Self Publishing

Indie Non-Fiction v. InfoProducts

For nearly as long as I’ve been in Internet Marketing I’ve heard the old “you must have your own product” to really make it in this industry. The “product” most commonly cited was , of course – an “infoproduct” – a pdf of your real or perceived wisdom typically retailing for around $27 to $97 or $147 – didn’t really seem to matter so long as the price a) ended in a 7 and b) did not exceed your ability to keep a  straight face when promoting the price.

I couldn’t buy into it  – it sounded like a border-line con to be, and what is worse it was a favoured technique for some of my least favourite people in the game.

But it niggled – how hard could it be to write a book? I’d read books almost all my life, and like any vociferous reader I’d started writing my own book, several times, I never got past Chapter 2.  Was it actually possible to produce a “info product” at a fair price, that someone might want to pay me for and read.

I kept on making money with Adsense, and affiliate sales, eBay and Amazon.  Panda happened, trashed hubpages, and made me look at a long-ignored hub  that was getting good traffic  for a keyword that paid very little in Adsense. And which I was an expert on.

Bags packed for another trip...

And for which there must be a market because a) I knew what the search volumes were and b) there was a new book coming out on the same topic, at $9.99, and there was a real dead-tree version of it to. Publishers only publish books that have a market right? (Well quite possibly arguable – but WTF sometimes they get it right).

So I did some research. I’m good at research – closet academic if not for the students – I figured that someone must have figured out this untapped gold mine of unlimiteless wealth already.

Had The Marketers Figured Out How to Put InfoProducts on Amazon?

Maybe I was late to the party – I’d been spending all my time working, and not keeping up with the latest scams business opportunities. Was writing and promoting eBooks on Amazon – the bloody site that kept out-ranking my little affiliate niche sites – yesterday’s news?

I went to the font of all knowledge – I went to the WarriorForum – nope I’m not helping you by linking to it – lets put it this way its like swimming with sharks, without a shark cage, and with an open bleeding wound …

And naturally enough there was some Kindle Killer Kash Katastrophies (or similar names) for offer at the very reasonable price of $??7.87 – but only for the next 5 minutes.  In fact the one I found and bought wasn’t too awful – standard promotion stuff: blog, video, social media, oh and keywords, oh and buy some reviews (are Amazon that stupid?).

But there was a little bit missing – how to write the actual (or virtual) flipping book. I mean I can ramble on this blog until the bovines get bored – but how to write the book?

Oh I didn’t need to write a book – I just needed to add some pictures to some public domain content and then I could charge for a book already available on Amazon for free The Holy Bible yeah right, not feeling like such a good idea anymore.

Or string some PLR together – well most of the reading public wouldn’t know public label rights if they fell over them – but interesting every book I found on Amazon which was PLR had awful reviews – funny that.

The marketers knew how to promote the book, they thought they knew how to find the topics that would sell (I disagree we will come to that), but they were bloody terrified about writing.

But There Are Heaps of Self-Published Writers on Amazon 

The joke of course is that there are thousands of self-published writers on Amazon. Check out the popular listings which have anything to do with “twilight” “vampires” “erotica” and quite a lot of sci-fi – check for the 99c and $2.99c prices  – yup you found them.

I had met the Indies.  Yeah I had to Google it too – Indie=independent NOT Indian (though I imagine some are), as in independently publishing not waiting to get signed by an agent and the agent getting them a book deal. Traditionally (like before 2007 which was when Amazon launched the Kindle) as a would-be author you could either:

  • get a deal with a Publisher (preferably one of the “big 6”);
  • self-publish

Self- publishing is basically print on demand ie a fancy photocopy of your book bound  and which you pay for. Good for publishing your family’s local history – but frankly I’m more interested in making money than spending it.

Writers are waking up to the fact that eBooks give them a way to publish without getting past the gatekeepers of the publishers. And they make more than 10% of the profits, and they don’t have to wait years for their book to get published. Amazon allows anyone to self-publish at Kindle Direct Publishing

There is not just demand from readers for cheap books on Amazon’s best selling product – the Kindle – but there is supply – as writers realise that 70% of lots of $2.99 books is much better than 10% of $14.99 in about 2 years, maybe.

Marketers want to make money – they know how to promote any old crap to make it sell – and a surprising amount of it will. But a considerable number of them are terrified of writing. Writers (may) know how to write – but are mostly are clueless about promotion – particularly online.

I’ve found one guy who managed to combine the two skills sets.  I found out about him because Amazon’s newsletter was promoting him (killer promotion tactic that one):  How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months by John Locke – even if you don’t write fiction – you should read this, if you don’t think there is money in fiction, you should read it, if you think you have to be a Pultzer Award Nominee to publish a book, you should read this, oh and the fiction is his hobby he’s a successful marketer and entrepreneur. No prizes for supposing that he had decided to hit a nice round number like 1,000,000 before he put pen to paper.

But I was still wondering: was there a market for Indie non fiction?

to be continued ….


14 replies on “Indie Non-Fiction v. InfoProducts”

Shamefully, I admit that I put a PLR book up on Amazon right after Kindle Direct Publishing launched. You know how much money it has made me? Exactly $0.00. In many cases the value you provide is directly proportional to the amount of money you can make.

