Welcome to the fourth update of the Authority Internet Business Traffic and Income Report.
This case study was started over year and a half ago, with a goal to show how to build an authority business for a brand new site called DevelopGoodHabits.com (or DGH for short).
In each post, I detail the techniques I use to create reliable, long-term Internet income from a single brand.
At first, I thought the site would make money from a variety of sources, but so far I’ve stuck with Kindle publishing because it’s working really well.
To illustrate what’s possible, I provide a quarterly breakdown of the traffic and income that the business has generated.
If you haven’t read the last three updates, here they are:
- Authority Traffic and Income Report #1 [Apr. through Sep. 2013]
- Authority Traffic and Income Report #2 [Oct. through Dec. 2013]
- Authority Traffic and Income Report #3 [Jan. through Mar. 2014]
Like you, I’m a big fan of the sites that detail the results of their business—warts and all. It’s my hope that you’ll take the lessons from each of these updates to grow your business and learn where to best focus your attention.
Just like in the last couple of updates, there have been a number of breakthroughs (and setbacks) in the last quarter. The income has skyrocketed, yet I made some mistakes that helped me learn a few valuable lessons about what it takes to build a lasting brand. So let’s start by talking about them…
4 Important Lessons During the Last Quarter
Sidebar: In the past three updates, I broke down the lessons into two sections: successes and failures. Now I’m switching things up where I talk about both in the same section.
Honestly, I think it’s better to focus on what was learned instead of being fixated on the highs and lows of a business. This is especially true for those painful mistakes that initially seem bad, but have provided the best lessons. As Syrio Forel once said, “every hurt is a lesson, and every lesson makes you better.”
With that in mind, here’s what happened with the DGH brand in the last quarter and more importantly, the lessons that can be applied to your business.
#1: Experienced a Dramatic Increase in Income
The income for the quarter didn’t start out well, but it quickly rebounded and then suddenly it skyrocketed. Basically it went from $14K (April) up to $61K (May) and then down to $50K (June). How did this happen? I feel it was due to a few factors.
To start, my last two books (Habit Stacking & To-Do List Makeover) sold really well. I think this is the result of practicing the “core fundamentals” over the last 18 months. Yes, a huge bulk of the income comes from only a couple of books, but they wouldn’t have been successful if I didn’t do a few key things when I began the case study (more on this shortly).
On a personal note, I achieved two “business bucket list” goals: (1.) Have a book break the top 100 overall chart on Amazon (it peaked at #73) (2.) Rank overall #1 as an author in the Business & Money Category. Sure, these are vanity metrics, but it’s still nice to see my face next to a number of high-profile authors that I really respect.
Another reason for the income increase? During the same timeframe, there was a 50 percent bump in sales on all my other books. As an example, during the three week span before the launch of Habit Stacking, I averaged 98 daily U.S. sales on the eight previously published books. Then three weeks after the launch, I averaged 153 daily U.S. sales on these same eight books. Really, the only “marketing” I did was to add another title into my catalog.
Now as I alluded to before, the sales increase was largely due to practicing the fundamentals that I’ve emphasized throughout this case study:
- Build an email list: Having a list full of proven buyers is unbelievably important. In fact, in a recent post I analyzed my promotional links and realized that most of those key initial sales came from the email list.
I’ve said this a bunch of times, but I’ll say it again. Besides writing, the best use of your time is to focus on building an email list. Seriously, if you’re not doing this activity, then you probably won’t see a lot of long-term success with Kindle publishing.
- Craft good hooks: Kindle book titles shouldn’t be a collection of keywords. They should have a compelling title that promises a solution to a very specific problem that potential reader’s experience.
- Write great books: I’ll be the first to admit that some people hate my books. That’s to be expected. But, I always set out to write the best possible book on that particular topic. This means: providing lots of information, giving actionable strategies and hiring two editors to go over the content. The more you can do to provide a great reading experience, the more long-term success you’ll experience.
- Get a quality book cover: People judge books by their cover, so trying to save a few bucks on the design (like hiring someone from Fiverr) is one of the worst business decisions you could make.
Think of your cover design as an investment. Pay a little more upfront and you’ll earn it back from the increased number of people who buy the book—simply because the design catches their eye.
- Publish consistently: Habit Stacking was my 40th book as a Kindle publisher. In other words, I had to write 39 previous books to finally hit a home run that exploded my sales numbers. The lesson here is consistency. Some books will bomb, others will take off. Do your best to provide a great reading experience, but once a book has completed, get started on the next one.
Now, “publish consistently” doesn’t mean churning out garbage and simply getting stuff into the marketplace as fast possible. I know this is an ironic statement coming from a guy who once wrote “How to Write an eBook in 21 Days.” My viewpoint has changed dramatically in the past year and I now understand the important of creating the best possible reading experience.
