How I Built a $1,000/Month Publishing Business Using Amazon

I had the honor recently of being asked to contribute an article to the Make Market Launch It newsletter. MML is a great product creating program and a outstanding community to be part of. I have been a member pretty much since the beginning. They asked me to write an article recently about some of the publishing milestones I have obtained in 2014, and to share some of my book publishing secrets with the rest of our community. I thought I would also include them here for everyone else. To learn more about MML and see the original article please click here.

2014 was a great year for my publishing efforts. I had my best year yet for book sales, selling just over 3,600 books split over 32 titles, totaling over $11,000 in sales. My goal was to get to $1,000 in book sales per month, and I have now hit that for the last three months.

Blank Sheet Music BookMy best selling book, Blank Sheet Music for Guitar, sold over 1,000 copies. I also have some books that sold just one copy. Most of my sales come from my paperback books sold through CreateSpace/Amazon, using their print-on-demand service. I am completely in the non-fiction area of the market with books in music, geography, children’s, business and coloring, so I do much better with paperbacks then I do with Kindle.

Over the past few years I have learned a lot about publishing books, and I’d like to share a few of the major lessons I learned.

Lesson #1: Don’t Rely on Amazon

My number one bookselling tip is that you need to market your books outside of Amazon. Amazon will help, but it’s up to you to carry the bulk of the effort.

I sell books in five different markets but two of them make up most of my sales: 1) music instruction/writing and 2) geography. For both of these markets I have built websites that heavily highlight the content of the books and then drop ads in around the edges with direct links to Amazon.

Essential Chords for Guitar, Mandolin, Ukulele and BanjoFor my music books, I created AcousticMusicTV.com and featured one of my main books, Essential Chords for Guitar, Mandolin, Ukulele and Banjo. I created a web graphic for each page of the book, dropped in good descriptions (including alt tags, which search engines focus on) and ads along the sides, linked to Amazon.

The graphics attracted Google traffic and the ads on the sides generate book sales via Amazon. I also set up a mailing list and a 12-step auto responder series that gives away additional PDF samples of the book alongside a sales section linked to Amazon to drive even more traffic to my Amazon sales pages.

Notice that, although I don’t rely on Amazon to generate sales for me, all my marketing efforts do point there. My websites drive traffic to Amazon. All book videos have calls to action to buy the books on Amazon. All my Pinterest graphics are linked to their matching book on Amazon. I also cross-sell inside of my books. Each book highlights other books in the series. Everything points to Amazon, allowing me to concentrate all of the traffic I get on my sales pages on Amazon.

Lesson #2: Pay Attention to Research and Stats

When I have an idea for a book, I look at similar books and their reviews on Amazon. For my blank sheet music books, I discovered a couple of key things missing in many blank sheet music books—and I made sure these things were included in my books and highlighted in the sales copy.

Doing research can also help you discover a large market—for me, it was coloring books—so you can create books that people are already interested in buying.

Lesson #3: Focus on Volume

On the book publishing side of my business, I am well aware that I work in a world of 1% conversions—just like direct mail. You need traffic and lots of it. That is why I work so hard to make my content so easy to find and why I give so much away. I expect most people to look and not buy. But that doesn’t stop me from always rewarding the website visitor with what they are looking for, along with the option to buy a book.

For me, traffic numbers are super important. That’s where I focus my attention in terms of marketing and statistics and I constantly work on my website content to attract visitors.

Lesson #4: Keep Publishing

You just don’t know what is going to work—even with all the research and stats. You need to keep creating new books and continually publishing because, even when you’ve been doing this a while, you’ll still get surprised. I tend to find that the books you work on the most and the longest tend to sell the least. The books you get out quicker tend to sell more. Maybe when you work on a book for a long time, by the time you get it out you missed the trend? I don’t know.

My advice? Keep creating and publishing.

How to Make Children's Picture Books for KindleBruce just released his first online video course on “How to Make a Children’s Picture Book for Kindle.” Click here to learn more about the course.

About the Author
Bruce Jones
is a Boston-based graphic designer and has been selling products online since 1996. He is the author of over 32 books and many other products. To find out more about Bruce visit his website: https://www.BruceJonesDesign.com.

How to Market, Sell and Repurpose Your Video Content

Slides from a recent presentation I did at Bill Gentile’s Video Journalism Workshop held in Washington DC. My presentation is on what do you do after you have made a video story, or short documentary and want to expand its reach to the world.

We also broadcast this presentation live using Google Hangout On Air and recorded it on YouTube. Hangout On Air is a fantastic way to record your presentation or meeting or events and broadcast them to the world. And it is basically free to use.

ISBN Numbers, Do we need them, Yes or NO?, what are the and how do they work?

