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Amazon Kindle Guide: Pick the Niche, Publish Books, Post/ Get Reviews, Scale Up

Discussion in 'Making Money' started by dbk03, Mar 11, 2014.

  1. dbk03

    dbk03 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    This comes as a celebration of my JrVIP status :D. The chapters of this guide will look like this:

    1. How to pick the right niche?
    2. How to get content?
    3. How to publish your book?
    4. How to get/write/post reviews?

    I might add some chapters here, but the a/m ones are the base of this guide

    A few words about me

    I have signed-up in BHW community 2 years ago and, since then, I have learned literally tons of useful things: mainly internet marketing methods that drive profit...but not only limited to that. I learned that if you struggle enough, one day success will surely come.
    After failing with several methods at the beginning, I started to have some success with email marketing and websites development (content, link-building and monetization). However, these projects did not provided me with enough financial resources so I could leave my 9 to 5 job and start focusing completely on IM.
    Almost one year ago I discovered this thread: http://www.blackhatworld.com/blackhat-seo/making-money/550442-guys-kindle-ticket.html
    This was a life changer for me. I was inspired by GobBluthJD's success, therefore I decided to take action in this new field (for me). Now, in March 2014, I managed to drop my 9 to 5 job so that I could focus completely on Kindle publishing. Unbelievable for me, but this project has managed to provide more financial resources than my regular job. The best part about it is that the profit stream is not steady... but ascending :D

    My Journey

    If you are anxious to read about my ‘process map', just skip this journey and head to the first chapter of this guide.
    This is how the time span looks of my Kindle publishing success looks like (summary):

    • April 2013: Reading the a/m thread. Becoming anxious. Starting to write my first book in an non-fiction niche.
    • June 2013: Finishing the book. Publishing it. Running a free promotion of 5 days. About 800 downloads. Looking very promising!
    I was very enthusiastic at this point. But the sales have chilled me down. Only 8 books sold by the end of this month. I was not convinced that this plan will work. However, I decided to give one more try. Starting to write the second book.

    • July 2013: Around the middle of the month my second book was ready. I published it and run a free 5 days promotion (not a good idea to run the free promotion for 5 consecutive days, but we will discuss this later). This time I had registered about 1000 downloads. Also I started to receive some reviews. The sales that followed were a bit more encouraging: 1-2 sales per day by the end of this month. This reminded that I need to pay way more attention to obtaining reviews. I registered in different reviews group and started the exchanging review activity.
    • August 2013: Because I begun to see improvements in the sales of my 2 books, I cancelled my holiday and started working on the next books (same niche). It took me one week to write and publish one book (15-20k words). Because of my experience with content creation for my websites I was able to easily write 3k words/ day.
    This month I was selling about 28-34 copies of my first two books and the sales of the new books (after free 5 days promotion) started to move, too, at an incredible 1-2 books/ day rate. This was the moment when I observed that having multiple books published under the same pen name and in the same niche was increasing the sales of all these books. It is something like the snowball effect, but we will discuss this later, too.

    • September 2013: I continued to write new books at the rate of one book/ week. By the end of this month I was having a total of 10 published books, each one selling at a pace of 1-2 books/ day. However, a major problem appeared by the end of this month. The reviewing exchange activity has definitely ensured a steady sales rate but it also attracted Amazon attention over the reviews which are being posted for my books. All of them have been deleted and I have received a warning email from amazon, stating that it looks like I might be involved in some review exchange process and my account could be suspended if I am not putting an end to it. I stopped with review exchange, of course, but I didn't gave up: I discovered Fiverr reviews :D (I know...bad idea, again...).
    • October 2013: I took one major decision at the beginning of this month: the money that I was earning from book sales ($600-700/ month) I started to invest in outsourcing books content creation. I picked a dozen of writers from freelance and odesk and placed some test orders. I ended up working with 4 of them (in the beginning). They were providing the best rates for the quality of content. This was a very good idea. Instead of publishing one book/ week I was now uploading in KDP 4 books each 7 days.
    • November 2013: 20 books published in 2 non-fiction niches. The best book was selling at a rate of 7 copies/ day. The lowest sales were with one book: just one copy a day. The ratio was somewhere at 3 copies/ day/ book. I was earning about $2 on each sold Kindle book. $120/ day was just a dream a couple of months ago :D
    But another problem showed up: Fiverr reviews were getting deleted. All of them. The maximum period of time that a review was sticking: 2 weeks. The lowest: deleted after a couple of hours. I had to fix this problem. I knew that $120/ day was possible only because of the reviews that I was buying ( the content was not crap; on the contrary, it was very decent compared to my competition; but, nowadays, if Shakespeare would have a debut on Kindle he wouldn't sell anything without reviews; it's just impossible to stand up in that crowd of writers).
    So, here comes my second decision, which basically brought my success: I started to develop techniques and strategies for posting my own reviews. I will give more details about this later. The most important thing is that the reviews posted by me (and my team of writers) are still sticking. And the first one started to appear in November, 2013.

