Note from Sean: I was first contacted by Adrian years ago as he was just starting to think about building a lifestyle business. So when he got back in touch last month to share all the success he’s had with Kindle publishing – I got really excited to share his story.
In this guest post, Adrian is going to share how he went from zero to $4,000 a month publishing niche Kindle books.
Take it away, Adrian!
I was sitting on my bed in a hostel in Phuket Thailand. I typed that I’d been following him for years and I was going to change my life just like he did.
Well, the short story is I did, and I did it by publishing Kindle books. But it took me another six months after that first contact before I took any action.
I was on a six-month trip traveling around the world, and the whole time I was thinking; “How can I build a business that makes me money while I sleep, without being a computer or internet genius so that I could travel all the time?”
Well after getting home from that trip and having to go back to my HORRIBLE day job as a welder, it hit me…
I HAD to find a way no matter what, to get out of my job, start making some side income and start living life the way I wanted. Or I would end up stuck in the rat race forever.
Just so you know, I was a welder, a ‘tradie’ in Australia and I didn’t even know the difference between copy and paste and cut and paste several years before I started this…
Anyway fast forward to now, and I have a thriving little Kindle publishing business that supports my adventurous lifestyle.
And today Sean is giving me the opportunity to show you exactly how to build the same kind of publishing business that I have, even if you have very little knowledge with the internet.
How Kindle Publishing Works: Publisher Or Author?
The way that I teach Kindle publishing as a business is by positioning yourself as a publisher rather than an author.
Well for one, because we can scale 10x quicker and we are in the business of building a lifestyle business, not necessarily a full-time job.
And two, because we want to position ourselves as marketers and the one who ‘steers the ship’ so to speak. We don’t want to get too bogged down in the day-to-day duties. More on that later.
Now, that’s not to say that you can’t be an author. Everything you’re about to read will work whether you’re an author or a publisher, it’s just as a publisher we create more freedom for ourselves quicker.
In my business, we outsource nearly everything. The writing of the books, book cover design, promotion and also getting about 80% of the business run by virtual assistants (if you want to you can do this too).
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s begin with where this all starts…
How To Find The Profitable Niches To Write About
How to do niche research is by far the biggest question I get asked about publishing on Amazon, so I’m going to endeavour to show you how I do it.
Finding these super profitable niches is one of the biggest things you can do to have success with Kindle publishing. If you get this wrong, then a lot of your time (and money) can be wasted.
So how do we do it?
Ok, so Amazon works a lot like Google, it’s a giant search engine. We just need to learn how it finds books so we can position ours in the lime light.
When you start searching for something on Google, it pops up with auto-suggestions of what you might be looking for. These are phrases that people are looking up and typing in. Hence, they’re popular. Well, Amazon does the same thing.
This is how we start finding keywords and potential titles for our books. (More on keywords later).
So let’s say we want to write a book on ‘Dog Training.’ We start typing in the word just ‘dog, ’ and then many other suggestions start popping up.
TIP: Before you start typing anything in, make sure you are in the Kindle store first. Click the little down arrow in the search bar, scroll down to the Kindle store and click on that. Now you’re ready to search.
We have ‘dog training,’ ‘dog treat cookbook,’ ‘dog training book’ and the list goes down the page.
Now if we want to do a book on that subject then it would be a good idea to include one of those phrases in our title. But we can also niche down. And you’ll probably want to because a term like ‘dog training’ is a widely used one and it’s a very popular (and competitive) niche.
If we start writing in the whole phrase ‘dog training’ then we start getting a few more ideas for what other people are typing into Amazon like these: ‘dog training for beginners,’ ‘dog training tricks,’ etc.
There are other suggestions like these too:
‘dog training revolution,’ ‘dog training for dummies,’ ‘dog training 50 interesting dog behaviours explained’ and ‘dog training complete strategy guide.’
You can be pretty much guaranteed that these search terms are for famous books and authors with a large following on their blogs or social media.
TIP: You DO NOT want to target these search terms. That could get you into legal trouble, and you don’t want that.
So that’s how we start finding certain search terms to target for keywords but how about finding a niche when you have no idea what to look for? I’ve got your back, my friend; you just need to use a little imagination.
The cool thing about Amazon is they suggest stuff to buy all the time. This can be our little gold mine for ideas.
But first, you need to type something into the search bar to get some ideas right? Well here’s a few ways to spark some ideas:
- Think of ‘how to’ search terms. This shows that people are looking for a solution to their problem.
- What are you interested in? What do you do daily? What do you search for on Google?
- What’s popular on Facebook, Instagram, or the news on tv?
- What kind of books do your friends, mum, dad, brothers or sisters read?
- What ads do you see on your Facebook feed?
With what I’m about to show you, you can type in anything, and it’ll give you a place to start.
