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How To Write A Kindle Book – (Case Study and Income Results)

I published my first book on the Kindle at the end of September about how to make money as an Amazon Associate. Now after nearly 2 months I wanted to share what I learned from the experience, how many books I’ve sold since then and other advice I’ve learned along the way.

How To Come Up With Book Ideas

The first Kindle book I wrote was on how to make money with Amazon’s affiliate program. Amazon income is what helped me break away from my 9-5 day job in the first place back in 2009 and I already had a solid outline to complete a book on the topic so that’s primarily why I picked it. In my (limited) experience I found the easiest way to pick a book idea was to simply select from a range of topics I already knew a lot about. Having gone this route I’ve since learned that this isn’t always the best idea. Let me explain why…

Are there only a few books competing for your target market? That’s not necessarily a good thing

I like to draw comparisons between the Kindle book market and competing in Google with SEO because they are fairly similar. When it comes to SEO the process is relatively simple. Find a profitable keyword that is searched frequently and build a website to target that keyword. There’s a lot more to it, but part of what removes a lot of the guess work from this process is because Google provides a tool to determine how many people are searching for a specific keyword phrase; however, there isn’t an Amazon equivalent to see what types of book topics people are searching for. Because no such tool exists you’ve got to look at other factors such as the number of books already published on a topic AND the Kindle sales rank for the books already available:

The problem with my niche is that there simply aren’t enough people on Amazon searching for a book like mine which could be because it’s on a very narrow aspect of the small overall “how to earn money online” market. I’m getting a tad ahead of myself, but simply put I should have paid more attention to the sales data of the existing books within my niche before I decided to write on the topic that I did.

If you’re looking for step by step directions on how to come up with a book idea, analyze what a Kindle book sales rank equates to the number of units sold I highly recommend Steve Scott’s book on How To Discover Non-Fiction Book Ideas.

How To Actually Write The Kindle Book

When it comes to writing anything whether it’s a blog post or in this case a Kindle book I always start with an outline or at the very least a list of all the main points I want to cover. This allows me to simply expand upon the main topics or points I want to cover in my writing. Now when it comes to actually writing the content I like to put in a ton of hours late at night when there are no distractions. I routinely would start writing from 10:00 PM at night and move into 5:00 AM in the morning. This process reminds me of my college years where I’d wait until 12:01 AM at night to start work on a paper that was due that day (and I still got great grades – college is too easy).

If you still have a full time job and are not sure how to make some income on the side I will restate that the best thing I ever did was to put a few hours of work every evening after dinner trying to earn money online. There are probably much better ways to write a book but I have an odd productivity period as a night owl.

How To Format A Kindle Book

You can’t just write a book in MS Word and upload it to Amazon. What I found to be really helpful in the actual book formatting process was following along with this great PDF from Amazon that outlines how to write a book in the proper kindle format here:

How To Format Your Book For Kindle
(You can also watch a really boring, terribly sounding step by step video on that page. They really should have a professional redo these videos).

How To Get A Nicely Formatted Description On Amazon.com

Consider your book listing as a sales page and you’ve got to convince people why they should spend their money on your book. Part of that process involves making a nice looking description. Simply writing out your text “works” but it looks much better when you have a proper headline (just like you would at the top of a sales letter). To accomplish this you basically use HTML code but you replace the < with and then you replace the > with

What I’ll do is get the code from an HTML editor and then pop it into notepad and do a simple search and replace.

The orange headlines found in book descriptions are from using an H2 tag in the description like this:

The only thing you can’t create are HTML links.

Hat tip to Steve Scott for the help on this

How To Market A Book

There are books that make money from Amazon by keyword searches (again just like you might try and get traffic from a Google ranking for a website) and this is something you should think about when deciding on what topic to write about as well as the title of your book. With that said, sometimes the most effective way to market a book would be to actually promote it by sending traffic to the book page yourself. For example with my Kindle book I took this as an opportunity to thank all of my blog readers, newsletter subscribers and/or customers an opportunity to download it for free for a limited time. I then marketed to them using my email list and a blog post.

Why Offer The Book For Free At All?

1. Customer appreciation
2. Great way to reach a new audience of readers on the Kindle
3. Helps to get reviews on your book as soon as possible

Overall it’s a really effective marketing tool as well – read this real life case study from a fiction book writer.

Email marketing has always been the most consistently valuable marketing tool at my disposable but the key is to use all of your following (website visitors, Twitter followers etc) to send traffic to your book page.