This leads to the second lesson…
#2: Received Negative Feedback on Habit Stacking
Like I said in the intro, highs and lows this month. While Habit Stacking took off in sales, it has also been shredded in the reviews. While you could make the argument that “haters are gonna hate,” I feel it’s important to be a realist. Why was the book slammed? Because it wasn’t my best effort. Honestly, sometimes in life you have to admit these things to yourself.
Overall, I feel the habit stacking daily practice still has merit. It’s something I do every day to complete a number tiny habits. But, the explanation of the idea could have been better.
Fortunately, the best part about Kindle publishing is you can always edit and update a book. So down the road, I’ll overhaul this book and create a more in-depth, second edition.
The lesson here is I (sorta) broke one of my “fundamentals” – write great books.
If you’re not growing, you’re dying. Reading those negative reviews was a painful lesson, but they also opened my eyes and made me realize the importance of providing better content. From this experience, I’ve decided to re-focus my energy on writing the best possible books.
This means doing a number of things:
- Spending more time in the outline phase to make sure the content is something readers will find valuable.
- Polling email subscribers to identify what obstacles they commonly experience.
- Slowing down my production schedule to around six weeks per book.
- Writing longer books, around 20,000 to 25,000 words apiece
- Getting feedback from beta-readers and making adjustments along the way.
The self-publishing space is getting more competitive. Readers are starting to expect quality books in the two to three dollar price range. So if you’re not upping your game, then a year from now you’ll be left behind wondering what happened to your once lucrative book business.
Stop wondering what will happen in the future for self-publishers. Instead, focus on how you can provide more value to individual readers.
#3: Had Problems with ACX.com
Ever make a mistake that cost you a few thousand dollars?
I have and it really sucks.
Without going too much into the gory details, I made a small mistake when submitting the audio version of Habit Stacking to ACX.com. Even though I noticed my blunder a few hours after the fact, it took six weeks for the audiobook to be published. Let me say that again—six weeks. When I compare audio sales versus Kindle sales, I’m sure this was at least a three thousand dollar mistake.
Okay, I know a reader or two might sarcastically think “Waaaah, Steve didn’t make more money this month. I feel soooo bad for him.”
The reason I’m discussing it here is because of two points:
First, it was incredibly stupid of me to not double-check the submission. It would have taken five minutes to do, but I made the mistake of assuming everything was fine.
Next, I’m annoyed at ACX. My experience with their customer service was a joke. I’d email them and they’d respond back saying the problem would be fixed in 7 to 10 business days. Then I’d follow up two weeks later and they’d send the same damn email—the problem will be fixed in another 7 to 10 business days.
Yes, I screwed up a small detail, but ACX’s lackadaisical attitude to correct it cost their company a few thousand dollars. Sorry ACX, it’s time to get your act together. Perhaps you should invest that extra 10 percent you’ve taken away from the content creators and use it to build a better support system.
All complaining aside, the big lesson here is to double-check your work. This goes for all book platforms: ACX, KDP and CreateSpace. We all make dumb mistakes. So take that extra time to make sure you’re ticking the “right boxes” before submitting a piece of content.
#4: Start Thinking Co-Operation Instead of Competition
The bulk of my income comes from Kindle publishing, so I know how easy it is to get into the “competition mindset.” You see a book is doing well, often surpassing yours on the charts, so you start to panic. When this happens, you might get jealous or even secretly hope that readers will leave a bunch of negative reviews. Perhaps you even leave one yourself. (Seriously, I feel there should be a special place in hell for Amazon authors who leave negative reviews on their competitor’s books.)
My point is this. One of the worst mistakes you can make is to view other authors as your competition. Instead, start looking for ways where you can help one another out.
As I mentioned before, it’s only going to get tougher to compete in Amazon’s marketplace. In addition to building your own brand, you should also look into forming strategic alliances with authors who share a similar audience.
This is a valuable lesson I learned in the last quarter. Instead of looking at other authors as my competition, I started to reach out and make individual connections. We’ve shared strategies, talked on Skype, given feedback and even promoted each other’s books.
My advice to you is to start making connections with the other authors that share a similar audience. Reach out to them with a simple, complimentary email. Figure out how you can support their work. Think of how you can best create a strategic alliance with the people who cover a similar topic. Do all these things and you’ll discover it’s not hard to get assistance on your latest books.
Alright, those are four takeaways I learned from the last quarter, so now let’s go over the specific numbers.
Traffic Results of Develop Good Habits
Keeping with the trend from the previous quarter, my efforts on the blogging front for Develop Good Habits has been pretty poor. Since I’ve primarily focused on publishing Kindle books, I didn’t have a lot of time to publish more than one or two articles per month.
That said, I did focus on two strategies to generate more traffic:
- Hired Steve Roy from Ending the Grind to write and submit guest posts to other personal development blogs
- Increased the quantity of SlideShare presentations.
While these two tactics increased the number of email subscribers (more on this later), they also lead to a sizeable increase in Web traffic.
Here are the stats with how they compare to the totals from the last T&I Report:
- 50,026 unique visitors compared 28,725 visitors (an increase of 21,301 visitors)
- 02:06 average visitor duration (a decrease of 0:08)
- 70.40 percent bounce rate, down from a 70.62 percent bounce rate.