There are tons of ideas to get you going. I know that they all sound super simple so far, but I’m going to show you how with one simple idea, it can spark a LOT MORE.
Now that you have an idea you need to type it into the search bar in Amazon. Just type anything and hit the search button.
Now, whatever books pop up, just click on any of them, yes any of them. Once it’s opened, you need to scroll down to the area that says; ‘Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought.’
This is our goldmine.
Here we can get tons of ideas for book titles and niches. And the great thing about this area is that people are buying these books, so you know they’re popular.
At some stage, you’ll come across ‘Best Seller’ tags which are of course a great sign (but can also mean a very competitive niche, hence making it harder to rank your book).
The other great thing about this area is it doesn’t just show you books about what you originally searched for. It will be at first, but as you keep scrolling across looking at more books, it will suggest other niches too.
This is where you need to start jotting ideas down with a pen and pad or on file on your computer. Anything that catches your eye, great titles, best seller tags, write them down. We’re going to go through how to prove if they’re worth pursuing or not, next.
How To Prove Whether Your Niche Is Worth Pursuing
Ok, so now we need to justify whether your niche ideas are good enough or not. There are a couple of ways to do figure out if you’ve got a good niche.
We do this in several ways, but we’re going to start with the most important; the seller ranking.
So if you click on a book again, you need to scroll down to the ‘Product Details’ section.
Now, look at the section that says; ‘Amazon Best Sellers Rank.’ You should see something like this: #95,000 Paid in Kindle Store (or whatever number is listed).
Forget about all the other numbers.
This number is gold. I always tell my students to aim for a best seller rank number of under #100,000, but this is not a hard rule to go by, though. I’ll tell you why.
This number only represents the Kindle store ranking, not the rank of the book on Create Space (print version of the book) or ACX (audio version). (More on these later).
Sometimes you may have a much higher seller rank number which would result in a lot fewer Kindle book sales, but you may get a lot more print or audio book sales.
It just depends on the niche, and it’s not always something that you’ll know.
So I just say look at any books that are even under a #200,000 seller rank, but the smaller the number, the better.
Amount of Reviews
The next way we justify a niche is through the number of reviews other books have in the niche.
This is a pretty simple exercise, all you need to do is look at about the top 6-10 books or so (because that’s where we want our book to potentially be) and see how many reviews each book has.
If each book has over 50+ reviews, then it’s going to be tougher to compete and rank your book. This is not to say you won’t be able to, but you’ll most likely make fewer sales, and your book will end up further down the page.
If however, the top book has let’s say, 60 reviews, the next one has 30, the next 20, the next one 10 and the next has 5, then to me, you can potentially compete with that.
When you’re starting out, reviews are slower and harder to get, so you need to keep this in mind till you grow a bigger email list.
Using Keywords Properly
Another huge factor when it comes to ranking your book is to figure out if your competition using keywords effectively? If they haven’t then that equals a bigger chance of you slotting your book into a space higher up the rankings.
Like I mentioned earlier, you’ll be targeting some search phrase for your book’s title. For instance, let’s say you’re going to do ‘Dog Training For Beginners.’
What you want to do is type that exact phrase into the search bar and see how many of your competitors are using that keyword phrase for their title. Are they?
Or are they using random titles like; ‘How to have the most amazing dog ever’? This is your opportunity to use keywords better than they are.
While we are on the topic of keywords I want to also touch on how else to use them.
Be sure (if possible) to try and fit a keyword into your subtitle too. So you may have ‘Dog Training For Beginners’ for your title, but in your subtitle, you might also try and mention the phrase ‘dog tricks’ or something similar.
Go back to your list of search terms that popped up when typing in search phrases, could you use any of them in your subtitle?
TIP: DON’T stuff your subtitle with keywords. Amazon doesn’t like it. You don’t even have to get a keyword in your subtitle, it’s not paramount but if you can, great. If not that’s ok, just try to make sure you’re using a keyword for your title.
So finding the right ideas, checking seller ranking, reviews and using keywords right are your biggest success tools in Kindle publishing.
Use these correctly, and you’re well on your way to a good ranking book that makes sales.
How To Get Someone Else To Write Your Books
Sean has talked before about using UpWork on Location Rebel, and for a Kindle publishing business, this is where we find our writers.
This a pretty simple process and involves posting a job on UpWork saying you’re looking for ghostwriters to write for you on a long-term basis.
Make sure you have an eye-catching headline that uses words like ‘Writer’ ‘Ghostwriter’ etc., plus your keyword so that the right kind of people are going to apply for your job.
I just write a short blurb about what I’m willing to pay, that I’m looking for a long term writer, sometimes I’ll mention the kinds of books I want to be written too.