Mark Cuban wrote one tweet and got to #1 in every book category he’s in:

This is an over the top example, but if you really want to drive sales nothing trumps sending traffic to your book page.

How Effective Was My Free Book Promotion?

To thank the thousands of customers, readers and subscribers I made my first Kindle book available for the first 48 hours. In that time frame I received roughly 3,500 downloads and held #1 free in both of my book categories. The highest overall number I saw was #119 in free for the entire Kindle store. It updates hourly but I only checked it a handful of times throughout the day. The fact that I peaked at #119 in the Kindle store tells me that in order to break the top 100 free you probably need 2,000+ free downloads in a single day:

Here Are My Income Results From My First Month

In total I gave away roughly 3,500 copies of my book for free in 48 hours. The total amount of books I sold in October was only about 200 including all territories (but the US and UK made up the vast majority). I also had roughly 40 books borrowed by Amazon Prime members – I can’t remember how much money I make for these but overall it’s safe to say I made $350+ from direct book sales (whoopty doo). The book is currently priced at $2.99 and I get 70% of the book sales which Amazon says is $2.06 (if you price the book at $.99 you only get 30% of book sales).

Amazon US Sales Screenshot Click to see

Amazon UK Sales Screenshot Click to see

I said it earlier, but it’s incredibly important to pick a topic that has a large enough market just like you would when analyzing what type of niche to build a website around. I’ve spoken with other Non-Fiction Kindle authors who sell 100+ books a day and that was one of the points they reiterated to me as well. Any future books I write will focus on a larger niche so that I can capitalize on Amazon search traffic. There are probably only 5 books on the Kindle market about Amazon associates which gives you an idea of how little competition / demand there was for a book on the topic I wrote about.

How To Handle Negative Reviews

The day you put yourself out there in the form of publishing a Kindle book, blog post or selling a product you’re going to have positive responses and negative responses. People that don’t like what you’re doing and don’t say so in a constructive manner are what I like to call haters. You can think and say what you want about this blog, me, whatever because sometimes haters gonna hate:

You should listen to negative criticism when it’s something you can improve but sometimes it’s just not useful. In the case of this book I wrote it for complete beginners with some of the tips and strategies likely helping out intermediate level people as well. I got primarily positive reviews, a handful of negative reviews and only actually responded to one negative review to help clarify and address a few of the criticisms. It’s not worth completely arguing with someone in the reviews section of your book because again as I said before sometimes haters gonna hate, but if you can address the problems the reviewer has without coming off as confrontational it helps potential buyers that are on the fence decide if they should buy your book.

Will I Write Another Kindle Book?

I really enjoyed the process of writing the Kindle book and making money from yet another income source, but if I do another book sometime I want to focus on a much larger niche to avoid the mistakes I made with this book. I won’t be publishing anything else this year though because I’m entirely focused on launching a new software business that many of you will be really interested in checking out. I won’t say much more than that for now, but I’m really excited that the last six months of hard work are about to come to fruition.

Feel free to ask any questions you may have about the Kindle book writing process. I hope that what I’ve shared will help in a Kindle book you write sometime in the future.

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36 comments… add one

  1. Chris,

    Congrats on the ebook launch! It’s certainly a interesting process, and it’s difficult to really understand what actions yield what results. I have a couple of ebooks on the Kindle platform, and it’s fun to watch sells come in, and see the affects of promo days, etc..

    Looking forward to hearing / seeing more about your new software coming out!

    All the best,
    -Alex

    Reply
    1. Hey Alex, yah I am interested to see how sales look like 6 months from now because I believe right now most of them are directly because of my own marketing efforts and not organic search traffic – which is more sustainable and interesting to me.

      Reply
  2. Chris,
    Great job and congratulations on your book!

    I did just want to point out that you absolutely can get perfectly formatted books using only Microsoft Word…we’ve published hundreds of books this way and once you know how, it’s quick and easy. You can even get a nice clickable table of contents as well. Just wanted to clear that up :)

    P.S. I like the strategy of “liking” to see some of the content. I am testing that as well.

    Cheers!

    Reply
    1. Yah I set up the clickable TOC from the MS Word document that I used and it worked pretty well :)

      Reply
  3. Hey Chris, even if the profits are chump-change for a baller like you, I bet the $350 you made probably puts you in the 90%+ percentile of self-published Kindle authors.

