level).

What if you just want to write some Kindle books to make some extra cash like I’m doing?

Follow the advice I already shared which basically boils down to:

Build an audience (traffic source) and send that traffic to your book pages.

Beyond the strategies I’ve shared what I specifically do for this book is include mini call to actions to buy my book inside the members area of the various Amazon software products I sell.

For example, if you buy EasyAzon – the best Amazon wordpress plugin on the market (I’m confident of this especially when we release the new version) – inside the members area I have a link for people to buy my book beneath the download page. If my customers paid to buy EasyAzon then a Kindle book for under $5 is a drop in the bucket.

Additionally I promote my Kindle books via this blog in blog posts and via my navigation bar:

where I promote my books

 

For this book I gave it away when I first launched it via an email promotion to my list, but frankly I shouldn’t have. I already have a pretty well established platform and it devalues my work when at this stage of my life I’ve proven that I know quite a bit about marketing and in this specific case – quite a lot about Amazon affiliate marketing.

Something else I could do is include a follow up email in my newsletter directing people to check out my books as well but it’s not something I’ve done yet.

Overall – Can you make a day job killing income with Kindle books? ($5,000+ per month)

Yes. $5,000 per month is completely possible. I already have a few friends doing thousands per month and I interviewed a guy doing much more than that. My best month so far was just under $1,000 or so from the combination of my marketing books and the other books I’ve published under another pen name (and I’m just dabbling with this stuff for fun).

I’m confident that even if I completely outsource Kindle book creation to other writers I could hit over $5,000 per month and easily recoup my writing, editing and cover creation cost (and that’s what I’m setting out to do starting today).

At this stage of my business $5,000 per month isn’t a huge number (don’t get me wrong it’s still nice) but fortunately making money in new and fun ways just happens to be my hobby.

My goal 50 Kindle books in 12 months ~ $5,000+ per month

I’m taking the mass niche website approach and applying it to Kindle books. I know I should focus in on one thing as I said before but I’ve gotta have cool content to share with my you. So my current plan is to hit 50 books by November 1st 2014.

Will I write all of these books? Hah of course not. You c my grammer skillz and spellings? I cant right sentences very wel or quik.

I was only able to write 2 books in the past 12 months so at most I can write maybe 4 – 6 marketing related books in the next 12 months.

Instead I will be outsourcing all of the book writing, editing and cover creation to other freelancers.

How do I know outsourcing Kindle book creation will work?

I’ve already published 3 books that were completely outsourced – as in I didn’t even read them all the way through.

I paid someone else to write the content, paid someone else to edit the book and paid someone else to create the cover.

Needless to say it will still take some work from me but because the rest of my business is doing well I can’t let this project distract me so I’m only going to do this project outside of my normal work hours.

Overall, I’m excited about this case study and if you think it sounds fun I’ll do monthly income reports for this small portion of my overall business.

Congrats you’re a winner! You made it to the end

What started as a quick blog post to outline some specific numbers of a book I published one year ago turned out to be something much longer.

If you enjoyed what you read thank me by purchasing or borrowing one of my books for free. (I’m not afraid to sell when I know that the value I’ve provide is worth more than the price I’m asking):

Click here to buy or borrow one of my books

Want to follow along with my case study? Join the email newsletter below this blog post that’s where I’ll send out updates. Feedback welcomed in the comments…

 

*Hah you totally clicked the link to the history of hacky sack didn’t you? Let me know if I tricked you.

How To Make Money With Websites

How To Make Money With WebsitesTake my free online course, in which I’ll show you:

  • 10+ Days Of Material
  • Six Figure Secrets
  • No Risk Entirely Free

Ready to get started? Just enter your email below:

38 comments… add one

  1. Chris, thanks for this detailed post. I have two books on kindle in the travel niche and they don’t do nearly as well as yours do; not even close. I have a fb page for one of them, but looks like I need to do some of the marketing you explained here. I have a third one to launch so will re-read this post before I do.

    Reply
    1. Here’s another number for you. I have an email list of about 10,000 in my other non marketing niche. With just one email to that list I’d do several hundred sales of a book in the first 24 / 48 hours. Many times that’s enough sales to help spur natural sales from Amazon.com (i.e. that was usually enough sales to send my book to the top of it’s category).