When looking at these numbers, you’ll see that the average traffic has almost doubled. Not bad for a site that I basically ignored. Hopefully in the fall, I will have more time to sit down and create a better content generation strategy.
Now, let’s break down the traffic into specific sources (some of the following are repeat visitors, so that’s why the total is more than the 50,026 unique visitors):
- 46,216 Direct (including Kindle book readers and most email subscribers)
- 11,397 Search Engine
- 5,274 Reddit
- 2,494 StumbleUpon
- 2,102 Amazon (browsers, not book buyers)
- 1,148 Pinterest
- 1,048 SlideShare (people who don’t go directly to my squeeze page)
- 966 Facebook
The number that jumps out is the 11,397 from search engine traffic. This is almost triple from the previous T&I report. From the start, my “strategy” was to ignore the search engines and instead focus on providing good content with the hope that I’ll eventually get some Google Love. And this strategy is finally starting to pay off.
Now, a metric that’s more important (in my opinion) is the number of email subscribers. As I mentioned in the post about monetization, the Most Wanted Response (MWR) for DGH is to build an email list.
How many subscribers did I generate in this three-month span?
Here they are (broken down by their subscription path):
- Kindle books: 5,934 subscribers
- SlideShare: 1,483 subscribers
- Search Engines: 624 subscribers
- Amazon.com (author page): 206 subscribers
- Guest Posts: 127 subscribers
- Mobile apps: 124 subscribers
- Guest posts: 98 subscribers
- Other: 240 subscribers
- Total for 2nd Quarter 2014: 8,836 subscribers
- Previous total: 5,785 subscribers
- Grand total (up to July 1st): 14,621 subscribers
(Read this post to learn more about email marketing and how I’m building a list.)
As you can see, the Kindle books are still the #1 source of email subscribers. What excites me about this stat is these are paying readers who join my list. That means that as the list grows, I’ll have more and more subscribers who are also customers. So (in theory) each successive book launch will have a larger pool of potential buyers.
Another thing that I’m happy to see is the list is growing from other traffic sources like SlideShare and organic search engine traffic. This is an important stat because you never know if/when Amazon might change their policy about collecting email addresses. By focusing on alternative methods for list building, I hope to “future proof” my business in case Amazon makes a random change down the road.
Income Results of Develop Good Habits
As always, income is where the rubber meets the road. While it’s nice to talk about lessons, traffic and conversion, most people want to know one thing—how much money have you made?
My income comes from six places:
- Habit Kindle Books: 70 Healthy Habits, Wake Up Successful, Writing Habit Mastery, 10,000 Steps Blueprint, 23 Anti-Procrastination Habits, Resolutions That Stick!, Declutter Your Inbox, S.M.A.R.T. Goals Made Simple, Habit Stacking, To-Do List Makeover and Master Evernote.
- Amazon Associates (physical product and book recommendations on DGH)
- RevMob (an advertisement platform for the app Trigger Monitor)
- Audible.com (Audio book versions of my books published through the ACX.com program)
- CreateSpace.com (Print book versions of my Kindle books).
- BuckBooks (My friend Matt has started a “group book event” service where he pays a small commission for each email subscriber that joins his list)
In the last report, I mentioned that the business generated total revenue of $49,911.59 in the preceding three months. So here’s what happened in the second quarter of 2014:
- Amazon Kindle: $11,480.35
- Amazon Associates: $315.71
- RevMob $3.00
- Audible: $1728.81
- CreateSpace: $258.70
- BuckBooks: $0
- SUBTOTAL: $13,786.56
- Amazon Kindle: $56,639.35
- Amazon Associates: $1,684.41
- RevMob $2.89
- Audible: $1,865.36
- CreateSpace: $1531.77
- BuckBooks: $27.00
- SUBTOTAL: $61,750.78
- Amazon Kindle: $44,848.69
- Amazon Associates: $766.08
- RevMob $3.13
- Audible: $2,500.00 (estimated)
- CreateSpace: $2,202.13
- BuckBooks: $0.00
- SUBTOTAL: $50,320.13
Income 2nd Quarter 2014 (April through June): $125,857.37
Previous Grand Total: $75,758.40
GRAND TOTAL (for everything that DGH has earned so far): $201,615.77
Obviously, the financial numbers for May and June are significant. To be honest, it’s more than I ever thought was possible through Kindle publishing.
However, the mistake is to see the jump from April to May as some sort of “overnight success.” While it’s mostly due to a handful of books, the strategy behind this breakthrough has remained the same as it was on day #1—practice the fundamentals every day and you will achieve a breakthrough in your book business.
Another happy result is I’m starting to see income diversity from CreateSpace, Audible and Amazon Associates. Sure, I still depend way too much on the good graces of Amazon, but at least all my income doesn’t come solely from the Kindle platform. And hopefully this trend will continue as I explore other opportunities in the third and fourth quarters.
