Kindle Direct Publishing experts are everywhere at this point. You’ve probably run across a handful yourself.
They make it sound so easy too. Publish an Ebook on Amazon, get some reviews, Put it up on a free promotion and watch the Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) engine do its magic.
Then they show their students making anywhere between $3000 and $10,000 a month in passive income! What could be easier!?!
They sell that anyone, with any skill set, can easily generate a great passive income from simply having a Kindle account with a few Ebooks published.
I’ve now been using Kindle Direct Publishing for about 6 months now. At the time of this writing, I’ve got 8 books published but am still ‘in the red’ as to money I’ve invested. I’ve gone through the entire process of creating, marketing, and gathering reviews. Looking back I want to share the things that I’ve learned that the experts didn’t tell me and the things that surprised me so you’ll have a leg up if you decide to start.
Just for the record, I agree with the experts to a certain extent, this article is not to bash them left and right. Anyone can make money with Amazon KDP. But there are a handful of topics that tend to be exaggerated, or glazed over when covered in most of the courses, books, and information products I’ve seen.
With the knowledge the experts can impart, along with the clarifications I’ll make, Amazon KDP is a great passive income source that you can go into fully educated and informed!
Also, to help jumpstart your Kindle Direct Publishing efforts, I’ve included a free guide to 20 places you can get reviews and promote your book, for free!
Truths About Kindle Direct Publishing Experts Won’t Tell You
There are Unlimited Topics for Amazon KDP
One of the biggest benefits that Kindle coaches like to preach is the fact that there are literally an unlimited number of topics to publish a book on. While this is true, they will also teach you how to select ones that are profitable, popular, and will sell.
With the limitations on niches that will sell the number of topics you can profitably sell a book under the list of potential topics starts to narrow. Now the fact that there is a lot of competition from other publishers starts to become a concern.
The method of finding niches and book topics I’ve seen instructed the most goes something like this: Go to Amazon and browse through the different categories, find one that looks interesting. From there you can look at the different books listed under the “Best Sellers” to see what topics are currently popular and take ideas from that.
With all of your competition using this method to succeed you are really going to need to find a better way to targeting niches and book topics.
The team over at NicheHacks has an interesting article detailing how a reader used a ‘weird’ niche idea to create a book that was making about $200 a month (They also have a HUGE list of 1,781 niche ideas!). Another good case study I’d check out is over at Personal Success Today, which is the most detailed post I’ve seen on the topic!
You Can Start for Free
This is true, but I can’t imagine you succeeding to grow a profitable publishing business doing it.
If you’re not a writer you can have books ghostwritten for you, but the going rate for that is about $10/1000 words. With most experts saying books need to be at least 5000 words you’re looking at a minimum of $50 per book.
Let’s say you’ve gotten a complete book without spending any money. Now you need a cover. Unless you have the skills to design one you’ll need to head over to Fiverr again and this will cost between $5 and $20.
Next step is to publish the book on KDP. This, thankfully, can be done fairly easily and shouldn’t cost you anything (unless you want a professional description written for you).
The last step is getting reviews and promoting your book. A brand new book gets very little attention from Amazon so you need to do this yourself. Before you’ll get any natural traffic from Amazon you need reviews and sales.
Unless you already have an audience this is tough.
The easiest and most common way to get your first 5-20 reviews is to head over to somewhere like Facebook and join one of the many groups for ‘book review swaps’. You want to get some reviews before you spend your 5 free days so you’ll probably be swapping 0.99c books… meaning another $5-$20 on that.
Yes, you could do all of this yourself. It would be extremely time-consuming and you’d need to really have both good writing and graphic design skills to make sure your end product was very high quality.
If you’ll be writing your books yourself you could get each up and selling for $20 probably, but free is a stretch.
I’ll also say that if you have a little extra money to invest I recommend doing so on quality educational material, that can give you a leg up from the start. Kindle Money Mastery is the program I recommend and have used myself.
Amazon KDP’s ranking system is highly secretive, but we do know that sales and reviews weigh into their algorithm very heavily. So getting a solid number of high-quality reviews is of utmost importance.
The first thing that many experts glaze over is the number of reviews you’ll need to rank well. Most will tell you to get 3-5 five star reviews before putting it up for free promotion. This simply will not cut it if the 6 books on the first page you’re keyword will be compared to have 15+ reviews.
The number of reviews you need depends on your topic, niche, keyword, and competition, and it varies greatly.
The second thing that most experts won’t tell you about is the fact Amazon is very active policing reviews and reviewers.
It is not at all uncommon for Amazon to delete reviews they feel are against their rules. This makes gathering the reviews you need very difficult if they are constantly getting flagged and deleted. This is especially true when participating in the Facebook review swaps I mentioned earlier.
You can also buy reviews on Fiverr, but buying reviews is a direct violation of KDP policy.
Now that I’ve depressed you with all the ways Amazon will find and flag your reviews for being fake…. Here are 3 tips that can help keep your reviews from getting flagged.
Give the person you are swapping with the name of the book and a screenshot of the cover. Do not link to it and have them click the link. Looks less authentic to Amazon as a real buyer.
Make sure they flip 100% through the book before reviewing.
Wait 3-7 days before reviewing.
If you have an audience it can be extremely helpful to send people to the book and ask them to review it assuming they like it, this is the best way to get both sales and reviews.
Easy, Passive Income
The reason Ebook Publishing is considered easy is due to the fact that you really don’t need a certain skill set to succeed doing it. Combine that with the fact that you can outsource 99% of it and you’ve got a perception it’s easy.
It’s is, and it’s not.
It’s not because you still have to do the keyword and niche research. You still have to put the time in to make sure the book content is high quality and provides value to your readers. The cover has to be professional and attractive to buyers. You have to spend the time to get reviews and promote your book like your sales depend on it (they do). Once this is all done, you’ll still need to monitor your title to watch and adjust for negative reviews or new books in the category.
All of this is time-consuming (or expensive if outsourced) and can be frustrating to do repetitively as you try to publish a large number of titles.
Publishing with Amazon is definitely not the most difficult of businesses, but if you expect to just skate your way to a six-figure passive income source, think again.
Competition from other Publishers
The popularity of Kindle Direct Publishing is very apparent when you browse through the Kindle store. Pick a topic in a popular niche like ‘Health, Fitness, and Dieting’ and browse through the books in any given category.
Notice the huge number of books that are listed at $2.99, with 5-20 reviews, whose author you’ve never heard of. This is most likely an Amazon Publishing Entrepreneur, not an actual author. It’s most likely a work of one of your competitors.
This is the last topic I’ve chosen to cover for a reason. Everything else you do as a publisher needs to be done knowing you have to do things better than your competition.
If everyone else is doing 5 reviews, you need to double or triple that number.
If you think all your competition is advertising in 3 places you need to promote your books in 5.
This really isn’t news, it applies to almost any business or venture you’re trying to start. But with Kindle Direct Publishing it’s even more important due to Amazon’s ranking system.
Kindle Direct Publishing can be a great way to make a passive online income, but its ease has been greatly overstated in my opinion. Especially now, with so many people aware of it and actively pursuing it as an income source.
Don’t forget to download the report I’ve put together to help to make getting reviews and promoting your titles easier:
Hopefully, I’ve answered some of your questions about Amazon KDP and clarified topics that the experts gloss over. If there is something I didn’t cover, or something you still have a question about leave me a comment and I’ll address it!