[Journey] KDP Self-Publishing 2020 (Grayhat)

Steroidz

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What you can expect from this journey:

1) Overview of the whole self-publishing eco-system
2) Reviews of other services (ARCs,Newsletters,Promo websites etc)
3) Low Spending - about $XX- low $XXX per month on services/traffic

Who are you following on this journey:
  • Full-Time Online Marketer (quit $3k/mo in EU web dev job)
  • Highly Focused (about 8-12 hours per day of work)
  • Product Driven
  • Budget Allocated - $3,000
  • Project Estimate - 9 Months
  • All work done by me (only outsourcing book covers/traffic)
What strategies will get tested on KDP: (format: started-ongoing-success/failure)
1) Non-Fiction /w Brand building (started-ongoing)
2) Non-Fiction Short Reads (started-ongoing)
3) Non-Fiction Trend Based, time sensitive topics like Coronavirus
4) Fiction /w Brand building
5) Fiction Smut (Erotica)
6) Fiction Short Reads
7) Low Content Books LCB
8) Private Label Books PLR

Why I am doing this:

1) I like writing and collecting thoughts in one place (think retrospectives if you worked in tech sector)
2) To share my findings and help other BHW members
3) Possibly find a mentor who can take me under their wing or join a serious mastermind group (KBoards/FB groups are infested with wannabe writers, not people looking to make biz, as an example)

ALSO BUY MY BOOKS PLZZZZZ

Ahem, Hello.

Now that I am done with my little "resume" let's get started and I pray to sweet baby Jesus I don't bore you to death.
 

Steroidz

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Initial Prep

Opened KDP account
Opened AMS account
Opened Amazon Associates account
Opened Amazon AuthorCentral account (under a pen name)
Opened BookBub account
Purchased BookFunnel Mid-List subscription ($10/mo)
Started free Booksprout Bestseller subscription (FREE)
Purchased KDP Rocket License ($97)
Purchased KDSpy License ($47 + tax = $56.87)
Created several Trello boards to structure projects via books
Installed Calibre
Installed Kindle Create
Downloaded paperback formatting templates from KDP documentation
Installed Chrome Extension - Data Miner to scrape Bestsellers pages
Installed Chrome Extension - DS Amazon Quick View


Thoughts: Lots of setup, as expected. This would get even worse if I would go wide publishing but for now and for the sake of this journey's simplicity I am only sticking with the big boi Amazon platform. I found that combining Data Miner + DS Amazon Quick View nets nice scrape results because I can fetch Amazon Bestseller Ranking (ABSR). Still, I will only scrape for things like pricing analysis as it takes fucking ages to go through all of it + you can't automate with free license of Data Miner and I can't sit there and run through 40k+ categories so I will probably need to look for a service that offers good scraping results from amazon bestseller pages. Best case scenario would be to get Amazon Product Advertising API and just write some write some APIs myself but it seems they have an entry barrier for someone with fresh Amazon Associates account so I will need to investigate this further.
 

Steroidz

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February, Month 1 of 9

Book #1 (Non-Fiction /w Brand building)

About the book:

Decided to write the first book in non-fiction and about something I possess knowledge. This means I did not actually research the niche and I straight up jumped in a highly competitive market. The book does not address anything specific (think like a niche within niche) and was more of a way of creating a pipeline for myself to work on further books.

Before Publishing:

Outsourced cover through Fiverr for $5 but only received 2d/3d mockup and no commercial license. Got the cover delivered while I was still writing the book but that didn't stop me to start running FB ads + Bookfunnel LP (landing page) to see how many people actually bother to click and download FREE e-book with my new shiny cover. At first, I tried making creatives + copy about receiving free sample but then I decided fuck it, too hard to word it and just straight up lied it will be free e-book whereas the reality was just a sample book with 1 chapter. I used 2 Image and 1 Video ads on mobile news feeds. Results were OK - $15 spent on FB ads and only got 14 clicks which resulted 3 total downloads (3 email leads). This was first time I was using FB to run ads so I fully for Zucc to bend over and fuck a newbie FB marketer. Also, I can't remember the name of the service but I used to FB ad spy tool that granted me 20 free searches so I used to quickly spy and see how ebooks get advertised on FB.

Conclusion:

I tried juggling both goals in parallel - testing my book reception before release a.k.a. if the book cover + copy gets clicks and then also writing the book itself.
 
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GringoMonkey

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Good luck with your project.