Total Expenditures of DGH
Every online business requires a financial investment. The trick is to know what’s worth buying and what can be skipped, so another point of this case study is to provide a financial breakdown of what I spend on DGH.
There are five categories of expenditures for Develop Good Habits:
- Content: Blog posts, guest posts, editing, Web articles, lead magnet creation, autoresponders, and a few e-book sections
- Graphics: Stock photography, logo design and e-book covers
- Audio and Print: Turning Kindle books into different formats. (here’s the service I use):
- Marketing and Development: Press releases, Web design tweaks, Fiverr gigs, paid advertising, hosting, domain registration and various experiments
- Virtual Assistant: A 75 percent rate of what I pay my VA to work on DGH-related projects. (The other 25 percent of her time is spent on other activities).
Here is the financial breakdown during the three-month span:
- Content: $2,984.20
- Graphics: $262.87
- Audio and Print Versions: $1,185.00
- Marketing and Development: $905.13
- Virtual Assistant: $3,341.00
Expenditures 2nd Quarter 2014 (April 1st through June 30th): $8,678.20
Previous Grand Total of Expenditures: $15,470.82
GRAND TOTAL OF EXPENDITURES: $24,149.02
Now, compare my expenditures to my overall gross income and you’ll get the net income for the Develop Good Habits brand:
Gross Income: $201,615.77 – Total Expenditures: $24,149.02 =
Net Income: +$177,466.75
The numbers so far have surpassed my wildest expectations. I feel it clearly shows that you can succeed with a small publishing business. The trick now, is to look for ways to sustain, even grow this income.
That’s why I like to closely examine the business every quarter and look for ways to improve on what’s working.
Here’s what I’d like to do for the 3rd quarter of 2014…
Future Strategies of Develop Good Habits
I’m doing a lot of traveling in this quarter (three weeks in the Pacific Northwest, one month in Italy and two weeks in Cape Cod). So I probably won’t do much in the way of growing the business. That said, I’d like to explore three opportunities.
#1: “Work On” Two More Books
As always, my top strategy is to continue publishing more Kindle books. (If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.) The challenge is to do it without taking up too much of my vacation time.
So for this quarter, I’m working on two books.
The first book involves a lot of research that my VA will mostly handle. All I have to do is make sure the content flows and provide a helpful solution. This is the perfect type of book that can be managed during my pockets of downtime.
The plan for the second book is the exact opposite. I’d like to put together a longer (25,000+ words) book that offers a detailed solution to a specific habit-related problem. The idea here is to use what I’ve learned from the negative reviews of Habit Stacking and create a book that will stand the test of time. Potentially, I’d like to explore the idea of trying to have this book hit the New York Time’s Best Seller List (Habit Stacking actually outsold many that are on this list for a month or so.)
Honestly, I don’t expect to complete this second book before October. So my income will probably go down since I won’t publish anything new for a few months. However, I feel this is the right move because I could potentially have a book that will do important things for the DGH brand. So basically it’s one step back, to take two steps forward.
#2: Promote Affiliate Offers
Way back when I started this case study, I imagined promoting a variety of affiliate marketing offers. The problem? Most of the products in the personal development space don’t gibe with the core message of the DGH brand. Instead of emphasizing daily habits, they focus on pseudo-science theories like the Law of Attraction. So up till this point, I haven’t promoted a single information product.
Fortunately, in the third quarter, there will be one, maybe two, habit-related products that I’m more than happy to promote.
For a long time, I was discouraged that I couldn’t find a quality offer to promote. Now I’m glad this happened because my recommendation will be more genuine. Since I’m not someone who constantly pitches products, subscribers will know that any recommendation has their best interests at heart.
#3. Translate Books into Different Languages
The foreign language market can be a huge growth opportunity for any Kindle publisher. While your books are sold in a variety of countries (like Germany, Brazil, Spain and France), most people prefer to read in their native tongue.
Unfortunately, the “foreign language translation” market is still in its infancy. There really isn’t a simple strategy where you can get a book translated and have it marketed to country-specific readers. Instead, you have to test a variety of strategies and see what works best for you.
For instance, I’m currently testing three things:
- BabelCube.com which provides a matching service between authors and translators. Native speakers will translate your book for free, and BabelCube will market the book through a number of online retailers. In exchange, you give exclusive rights for that book in that language and a percentage of the earnings. (In theory, this is a great idea, but I’m still not convinced that this site is the perfect solution.)
- Paying a translator directly and self-publishing the finished product. This gives you 100% creative control, but trying to promote multiple books in multiple languages can become a very time-consuming task. So for now, I’m testing one of the largest non-English eBook markets (German) and seeing how this works.
- Working directly with foreign publishing companies and negotiating a deal for a direct translation. This works similarly to a traditionally published deal—you get an advance and a contract for a percentage of the net earnings. Up to this point, I’ve negotiated contracts that range from $900 to $4000 for a single book in a single language, but this process involves a LOT of paperwork, so I haven’t seen a dime as of yet.