      Altogether it all comes down to quality traffic.

      The Kindle book I did on Amazon affiliate marketing does well because I know the stuff realllllly well because I’m made so much money doing it. Sure there will be some people that may read this blog post and think that they should go and write a book about Amazon affiliate marketing that’s fine with me as it will just mean more people looking for information and potentially buying my book.

      Reply
  2. Hi Chris,

    I am one of your subscribers and really enjoyed this helpful article. I had a question regarding this outsourcing model. Can you tell me how you research the topics and how much it would cost to outsource a book of around 70 to 100 pages.

    Regards
    Nilendu

    Reply
    1. I don’t go by page count – I go by Word count and I like to shoot for between 10,000 – 15,000 words for a $2.99 book.

      In the case of the 3 I had outsourced so far I simply paid the writer that I had been paying to write content for my related website to start writing the Kindle books. So the upfront work I had already invested to find a great writer for the site allowed me to have her keep on working in a different area for me.

      To hit my target of 50 books I estimate I’m going to need to pick up another 5 – 7 niches so I’ll likely need 5 – 7 more writers. I’ll use Odesk to hire through that or maybe Elance. Elance is where I found my editor and a friend of mine referred me to that editor.

      Reply
  3. Thank you for sharing Chris. What i didnt realise is that you can actually make quite a decent money from selling ebooks. Can you tell us about how are you going to select your niche for your 50 ebooks? How do you know what niche will sell?

    Reply
    1. Hey Aaron,

      I’ve got several ideas for picking niches but I actually use some software that I’ve owned for a while. I’ll do a post on niche selection soon. Really it comes down to looking at what books are selling and going after those types of niches though :)

      During the case study I’ll do a huge post on niche selection though.

      Chris

      Reply
  4. Hi Chris,

    I enjoyed your Amazon book but the only thing i did not like was that it was not in PDF form
    and it was a pain to read in kindle. I know you probably make more money selling on it Amazon but it would have been nice if i could have gotten it in a PDF also.

    Anyway i have been reading about you since 2010 so keep up the great work.

    Reply
    1. I can’t actually sell it outside of Amazon because I’m part of the KDP select program so that’s just one of the downsides. The upsides make it worth it to not be able to sell outside the market though.

      Reply
  5. Thanks Chris,I always enjoying your information.Here is my question on kindle,what type of niche sell very well on kindle? Is it compulsory to use pen name when creating ebook on different niches?.

    Reply
    1. Hey Anthony, this is the second question about niche selection. It deserves a whole post but ultimately I target niches where I see books are already selling. I’ll elaborate in a much longer post.

      I do pen names because for example I don’t want people seeing that I’m writing all kinds of random books. With a pen name I can set up a website tied to that specific author, twitter account etc rather than having them all under one account.

      Reply
  6. Chris- this has to be my favorite post you’ve ever written. This thing is gold, and I’ll be sharing this for months to come. We currently sell our book on Amazon for “free” but use it more as a lead magnet than anything – though this post makes me wonder if maybe we should just to KDP Select and try to sell it for $2.99 instead.

    Also – I read an article recently (can’t find it now, of course) that talked about how on Kindle, $3.99 is now replacing $2.99 as the sweet spot for books. The author was saying that although he received slightly less buys, he made like 20% more profit on the most expensive book. Have you tested this at all? Might be worth trying in the future?

    Thanks again Chris for sharing your numbers! People (I) love that stuff!

    Reply
    1. Hey Brandon, yah I’m totally going to be testing other price points such as $3.99 or $4.99 because the bonus I’m giving away in this book specifically is a software tool that I’ve sold at $10 before (now $17). I’ve also considered filming a series of extra videos and then simply including a registration link for people to register for free access for book buyers type of thing.

      Will be sure to update this via a future case study post as I plan to do several more posts about Kindle marketing.

      Reply
  7. Hey Chris,

    Would you be interested in outsourcing the writing job of one of the books to me? I have been blogging for a around 5 years now. And I have also written a ebook. I am good at health niches, and recently I am moving towards copy writing and web based businesses for local and small entrepreneurs. However, I can also research on other niches and write on those topics.

    I would love to involved in working with you as I also want to learn the process of publishing a book on Amazon from start to finish? You are an expert in this so it would be great experience for me to work with you.