    To answer your question on whether Kindle books are a waste of time, I would say definitely not. Even if the monetary payoffs aren’t amazing:

    -You further establish your authority in a given subject area. Why should I trust you? Well, I wrote on a book on it.
    -You have something for sale on Amazon, one of the world’s largest marketplaces. That’s worth something.
    -You can use the book as a lead gen tool. Give away free copies and have a strong call-to-action at the end.
    -You now have the first-hand learning experience of writing and publishing a kindle book, which is pretty cool education not a lot of people have.

    Cheers,

    Nick

    Reply
    1. Hey Nick,

      lol I’m far from a baller in my opinion but yah I don’t mean to diminish from the money I made. I just need to make sure I work on things with larger potential for earnings to maximize my ROI from time spent working.

      Very good points about why Kindle book writing isn’t a waste of time thanks for the comment :D

      Chris

      Reply
  4. Hey Chris,

    I thought your book was great, and I hope it continues to bring sales to you! I love Kindle publishing, and it is a long-term portion of my passive income plan.

    I’m looking forward to hearing more about your software launch!

    Best,
    Kate

    Reply
    1. Hey Kate, thanks for chiming in and yes I’m very excited about this software release as it’s much more of a “business” so to speak and I’m really looking forward to working with customers on this one.

      Chris

      Reply
  5. Perfect timing on your post Chris, well for me anyways. I have been thinking about publishing my eBook to Amazon but I wanted to try out selling the book on my website first. I just launched the eBook (PDF) on Thursday the 15th and what a disaster. Comcast was working on the internet in the area so it was very inconsistent for 4 days.

    Monday and Tuesday were my first productive days and I finally started making some sales. My book is on a subject that I knew quite a bit about, like you, so I thought the info would be very useful for just about anyone, which led me to writing the eBook. I also produced a 21 video support series to go along with the eBook.

    It was a ton of work, but hopefully sales will improve as I’m only 5 days into it. I understand your hesitation on writing another book and I was thinking that way as well during the final days of proofing the book and videos. Whether I sell 100 copies or 10,000 copies, I will be proud of the fact that I completed a task that I set my mind to and never gave up. Plus all my friends and family got a free book and are proud of me. They don’t have to know I limped out of the gate on launch day. :)

    Reply
    1. Hey Troy,

      Why did the internet impact your eBook sales? (Don’t tell me you’re hosting your website using your home internet connection or something like that…)

      I would recommend moving your book to the Kindle platform if you’re interested in reaching a new market though I do think there is value in that for sure.

      Chris

      Reply
  6. Chris, congratulations on your first e-book! As a bookworm and an author, I certainly hope that you do not stop with just one (depending on how much you enjoyed the process).

    Kindle books are most certainly *not* a waste of time and/or effort if you like doing it, but the process can certainly be painful if you don’t learn from a successful/profitable author or publisher.

    I agree with a previous comment made that an MS Word file can be formatted into a Kindle book. However, I would say that it only becomes easy with experience or guidance from someone who has already developed a process or program to make it easy – in other words, someone who has already done all of the hard work. ;)

    To those interested in doing the Kindle thing, you will or probably have heard differing opinions about it. Strictly from my personal experience –> it is so, so worth it once you get/do it the right way! I wish you good luck and perseverance!

    Sadie

    Reply
    1. Hey Sadie, thanks for the comment I appreciate it :)

      Reply
  7. Hey Chris,

    Awesome case study. And I appreciate the mention of my books…hopefully it’ll help your readers.

    I have to agree with Nick on this one. $350 is a great number to start…I’ve seen that there is an exponential growth when you have multiple titles in the same niche. So if you crank out additional titles, it’ll also positively affect your ‘Amazon Associates’ book.

    Anyway…Agree with your comments about the “Haters”. I’ll only respond to them if they’re nonfactual information. (ie: he bought these reviews). Instead, it’s better to focus on writing more content.

    Looking forward to your next book!

    Reply
    1. Hey Steve,

      Yah you helped me out a ton in this process so I really appreciate it and that book I mentioned is great. The sales data alone is worth it because without having sold a book it’s near impossible to figure out what sales ranking equates in terms of number of sales :)

      Thanks again,

      Chris

      Reply
  8. Great article. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience with us. This helped remind me it’s still all about research and providing a great product that people actually want. Just like niche site building. Thanks!

    Reply
  9. Hi Chris,

    First of all, I must commend you for your awesome post.

    This post was really insightful, I have known about Kindle publishing for some time now, but I have really not been able to start writing my first book, this post has really given me a head start to actually begin writing my book.

    Congratulations on your book launch, I’m also looking forward to the launch of your software, hope you find a way to alert me and other readers when it is out.

    I will definitely come back to this post, it was really insightful, now I have a blueprint to actually writing and publishing my first book.