I used to do this big time back in the day before amazon lowered their pay per page count on kdp, focused on paid ads and more importantly unbundled kindle unlimited from prime.

Before they did all that it was a licence to print money, will be interesting to see what income you achieve now.

If you have any questions feel free to get in touch.
 

Steroidz

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February, Month 1 of 9

Book #1 (Non-Fiction /w Brand building)

After Publishing:

Ended up with a manuscript of 22k words with no images.

Published first Kindle book on Feb 20th.

Wrote the whole book myself, didn't use editor or proofreader services and instead relied on the almighty Grammarly free version to help with easy to miss grammar mistakes. I would say it took ~2 weeks and about 6-8 hours of constant writing and perfecting to end up with the final product.

Priced the e-book initially for $3.99 as per Amazon suggestion. Later on I learned I fucked up for doing that.

Marketing:

Tried submitting two ad creatives to AMS - one that says "You" and other was a fake " by Amazon Shopper" testimonial quote I used. Both got rejected. Actually the ad addressing with "You , Your" got rejected three more times etc so I had to rework the creative without using direct calls to a person. And the ad with Amazon Shopper testimonial got denied because and I can't believe this - Amazon actually checked my reviews and saw no one saying that and informed me I must have that testimonial in reviews before I can add to my creative. Smart robots! So I finally ended up with 2 creatives with an initial pool of 300 manual keywords I pulled from Publisher Rocket. Initial budget is $1 per day for both ads.

Contacted about 10 review bloggers - either they rejected, asked for money or was put on wait list. Some never replied.

Created Booksprout ARC (advanced review copy) campaign - a total of 9 people claimed the free copy.

Entered a few cross promotional campaigns on BookFunnel.

Joined a ton of FB groups and started doing review swaps. Ended up finding 3 people willing to swap and here's where my initial pricing bit me back - all of them priced their e-books for $0.99, while me, the jackass, priced for $3.99. So before it dawned on me to lower my book's price I actually bought books from other authors worth of $3.99 and was getting out only a single review swap. So I ended up doing 2 verified and 1 unverified review swaps. Called my mom and asked her to give me access to her laptop via teamviewer so I can make the purchases as I didn't want to use any trace of myself when doing the review swaps. I know, I know - my Mom of all people. But I promised these fellas to deliver them a review screenshot within few hours and I wasn't in the mood creating my own VM or buying VM service. Since Amazon already controls the whole world with their AWS services I couldn't risk using a VPN proxy as that shit can still be traced and IP address is just 1 of many ways you can get caught. I worked in an actual review company as a web dev so I knew how my ex-company was already sophisticated with shit like font type cross matching etc.

Conctacted Amazon to change my initial 2 book categories to the 10 I researched from Publisher Rocket.

Branding:

Started branding my pen name.
Took 1 chapter from my book and created a Medium article.
Created Twitter account.
Created BookBub author bio.
Claimed Goodreads author bio (didn't read the fine print and these fuckers actually merge your existing account with author you claim so now my pen name acquired my whole book library I previously reviewed. Had to delete all reviews and wipe any trace of myself from that account).
Tweeted few times - searched my niche with at least 1 reply and 1 retweet and replied to those tweets, then also announced my Medium article. In my Twitter bio I added link to my book.
Posted two powah point presentations on SlideShare with 2 CTA pages to buy my book.
Posted to all relevant /r/subreddits Medium article.

Conclusion:

Always start any e-book I publish with price point of $0.99 if I don't know how to tackle the niche. This is important for swapping reviews for the cheap and also for bargain book promo websites where they favor books for $0.99. AMS is a beast in itself, super slow with ad approvals, bad UI and very strict guidelines. I can foresee a steep learning curve.
 
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Steroidz

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Month of February Financial report:

Product Development (Book #1): $5

Marketing: $20

Operational costs: $163.87

Revenue: $2.4 (book review swaps, lol)

Profit: -$186.47


Not a single organic or ad purchase since the book went live. No biggie, the costs are high because all the licenses I had to buy for research/spying and tbh this is a drop in a bucket compared to how much you get ripped off when doing aff marketing (I used to pay for $100/mo just to access a certain forum, lol...)

I did anticipate that my book would not get any purchases because I am still learning AMS ads and I am trying to find how to drive traffic to the book.
 

Steroidz

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Good luck with your project.

I used to do this big time back in the day before amazon lowered their pay per page count on kdp, focused on paid ads and more importantly unbundled kindle unlimited from prime.