Each of these strategies has its own positives and negatives. Honestly, I’m still learning as I go along, so for now, I don’t have any solid “how-to” advice about how to translate your books into different languages.
My hunch is in the next year, we’ll see one company recognize the opportunity here and start to dominate the marketplace. Perhaps it’ll be BabelCube or even Amazon. Until then, my best piece of advice is to test things on your own and see what happens.
The Reality of “Kindle Gold Rush” Mindset
I’d like to close out the fourth installment of the Authority Business Traffic and Income report with a quick story.
As I mentioned before, I’m spending the summer traveling to a variety of places. A few days back I was in Seattle and visited the Klondike Gold Rush museum.
One of the exhibits that stuck out was a wheel that you could spin (kind of like on Wheel of Fortune), which demonstrated the likelihood that you would “strike it rich” during the Gold Rush. Most of the wheel was dominated by a result where you would fail or make barely enough money to support yourself. Only a small sliver of the wheel said you’d strike it rich—like 0.01%. In reality, the people who truly benefited from the Klondike Gold Rush were the people who outfitted and sold goods to the potential miners (i.e. “the shovel sellers.”)
Now, I’ve heard a lot of marketers compare Kindle publishing to a modern day Gold Rush. For a long time, I thought this comparison was complete nonsense. But now I see that it’s kind of true. Just like in 1897, there’s a lot of money to be made. The problem? It’s the “shovel sellers” who rake in the bulk of the cash—not the individual authors.
You might be wondering why I say this after talking about making good money on Amazon’s platform. My reason? Well, I’m starting to be recognized as an authority on Kindle publishing. As such, I feel it’s my responsibility to provide factual information on what actually works. Instead of trying to sell you on the dream that there is a river full of gold, I think it’s more helpful to describe the strategies that I know are useful.
These people (or parasites in my opinion) who sell you on the idea that Kindle riches can be found from a push-button piece of software don’t really care if you make money or not. They’d like you to think there are hidden pieces of knowledge that only a handful of authors know about. Or that you can be lazy and still be successful.
The truth is there are no secrets. Really, success with Kindle publishing comes down to practicing the fundamentals that I mentioned before (build an email list, write great books, have a quality hook, include an eye-catching cover and publish consistently.)
Remember this lesson the next time you read an email that hocks the latest “secret” to success on Amazon. In fact, ask the product creator to show an example of multiple books they’ve published with an up-to-date screenshot from their sales dashboard (this only takes one minute to do.) If they can’t provide legitimate proof that they are walking the walk and actually making money, then they’re nothing more than shovel sellers who are trying to sell you on a “river full of gold” pipe dream.
Okay, this post turned into a bit of a rant.
My hope is that you’ve learned that Kindle publishing can be a successful business model, but it requires hard work like everything else in life. You need to work at it on a daily basis and learn from each obstacle that comes along the way.
As always, the secret ingredient to this case study is your comments and questions. So I’d love to get your feedback.
Questions? Comments? Concerns?
Sound off in the common section below…Take Action. Get Results.
87 thoughts on “Authority Business “Traffic and Income” Report #4 [Apr. to Jun. 2014]”
Steve I follow your steps since May 2013. And I’m lagging behind, because your pace is so furious.
But I’m trying to mimic you the best as I can. I concur you conclusions: consistency pays off.
You recently have got a significant boost in sales. It happened to me twice alredy.
Each time my sales jumped about 370%. Each time it was connected with a new book.
Your “system” works.
The best of it? After a huge jump the sales just never go back to the previous level. It’s always a ‘level-up’.
As to Gold Rush. I’m worried that Amazon seems to support and encourage shovels sellers. I know authors who use every dirty trick in the inventory to boost their exposure and Amazon doesn’t touch them.
I publish under my real name. I can’t afford trying shoddy tactics and risking ban from Amazon. They use pen names and don’t really care. It’s beyond frustrating.
Amazon is my money-making partner, but with each passing month I have more and more hard feelengs toward them.
How many books do you have in your name Michal?
6 and one re-purposed public domain work.
Nice..I am on 4 and my sale numbers hover between 0 and 4…Not sure if this is average or below..
When I had 3 titles it was about 5 sales a day; having 4 books – a bit over 6 a day.
That’s pretty cool..Congrats..Need to look at what I am doing wrong.
Anand– I’m not sure if you’re “doing something wrong.” What I love about Kindle publishing is you immediately pivot if you don’t see something is working. Perhaps you could change a cover, write more about what people like or start building an email list. Really, the possibilities are endless.
It’s been great watching you build along side Michal and that you’re seeing the same thing whenever you have a new book. I do agree that Amazon does let people use less than savory tactics. But keep doing what you’re doing and let these other authors burn themselves. I know this is hard to swallow, but long-term-wise you’ll do better than they do.
Truly inspirational. I have listened to your podcast with James Altucher. You are always transparent and honest.
I will take away 1 thing from your post: “publish consistently”. You said, it’s your 40th book. If you would have given up after your 20th or 30th book, you could have never achieved such heights. That says it all.
