Self Publishing

Uping My Game on Kindle

Hi – remember me? I used to blog here? Yeah sorry, its been nearly 2 months, but my mother always told me, if you have nothing positive to say keep your mouth shut!  Its been a brutal few months. And yes newsletter subscribers – I’ve not published my income either. Too low to mention. Really. 

So I gave up this making money online lark and got a real job. 


OK – just kidding. 

But on a recent trip out of the country I wrote something different on the arrival/departure cards under “Occupation”. Normally I write something like “web developer” or “business owner” or “entrepreneur” or even “project manager” (a previous life). This time I wrote “writer”. It seems to fit with what I’m doing at the moment, and it kinda made me smile. A little. Unfortunately I am still at the starving writer phase. Fortunately, I have a fairly clear plan as to how to get past the starving phase. 

I noticed that Tracey has a specific goal of making $42,000 self publishing this year. Personally I’m not quite at that stage of making specific goals, but I will be getting to that. 

For the moment I’ve been focussed on getting several more books published. Yeah I’m doing it the hard way, writing them myself, I have some ideas about leveraging this in the future and using other writers, but I need to bootstrap this for the moment. I also need a much better idea of my potential cash flow than I have at the moment. 

Why Is Kindle Publishing So Hot With The MMO Crowd?

New Book Cover – with legit photo and everything

Well I can tell you what’s motivating me. Why when given the choice of trying to get my sites (or new ones) ranking for their previous keywords, or focussing on Kindle, I walked away from my sites. 

And no this is not a new  bandwagon for me – I published my first book just on a year ago. I’ve been tracking its earnings over the year – and its made me just on a grand total of $400.  

Lis, you might say, $400 in ONE YEAR. No I didn’t miss a zero. 

But its the best potential I see across all my efforts. 

Because its – and here’s a word not often used about online income – consistent. Now the book is targetted to the US market (the rest of us don’t go on vacation, we holiday), so I truly expected it to be highly seasonal, and yet its been a pretty consistent earner over the year – here’s the month by month breakdown.  

And you know the most interesting thing? I really haven’t promoted it very much. Sure I built a related website and promoted it on that plus some other sites such as HubPages. But really the book appears to sell itself. 

And then in April, Google knocked almost all my sites, plus hubpages, down to the depths of the SERPS. I lost the rankings for both old and new sites. But guess what? My sales staying consistent, if anything slightly higher. All that effort with the websites? Not selling the books. The ranking of the book Vacation Packing in Amazon (#23 in Travel Tips and #38 in Budget Travel at the time of writing) plus it showing up in the “people who bought this book also bought…” seems to be doing that all by itself.  


Let me clarify that – I can make money from my book on Amazon – without Google loving me. 

THAT’s why so many MMO crowd is jumping on board. 

Because I know, I at least, am very, very tired of being at war with Google.  I’m tired of getting knocked down everytime I make some 1/2 decent money. I’m tired of living in fear of waking up to THAT email “your Adsense account has been closed …” 

Kindle Publishing Will Go The Way Of Niche Sites 

Say the naysayers. Its just another fad. Its not a real business. All eBooks are spam. I’ve heard all of that in the last month or so. Sorry you are not getting it.

Can you publish crap eBooks on Amazon?

Yes you can.

Will they sell?


Why? Because once you piss off a reader enough they will leave a one star (the lowest rating) review. Much more readily than anyone will give you a 5-star review.  You see people who pay money for a book are called consumers, and consumers will complain long and loud if they feel ripped off. 

Amazon Will Kill Indie Publishers

Oh yeah this is a good one. Once Amazon makes lots of money with Kindle they will kill off Indie publishers. Yeah right. Suggest that you spend sometime reading up about Amazon’s business model. Every time I sell a book on Amazon, Amazon makes money. But more than that I help Amazon by taking the publishing houses out of the loop. The gatekeepers are dying, quickly, and all because of Amazon’s war on them. Basically Amazon is providing a platform which connects readers (consumers) with writers (producers) without the middleman. Instead of author’s getting a 10% royalty (which is common in traditional publishing) they are now getting 35-70%. So @ 70% a book that sells for $2.99 gives the author the same royalty as a trad published book at $20 – so who’s the loser here? 

Amazon has ENABLED indie publishers – for very good business reasons of their own. 

I’m happy to have a part of the that.  

And if Amazon pisses me off in the future, I’ll take me book elsewhere. 

 Crap eBooks Will Flood Amazon and Amazon Will Ban Their Authors! 

Already happening. In the last year  they have  banned books that are reprints of existing resources: in my niche all the guides which were reproductions of wikitravel are gone.  PLR was banned before my time, and its hard to get an out-of-copyright book published there now too. 