    Please let me know what you think.

    You can contact me at nilendu_b@yahoo.com. I can also provide you my phone number in case you need that.

    Reply
    1. Follow up with me via the contact page and send some more info about your rates etc. For this case study I’m only looking to outright pay for the books to be written and not split earnings on books though (if only to avoid the accounting headache of figuring that out).

      Reply
  8. Hi Chris – thanks for a thorough and informative article. As an author that has pubbed several titles earning $1000 a month, I second the notion that what is important is writing a book that already has demand and writing a quality book. IMO, the most important thing to do is write a book that is one of the best three books in its category. If you can’t do that, don’t waste your time.

    If I may, I think that my book The Complete e-Book Bestseller Formula can help you and your readers increase book sales. I don’t want to sound like a spam ad, but the book is rated 5-stars on Kindle (30 ratings). It would be especially helpful for those wanting to amp up publishing on large scale (50 books) as it offers a template that can be applied across an author’s library.

    Among other things, I provide proven methods to research profitable keywords, write titles and subtitles that get the click, having great covers made for you for $5, writing quality content, hooking your book to the correct books, book page SEO, how to get reviews for your book, and lots more. Click my Commenter name hyperlink for the book link (website).

    Chris, feel free to email me for a free review PDF. I would also be happy to review your book(s). I have 5 others that we can swap, as well. I signed up for your 10-day course – sounds interesting (I have a couple blogs, as well)

    Reply
    1. Yah I mean a lot of the stuff you’re describing is what I’m doing but just didn’t have the room to describe it here. I’ll likely end up just writing a book on Kindle marketing eventually. Everyone I’ve spoken with sort of has their own spin on how to do things and while there are some overlaps the authors looking to get extra sales probably pick up all kinds of books on how to get more sales on Kindle etc.

      For one pen name I’ve done something I know that no other Kindle marketing authors are doing now or have likely even considered and if it continues to work well it’s going to be awesome to finally reveal it.

      Reviews: I don’t do any swapping or anything like that as I don’t want to risk anything. Seems like review swapping is a great way to get banned by Amazon…

      Ultimately for this case study to be a success though I don’t want the lions share of my earnings to come from books about marketing because I already have a pretty huge platform via this blog (and mainly via my email lists).

      I want to be able to prove that people can make money in random niches.

      I don’t need a PDF copy though I’m not a freebie seeker. I’ll just buy it sometime down the line most likely :)

      Edit: The comment about writing the best book in the category is a good one. If I wasn’t clear I want to reiterate that writing quality stuff is only what I’m trying to preach here.

      Reply
  9. Hey Chris, great content. Thanks for the tips. I arrived this website looking for info about how to make an effective promotion and get reviews of my books and google send me here.

    I have initiated to publish my third book but unfortanely my income is lower than 50 dollar per month for all.

    I have many challenges, for now is the “social proof”, i want to get review for my books, but i have the inconvenient that when they are posted not appear “Amazon Verified Purshased” Is becuase of they are bought when they are free or because i send them as a gift?

    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Hey Fabian, getting more reviews is another good post idea I’ll have to write one. I don’t do anything shady so let me mark this down as something to answer in more detail.

      Reply
  10. I don’t have a Kindle, if you did not either would you be comfortable creating a book that you couldn’t see the final result? Or is it not that big of a deal?

    Reply
    1. There are several books I’ve published that I’ve not even downloaded onto my Kindle before. I don’t think it’s a big deal there are several ways to preview the book before it’s published using Amazon’s built in previewer.

      Reply
  11. Chris, thanks for the site. A few questions:

    Do you use the same email address and login info for your Amazon Associates account as you do for your regular Amazon.com account? Are there any advantages to keeping the 2 accounts completely separate? For example, if something unintentionally bad happened and your amazon associates account was banned, then perhaps you would limit the damage by keeping the 2 accounts separate so that you don’t also get banned from buying stuff on Amazon.

    Also, do you have more than 1 Amazon Associates account? Can you do that? Would there be any point to having more than 1?