    • December 2013: the holidays are a boom in terms of sales in any industry. And so it is in Kindle publishing. With more than 25 books published and increased sales, I managed to go beyond $150/ day.
    • January: 2014: The reinvestment of the earnings that I made in December, allowed me to hire more writers and publish even more books: 37 books published by the end of January. The selling rate ratio remained the same: 3 sales/ day/ book. This translated into $333/ day. Of course, this was not pure profit because I had to pay my writers, my covers creators and other costs associated with amazon reviews creation.
    • February 2014: The number of published books went over 50. The sales saw a slightly increase and I left my 9-5 job because, the earnings on the last couple of months were bigger compared to what I was earning from that job. I took this risk but I don't regret anything, now.
    I am not going to post silly print-screens from my Amazon account. This is because I find them too irrelevant and easy to fake. Furthermore, this not the point of this guide. I've included this journey here, so that I would not be needed to open another thread. It is not very important. I think that the things that will follow in this thread will definitely be important.

    After publishing a post in in the well-known GobBluthJD's thread ‘Guys: Kindle is the Ticket!', I realized that a complete step by step guide about publishing and selling Kindle books might be useful for the beginners in this area. Advanced Kindle publishers could also find some useful things here, saving in this way the time needed to investigate and research over different issues that might come around in this process.

    Of course, my Kindle publishing process is inspired from many books (or WSO's, as they are called on the other forum). Therefore, you will find here the combination of methods and techniques that worked for me. It's nothing new in the content of this guide. However, this combination could be unique and it also proved to work in my case.

    1. How to pick the right niche?

    Fiction Niches

    I cannot give pertinent guidance related to fiction niches because I have no experience in that area. I published only non-fiction books.

    However, the most popular fiction niches are (in this order):

    1. Romance
    2. Fantasy (mixed with Romance would be the best choice here)
    3. Science Fiction
    4. Mystery (again, it should be mixed with Romance)
    5. Thriller
    6. Erotica ( don't make the mistake of confusing Erotica with pornography)
    7. Historical Fiction
    8. Drama
    9. Horror
    10. Young Adult
    11. Apocalyptic

    Non-Fiction Niches

    Normally, you are suggested to try to decide on a thing on what you are really good at and start writing a book about that particular skill or knowledge. Things are not so simple in our real life. And, because this is BHW, I cannot come here and pretend that I've done the same.
    No. The first thing that I've done was related to the keywords. Which are the keywords that are selling on Kindle platform? Obviously, the answer came fast and from many places: the same keywords that we use for building niche sites are selling books in Kindle Store, too.
    Therefore you need to find a niche that has best ration between your field of expertise and its income potential. Personally, I am not necessarily looking for niches where I have expertise. I go with those niches where I find out that the income is decent.

    This is how the top looks like:

    • Weight Loss
    • Health & Fitness
    • Parenting
    • Family
    • Relationships
    • Make Money
    • Budget management
    • Cook-books
    • Any other niche that you have found to work with niche websites

    There could be many other successful book niches, too. The best option for a beginner would be to search for a long tail keyword (a variation/ extension of the above mentioned keywords).

    How to figure out if a particular niche is generating enough sales?

