Beginner’s Guide to Kindle Direct Publishing
What Is Kindle Publishing?
Kindle publishing (also known as self publishing on Amazon) is a beginner-friendly online business model. Hundreds of authors and outsource self publishers have been self publishing Kindle books since Kindle's inception.
It's also the same model I used to make my first few hundred dollars a month.
Starting a self publishing business on Amazon usually starts off with the self publishing a Kindle book and eventually the Kindle publisher adds on other versions of their digital book and thus increasing the overall profits.
Before the Kindle space came to fruition, authors were at the mercy of traditional publishing companies.
And, if you wanted to self publish books in the 20th century, it was also a grueling process.
But now, Amazon (plus the internet) has provided authors and a new breed of self publishing entrepreneurs an opportunity to engage in their Kindle Direct Publishing platform.
Authors can now make a living through their work and passions. And those who are into strategic self publishing (non-writers who prefer ghostwritten books and driving traffic to their books) can make money online too.
The styles of the author and self publisher vary, but the essentials of Kindle Publishing stay the same (I am both, but currently an outsource publisher).
The rest of this article is to give you an idea (plus some tips and tricks) of the rabbit hole you may go down.
How to Start Amazon Kindle Publishing
Now that you know a little more about Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) you might be wondering how to start?
If this is your first attempt at making money online, then I'd like to introduce you to your best friends: keywords.
Keywords are a set of words or phrases (can be one word) people type and search for on the internet.
Amazon customers search for keywords in the Amazon search engine to find a book in the topic they're looking for.
So, if Anthony is looking for a book on woodworking then he may type one of the following variations:
Very similar to how someone would search something on Google right? Exactly!
Our jobs, as Kindle Publishers and authors, is to have our books show up on the first page of results for keyword (or set of keywords). The higher, the better.
And luckily, Amazon's search engine is like a dumb Google (like back in the day) - we don't have to worry about creating backlinks for our books like in SEO. This makes our lives as publishers a little easier.
All we have to focus on is ranking our book(s) highly.
A Deeper Look into Kindle Keywords
Keywords are the starting point for self publishers and usually an afterthought for authors.
This beginner's guide, it's a great starting place for any new Kindle publisher.
So, let's begin.
We can’t discuss keywords without talking about niches.
Niches are markets where people who are hungry for specific information reside.
Here's a quick example:
People who want to learn how to play musical instruments are in the musical instruments niche. There are niches within niches also known as sub-niches (i.e. brass, strings and the rest).
Let's say that someone is interested in playing piano. Well, piano resides in the "keyboard" sub-niche of the musical instruments niche.
In this case, there are many instruments in the keyboard family of instruments, one of them being the piano.
If we were to analyze the rest of the instruments (keywords) in this sub-niche "keyboard", we would find other "keyboard" instruments like:
- Electronic Keyboard
Bottom line on niches: A niche market has multiple sub-niches, with sub-sub-niches ... all with their respective keywords and ALL relating back to the mother of all niches - the original niche market.
In Kindle Publishing the best approach is to publish in niche markets, and the more "sub-niched" you get the better.
Because that's where you get your cut of the market.
This is where the little guy can compete and still make a handsome fortune. If you go after broader niches like "keyboard instruments" then you're going against the tide. Typically traditional publishers with publishing houses publish books in broader niches.
Becoming an authority in your sub-niche is your best bet.
Keywords and Titles
Unless you already have a following of readers/fans, you're going to be titling (optimizing) your Kindle books titles by keywords.
You can potentially mix in some related keywords if the overall title makes sense. To find keyword variations, I recommend using a book marketing software like Publisher Rocket by Dave Chesson.
Publishing your books in this manner will help your books rank and help readers on Amazon find your book.
Here's the format of your typical Kindle Book title:
Traditionally there will be a ‘:’ (colon) after each book title. This format makes it easier for potential customers to get a snapshot of what they're getting.
An alternative to reading the title/subtitle from the cover which can be hard to do from a digital screen.
If we were going to publish in the "keyboard instruments" niche (sub-niche), then we would title the books something along the lines of:
Piano: The Beginner's Guide to Mastering Keyboard Instruments
Organ: The Beginner's Guide to Mastering Keyboard Instruments
Electronic Keyboard: The Beginner's Guide to Mastering Keyboard Instruments
Notice how these titles are keyword structured (search engine friendly).