Now once you post your job, within 24 hours, you’ll usually have a bunch of people already apply. After the 24 hour period, I usually find that you get very few applicants trickling in.
So if you don’t get anyone that you’re happy with, delete the job and re-post it. You can do all this very easily, and it’s a quick way to get more applicants.
So how do we find good writers? This can be a bit of trial and error, but there are a few things you can do to reduce the chance of getting a bad writer:
- Pay more. You can get quite good writers for around $1.50 per 100 words (give or take). But you can also get bad ones.
- Look at their reviews. Are their previous clients happy with them? Do they do more than is needed? Have they worked recently? Do they submit work by deadlines?
- Check their writing samples. Be sure to ask for their writing samples in your job posting.
Once you’ve hired your writer, you can move onto the next stage…
How To Get Book Covers Designed For $5
Having a bad book cover can be very detrimental to your book’s success. You know that saying; “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, people usually do so you need to make yours outstanding.
Most of all, it needs to be better than your competitor’s covers.
You’ll need to go over their covers and see what stands out to you. What makes you want to click on a book? What catches your attention?
Compile these things and write them down. You’ll use these later.
Now you can, of course, design the cover yourself but this is all about building a lifestyle business and outsourcing as much as you can so that’s what I’m going to show you how to do.
If you haven’t used Fiverr before then, I highly suggest you get onto it. It’s another little gold mine where you can get tasks, jobs, and things done for as little as $5. And this is where we find our book cover designer.
Like any search engine just type in ‘book cover designer’ or ‘ebook cover’ or something similar, and you’ll get a ton of results. Like UpWork, you’ll want to search through everyone, look at their reviews, their previous work and their guidelines for how long they’ll take and whether they do revisions.
Now at this stage, you have two options. Find the picture or pictures for your cover yourself using either Flickr, Google images or any other picture site but be very sure to use the advanced search features for pictures that you can use for commercial use and modify.
Or your other option is to pay your designer to do this. Usually, they add another ‘gig’ bringing your total order to $10 or so.
So then all you need to do is choose your gig, give them any directions (and pictures), pay and wait for your cover to come back.
It’s up to you which you choose, but if you’re not good with the visual design, then I suggest you hire the professional.
How To Launch, Promote And Get Reviews On Your Book
Launching Your Book Effectively
As part of using the Amazon platform to sell on, you get an option of making your book free for a period of up to 5 days every 90 days, if you include it in the Kindle Unlimited program.
This is a great chance for you to launch your book and get a lot of downloads, which in turn helps your book shoot up the rankings.
So first, as soon as your book goes live, you can set it free. We like to do this within several days of it going live so as to get the book downloaded as soon as possible.
TIP: Amazon gives every new book a bit of a spike when it first goes live. It’s up to you to take advantage of that.
The days we set the book free are usually from Tuesday to Saturday. The reasoning behind this is Monday is the biggest download day on Amazon, so by the time our book comes off free promotion on Saturday; it’s sitting higher in the rankings waiting to be downloaded (and paid for this time) by readers.
Promoting Your Books
For all of our promotion, it’s free apart from paying a virtual assistant to do it for you (but you can do it yourself when you start out or get some software).
First of all, we can utilise Facebook and Twitter. Now for both of these platforms, there are many book groups and handles that you can post your book on. The thing with a lot of these book groups is they aren’t full of a lot of actual readers, and these groups get spammed a lot.
So a better strategy is to find groups that are in your niche to go and post your book in. Ask the group moderator if you need to, to see if it’s ok. These groups will be full of actual people interested in your book, and if you’re offering it for free, well it’s a no brainer right?
TIP: There are also many types of software that will post in Facebook groups, and Twitter handles for you too, all automatically. We use this we use Kbook Promotions.
Next on the list for promotion and one of the more effective ways to promote your book, is through book websites (or book directories). These sites have thousands of people visiting them looking for the latest free (and paid) books to download.
The great thing about these book directories is they’re mostly free to post your book. And again, like stated above, there is software that can do this for you to save you the time. Otherwise, it is INCREDIBLY time-consuming!
Paid Advertising Using Fiverr
Fiverr is an awesome marketplace and there are a lot of options for you to get your book promoted here.
There are many people offering ‘gigs’ to promote your book to their email list, in their Facebook groups, their Twitter handles, on their book websites, etc.
These can be really good and well worth it as they’re mostly targeted readers and eager to find new books all the time.
Now if you’re new to this you’re not going to have an email list but this is one of the best options you can use, plus it’s free.
This is something you’ll want to start building straight away. I put off starting my email list for way too long (idiot!) so make sure you start doing that asap.
To do this, you want to offer your readers some kind of special download or gift. Maybe it’s a free book/s, alternate endings (if fiction book), a cheat sheet, PDF download, checklist, the list goes on.