    Reply
    1. Hey John, well I think you may have the terminology mixed up a bit here so let me just get this out of the way:

      Amazon Associates = Amazon’s affiliate program. (I only have 1 of these)

      Amazon KDP Account = Amazon book account (You can only have one of these so I only have 1 of these)

      Amazon Author Central Account = Sales rank tracking for a pen name (you can have multiple accounts of these and in this case I have 2 of these so far)

      I’m not worried about something unintentionally bad happening. Too many other things to worry about in life. I just stick to the rules as well as I can. In the case of Amazon I did actually break a KDP select rule for my other pen name and when Amazon emailed me about it I just apologized (I didn’t know that I was breaking a rule) and they didn’t do much other than warn me. When you make money they make money and as long as you do your best to follow the rules you’ll be fine.

      Reply
  12. Nice post Chris. I definitely need to figure out the whole Kindle book thing, especially for my craft beer site.

    Have you tried creating any books in brand new niches where you don’t have any presence yet? Curious as to how hard it is to build sales from scratch.

    Reply
    1. Yah I have 3 books in another niche right now. I’d like at least 40+ of the books I create for the 50 Kindle book case study to be in brand new niches.

      Reply
  13. I’ve bee trying to decide if I will dive into Kindle books or niche sites, and this is the second in depth kindle post I’ve randomly ran across today, which I think answers my question. I can’t believe that I didn’t see a link to your KD Suite software in here…I was going to buy before but didn’t have time to invest at the moment…any deals coming up for it by chance? :-D

    Reply
    1. Hey Eric, it’s actually not my software but rather a friend of mines. I didn’t put a link as I need to follow up with him to get a special discount page for just my blog readers so check back here for a possible update :)

      Reply
  14. At 2.99 I find it very cheap. Somebody else would be selling that type of book at a price above $10. You have really mastered making money through Amazon which is quite hard for most people. Thanks for the knowledge and the stats

    Reply
  15. Those are some really nice figures for Amazon sales. I have yet to learn the inside out of making money from Amazon, but I learnt a lot of things about the site from this post.
    Thanks Chris for sharing the article and I only hope that the sales increases with every passing day :)

    Reply
  16. Chris, what do you use to help you decide on a niche for Amazon affiliate marketing? Google Keyword tool? Is there a free tool good enough or do you have to buy something like Market Samurai?

    Reply
    1. http://amasuitesoftware.com – that’s what I use (software I partnered on with another marketer to create)

      Reply
  17. Chris, I wanted to ask you also do you think Amazon affiliate sites are pretty much not worth the effort anymore for various reasons…..
    For example, it’s gotten too competitive and Google has made too many changes to their search algorithm that negatively impact these types of sites. Thanks for your honest opinion.

    And can you explain about this CommentLuv checkbox….when people use it does it increase the SEO ranking of their blog because now they have a link to your site through their comment? Thank you

    Reply
    1. Ultimately it takes work. Most people will fail that try, but that’s because people fail for a variety of reasons (never really tried that hard, didn’t take it seriously, don’t know how to do it etc). It’s still doable but I recommend review style websites primarily because it’s possible to make more money with less traffic.

      Reply
  18. One other question. You used to use the domain makemoneyontheinternet.com. How much does it cost you a year to redirect the traffic from your old domain to your new domain? Just approx. $10 domain fee per year to keep ownership of makemoneyontheinternet.com? Was it complicated to setup the redirect?

    Thanks Chris for any info you can give for these questions.

    Reply
    1. Yah just domain name renewal fee and a 301 redirect. Pretty simple – I just googled a guide for ‘how to move a blog’ and that’s how I found it.

      Reply
  19. Thanks for the answers Chris. When you did your 301 redirect, did you have problems preserving your Pagerank, SEO, link juice, etc.? Did all your backlinks transfer from your old domain to your new one?

    Reply
    1. Honestly I wasn’t too worried about all that. My blog doesn’t get a ton of traffic from SEO anyway as it’s primarily referral based. I think my number 1 keyword was “Chris Guthrie” so it was sort of irrelevant.

      Note: If you were getting a lot of traffic it can actually be a huge risk to do this though so generally I don’t advise it.

      Reply
  20. What are some advantages in publishing Amazon Kindle VS. LuLu.com?

    Reply
    1. I’ve only tried Amazon so I’m not sure about Lulu.com

      Reply

Leave a Comment