I am building an email list (the clean one) for doing a pre-launch of my books. You also said about slideshares. I have been experimenting with them along with Youtube since a couple of days. Can you show us an example of your slideshare? Mimicing the ‘quality’ of your slideshares will definitely give us an edge over others.
The whole bunch of them:
Agree! If I stopped way back when, the income would be nowhere close to what it is now. 🙂
Re: Slideshare. Sure thing. Here’s where I post everything: http://www.slideshare.net/stevescottsite
Great post, Steve. Once again you’ve shown that it comes down to writing great books followed up by some more great books. You’ve become such an authority on habits with good reason. Thanks again for sharing your numbers with your readers. It’s instructive and inspirational. Keep up the good work.
Thanks a bunch Bryan! Like you (and the people who listen to your show), I appreciate when people provide factual information that’s backed up by real data. 🙂
Hi Steve – Thank you for the honest (and encouraging) report. I have started reading your books, particularly about writing since that is what I am focused on at the moment. I have found much good information.
I published my first kindle ebook at the end of June. It is a short, focused one based on my experience as a Geographic Bachelor: The Geo-Bachelor’s Survival Guide – How to Keep Your Family focus and Avoid Financial Disaster When You Live Here But Work There.
It hasn’t sold much, but I did it mainly for the exercise. Also, I’m just starting to figure out how to promote (trying to figure this blog thing out!). Your materials have helped tremendously.
At 61, I have done and experienced much over the years, so my goal is to write one ebook/month on what I have learned and how folks can change their lives, particularly later in life. I think your focus on habits is something that could help many people change their lives in their “senior” years.
Next book: Mid-life Metamorphosis: How To Fiind Your Calling When You’re Already Halfway Down The Road Of Life. Due out end of July.
Hey Cork — Great to hear you’re taking action, especially committing to publishing a book per month. I like the idea for the next book, should do pretty well!
Congrats, Steve! This is such a helpful overview and I really appreciate the time it takes to put together these breakdowns. Have a wonderful, well-deserved vacation.
Thanks Stephanie! Oh by the way, I saw that Pat Flynn recommended your book a few weeks back. A big congratulations on that!
My pleasure Stephanie!
Awesome numbers. I don’t even think that it’s possible, Amazon Kindle: $56,639.35
Thanks Artem! Never thought I’d see that amount myself. 🙂
Hi Steve, great post and congrats. I came across your site and publications from the James Altucher podcast. You must have had a number of other pieces of exposure that contributed to the jump from April to May. So two questions; can you list any other pieces of publicity that you may have had, and how they may have contributed to the increase. And then, maybe talk about how they came about. What happened…did you get an email from James Altucher asking you to be interviewed?
Hey Tim — Honestly, the increase in sales was mostly due to Amazon’s platform. That said, I’m sure the interview definitely helped provide exposure to both those books and this website.
Re: James A. I think we exchanged a FB comment or two and then one day he emailed me for an interview. I’ve read his stuff in the past, so I jumped at the opportunity. Actually, didn’t realize how big of an audience he had until after that. That’s probably a good thing because I would have been super nervous if I knew ahead of time.
“Besides writing, the best use of your time is to focus on building an email list. Seriously, if you’re not doing this activity, then you probably won’t see a lot of long-term success with Kindle publishing.”
It’s true with ANY Internet success!
This morning I was looking over my To Do list and pulled out the activities that must be done in order for my Newsletter to go out tomorrow. Those tasks I’ll do before all others. Why? Because every time my Newsletter goes out, there’s a big boost of visitors, along with sales.
I love Income Reports. They’re so encouraging! I’m thinking to include them in my new site (http://sweetsimplehome.com/) but wondered if I should wait until I build a little momentum. Probably not, huh? Just put it out there even in the “baby” stage.
Yup you’re right. An email list is pretty much important for any type of Internet business. It’s good to see that you put it ahead of others.
Re: Your new site. Would income reports make sense for that market? Or are you doing some sort of “monthly update” report?
They get a weekly Saturday morning email with the latest Home Tour (and other assorted goodies.)
But here’s what I noticed happening on my other niche/authority sites. People who frequent those sites are obviously interested in the topic. Many of them are also interested in the business side. It encourages pp for their own “passion” site.
In fact, one of the more popular pages on BlogBoldly is the Grand Blogger Showcase (http://blogboldly.com/category/grand-blogger-showcase/) because it shows how bloggers in different niches are making over $1000. per month.
This weekend I’m asking my Sweet Home list if they care and I’ll decide after I see what kind of response I get.
Congratulations on your success, you have obviously worked hard for it! I have only recently begun following you after I heard your interview on the James Altucher podcast. I had been thinking of writing an ebook but hadn’t taken any real action. You motivated me to get it done! I am now on my second ebook. Thank you for sharing your ups and downs with your readers, and enjoy your trip!
