If you’ve been online at any time since the early 2000’s, you’ll know by now that eBooks are HUGE. In fact, they are still growing rapidly even now. Amazon (one of the biggest companies in the world) grew originally by selling physical books and then eBooks (Kindle). According to Author Earnings, an estimated 485,538,000 e-books were sold in 2016 on Amazon. A 4% growth over 2015 numbers.
And the best thing about that? An increasingly large amount of those sales are going to self-published or “indie” authors. That’s who we are aiming to be. There are countless people making either a side-income, a full-time income or even millions of dollars with eBooks.
Amazon accounts for approximately 45% of the market. eBooks are, of course, not just limited to Amazon, which makes the other 55% just as important. Though you won’t find any other single publisher as big as Amazon. We will follow the Pareto rule of 80/20 and focus on Amazon first as that is where your time and effort is best spent. In the spirit of that rule, we will also see which genres present the biggest opportunity below.
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Pro’s & Con’s
Low barrier to entry, just write and market!
Low barrier to entry
Extremely saturated (but not oversaturated)
Competition is (usually) unsophisticated
You are competing with professionals too
Lots of support, forums, guides, etc. to chat with and network with other professionals
It can be lonely work, but very rewarding
The sense of achievement – you published a book!
The process is simple, you write a book, you publish it and then you market it. Then you try and get fans involved, build a community or fan base and publish your next book.
Your goal is to ideally create 1,000 diehard fans. If you can find 1,000 people who will be happy to spend $100 a year on your products, then you are looking at a 6-figure income ($100,000). Even 300 fans lead to a livable income ($30,000)!
First, choose a genre, the top-selling genres of eBook are as follows, in descending order:
Romance (and kind of Erotic Fiction)
Obviously, I would choose Romance, Science Fiction or Fantasy first.
Romance is the top seller by a long margin, however, there are strict rules around it. There is an area for pure erotica, however, it is a low-seller. However, erotica is what everyone is really looking for. So, you want to try and slip your erotica into the romance section if possible. A terrific book on this topic is The Six Figure Erotica Author. That method probably has the highest-earning potential.
Next is to determine your minimum word length, using the fiction guidelines:
Women’s Fiction (Romance) – 75,000 to 120,000
Science Fiction Novel – 40,000+
Novella – 17,500 – 40,000
Novelette – 7,500 to 17,499
Short Story – 7,500
And yes, length does impact the price you will set your book at, but not definitely. Meaning you can sell a 100,000-word novel for $0.99 or $9.99. But would you be likely to pay $9.99 for a 7,500-word short story?
Pricing your eBook
We will use Amazon pricing conventions for now. Amazon has two different royalty options available to authors. You can receive either a 35% or a 70% royalty on your book sale. How do you choose?
If your book falls between $2.99 and $9.99, then you can receive 70% of the sale.
If your book falls outside of that range ($0-$2.98 or $10.00+) then you receive 35%. We will obviously aim for the 70% range in order to hit maximum profits. The only way the 35% option can work is if you are selling a very high-priced book.
Other reasons for pricing below $2.99 (and we may use these in our marketing efforts) i.e. $0.999 or FREE would be:
IF it isn’t worth much, such as a short-story you just wanted to publish and make a few dollars from it instead of leaving it on your PC doing nothing
It may be a type of “lead gen” for getting people started on your book series – YES!
Or it is a temporary promotion. This may be useful if your book sales drop later in their life.
Writing Your Book
Ironically, you could fill many books with tips and guides on how to write a book. Let us focus on the simplest breakdown of what you need to do:
Outline (bullet points and sentences)
Write daily (500 – 1,000 words a day minimum)
Edit AFTER you have written it (or else you will get stuck seeking perfection)
At its core, that is all there is to it. A list of resources to dig deeper into this will be included at the end. Try not to overthink it. It is better to publish something half-decent than to never publish something perfect.
Start with Kindle. There is a debate about whether Kindle Unlimited is worthwhile. I personally lean towards Kindle on its own. It gives you more control over your titles, clearer payouts and allows you to publish elsewhere (including your own websites). Check out the debate at Jane Friedman.com.
The most important part of publishing your book? Have an AMAZING EYE-CATCHING COVER!
Fortunately, there are plenty of easy and cheap ways to do this. Look at the top sellers in your targeted category and mimic then improve them.
Your goal is to rank on Amazon, much like SEO but driven by results and reviews
Choose the right keywords and category
Rank higher by increasing your number of positive reviews
As well as total downloads
And total revenue earned
Give it away for free at the start to get your initial momentum
Ask friends and family to download and review it
Send it to your mailing list
JV with people who have a list
Hit up Facebook Groups and Twitter
Download Noah’s Marketing Pack 😉
The goal here is to choose a) the right keywords and b) the right category. Do both, then build momentum via sales and good reviews. Easier said than done, but possible!
How I Would Do It
I would choose Romantic Fiction (obviously) and skirted the line between Erotic Fiction. So, I am essentially writing an erotic book that meets the terms of service (TOS) to fit into Romantic Fiction.
S. if you break the line and go into erotic fiction, it will be very hard to make any sales
Look at what is popular first, see the trends of top sellers. Most of these books fall into certain sub-categories you can probably guess (S&M, Werewolf, Vampire, Cowboy, etc.)
I would price my books at $2.99 and write approximately 30,000 – 50,000 per book
All books would be part of an ongoing series, with the first and final page being a lead generation page to get people to visit my website and join my email list (in return they would get a free short-story)
The first book is given away for $0.99 as a loss leader to get people started
Later, you can sell bundles too to help people catch up
I would have a cover done on Fiverr that looks similar (but better) than the top sellers in my category
Publish for Kindle only first
later I will add my own published books available for direct download on my website (this way I keep 100%)
Then, as per Noah Kagan and the Six Figure Erotica Author’s book, I would start marketing.
And, after I am earning money, I would begin hiring ghost writers to write “side-stories” set in the same universe
And as I am building the email list (see step 4) then I would also JV with other writers or e-commerce stores. You could even start a niche store of your own based on your main topic! (i.e. sex toys, S&M, cosplay, etc.)
The goal is to publish a series of books, find at least 300 rabid fans willing to spend $100 a year. And to also build up an email list. If we are priced at $2.99 per book, that is 33 books per year. That is difficult to do, however, there are additional ways to make money here.
$100 A Day Math
Assuming a $2.99 price point, and you earn 70% of the sale, you get $2.093 per sale. Thus, you need 47.7 sales per day to reach $100 a day.
If you can hit the first page of best sellers for your category, this is definitely possible. Otherwise, it is difficult.
In honesty, this may take some time to do. Which is why you want to be building your list and generating additional ways of earning revenue.
Hell, you could even turn your series into a magazine (free or paid) and get other authors involved. A $10 a month subscription to an erotic were-wolf fiction magazine full of short stories, interviews, and great deals? Nice!
Scalability – Can It Become a Million Dollar Business?
Yes. However, only the top 1% of writers are likely to ever earn a million dollars from their own writing. George R.R. Martin, for example, made a decent living from his books, but they were also one of the most popular series in the world before the TV Show was ever released. However, his earnings from the show have almost definitely far-exceeded his book earnings pre-show.