Make sense? Good.
Take a look at the Kindle Store, at Amazon.com, and check how some of the books are titled for practice.
Remember, that sub-niches can also be keywords to the ultimate niche market. It really depends on how far you're willing to dig ... when it comes to your keyword research.
Final Thoughts on Keywords
Keywords are a great place to start brainstorming ideas for Kindle Publishing. Once you have a good idea, it's time to learn the entire process of self publishing on Amazon.
Learning the Self Publishing Process
There are a lot of online video courses these days. Believe it or not, each one of the teachers you see on YouTube (or blogs) today learned from a Kindle Publishing course as well (including yours truly).
As with most knowledge in making money online business models - they're not taught in schools. If you're going to get into this, you'll need someone to be a Gandalf to your Frodo.
Below, I've compiled a list of courses on the market today with their pros and cons.
Resource: Best Self Publishing Courses
How Do You Rank Your Books Highly in Amazon's Search Engine?
There are a few factors that Amazon takes into account when ranking your book. And it's not all keywords.
Before I go any further, I want to let you know about the honeymoon phase between you and Amazon...
The phase is as follows, once you publish your book on KDP and it's live your book will shoot up in the rankings for a week to a couple of weeks (reviews or not) - give or take.
This is Amazon deciding to give your book a shot. After all, you could have a winner in your hands and Amazon wants to give you a boost out the gate.
It's ideal to couple the honeymoon phase with book launching which is something you'll get into as an authority self publisher.
The process, in a nutshell, is collecting your reader's information (usually name and/or email) through a squeeze page that sends them to your autoresponder sequence of emails.
You'll include a dedicated link to your squeeze page in your Kindle book (you can do this in your physical and audio books too however, this is a topic for a later date).
Example Squeeze Page
Eventually, your list (audience of readers) builds up and you send out specific broadcast emails to announce your book launch. And you'll even have some subscribers who will leave reviews for your book!
Book launching + the honeymoon phase is powerful - add the following ranking factors, and you'll beat your competition every time:
- Verified Reviews During Honeymoon Phase
- Click-Through-Rate (CTR)
- Keyword Optimized Book Titles, Subtitles, and Descriptions
Implementing this is much easier said than done.
And I'll be honest with you - the reviews are the hardest part of this business model. You can get friends and family to leave you reviews - but that'll only get you so far.
Usually, Amazon deletes these shortly after.
You can also get other people to do review swaps for you, but this is risky as Amazon is cracking down on virtual assistants doing this for authors/publishers.
The consequence of doing this for too long is getting your KDP account banned.
If you must buy reviews to get your books off the ground make sure to start building your email list right away and only do review exchanges for a little while.
Your aim should be to get away from review swaps ASAP.
Doing this will ensure you're Kindle Publishing business is here to stay.
4 Ways to Make Money with Self Publishing on Amazon
#1 Kindle Books
Make sure to self publish other types of your Kindle books. Kindle books are usually priced at $2.99 to $4.99 (for self publishers). You'll find yourself hard-pressed to make a serious income without including the following types of books.
#2 Paperback Books
Paperback books are still in in 2017 and I believe they're evergreen products. A huge sum of readers still read physical books and as a publisher you'd be wise to capitalize on this.
Your quality books can be published by Createspace (Amazon sister company), a print-on-demand service, that pays you quicker than KDP does starting out. Paperback books usually range from $9.99 to $29.99.
Your royalties here will far exceed KDP royalties.
#3 Audio Books
Audio books are handled by ACX (another Amazon sister company). ACX is where you'll hire ACX narrators to produce your book.
#4 Hardcover Books
Self publishing hardcover books is more challenging than the other 3 ways to make money with Amazon, but can still make you a handsome royalty.
The process has more steps because Createspace doesn't print-on-demand hardcover books, so you have to rely on a third-party platform like Lulu.
Once you self publish through their process, you can request Lulu to distribute your hardcover to the Kindle Store as well.
Final Kindle Publishing Thoughts
If I were to give you any advice as a new publisher/author trying to make money publishing with Amazon - it would be to start with one niche in mind and focus on servicing them.
If it's self-development good - stick to it.
Don't do self-development plus basketweaving. Read: one thing at a time.
Focus on building an authority publishing model by creating a following.
Email lists are the name of the game for Kindle Publishing now.