But either way, you need to have some kind of offer in your book somewhere to entice your reader to join your mailing list and give you their email.
Do this as soon as you can.
Getting Reviews On Your Books
Getting reviews on your books is one of the best things you can do for its success along with using keywords and having an awesome cover. It can also be a bit of work, but I’m going to show you a few ways to do this.
Utilizing Social Media
Again you can go into targeted Facebook groups (in your niche) and post your book. Check to see if this is ok first.
You can also message some people directly in the group and tell them about your free book, and that you’d like to give them a copy in exchange for an honest review of it on Amazon.
This more personal approach is a lot more work, but it will also result in more reviews because of that; it’s more personal.
If you go to Amazon and start looking for other books in your niche (your competitors) you can start looking at the profiles of people that have reviewed their books.
Now a lot of the time, the people that have reviewed these books won’t have a contactable profile, but if they do, well, that’s your opportunity.
Just like in Facebook, you know these people are interested in the niche, and because this person has reviewed this book, you know they leave reviews.
So now it’s your job to message these people (if possible) with a short message, basically saying that you’ve seen that they reviewed ‘X’ book and that you’d like to offer them your free book. And then ask if they do like it, could they leave an honest review on your book.
TIP: Amazon doesn’t allow you to ask friends and family to leave reviews on your books, so don’t do that.
So since you can’t ask your family and friends, you’ve just gotta hustle your butt off and anyone you come in contact with that you think might be interested in your book, ask them to read it and leave a review.
This all takes time, and this is where having a virtual assistant REALLY comes in handy. And this is also why you want to start your email list ASAP.
How To Scale And How To Outsource 80% Of The Business
Scaling this business is not so hard when you think about it, but it depends on three factors:
- How much money do you want to make?
- How much money can you put into it?
- How much effort and coordinating do you want to put in?
If you just want to make an extra $500-$1000 a month and you don’t have a lot of money then great, it won’t cost you as much, and you’ll be able to handle more tasks yourself (if you want to).
But if you want to make say, $5,000 a month, so you can quit your job, then you’ll need to put more money into and put more systems in place. That’s if you want to scale quickly anyway, and I assume you do.
And of course to scale you just have to publish more books.
The other incredible and cool way to expand your business is to publish your book on Create Space and ACX.
Amazon has made this so ridiculously simple for us now. You can now publish your print book (Create Space) right from your KDP account where you publish your Kindle book.
All this takes is a few extra files made up to suit the platform (a reformat of your book file and a cover made specifically for your book). You can get this done on Fiverr again too.
Then all you have to do is publish it. See, told you it was simple.
And the other cool thing about Create Space is you don’t need to buy upfront inventory or a giant pile of books. It’s all print on demand, so if you get an order, your book gets printed up, sent out to the customer, and you get a cut of the profits. Cool right?
ACX is where you create and upload your audio books to be sold on Audible, Itunes, etc.
With your audio books, you have two options; you can either pay a narrator upfront to narrate your book, or you can do a profit share with them where you go 50/50 splitting the profits (Amazon takes their cut first).
Getting your book narrated upfront can either be done through ACX by posting the job in the ACX marketplace to get narrators to audition, or you can also find narrators on UpWork which can sometimes be cheaper.
Or you can just do profit share which costs you nothing upfront.
Either way, this is another great way to expand your income. If you create your Kindle book and then do both a Create Space version of your book and an Audio version (and why wouldn’t you?), then you now have three sources of income from the one book you created.
Pretty cool right?
Outsourcing the Business
Ok so this is the fun part, and although it does take some work to get it all working nicely, it is a great feeling to have your little publishing business grow and be run (mostly) by someone else.
But how do we do this?
So the key thing here is having a virtual assistant/s to help you out. We hire these virtual assistants through UpWork, and I typically hire people from the Philippines.
This can be done quite inexpensively, but if your virtual assistants end up doing a great job, then it’s a great idea to start increasing their pay and give them yearly bonuses.
But to get a VA to run your Kindle publishing business effectively, you need to train them correctly.
The way I do this is with screencast training (recording your computer screen). I use Screencast-o-matic, and it’s super easy to use.
And I find the best way to do these screencasts is to record them when you’re doing the tasks yourself. That way you’re not putting as much time into it, and besides; you have to do the task anyway, so why not teach it at the same time and create more future time for yourself?
You can also create written documents of all your training videos too if you want, so your virtual assistants have something to refer to quickly.
That about wraps it up and is about all the detail I can go into here (this is already well over 4000 words!).
The big key to building up an income using Kindle publishing is just sticking to the core principles, continuing to learn and just keep immersing yourself in it.
Keep applying, adapting and you’ll have success.
If a welder like me can do it, then you can too!