This has been festering in my mind all day. I started to put together a longer comment, but I started rambling and ended up making a blog post out of it. The only way to have any kind of successful business whether online or off is by providing value to your customers.

The John Locke book is really good and well worth reading. As marketers we probably know a lot of this stuff already – after all his main message is write more books (content) and market through twitter and blog posts (seo & social media) but to think that he has sold so many books in just 5 months is asounding and inspirational.

My thoughts about whether nonfiction can sell as well as fiction right now is that yes I not only think it can, but think it can do better than fiction.

It’s just that all the success stories we are hearing so far are fiction writers because the majority of writers want to write that sort of stuff (so there is a lot more of them).

Plus many nonfiction authors have become disillusioned by the writing process since we earned so little from our books and so most have not yet realised the potential there.

In old world publishing (or at least this used to be true – and I would say that it still is), non fiction always outsold fiction because people always need and want information, and only usually buy fiction as entertainment – so it’s not as much of a need. Thats the reason why it was so much easier to get a book deal for a nf book (or at least it was for me! LOL).

I think the pricing issue is one of the reasons we are not seeing as many nf books on the top 100 bestsellers list right now. And this is something I want to do more research on.

@ Jeremy Waller
Yeah don’t even bother with PLR. It won’t sell. It’s not worth your time. Put in some thought and effort into writing something decent, edit it properly, create a good cover and marketing blurb and then you’ll reap the rewards.

I think the number of 99c books in fiction has something to do with the best selling lists too – I’m not too worried about that because most of the stuff in my non-fiction niche is priced waaay higher than that – I have some details on my thoughts on pricing in the next post! Of course its all theoretical at the moment because I stuck in editing! But my first is definitely coming out this month!

Can’t wait to see your book! I’m hoping to get mine up this month too. It’ll be a little smaller than I wanted, but I think it’ll still work well. Still haven’t made up my mind on pricing yet. I’ll either be going 2.99 or 4.99. … Hmmm

Last week-end, I just bought ebooks by John Locke (great) and also from Joanna Penn. She recommends to publish your ebooks through Smashwords. Smashwords distributes your ebook to many platforms such as Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Reader and many more including Amazon. They provide detailed guides how to prepare your text on Word and even on marketing. You get paid through Paypal, so you avoid getting a check from Amazon and being charged for changing it at the bank. As it is the case here in Montreal.

You have to be the “real author” of your ebook, so going through Smashwords is also good for one’s reputation.

If you don’t feel like “fighting” with your text to make it “ebupable”, you can hire somebody at Smashwords to do it for you. Same for the cover.

And of course, I can publish French ebooks there, so I know where my efforts are going for a few weeks as Adsense is quite weak during summer on French blogs.

I don’t see any advantage of using Smashwords for Amazon books – for the others yes (in fact its the only way for most of us overseas writers to access those other stores) – but I’ve heard that there are issues with the SW conversion for Kindle so you are better off doing that direct.

I much prefer to sell via Amazon via my affiliate link because a) I get the affiliate commission b) the more I sell the higher percentage that commission is (remember I have other affiliate sites that sell stuff a lot more expensive than eBooks).

I didn’t know SW used paypal – that’s good – but I have come to like the checks because I can play the currency game a bit and delay presenting them until the day the US$ is a little higher against my local currency – I’m only charged 5c for a foreign check – but you do have to wait 21 days for it to clear.

I sell a lot on When I change the check, it costs 7$ and I have to wait 30 days for it to clear. So I just love Paypal 😉

I guess I’ll try SW at least once to see how it goes.

Ha, 7c and 21 days? You’re lucky! I get charged €10 and like MarieBo I have to wait a full 30 days. Which is total crap in today’s banking world when international cheques really clear in 3-5 days thanks to something called technology.

But anyway, I’ve come to like getting regular monthly cheques from Amazon regardless of the hassle. There’s nothing better than getting cheques in the mail!

LOL I notice the local banks here are planning to phase out checks in the next few years – I guess they will still need to deal with American checks though! I’ve actually thought about getting a US dollar account with my bank – but I’m not making enough money from Amazon, yet.

Another point re being an author on Amazon for non-Americans – you have to get some tax number from the US – otherwise they withhold 30% – they do that the first year – you get the tax number – they give the money back and don’t withhold it from then on, depends on the tax treaty that your country has with them. Totally different from being an affiliate – go figure!

Konrath is great (though why he hides his brilliant writing in a really crappy blogger template is beyond me) – I added the link – however I think Godin is a self-important prick so sorry readers will have to google him.


You’re so right on both counts. You should try to sell Catalyst Theme to Konrath 😉

But you must admit that the old Seth knows where money lies. And many French marketers are so impressed by this guy. So sure enough, I’m going to use his name in an article title, just for fun. Even if by nature, I am not a “tribe” follower”.

Besides, I already rock the boat enough about an old French marketer who recycled Joe Vitale’s “strategies” and such. LOL

I did check out the the Seth blog you referenced – hmm like he invented self-publishing on KIndle -really I thought it was Amazon LMFAO!

Konrath is not even self-hosted – he’s still using a free blog!

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