    If a keyword generates many searches, this means that people are using it often and it attracts sales. Amazon's search engine does not have a similar tool to Google Keyword Planner. But there is a small feature that could help us identify some of the most searched keywords.
    Select Kindle store and type a keyword in the search bar. Below, you will see the suggestions which are offered by this search engine. They are actually the most used keywords and that could help you in finding the niche of your book.

    But, in my opinion, the best way to figure out if a niche is actually producing sales can be found in the Kindle Edge WSO. It looks like this.
    Search for a niche (long tail) keyword in Kindle store. Click on the first book that appears on the first page. Check its Amazon Bestseller Rank (you will locate it in the Product Details section). If this rank is under 20k, then this book has great sales. Do the same thing with the second and third book on the front page. If all of them have less than 20k rank, you have a winner. The niche you are targeting has a great income potential. That's because a book with a rank which is around 20k is selling about 10 copies/ day. According to Kindle Edge WSO, the ranking chart looks like this:

    Capture.PNG

    When I started, I was very happy to get 1 sale/ day/ book. So, I was OK with a niche that proved to have books that were ranking around 100k. However, remember that, in many situations, you are not achieving the top spots with your book (even if I will cover the SEO part on Amazon, too). Therefore, it is wise to pick a niche in which the top spots are occupied by books with rankings below 100k.

    During the next days, I will try to post the next chapters, too. Please accept my apologizes for some of the mistakes which I've done while writing these words. I haven't enough time to do a proofreading on this text.
     
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    Last edited: Mar 11, 2014
  2. COMPUK

    COMPUK Newbie

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    Great write up so far, dbk - Will have a second read tomorrow with the morning coffee. I've been meaning to delve into the ebook biz for a while. Looking forward to your upcoming chapters - your information could provide the motivation I've been looking for :top: Congrats on Jr. VIP as well.
     
  3. youtalkmedia

    youtalkmedia Senior Member

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    Nice work!
    I tried to do this with childrens books a bit back, but it failed miserably, (I sell maybe 3-4 copies of each a month TOPS)

    I may take up your advice, and try in a non-fiction niche, see if it works better.
     
  4. Carepolice

    Carepolice Power Member

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    Thanks for taking the time to write this up.

    I'd be curious to know whether or not you've tried using Zon Sidekick (http://zonsidekick.com). It handles the process of identifying profitable keywords much better than any WSO and it's automated.

    What you should be looking for if you really want to hit profitability:

    Multiple products with respectable daily income and also listed within high relevance for your keyword - This will help you determine competition AND viability. If there's only a single product with TONS of sales, it usually means readers have found what they're looking for (especially in non-fiction) and are unlikely to purchase your new product.

    That software lets you dump giant keywords lists (and create them from ideas) to find what's profitable, accessible, and provides insight into what your book should contain (pages, price, etc).


    A shameless plug for Zon Sidekick, sure. It just pains me to see this type of effort go into a process that's already been solved.


    That said, I really enjoyed your post and I love the formatting here. Thank you for the nice contribution.
     
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    Last edited: Mar 12, 2014
  5. dbk03

    dbk03 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    I haven't used www.zonsidekick.com until now but today I joined it out of curiosity. The first impression: outstanding! Wish I could had the chance of using it during my beginning in this Kindle journey. It definitely provides some great insights for each niche you have in mind:
    Buyer behavior is definitely an interesting indicator. It shows how much money are customers willing to spend on books, in this niche (I would be very happy to know what are the factors which this indicator is taking into consideration :D). Very useful!
    Competition: this is obvious. It helps us in establishing what are we going to compete with. I am sure that most of the BHW community members are very familiar with this term.
    Optimization. Things go quite deep here. This piece of software is going to crawl the pages of the main competitors in the required niche, and it shows how well these pages have been SEO-ed(titles, descriptions, reviews etc). Very useful, again.
    Spend and Avg. Price are displaying a good perspective over how much $$$ are buyers going to spend in a specific niche and, what is the usual price that customers pay for a book, here.
    The final score is an indicator which shows the overall profitability of one niche ...therefore it speeds up the process of choosing the right keywords.

    In a few words: this website provides an outstanding help for all the beginners in Kindle publishing industry and it also increases the productivity of advanced publishers, too.