It is kind of mixed, ISBN which stands for International Standard Book Number and is manged by Bowker.com, and are the numbers that are used to track print books and help with distribution. You have to have one if you are going to be distributed to bookstores. They also indicate who the publisher is. They cost $125 each but you can reduce the cost if you buy a bundle of them. Most of the major print on demand companies, CreateSpace.com, Lulu.com, Blurb.com will supply ISBN numbers for free when you use their services, but you will have their name as the publisher. You can also buy them and use your own and the publisher will be your name. Kindle books don’t use ISBN numbers.

I think the decision comes down to if you are going to be a publisher or an author. If you are going to be selling physical books and distributing them through books stores then you have to have an ISBN number. If you are just going to stay on Amazon then you can use theirs. You can also do both, but distribution requires the number.

A couple of things to remember,
1. there aren’t a lot of book stores anymore and most book stores won’t take print-on-demand books from CreateSpace. If you are going in that business then maybe look at LightingSource.com for printing. You will be the distributor
2. Unfortunately most books don’t sell all that much so to taking a $125 hit right off the top might be the total sales of your book. Ouch.

What do I do? I just use the CreateSpace ISBN, it is way easier. I don’t really care who the publisher is, I just want to make books and sell them. You can always change, nothing is locked in, you retain all the rights to your books and content. Take the $125 and put it to marketing, especially on your first couple of books, then see what happens.

Ask questions at our FaceBook page, How to Publish Your Book

10 Tips on How to Make Your Blog Work for Your Marketing

Making Blogs Work for Your BusinessOne of my big points about marketing on-line and having a blog/website is that you can look at the stats and get a good sense of what people are interested in. Blogs generally work easier for this but websites work also especially if you add graphics with alt tags. I always recommend that you put out a variety of content on your topic and off your topic and constantly test and see what happens. You are crowd sourcing your content. We don’t know who we are, the world knows who we are. Our job is it try and figure how the world sees us and match ourselves up with that view. If we can match it can lead to great success.

The question is often why do this, one answer is to see what people like, market research.  But generally it is almost impossible to figure out why people come to our sites and what they want. Second is the ability to use this information and connect back with your visitors and advance our business. This article by Pat Flynn from his blog SmartPassiveIncome gives you the tools of what to do with these popular posts after people arrive. There are some great tips here.

10 Specific Strategies to Make Your ‘Most Popular Posts’ Work Even Harder For You
https://www.smartpassiveincome.com/most-popular-posts-work-harder-for-you/

How to Use Kindle Kid Creator to Publish Children’s Books

I did a video session last week with John Tighe on how to make Children’s Picture Books using PowerPoint and Kindle Kid Creator and sell them on Amazon/Kindle. It was a great session and a lot of fun. John Tighe is the creator of the Crush it With Kindle program and the Publish Position Profit podcast. Check it out

Check out John’s interviews with industry experts at publishpositionprofit.com

ISBN Numbers, Yes or No, Do I Need One for My Book?

Good question came in today from a reader

Thoughts on ISBN numbers? Is it better to purchase your own?

It is kind of mixed, ISBN which stands for International Standard Book Number and is manged by Bowker.com, and are the numbers that are used to track print books and help with distribution. You have to have one if you are going to be distributed to bookstores. They also indicate who the publisher is. They cost $125 each but you can reduce the cost if you buy a bundle of them. Most of the major print on demand companies, CreateSpace.com, Lulu.com, Blurb.com will supply ISBN numbers for free when you use their services, but you will have their name as the publisher. You can also buy them and use your own and the publisher will be your name. Kindle books don’t use ISBN numbers.

I think the decision comes down to if you are going to be a publisher or an author. If you are going to be selling physical books and distributing them through books stores then you have to have an ISBN number. If you are just going to stay on Amazon then you can use theirs. You can also do both, but distribution requires the number.

A couple of things to remember,
1. there aren’t a lot of book stores anymore and most book stores won’t take print-on-demand books from CreateSpace. If you are going in that business then maybe look at LightingSource.com for printing. You will be the distributor
2. Unfortunately most books don’t sell all that much so to taking a $125 hit right off the top might be the total sales of your book. Ouch.

What do I do? I just use the CreateSpace ISBN, it is way easier. I don’t really care who the publisher is, I just want to make books and sell them. You can always change, nothing is locked in, you retain all the rights to your books and content. Take the $125 and put it to marketing, especially on your first couple of books, then see what happens.

How to Make Children’s Picture Books for Kindle, New Video Course from Bruce Jones

I am pleased to announce the release of my new course on how to make children’s picture books for Amazon Kindle How to Make Children’s Picture Books for Kindle. The course takes you through the entire process of how I made the Animals Love to Play series of children’s picture books. Follow me and learn how you to can make kids picture books that you and publish and sell on Amazon Kindle.


