Recently, I have done something that I never thought I’d do! I have avoided it for years, despite advice from several different people that I trust and admire. But, I finally gave in and am trying it out.
What did I do?
I published some books on Amazon Kindle. Yep, I took the leap!
For years, I have avoided publishing on Amazon. I had a number of reasons for not wanting to go to Amazon, but I have relented.
Why did I avoid Amazon?
Well, the reason is simple. I read a book maybe 8 to 10 years ago from a fellow named John T. Reed. The book is entitled “How to write, publish, and sell your own how-to book“. Truth is, I have made a lot of money following John’s advice in that book, and it has been very successful for me.
John Reed’s book gives a lot of advice, and 95% or more is great advice. But, some of his advice is a bit outdated. If you look at John’s website it’s not hard to figure out that some of his advice is dated. Firstly, he sells only paper books, no electronic books at all. Also, just the style and design of his site looks like something from the ’90s. I am not criticizing John, just stating the fact. As I say, I agree with 95% of what he says, so I respect the guy a lot. I believe, though, that he could increase his own book sales if he updates and gets more modern. For example, when I read his self-publishing book a number of years ago, I had a copy that was loaned to me by a friend. I badly want to get my own copy of his book (and he has updated it since I read it), but he only sells paper, not electronic. Since I live in the Philippines, the cost of shipping (and the likelihood that it will be stolen before it arrives here) make it prohibitive for me to order it. If it was electronic, even at the same price as it is now, and I could pay him and download it, I would have had my own copy of the book years ago!
I do recommend the book, just keep these few points in mind, though.
Why did I change my mind?
Well, simple. I wanted to try it and see what would happen. Over the years, I have self-published 74 books that I sell on my own website, and they sell well. I make a very nice income from my books. But, over the years I have always wondered how much business I could do if I were selling on Amazon, and particularly Kindle based books. So, I decided to give it a try.
In recent weeks, I have written 8 brand new books and published all of them exclusively on the Kindle Platform. So far, sales are not as high as I had hoped for, but they are still pretty good, and I consider them promising. My goal is to have 100 books on the Kindle platform by a year from now. The worst case scenario is that if they don’t sell well, I will simply remove the books from Amazon and start selling them on my own site. But, I am confident that Kindle sales will be strong enough to keep me from doing that.
In addition to publishing on a new platform, I am also trying to establish a new brand with these books. For years, my brand has been “MindanaoBob”. In recent years, though, I have found that brand to be quite limiting. It kind of limits my books and other content to the Philippine market (since Mindanao is an island – the one that I live on – in the Philippines), or more specifically my brand limits me to the Philippine Expat market. With these new books, and some other things that I have been doing, I am changing my brand, or more accurately I am adding a new brand – Expat Answerman. With this new brand, it opens things up where I can publish books about the expat lifestyle for any location in the world, not just in the Philippines. I feel good about this new brand, and am very confident of its success. In addition to these books, for about 6 months or so, I have been doing a podcast called “Expat Answerman” so it all just kind of fits together.
My plan on the Kindle books is to publish these particular books exclusively on Kindle for at least 90 days. Doing this will allow me promotional opportunities with Amazon that I would not have if I were to publish these books elsewhere. After the 90 days is up, I will either choose to renew the exclusivity with Amazon for another 90 days, or more likely I will then add these books to my own website sales in addition to doing them on Kindle. For the most part, this decision will be determined based on the level of success that I am able to achieve on the Kindle. One thing that I think will happen is that as I move some books away from the exclusivity after 90 days, I will still have new books coming online and they will get the exclusive treatment on Amazon, so I will always have some ability to do promotions that are only available from Amazon for exclusive to Kindle books. I think that is a good strategy and will help keep my offerings on the Kindle fresh and appealing.
Why do I think Kindle publishing will be successful?
Well, frankly, it’s simple. I already know that there is a demand for my books because I sell a lot of books on my own. My website has book sales nearly every single day, and the amount of money that I make from the books is as much as I ever earned on any job that I ever had back in the States. I have been experiencing those results for years already through my own website sales. That proves, without a doubt, that there is demand for what I am doing. Now, taking that further, on my own websites, I get many thousands of visitors. Tens or hundreds of thousands of visitors every month, in fact. But, think about this. Amazon gets millions of visitors! In fact, I would guess that Amazon gets millions of visitors each and every day, whereas I get at the most a few tens of thousands of visitors on a daily basis. That information alone would indicate that the marketplace on Amazon is magnitudes larger than my present sales platform using my own website!
Another point is that I can do both! I can maintain my own website to continue selling my books while adding another sales channel through Amazon. It’s really a no-lose situation! Given this fact, how could I possibly go wrong? If Amazon does not pan out as I think it will, I can take the books off of Amazon and start selling them on my own website where I know there is demand! Or, I can sell on both sites simultaneously. It’s not a hard decision.
So, John T. Reed’s advice served me well for the past decade or so. But, while I will continue to follow a great deal of what he taught me, it has come time to head out on the trail and do a bit of exploring and see what is beyond the next curve!
If you are interested in seeing what books I have on Amazon, why not check out my Amazon Author page?