You see, because I’m not actually gaming the system. I’m writing useful books. Sure I’m not writing blind. I’m using keywords and intend to use every legal trick in the book to promote my books. But my books are not crap. Most importantly, they are professionally edited. Oh and I know what I’m writing about. Amazon won’t ban my books, because my readers like them. My return rate is minimal. My reviews are genuine. 

Most former niche marketers will fail at eBooks. Its hard to write a coherent book. Well harder than writing a 500 or even 1000 word blog post. But given that I now have a whole lot of time freed up from building links to websites, I now have the time to write books. If you are using a writer – you probably need to spending more than 1c/word. 

Yes you can look for the gaps in Amazon’s categories, find the search volumes for keywords using Google’s tools, and then order up a book that provides the answer to the question.  But most will do it poorly and cheaply. And fail. 

That’s why I’m happy to be open about my books here. I have 30 year’s experience behind my writing. That’s hard to copy. I also have fair idea on how to market. 

So come along for the ride. I’ll be writing a series of posts on the subject. 

But if you want to get ahead of the game: check out Make A Killing On Kindle (Without Blogging, Facebook Or Twitter).  I only found it because some “real” authors over at were complaining about it as a particularly evil marketing book. It is. I like it. A lot. And I will implementing mos of his suggestions over the next few weeks. 

34 replies on “Uping My Game on Kindle”

Doesn’t mean I’ll actually make that goal, but it’ll fun trying 🙂

I’ve got Make A Killing too, although I’ve never been able to make pretty html page like he has since I already used author central which overrides the KDP description.

Let me know if you want a Word version of the new book for Smashwords too when it’s ready.

Tracey 🙂

Interesting Tracey – because his pretty html was the next thing I’m attempting

I’ve started and stopped writing an e-book so many times, my head is spinning. That changes as of today because this passive income online stuff isn’t very passive anymore and it doesn’t provide the extra income it used to provide.

Good luck, Lis. I hope you do very well in your attempts to shift to e-book writing. I’ve read some articles here and there where some people are making five figures and they’re not even close to being the best writers in the world, so anyone has a fair chance.

Those of us who’ve been writing online for any length of time have an advantage over those who haven’t and it’s about time we put it to good use.

The same book? I have probably 1/2 dozen 1/2 written ones! I start a new one, get bored or scared and stop and start another one LOL. In the end my bank account made this really compelling argument about finishing some!

Writing online has made me the writer I am – not a prize winner- but definitely good enough to be competent. And that’s all that’s required

Google for Kindle Writer, check out the first result. Do you think it’s worth the price ($45 US, $50 NZ)? Do you think it’s easier to do it yourself? I’m seriously thinking about it since I hate doing things manually, especially when it comes to HTML.

Hmm interesting. I already own Scrivenier which is brilliant for writing longer pieces, and its supposed to be format independent. I’m going to try using its conversion to mobi and see how close it gets. I’ll document the process for peeps here. Last time I did this the Kindle version wasn’t that bad (well compared to the Smashwords one) But Scrivenier has developed quite a lot since then so I am hoping it will make the process easier.

I’ll have to check out Scrivenier. I use Calibre on Linux (and Windows) to convert between formats like PDF to MOBI. In fact, that’s how I read old pre-kindle e-books that I’ve had stored away.

Yeah playing at the moment – its not perfect – but its not bad. I use Calibre too. I can see an updated post on conversion coming up – for non-Word owners

Even though it’s not a jaw dropping number, I would definitely consider the $400/year with your Kindle book a big success! I’m getting into publishing a few Kindle books myself and I would love to publish a few books that make that much, because it seems like Kindle publishing is one of the most passive forms of income out there now. Especially if you outsource the writing of the books (obviously you would still have to keep the quality high though). Looking forward to more updates about this from you as I dive headfirst myself 🙂


I must say to date the stuff I’ve seen outsourced has been pretty average to poor quality. I can think of some ways though to leverage using maybe a VA to do research or even a 1st draft and then adding my own twist to the story. First I have one book in final draft to publish plus another one at the outline stage.

Actually fewer than that – I’ll talk how I can calculate the potential for a book – and the packing book should perform better! I have plans for it to get off its lazy backside and do some work!

I am sure you don’t need 100 books as if somebody likes one, they probably will buy another one, plus recommendations, reviews and etc. Good luck with that and will be interesting to see your progress.
I am looking some other things to make money online, but I am not such good writer to get into e-books market.

LOL its a bit girley – but that I suspect is my audience! I wanted to retag the entire series with a “brand name”

Hey, Liz!

This is going to be interesting as your start publishing more and more books. Personally, I am going to stay open to many different business models. If you have time for websites and kindle publishing, then sure, do both. I believe this is a great opportunity for people who want to write some books and earn some money from them in the process.

I believe kindle publishing can actually be an excellent addition to websites that you already own. Publishing a free, useful book on the kindle platform can bring you massive amounts of exposure for your website. There are so many different opportunities here it is great. It probably feels great to know that there is another way to make some online income without subjecting yourself to the whims of Google. So will kindle publishing become ruined? I doubt it. As long as you are always producing helpful content, I really believe you can succeed in virtually any medium.