Included in this course is also a special Quick Start Video that shows you how you can easily make and publish a book using Microsoft PowerPoint. Start with an idea and finish with a published book. It is really pretty easy and I show you how.

The online video course streams to your computer, smart phone or tablet. It includes 7 main videos, the Quick Start Video, transcripts, plus a couple of bonuses and a Facebook group all about how to make and publish your books. The course includes:

Quick Start Course Video, A special video for this course, in one hour I take your from idea to live Kindle book on Amazon. Your don’t have a lot of time or want the quick overview then watch this video first.

Video 1. Learn how I wrote and selected the images for the books, tips on how to buy affordable images

Video 2. I take you through the Design and Layout of a picture book

Video 3. Learn how to use Kindle Kid and Comic Creator to convert your picture book to Mobi format ready for uploading

Video 4. Learn how to upload your book to Amazon Kindle

All 5 Animal Books

Learn How I Made These Children’s Picture Books and You Can Do It Too

Video 5. This is the marketing video. Learn essential tips to getting exposure, making a book trailer video, marketing graphics, use Pinterest

Video 6. Having a home on the web for your book is essential. Learn how to build a book/author blog in this step-by-step video. Part 1

Video 7. Second half of the How to set up your book blog, some more advance tips. Part 2

Included with this course are pdf transcriptions of the course videos

Course Bonuses:
How to Publish Your Book, A Beginners Guide
, pdf book includes resource guide
10 Tips for Marketing Your Book Video plus companion pdf
How to Publish Your Book Facebook group, come join us now

For a limited time I am offering a special $50 discount off the list price. Use the code kidsbooks. To buy this course please click How to Make Children’s Picture Books for Kindle 

how to make children's picture books

My Three Words for 2015 – Create, Grow, Change

Create, Grow, ChangeThe three words you are going to use for the year to frame your goals and intentions has become quite popular. Chris Brogan and others have used it a lot to give them direction for the year. Chris’s words for 2015 are Plan, Leverage, Fabric.

My words for 2015 are Create, Grow, Change.

Create: finally build out my online course, get it done. I actually have two that I am working on. One on how to publish your book. Something I help authors do a lot with now. And the other course is using my editable PowerPoint maps and wrap a course around them on how to build a sales territory maps for sales managers. I also want to increase my other book and map products, but the courses are important.

Grow: Grow my audience and grow my position in the how to publish your book market. Increase my presence along with my products in this market. I had some great success in 2014 and I want to continue it.

Change: I have been working hard over the last 4 years to move myself from being an active freelance designer to more of a product developer, creator and marketer. I would like to speed up this transition to the next stage of life, where ever that takes me. My youngest daughter is graduating college, I have turned 60 and I am looking forward to what is next after 30 years of being a freelance designer. I will still keep doing client work but looking for the next chapter and change.

What are your 3 words, share them and let the world know. To learn more about the three words check out Chris Brogan’s post, My 3 Words for 2015.

The Gumroad 30 Day Challenge – Resources

Gumroad.com is running a cool 30 day exercise for building an online business using their service. Gumroad is a platform that you can use for hosting your digital products. They take care of all the back end, the e-commerce stuff and the downloading. We just make and sell stuff they do the rest. The challenge is giving us lots of tools to help with that. I am a big fan of Gumroad and have a number of products there. There is also a matching Facebook group that looks excellent. They are also releasing a new feature for collecting followers called Audience

You can follow me on Gumroad at https://gumroad.com/bjdesign/follow

The Thirty Day Challenge, the calendar

Day 1. Start Creating
Article by Sahil Lavingia the founder of Gumroad.

Day 2. Getting to Know Your Audience and Finding Your Niche
Tools for Getting to Know Your Audience (Part 1)
Google Keyword Tool
Google Trends
Google Alerts

Picking the Right Niche
Big Fish in a Small Pond

Day 3. Building Your Landing Page
Landing Page Tips

A good example of how to set up different product packages by Caleb Wojcik DYI Video Guy
https://www.calebwojcik.com/diyvideoguide/#packages

Day 4. Audience Tool
Building a tool to gather followers

Day 5. Building an Audience
Making the Lead Generator

Day 6, Auto Responders for your List
Automatic Updates

Scheduled email

Day 7 Free Give A Ways to Build Sales, This is a good one, come back to it, make some samples
Use sample to build an audience

IDEA: Build out a sample pack form the individual pdf map collections that people can download for free and it also gets gets sent out to anyone who buys a pdf collection. Link all the collections together, also offer a discount for the other pdf packs. Include a pdf with images of all the other collections, put live links in the email to each one.