    I found it to be a sort of MarketSamurai of the Kindle platform.

    Thanks Carepolice for letting me know about this website.
     
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    Last edited: Mar 13, 2014
  6. midnight_focus

    midnight_focus Power Member

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    That's a great topic, I've started with kindle since jan 2014 and I have 3 published books and another one coming tomorrow. I have troubles deciding my keywords and actually ranking.
     
  7. multicolouredhat

    multicolouredhat Regular Member

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    Sir
    I have recently published the Cakes Recipe Book.
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IX4EM04
    Please exchange a review with me.
    I will be happily returning you the same favour.
     
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  8. dbk03

    dbk03 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Best of luck in your journey! I am glad to see that more and more people from this community are getting into this business.
    You could use one of the methods that I described in my first post (free) or you could use the site that Carepolice has suggested (paid).

    Sorry, but I am not going to do reviews exchange anymore. In the past I had some bad experiences with this technique. My author account on Amazon almost got suspended because of it. This method of getting reviews is so obvious for Amazon ( I post a review on your book, you post a review on my book). I definitely don't recommend it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2014
  9. norm1388

    norm1388 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Great read, i can see why you went into e-books! i don't think it was mentioned but how did you deal with getting your first reviews or were you just lucky and had good enough content?
     
  10. multicolouredhat

    multicolouredhat Regular Member

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    I have got reviews for my book earlier by this method only.
    To make a review legit is to post it after 2 - 3 days after buying the book.
    You would have placed the review on same day or in some time after downloading the book.
    Or you would be engaged in some other banned activities.
     
  11. asap1

    asap1 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Ok i read too many threads about this, its my turn to get a piece of the pie :D right after i get the money to outsource it :(
     
  12. mandy2411

    mandy2411 Registered Member

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    Great guide. would you explain what is your present strategy to get reviews for ebook?
     
  13. Mnemosyne

    Mnemosyne Newbie

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    Damn, such a well put guide. Didn't see the kindle ticket thread even though it has been up there for a while.
     
  14. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Regular Member

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    hi guys,
    I really liked this idea, and I want to dive into this line of work.
    Rewriting, old books about self help etc(80 years or so), a viable option or not?
     
  15. dbk03

    dbk03 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    2. How to get content?

    Again, please remember that this Kindle guide is about non-fiction books.

    After deciding on your niche, obviously, the next step is content generation. There are several methods that will work here.

    1. Paid content

    I know it might not sound well for beginners but, trust me, this is the easiest and most efficient way of generating content: buy it!
    Why is this most efficient one? Well, that?s simply because you will be able to focus on those activities that have quite an important impact on sales generation: publishing (including Amazon SEO, website creations etc), getting reviews, targeting new niches etc.
    Don?t get me wrong here. I am not suggesting you to sell low-quality content. On the contrary, you need to select a writer (or a team of writers) that you have personally tested and you are satisfied with their results.
    So my best advice would be to head over to elance, odesk or freelancer, select some writers, ask them to provide you with samples of their writing and, then, choose the best of them. Hire him/ her for a small project of yours (so you wouldn?t lose too much money if the writer is not as good as you have expected). If the delivered work is good, start the content outsourcing with this writer. Rinse and repeat, if you want your productivity to grow.
    I know that this method is requesting some testing, negotiations, and, the most important, some financial resources ($100-150 max, in the beginning). But, it will pay off very soon. You will be able to find good writers which sell 10-20k words on a specific subject, for $20-$40, and with an ETA of just 3-5 days.
    I didn?t start with this method, because I was afraid of losing too much money. I preferred to write the books myself but, now, I know that it was not such a great idea. It took me very long periods of time to finish the writing on one book.

    2. Get free content.

    2.1 The first idea that comes into my mind looks like this: PLR. It is a great source of content, indeed. But, copy/ paste will not work here. Amazon will definitely ban your account if using PLR content. What you have to do here is to re-write this content. For me, re-writing was quite easy because, before getting into Kindle I was running a tech-news website. And, in this niche, re-writing is the main activity :D.