Great to hear that Sabra! Really, all I’m doing is writing books, seeing how the market responds and learning from each one. The trick, really, is to take action. It’s great to see you doing that!
Hi Steve. What’s your take on Kindle Unlimited? I see your latest book is offered through it.
Phil — I think books are automatically enrolled if you’re in KDP Select. From yesterday, my “borrows” quadrupled. Initially I think this might be a good thing, but it really depends on how much we earn per borrow. Unfortunately we won’t know that until the middle of next month when the royalties report comes out.
Very cool stuff Steve. You’re the man.
You’re exactly right about creating a hook for your titles instead of a “SEO-friendly” title that’s bland.
Thanks for the inspiration to publish more books.
Thanks Nate! I do like the idea of including a keyword, but it’s way better to have something that will attract people’s attention.
I’m really glad I decided to listen to Altucher’s podcast with you, which is how I found all your stuff. I never listen to podcasts, but that one drew me in for some reason and as a result, you’ve inspired me to no end during a time I really needed inspiration. Thanks man.
Thanks Chaki… happy to hear it was inspiring. I’d recommend listening to other episodes of his podcast, good “food for thought” in a lot of other episodes.
Inspiring Income Report Scott! I hope to cross the one day 😛
AWESOME post Steve! Thanks for taking the time to do that – GREAT stuff, and congrats on your well deserved success!!
Appreciate it Tim!
Great advice, Steve. I always appreciate your candid insights. I have been working on writing my first book. It’s taking me a lot longer than originally planned. Hope I’ll get more efficient going forward. You’re an inspiration for me. Keep it up with nice work. Congrats!
Your transparency is amazing, your results are inspiring.
Awesome income report Steve!
I have been debating whether or not to jump into Affiliate Marketing or to start writing Kindle books and I think you have now made my choice easy…
But I was just curious. How do you think that Amazon’s new Kindle Unlimited program will affect book sales? I mean will it hurt or help the income opportunities for Author’s?
Hey Travis — After doing both, I recommend Kindle books. That said, it’s a slower process. You have to spend a lot of time writing and marketing those first few books.
From yesterday, my “borrows” quadrupled. Initially I think this might be a good thing, but it really depends on how much we earn per borrow. Unfortunately we won’t know that until the middle of next month when the royalties report comes out. Honestly, it could either hurt or help authors…but I don’t want to make predictions until I see more data.
It would be so great to have your books in my native language – that’s Croatian. I would like to help you with that (to translate your books), but it’s not going to be easy – about payment.
But, please, you can send me an e-mail and we can talk more about this.
And thank you for link to BabelCube. I’ll try to apply there for some freelance jobs
Andrea — Feel free to email me: stevescottsite[at]gmail[dot]com. But it will take a few weeks to reply back, I’m on vacation and not really making any business decisions right now. 🙂
enjoy your vacation… we’ll talk more about this when you get back to work
Have a great day
Thanks Andrea. I’m officially “back,” so feel free to email me.
Sorry it took me so long, but I just sent you e-mail. let me know what you think
Thanks a million, Steve!
Enjoy Italy! Ciao!
Thanks Terry…will do!
Congratulations on your continuing success. I appreciate you sharing your story. I consider you one of the few honest sources of information in this field. I have one comment and one question:
Comment: Your success DOES seem to be from selling “shovels” (supplying the tools to mine the Kindle gold).
Question: Would you ever consider creating a book aimed at authors who only want to market ONE book? An author who is not looking to build a writing business per se, but has a particular message they want to get out? I recognize that there is probably more money in serial publishing; however, many times a book is just part of a business, but you still need it to succeed. I know this might be a little outside your particular specialty, but I think you have the range of experience to put together something of quality in this under-served market.
Thanks again and I look forward to following your adventures.
Hey Dave — I’d disagree to a certain extent. The income from this report is all from the habit books, not any where I talk about Kindle publishing. I do earn some money from those, but it’s like 5% of my income.
Agree that there is a need for someone to talk about marketing one book. But I’m not sure that I’m the person to do it. In a way, the strategy is very different from what I do on a regular basis, so I think that someone (like a Tim Ferriss) should write a book like that since they have proven what you can do with a single book.
Check out searchdoppler.com Its SEO search on steroids. I’m using it now!
Thanks Jim. Will check it out!
Another great post, Steve! As always I appreciate the detailed breakdown, but there were lots of interesting nuggets in here, like the ACX issue (I’ve been thinking about starting to use them for my children’s books), the “gold rush” analogy, and more. Thanks for producing these reports—I’m sure they’re a lot of work, but they’re incredibly valuable.
My pleasure Beau! The reports also help me because it gives some clarification on what’s happened in the last three months and how I can improve on the results. Plus, it’s important to have some accountability with the business.
I have been following you since you first started your journey in self publishing. It has been a very informative and gratifying ride. Your methodical way of approaching the challenge, your analytic skills and, most of all, your natural instincts to teach, set you head-and-shoulders above most of the new breed of self-publishers. I particularly appreciate your willingness to be transparent about the details. Congratulations on your success and I look forward to your continued progress… especially the language translation publishing opportunities.
