It has been just over a year since I started selling through Amazon. I started out by publishing a few Kindle eBooks in October of 2014. At first, every time that a Kindle book sold, I would be so excited. I sat here in my office with a friend, and he told me that if he had any Kindle books he would just keep refreshing the page that showed if there were any sales! Truth is, I was tempted to refresh the page many times each day myself! It can be quite a thrill to see your creations selling on the world’s biggest platform!
But, the thrill wears off when you start seeing that you are only actually making a small amount of money. I found that with the few Kindle books that I had for sale, I was usually only making a few bucks per day, at most. It is hard to get excited and stay excited with that kind of income. Know what I mean?
My Kindle books were all $2.99
Before I published my first Kindle book, I did a lot of research. One of the things that I looked into pretty deeply was pricing. Kindle is a huge platform and I wanted to see how much most people were selling their books for. Through looking over the Kindle sales pages, talking with friends, and reading various websites, I came to the conclusion that the sweet spot for Kindle pricing was $2.99 for a book. That is very cheap, but Amazon is such a huge platform, I hoped that I could sell at least 20 or 30 books per day. At a $2.99 price point, you can earn a royalty of about $2 for each sale, or slightly over $2. So, if I sold 20 to 30 books per day, I could expect to earn maybe $40 to $65 or so each day. That is a fairly nice supplement.
When I had only 4 or 5 books on Kindle, though, I could see that I just would not be able to sell anywhere near the quantities that I had been hoping for. Over time, I built my Kindle catalog up to 47 books published on the platform. Still, I was not doing what I needed or wanted to do in sales. There were days when I would sell 15 books, but most days I sold 1 or 2 books. Frustrating!
Because of these disappointing results, I left my 47 books on Kindle and turned my attention elsewhere. While focusing on other things, I maintained my “few books per day” average in sales. Not much I could do, I thought.
Back in the 90s I was under contract with a publisher and authored about 20 different books. These books were sold in bookstores and such, the old fashioned way. Around 2002 or so, I moved on to writing eBooks and self-publishing. It was much more profitable, and I liked staying ahead of the technology curve. 🙂 However, with my eBook business, from time to time I would get requests for printed copies, some people just don’t care for eBooks. At one time, I would print and bind the eBooks into a kind of homemade paperbacks for people who requested, but I got tired of doing it and decided to offer eBooks only. I probably maintained this policy for 10 years or so, I guess. But, I still got requests for paperback books. So, earlier in 2015 I decided to do an experiment by coming out with a few books in paperback using Amazon’s CreateSpace Print on Demand service.
I found CreateSpace easy to use, great quality, and it turned out that my book sales were great.
My all-time best seller
My all-time best selling book is 49 Ways to Make a Living – in one iteration or another. When I originally came out with this book, in 2008, the title of the book was “49 Ways to Make a Living in the Philippines“. I chose that title because I live in the Philippines, I had used each of the methods to earn a living here in the Philippines, and most of my website readers were people who were interested in living in the Philippines. Several friends and associates requested copies of the book so that they could review it and publish a review on their respective blogs. I gladly gave them each a copy for review.
Each and every person that I gave a copy of the book to gave me the same feedback:
Bob, this book is not about making a living in the Philippines. Each and every idea in the book can be done anywhere in the world! You need to change the title of the book, because that will really increase sales to a worldwide audience instead of the tiny niche of people who want to live in the Philippines.
Well, I was stubborn and I did not listen. I liked the title including the Philippines and decided to keep it that way. I am glad that I was stubborn, though, because the book did very well for me! Over the years I sold thousands of copies and it continued to sell well for many years.
Early in 2015, I decided that it was time to come out with a new edition of the book completely updated with plenty of new ideas! So, I got to work. I decided to come out with a PDF eBook version and also a paperback version, but not Kindle. When I launched the book, the sales were great, I was particularly impressed with the paperback. However about 2 months in, the paperback sales started really sagging. It went down to where it was hardly selling at all.
I thought and thought
I really wanted to figure out why my sales were sagging. This had been a great seller for 7 years. The new edition was much better than my previous edition. Why would sales decline? The only thing that was different was the title of the book! Instead of 49 Ways to Make a Living in the Philippines, I had changed the title to “49 Ways to Make a Living Without a Job“. I wanted to try to expand my market to include the whole world, not just the people who wanted to live in the Philippines. I mean, who wouldn’t want to make money without having to work a job?
But, as I thought it over, I came to the conclusion that it was because of the title change that the sales slipped. My reasoning was that people in other countries did not know about the book, so they did not search for it or anything, and that the people in the Philippines probably figured that this new edition really did not apply to the Philippines. Instead of greatly increasing my reach, I had done the opposite!
It was around this same time that I had started following another expat writer, a lady, who was selling books on Amazon. She had books about how to become an expat in about half a dozen different countries. Each country had a separate book. I kept watching her sales pages on Amazon. I have figured out how to monitor the sales page and I can easily figure out very closely how many books are being sold each day. By doing this, I could tell that this lady was selling a minimum of 2 to 4 books per day, and often she would sell a dozen or more books per day. I figured she was making about $1500 per month from her sales of expat books.
Want to know what I changed to increase my book sales?
If so, tune in again tomorrow! I will share the whole secret with you and let you know what changes I made, and how it all worked out! You might be in for a surprise.
I greatly appreciate how analytical you are about the publishing process. Too often I see people putting too little thought into what they are trying to achieve.
Hi Tom – Ha ha.. yeah, I am very analytical if I am making money, I will analyze it and analyze it until the cows come home, trying to squeeze what I can out of the item! 🙂 ha ha