Day 8, Connect with your email
Put a link from your email signature to your business landing page
Naming your product

Day 9, Building Your Content
10 Steps of Content Marketing Checklist

Day 10 Content
Pick one form of content to produce, master 1 and then add

Day 11, Do Something Small Every Day
http://austinkleon.com/2013/12/29/something-small-every-day/

Day 12 YouTube Annotations,
Every piece of content leads back to your website or Gumroad but somewhere where people can connect with your or buy your stuff. Click for Article on Gumroad on linking

Day 13 Using high quality content to build a following
Interview with Pat Flynn on building content.

Day 14 Sending Updates to Your Customers
The Update page, send an update

Day 15, Writing email subject lines
Email subject lines

Day 16, More social media connections
Find audiences on Reddit, Dribble, Facebook Groups, and Hacker News

Day 17 Knowing Your Audience
Part 2, Tools for Knowing Your Audience, using Facebook, Twitter, Buzzsumo

Day 18 Using Twitter and photos
Twitter and using images

Canva

Free photos at Death to the Stock Photo

Day 19, Twitter, Instgram and YouTube, lots to learn here

Twitter article

Instagram article

YouTube article

Day 20 Be part of the discussion
Google Alerts, Buffer news and articles

Buzzsumo, great ways to find influencers

Day 21, Look for opportunities where you can guest blog to a similar audience

Day 22, Reach out to these Bloggers and offer some guest blogs on their topics

Follow screen size 1366×768

Amazon Royalty Rates and Making Money with Your Book

Money in a bagI had an excellent question come in today about my opinion of the royalty rates offered by Amazon for ebooks on the Kindle and I will also put in paperback books through CreateSpace. It is a question about making money with your book.

Most of the money I make on Amazon comes from my paperback books produced through print-on-demand and CreateSpace. For me Kindle does almost nothing. Which is the opposite for many people. It is most likely the mix of books that I create.

I make about $3.27 royalty per book for my paperbacks with an average list price of $9.95 and $1.40 per book for Kindle with prices around $2.99. For the month of December I have sold 427 so far, having a great Christmas and on Kindle I have sold 11 books. Most of my books are on both platforms but I am selling coloring books, geography books, music books, a few business book, stuff like that. So most of my sales come from the printed books.

On Kindle you have two royalty rates, 35% – where Amazon picks up all download costs and give you the widest distribution and 70% – where the author pays download costs and has a little less distribution. You may know or not know that authors pay for the book download. With most books you never notice it because it is so small, but I see it with my picture and graphics books. The download can be a couple of dollars. To cover this I select the 35% option and Amazon picks it up.

Royalty rates are a common question, everyone thinks Amazon is just a big company taking all our money. But I think these issues have to be kept in perspective. Traditional publishers give you about $.70-$1.00 per book in royalties and own all the rights. Even the big guys, most of their money comes from the advances they get and then the author works against it. But our royalties are usually 2-5 times greater than this. And we get to keep all the rights. That being said, you want more money just charge more or sell more books. But that then comes down to what the market will bear, competition, and of course does anyone care and actually buy our books. I also think that Amazon has been pretty successful in pushing all prices down and down. Unless you are a big name you are in the $.99-$2.99 price range for your book. But it is their store.

Another thing to remember, and this is important, is that we aren’t handling any of the e-commerce, sales page, printing, mailing, trust of Amazon and the dropping of the money in our bank accounts. That is worth a lot. I am very pleased with what I get. It is up to me to market and sell more.

Personally I am thrilled by it all. I get to make any book I want and deliver it to an almost global market for zero cost and no one saying no. It is amazing. It costs me nothing but the time to make the book. I don’t have to touch any part of the process after the book leaves my hand. I love getting that money in my bank account.

My part is the marketing. My recommendation is to be always working on building funnels to drive people to buy my books. My job is to build out a website, social media, book videos, off and online marketing. This is what I do. You can’t rely on Amazon to sell your books. You have to be in charge and constantly marketing.

The other thing you can do and a lot people are starting to do this is use your book as a lead generator. Work the back end. You can give the book away for nothing if you have links and content that drives people to your other products. How about leading to a course, consulting, videos, into your mailing list, what ever you can think up.  If you do this, your book might bring $29.95 or $25,000.00 and anything in-between. You can have live web links in your Kindle books right to your website and products. Think of your book like a giant sales pitch, but in a nice way. You can also put web links in your print books, just make them simple and clear.

So my bottom line is I am very happy with the process. I don’t have a garage full of books and I don’t have to do any part of the hosting, printing, processing or dealing with the money. My job is just make books.

Be sure to join my mailing list to receive my Publishing Tuesday Newsletter and other fun stuff.