    Thanks a lot!

    Reply
  10. I’m considering writing something myself. Came over from your alert for the post, I’m a new reader of yours. This post is encouraging to say the least, but I doubt I will get anywhere near the level of publicity someone such as yourself gets. Good job man.

    Reply
    1. Hey Brian, well that’s the thing is that my data is tainted by the fact that I was able to email like 20,000+ people about the free book and some of the sales likely came from people buying after the free promo.

      People I want to hear from are those that have written books and successfully made money simply from organic search results on Amazon.

      Reply
  11. I got so bored and depressed with Marketing anything online I lost interest over a year ago. I still make a few coins passive.
    I like your blog, at least it’s valuable info and that pic above made me laugh i spit out some of my mountain dew. That dude looks damn happy lol.
    I told a friend about writing for Amazon a couple of years ago and he is working on his second book.
    I now need to motivate myself to doing something online i like.

    Do you think Amazon kindle books will get saturated with MMO material and then get regulated…. scary thought.

    great blog …
    P.W.

    Reply
    1. Hey Phoebe,

      lol at the comment about spitting out some Mountain Dew hah hah I loved that pic too.

      That’s the challenge with anything I believe. I don’t think anything really gets “too saturated” it just gets more difficult to succeed (in some cases). If you’re talking about make money online style blogs – I’d strongly suggest against building them.

      I’ve met a lot of millionaire internet people who’ve made all of their money by the doing – rather than the teaching. I like running this blog though and sharing real life case studies like this for anyone with the level of motivation willing to follow through with the tips I’ve shared.

      But that’s also why I spend more of my time doing now instead of running this blog.

      Chris

      Reply
  12. Timely article, Chris. I’m actually publishing my first book in the next week or two. Thanks for going so in depth on your experiences. I’m also stoked to try and emulate your profits, too…haha. Nicely done.

    Reply
    1. Thanks Travis be sure to post your results and keep me posted.

      Reply
  13. Hi Chris,

    just received the post alert in my email box (I do open some people’s emails and you are one of them, lol). I really enjoyed reading this case study as I was contemplating writing a Kindle book. So your information comes in the right time.

    I was wondering if you you could share with us how you created the locked content. Are you using a plugin?

    All the best,

    Dita

    Reply
    1. Hey Dita, that is one of the software products we’ll be using in the new business that I’ve been working on for the past 6 months with a business partner. More details on that to come soon :)

      Reply
  14. Nice post Chris.
    The “Haters Gonna Hate” photo is the best thing I’ve seen in a long LONG time.

    Reply
    1. lol thanks Jeff

      Reply
  15. Hello Chris,

    Got a huge laugh on the photo! Nice one!

    Seriously, congratulations on your ebook launch. Publishing something is one of my dreams and a lot of authors with money issues fulfill this dream through ebooks so I think it is a good thing. And Amazon has become an avenue for ebook sellers :)

    Now don’t mind those haters, they will hate no matter what. Focus on your craft, improve it for the better and write more books! =)

    Reply
    1. Thanks Iris for the kind words and glad you liked the photo :D

      Reply
  16. Hi Chris – Thanks for sharing the outcome of your Kindle book sales. I really thought your book was a worthwhile read.

    For this post, I loved how you blurred the income results and had them open with a like or tweet. At sometime can you please explain how you did that? I’ve never seen that before.

    Best of luck on the software business.

    Reply
    1. Hey Patricia – that’s exactly what we’ll be including in our software business actually. More details on that to come soon but we’ll be showing how to do that type of stuff etc. as well.

      Thanks for leaving a comment :)

      Reply
  17. Reply
    1. It’s actually different than that one but that could also create the desired effect.

      Reply
  18. I’ve dreamt of writing an e-book but so apprehensive of wasting my time. The Haters Gonna Hate image has cheered me.

    Reply
  19. I didn’t read your kindle book but I’m surprised it didn’t do well given the number of Amazon affiliate software products that sell well.

    I’ve been thinking about doing a kindle book but I don’t have enough followers to get 2,000 downloads. I can see having a big mailing list or lots of friends with big social media following would help.

    Reply
  20. Hi Chris. Writing a book and getting it published is a lengthy process. You mentioned that you would write from 10 pm to 5 am in the morning, how long did it take you to get the final result?

    Reply
    1. I believe it was a couple weeks and at most I’d do 4 hours of writing at once. In this case the book was easy to write because it was simply writing down things I’ve already learned for years (how to make money with Amazon).

      Reply

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