Make stuff, sell stuff

15 Publishing Lessons I Have Learned From Creating Over 50 Books


Publishing Lessons I Have Learned From Creating Over 50 Books

1. The most important sale for me is the first one. You’ve confirmed the demand for the product, and you know that everything is working. From that point, it comes down to expanding your marketing.

2. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you want to make money self-publishing, commit to the long-term. You may have to publish many different books. Not everyone agrees with me on this. You can do all the testing you like, but you have no idea which book will work until it’s out there. It will surprise you. Try whatever you want.

3. Don’t fall in love with your title. In my experience, the working title that you share with friends isn’t as focused on the subject of the book as it could be. It means something to you because you are working with all the time. But means nothing to anyone else.

An example of this is when I was working on my first music chord book. I called it my “Notebook Music Chord Book for Guitar, Mandolin, Ukulele and Banjo.” I thought it would go in my guitar gig bag like a notebook. After publishing it, I saw no one was buying it. So I searched on Amazon for other instrument chords books. I discovered that many authors used the word Essential in the title.

I changed the title to “Essential Chords for Guitar, Mandolin, Ukulele, and Banjo” and it sold. One way to test your title is to put it into Amazon search and see if you end up with other similar books in the results. Amazon convinced me to leave the book up on their site, and I actually still sell a couple of copies a year.

4. Publish, Publish, Publish. Get your content out there, hit the publish button. Perfection freezes progress. Let your writing go out into the world. There is something magical that happens when you hit the publish button. I often see this happen when writing blog posts. You struggle with a piece, hit “Publish” and all a sudden you figure out what was wrong with it. You have clarity once you hit that button you didn’t have before. Release your content.

5. If you don’t have an audience, you don’t have sales. You need to market your books outside of Amazon; books won’t sell themselves.

6. Give away to get. That means don’t be shy about putting your content out online. Don’t worry about your stuff getting stolen; few people have the time to rip off someone else’s content. If someone likes what they see on your website, they will want your book. The best way to pique their interest is to share your best content.

7. You need lots of traffic to your sites to make sales. From what I’ve seen, sales generate from about 1% of your traffic. Like direct mail marketing, you are working with tiny percentages. The key is to market, market, and market.

8. Put ads on your websites for your books. Link all the content to your Amazon sales page, so you can drive sustained traffic (and sales).

9. Keep one author’s name. It is far too difficult and time-consuming to manage different personas. Marketing online is about you, focus on building a brand, and making it easy to find you and your books. I understand because of safety needs or privacy you might need to have an author pseudonym. I understand that. But if you can avoid it, do so. Facebook, Google, and other platforms need you to use your proper name. Marketing becomes difficult if you can’t use your name.

10. Have good healthy book descriptions. Online searches use words. So include lots of descriptive words for your product descriptions.

11. Small books are fine. To make more money, make and sell more books. Instead of writing a 400-page book, publish two, 200-page books. And then a box set with the 400-page version. Now you have three books.

12. Leave the earlier editions of your books online. Early editions are the equal of used books. You can still sell earlier editions even after new ones come out.

13. A lot of books are still sold in print. Make both e-book and paperback versions of your books. Your audience will tell what they like. You can also sell PDF versions through sites like

14. You can sell from inside your books. Amazon offers the feature to “Look Inside” your book. So it’s a great idea to include an offer immediately after your title page – such as an offer to download a free audiobook. You can also cross-link and promote your other titles within your book.

15. Books find a sales level and then stay at that level for a long time. I have found my books will reach a consistent level of monthly sales. And stay at that level for a long time, sometimes for months. My levels are: 10-15 copies a month, 25-35 copies a month, (this is a good mid-level seller), and 50-70 copies a month (Amazon category bestseller range. A best seller ranks in the top 100 books in that category). I also have books that sell one copy per month and a couple that sell one copy per year. 15 books a month is 180 to 200 books a year, that is pretty good.


Excerpt from How to Sell Your Book, How I Made $322,650 and Sold 34,605 Books on Amazon, the Inside Secrets by J. Bruce Jones. Bruce is an author and creator of over 50 published books. Bruce teaches self-publishing authors how to publish their books. To learn more about Bruce’s latest project, How to Sell Your Book on Amazon, and pick up a PDF copy of the book click here.