    2.2 Another, great idea is to use offline content. Go to your local library. Rent some books from your niche. Rewrite the content. But don?t be tempted to scan them and use OCR software to obtain content that you could easily copy/ paste into your book. As mentioned above, copy/ paste doesn?t work on Kindle.

    2.3 Use Google! The web is a great source of information. If you are writing how-to books, you will find tons of information after just a few quick searches.

    For more details about your niche, check the specialized websites. You should also check Wikipedia, no matter the in which niche your book is.

    IMPORTANT TIP: Don?t limit yourself to delivering content that can be easily found on the first page of Google. Your book should contain information that a normal user would need at least a half an hour to find on the web.
    Also, make sure that your content will be a combination that resulted from multiple sources (and not just one).


    Always, check the competition. Use the ?Look Inside? feature. Check the Table of Contents of the best-sellers in your niche. You will certainly come up with some great ideas to write about. Also, try to identify the things that are missing from these books (check the reviews, too?some readers might write there what those books failed to deliver). A good idea would be to buy those books so that you could figure out what writing style should be used in your own and what improvements should your book bring, too.

    Check forums and niche websites in order to find out what are the most frequent questions that your future customers are asking. What are their problems? What are their wishes? What are the survey results saying? What are the most discussed subjects during interviews?...You got the point.

    IMPORTANT TIP: In my opinion, a decent Kindle book should have a minimum of 10k words. However, if you already have a lot more content, don?t use it entirely in your first book. Create a series! :D

    VERY IMPORTANT TIP: Always do several proof-readings before publishing. This is very important when you have written your own book. Even if it has been written by a hired writer, you should still do at least one proof-reading.
     
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  16. jeazy

    jeazy Newbie

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    Very inspiring read. I've considered the Kindle publishing route before but never attempted. Would definitely love to leave the 9 to 5 for something like this. Thanks again!
     
  17. ghostmentor

    ghostmentor Newbie

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    What are the criteria you look for in writers?
    Whats the average rate you payout per page?
     
  18. dbk03

    dbk03 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Childrens books are definitely a very rewarding niche. Unfortunately, I don't have many info about it.

    I will cover this later in this guide.


    I might be talking nonsenses here, but as, far as I know, any book which is older than 100 years can be re-published, if nobody has inherited its copyrights. Furthermore, if you rewrite them, you will be completely safe.

    One of the reasons for which I am testing a writer on a small project, in the same niche in which I publish my books, is related to the fact that I want to see that his/ her work will not deliver me with a piece of text that contains 75% of mumbo-jumbo and just 25% of relevant information. That's because, when buying a cook-book with Turkish recipes, my customers will go mad if 75% of the book is about Turkish history and geography. This example is a bit exaggerated but it perfectly describes what you should expect from your non-fiction writers.

    Most of the non-fiction Kindle Buyers are paying for your books because they are looking for solutions to their problems. Therefore, you should aim to hire those writers that are able to provide the best (accurate/ relevant/ pertinent/ immediate) answers to a certain problem. Also, you will want these 'answers' to be packed into a nice writing style and, depending on your niche, to be easy to understand and apply by most of your customers.

    The second reason for which I've recommended the a/m testing is related to the fact that there are writers which excel in providing content for a specific niche, but they are terrible when it comes to write a book in another niche.
    Therefore, I would kindly ask some people to stop PM-ing me regarding my team of writers. They do an excellent job in the niches in which I publish my books but they might be terrible writers in other niches. And, if things go wrong there, you'll blame me for recommending bad writers :). Testing is the answer to the 'Who is the best writer on elance/odesk/etc?' question.

    Prices: I am currently paying between $6 and $22 per 1k words. It depends a lot on the niche and the research which needs to be invested in order to write a particular book. Of course, I could find better prices but I prefer to develop a strong relationship with all my partners so that I could count on them when their help is needed. And, building strong relationships costs a lot of money :).
     
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    Last edited: Mar 14, 2014
  19. Narek145

    Narek145 Newbie

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    How reliable is that Kindle sales chart?
     
  20. simple98203

    simple98203 Junior Member

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    @ dbk03: any update on the next part? This is very useful to me.

    Thanks.