Before they did all that it was a licence to print money, will be interesting to see what income you achieve now.

If you have any questions feel free to get in touch.

Cheers.

I should be able to find a profitable niche. How profitable is the real question ;)
 

Total Noob

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Niche research is everything on Kindle
Also do 2.99 instead of 99c
 

jaycewarrior

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im doing LCB for 3 months and im close to $1k/mo.
From my experience, all the softwares you purchased are not that helpful as they claim. I prefer searching for niches manually and study the niche before going into it.
Make sure your book cover stand-out because the first thing buyer see is your book cover.
if you need help im here :)

Good luck
 

Steroidz

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im doing LCB for 3 months and im close to $1k/mo.
From my experience, all the softwares you purchased are not that helpful as they claim. I prefer searching for niches manually and study the niche before going into it.
Make sure your book cover stand-out because the first thing buyer see is your book cover.
if you need help im here :)

Good luck
Are you the one who posted LCB case study/follow along doing mainly mandala drawings :D ?

Anyway, I believe the software is basically there to cut the amount of hours I spend doing things manually. For example, KDSpy is already looking like the biggest piece of shit I have seen and thank god I didn't purchase their automated promo sendout tool. But $47 means two less bottles of whiskey for me, at worst.

On the other hand, Publisher Rocket is actually pretty useful BUT I don't trust their data anymore because sales/earnings are definitely not even close to the reality because now I have a couple of books and I know exactly how much revenue they make, compared to what their software claims.
 

jaycewarrior

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Are you the one who posted LCB case study/follow along doing mainly mandala drawings :D ?

Anyway, I believe the software is basically there to cut the amount of hours I spend doing things manually. For example, KDSpy is already looking like the biggest piece of shit I have seen and thank god I didn't purchase their automated promo sendout tool. But $47 means two less bottles of whiskey for me, at worst.

On the other hand, Publisher Rocket is actually pretty useful BUT I don't trust their data anymore because sales/earnings are definitely not even close to the reality because now I have a couple of books and I know exactly how much revenue they make, compared to what their software claims.
No is not me, but im considering starting coloring book aswell.
Yes, you can use softwars for keywords research to save some time but theres nothing better than searching manually for niches.
if you're open for JV i'm down for it
 

itsmytime

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im doing LCB for 3 months and im close to $1k/mo.
From my experience, all the softwares you purchased are not that helpful as they claim. I prefer searching for niches manually and study the niche before going into it.
Make sure your book cover stand-out because the first thing buyer see is your book cover.
if you need help im here :)

Good luck

Are you doing ads or that's just manual? How many books have?
Thanks.

Good luck with your journey OP
 

Zygfried

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I'm starting out the kindle publishing business too.
Got one book on sale at 2.99€, no sales yet... But no ad, no KDP select...

Did you buy some course about how you would manage the ads among all other things to do or just did it with how you felt it?

I've seen this software : KDP Rocket.
I thought about buying it but I'm targeting the french market on first instance and they provide data only for the US and German platforms...
Well, I've saved money then, thanks!

Anyway, very interested by your journey and hope it's still on track.
I used to be a web dev too ahah.
I didn't know about the font type thing to recognize people's computer: thanks for the tip.
Good luck.
(Also, very nice haircut btw)

@jaycewarrior : LCB, you mean Low Content Books? How do you define Low Content Books? Books made from copy-pasted blog articles?
 

RZ13

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I'm starting out the kindle publishing business too.
Got one book on sale at 2.99€, no sales yet... But no ad, no KDP select...

Did you buy some course about how you would manage the ads among all other things to do or just did it with how you felt it?

I've seen this software : KDP Rocket.
I thought about buying it but I'm targeting the french market on first instance and they provide data only for the US and German platforms...
Well, I've saved money then, thanks!

Anyway, very interested by your journey and hope it's still on track.
I used to be a web dev too ahah.
I didn't know about the font type thing to recognize people's computer: thanks for the tip.
Good luck.
(Also, very nice haircut btw)

@jaycewarrior : LCB, you mean Low Content Books? How do you define Low Content Books? Books made from copy-pasted blog articles?

Low Content Books are for instance planners, log books, coloring books etc
 

JOATMON

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No is not me, but im considering starting coloring book aswell.
Yes, you can use softwars for keywords research to save some time but theres nothing better than searching manually for niches.
if you're open for JV i'm down for it
Hey mate, how many LCB you have published?
 
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