Good luck Liz, I look forward to seeing how this all plays out for you.


Thanks Oliver. The main reason I’ve not published more books in the year since I did the first one – was purely because I kept switching between putting content on my websites, and writing it in a book. In the end that was a mistake, because the websites have made me next to no money, and the book has made a consistent income. I’m just a bit slow sometimes!

Interesting – this post as seen some great discussion but also the most number of RSS unsubscribes for one post (6 now). I guess some people really don’t want to know that the “passive income” dream takes a whole lot of work.

Hey, at least now we can stop worrying about using Google services! I’m glad, too. Doing everything in two separate browsers was a PITA! LOL

I will agree on the new book cover. Great placement on the watermark too *hehe*

LOL thanks for reminding me Glenn- updated with the legit photo (cost all of $6 for the record)

I bought the Kindle guerilla e-book and I’m available if anyone needs any killer cover designs! (Lis – here I had to add Kris’s url in !)

LOL Kris! For those of you who are wondering Kris is a RL friend, ex-colleague, and she’s been doing real publishing since before Amazon!

I love your blunt answers to the nay-sayers! Also, I think $400 from your book is a success, especially knowing it’s consistent. Actually, I think it’s brilliant. And I’m liking your new cover design, too. I also love the way we can put our marketing experience into Kindle books. I really need to get a move on with this, as my niche website income has shrunk recently. Look forward to seeing more of your books out there soon!

Hey Lis,

Glad to see you’re doing well! I also sold all my websites/blogs and Google didn’t even kill most of them. Just a few. All my KWA sites are sold through Joanne’s yahoo group. Glad to have that monkey off my back.

I’ve also been writing for a living. I self-pubbed my book in February and became sort of a breakout novelist in my genre. I was number 1 for about 6 weeks in all of LGBT rankings. I made enough that I can consider writing my full time job right now. Which is pretty cool because that’s all I want to do. WRITE WRITE WRITE =D.

I’m really glad to see you’re doing this and especially how you’re doing this. The spammers may have though they’d get away with shoveling crap at the world, but Amazon has learned and continues to learn.

The best book sales are by word of mouth, good reviews or backlist sales. Those who make a quick buck by publishing crap will be remembered the next time someone goes to buy another book. And Amazon readers check reviews. OFTEN.

Anyway, I’ve been keeping up with you a while, esp since we were going through the same thing with our websites. Really happy you’re having such success! $400 is just the tip of the iceberg.

All the best,

Good on your Dani! Yeah I’ve heard impressive stories from writers who specialise in specific erotica. Well done.

Hi Lisie,

I thought you’d been quiet for a while.

2012 has been fairly brutal for me as well. My software site got hit – maybe as a legacy of being linked from too many crappy download sites. My Hubs got hit yet again, except this time HubPages are sick of my niche and I’ve had to move many of my Hubs elsewhere (strangely, even the successful ones with 20+ comments).

My niche sites have mostly held up well, all except for my first TKA style site. I don’t know what’s wrong with it but recovery from Penguin is near impossible. The thing is, this site still makes good money from Yahoo and Bing. My other sites are OK, but mostly because I really raised my game when Panda hit. Also I’ve done next to no link building for them (partly thanks to Fraser!)

I started a membership site this year. Wow, has that been a learning curve! 2156 members in its first three months though tell me I could have some success here.

Over 2000 members – that’s awesome success Brett! Are they making you any money?

Ah, that’s the big question isn’t it!

The site is just about breaking even, in that I cover a lot of my site’s AdWords spend. In time I should get more organic search visitors, so I could cut my ad budget.

The biggest benefit is for my existing niche sites, which I can now take to a new level of quality because I have endless stuff to write about, and real facts and figures that my membership site spews out.

It’s also nice to have a BRAND, which I could really do a lot more with in terms of writing branded books, branded guest posts etc. etc. etc.

And finally this site has taken my programming to a much higher level. I’m now a MySQL wizard which is another nice thing to have mastered.

I aim for 20-25k mainly, but my latest non-travel one came out at about 10k – it depends on how many words I need. But I did some research initially and 20-25k seems to be a sweet spot for NF ebooks


Thanks for the boost 🙂 I have not touched my sites since the first round of Panda. I realized that I did not want to invest large amounts of time and money into a business where Mr.G can wake up Monday morning and arbitrarily decide to send my earnings to the Netherworld.

Thanks for sharing your experience. Has anyone heard from Grizz lately?

[…] Four hundred bucks may not seem like much, but to Lis it is a great start because, as she says, the income has been consistent month by month over the year. She also learned that selling her quality content on Amazon protects her from needing to rely so much on Google as most bloggers do. “I can make money from my book on Amazon – without Google loving me,” Lis said.  […]

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