Truths About Kindle Direct Publishing Experts Won’t Tell You

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.

KDPmain

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.

If you’re a good writer then you can probably skip the ghostwriters although it will be very time-consuming. Even then you probably want to hire an editor, which is another $5-50 on Upwork or Fiverr.

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.

Click Here!

 

Reviews

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.

fiverr

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.

  1. 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.

  2. Make sure they flip 100% through the book before reviewing.

  3. 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.

Competition
Search “Ketogenic Diet” in the Kindle store and look at all those KDP entrepreneurs

 

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.

 

Wrap Up

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!

24 thoughts on “Truths About Kindle Direct Publishing Experts Won’t Tell You

  1. I like what you guys are up too. Such clever work and reporting! Keep up the superb works guys I have incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it will improve the value of my web site 🙂

  2. I have always been asking for my mother. The girl doesn’t necessarily want to make money off them, her purpose is to use her blog page (once popular) and use it since references to possibly help her get a newspaper article. She has a title for one called “Answers to Life’s Problems”. Where can the girl post sites and they become popular? She posted it currently on WordPress but you will find 3 million people posting blogs hers gets lost in the mix. Any suggestions?.

    • You could use a platform like Medium to help market your post if you don’t want to go the WordPress route.

  3. I have a question about royalties. If someone purchases who has a kindle unlimited account, do I not get any royalties for that?

    Thanks!
    Rayne

    • Hello, Rayne!

      You do get royalties from the Kindle Unlimited purchases… the royalty amount is based on the number of pages of your content that is read. If I remember correctly they have a detailed explanation of the payment breakdown in the KDP dashboard. They also send out an email monthly about how much was in the Unlimited ‘fund’.

  4. I cannot agree much with your comments on the review/rate process. It seems pretty much every book on Kindle is rated at 4 or 5. This is such an obvious scam. It seems Amazon’s efforts to legitimize/police the review and rating process is either totally ineffective or more likely it is coming out exactly the way they want it – with their help. There is a lot of junk out there in the self-published world – surely many of these books are simply ‘vanity’ books and probably that is why Amazon makes it so difficult to track the number of copies sold of any given title.

    • Hey Shady,

      Sure you can get a ton of 4 and 5-star reviews. I have a list of about 25 VA’s that I traded reviews with at one point or another. If I wanted to spend the time to gather 20+ review swaps for every title you publish you could definitely succeed in selling junk(or hire someone to do it). Amazon does police reviews, but it’s such a widespread practice that they can’t get them all (or even close).

  5. After having some success by releasing 7 ebooks on the Amazon Kindle platform I was looking to grow my revenue even more so I joined a publishing start up in China by the name of http://fiberead.com/

    They handle everything including translation, promotion, listing on all the various sites, keep check of of sales and for free ( the royalty split heavily in their favour )

    It can be a bit of a slow burner from uploading your original manuscript through to the final translation being completed but you will get there in the end, it was an overall quicker process on my 2nd book that I uploaded compared to the 1st attempt.

    The royalty split is normally 70/30 in their favour, but I think I would have never sold any books in China without their help so in my humble opinion , 30% is better than zero…

    I also wrote about the benefits in an article here Sell Your Ebooks in China to Make More Money – Money Earning Ideas http://www.moneyearningideas.com/earn-money-from-ebooks/sell-your-ebooks-in-china/

  6. My target market is intellectuals. Writing is easy for me, but I could not do most of the other things that you suggest, and in my case, Facebook (which I have not joined) would probably not help. Possibly, there is no way for me to exchange reviews with an equivalent writer. Of the various strategies that you recommend (or condemn), most are not obvious to me. I have tried, once or twice, to take a screen shot, and may have succeeded. Afterwards, I never knew whether it had worked or not. As for the KDP promotional schemes, what I have understood is that those would involve giving up my rights, and would thus prevent me from ever publishing with a print publisher. As for the KDP community, I fear most of its readers would hate my books. Trying to promote them in that context might simply backfire.

    I’ve had two books out on Kindle since 2014, and have sold perhaps eight or nine copies of each. I used to go into the form where Amazon reported sales, but found it difficult to figure out – maybe just because there was nothing there. I haven’t tried recently. The electronic publishing option turns out to be a sort of archive.

    As you will have guessed, I am old, lucky to have made it this far. Moreover, I shall be putting a third book out on Kindle as soon as I’m satisfied with it – and there I guess it will remain. I hope that much at least is true.

    I live in a town where the community of readers is entirely and exclusively French-speaking, and thus dependent on translations that are never going to come, because there is no funding for the translation of electronic books. The few English-speakers capable of getting through my books have read only the printed ones. They’ll never figure out how to get at an electronic book – and are not that interested anyway. They find me difficult, which takes me back to the point where I started this small lament.

    The Internet is vast, and reaches far beyond our immediate surroundings, but as far as I know does not yet provide a means of reaching the market for serious writing.

    Of course I don’t believe in “unlimited topics” or “passive income.” I know there’s no money to be made, but I would like to reach my readers, out there somewhere.

    Judith Cowan

  7. Hello Judith,
    I was looking around for an online business. The first time I came across book publishing, I told myself that is crazy. I thought I had never written a book and had no skills on writing a book. I rejected the idea.
    I then saw some course on publishing Kindle books and signed up for a 30 trial course. The course is KMoneyMastery.
    What is kind of questionable is hiring someone to write a book and I take credit for it. I do not have to know anything about non fiction topic the book is written about.
    It is not plagiarism, but pretty close. I am not sure of the ethics of this.
    What are your thoughts?

  8. I am a University Student interested in being a writer, and just getting started on some works. When I am happy with the final products, is Amazon a good place to publish my first stories? Or should I start elsewhere in your opinion? Do you know of other publishing sites that are just as “easy” or better?

    Thanks!

  9. As a writer, I have often seen ads asking people to write 1000 for $10 but who, seriously, would work for that kind of money? That means that for a 10,000 word story you’re getting $100! I will happily write to order for someone else to publish under their own name while I’m waiting for my own Kindle books to take off. I spend time looking at ads for this very purpose. But $10 for 1000 words? Why should I bother? I have even seen this described in an ad as the industry standard. Nonsense. It is simply the sum that some people think they can get away with. If you want a good book you need to pay properly.

    • There are a lot of “Content Mill” sites that you can find super cheap writers on. Iwriter and Textbroker both come to mind… it’s sad, but people do write for that cheap.

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