Thanks for following along Thom! I try to be as forthright as possible with these lessons. This is the type of content that I enjoy reading, so I figure others probably resonate with it as well.
I am amazed at the jump in earnings for your Kindle books.
Looks like focusing on that market has paid off.
is that covered in your “how to kindle” ebook?
Hey Chuck — Honestly, a lot of this isn’t covered. I do talk about finding ebook topics and how to write fast. But the best “how-to” information I have about Kindle publishing is in this case study. I hope to create a course sometime soon, but that won’t be started until the fall.
Congrats on your results and thank-you so much for sharing! This is a hugely motivational post. Of all the people in this space I’ve come across (and there are lots of them), your approach is the one I most resonate with.
I know you mentioned in the past that coaching doesn’t fit in with your business model but let me tell you, if you offered Kindle coaching, I’d be the first person to sign-up for it. Any thoughts on coaching? 🙂
My question: You mentioned that you are leaning toward a 6-week start to finish book cycle. Would you be able to briefly break-down your main goal outcomes for each week? i.e. Week 1: Research, etc.
Hey Nick — Yeah, not really into the coaching thing. I might change my mind down the road, but I found it’s better to create content that can help people on a massive scale.
Re: Breakdown. Don’t really have a schedule (anymore) for a timeline. It generally works out where I’ll spend a few weeks thinking about a book. That’s not part of the “six weeks.” Then I’ll spend a week outlining, two weeks writing the first draft, three weeks polishing and a week for formatting/editing. This a VERY rough estimate. Ultimately a book is now published when it’s ready to be published. 🙂
Good strategy out there and of course awesome income report! It’s awesome to share your great tips regarding “how to do” things not other guys selling software to increase their sales on kindle (sharing your rant!). Just keep it up my friend! You’re helping us alot! = )
Thanks for the comment Jerome! (The rant felt good because a lot of it has been on my mind lately.)
this is the most honest article I have ever read about self publishing and I now know what I suspected about all the ‘kindle secrets’ that so called gurus spout (BS).
Thanks for such an informative post.
I believe it will inspire me to think more seriously about my self publishing.
My pleasure Paul! Like I said, I honestly feel it’s my “duty” to provide factual information and not make people think this is an easy business to run.
Wow, amazing, staggering, inspirational!
Just amazing how many sales you can make if you keep on doing the work – every day. Great work… And a Mediterranean jaunt well earned.
Thanks Anthony! Definitely enjoying my time out here so far.
I think Steve Scott is great. He is down to earth and does everything right.
A big thing for Steve is his email list. I don’t have a huge list, yet. Still working on that one. Despite that, I have had a lot of success on Kindle.
The key to success is to truly help people. Books are your way to share helpful ideas, methods, systems, etc. with others. A book is like a long letter that you can send to thousands of people. In it, you can give them helpful information. Information that will improve their lives in some way.
Everyone has a book inside them. This is very true. Everyone, I mean everyone, knows something that would help someone else. You may have solved a problem that many others face. Tell others what you did so they can solve their own problem. You may have developed a better way to do something. Share it with others.
I did this with one of my books, The Amazing Book Writing Secret. I had improved my method of producing quality books. I had tweaked and developed each part of the writing process and made everything easier and faster. I wrote this book to teach others my own process that works well for me. This book does well and I hope it has helped many authors.
This is why people read informational type books. They want to learn something that will improve their lives. This has always been the thing I have concentrated on, first and foremost. When you focus on helping others, everything else will fall into place.
I’m so glad that Steve shares his ideas with the world. Thank you Steve.
Hey Ian — Great points here! I like your emphasis on continuing to make improvements on the process. From my experience, that’s the best way to move your business forward.
Wicked post thank you. Shows the power of picking one thing and sticking to it religiously. Thanks to Nate Rivers for emailing his list with the link to your blog post, well worth the click.
Appreciate the comment Alan (sorry it took so long to get back, I’ve been on vacation.) Also, thanks for letting me know about Nate’s recommendation, I have to thank him as well.
Steve, you’re more of a “shovel giver” in my opinion because I’ve learned a huge amount from following this blog and being on your list.
Congratulations on the last few months. I love the transparency and honesty. I love the fact that you aren’t resting on your laurels.
You’re the best, Steve 🙂 Hope you have a great holiday and don’t spend your time answering emails and comments!
“Shovel giver”… I like that. Has a nice ring to it. As always, more than happy to help.
How many books in total do you have on Kindle?
I have 42 total, with 11 in the habits market, which sell a LOT more than the others. (Sorry it took so long to get back, I’ve been on vacation.)
Seriously, Steve, what you’re doing is simply amazing.
I mean, in the 31 days that contribute to the month of May you made the amount of money that the average American makes in 365 days.
That’s crazy awesome!
I’m now trying your ebook publishing method on a brand new line of books (it’ll be nice to start fresh, because I think I might have kind of botched up my reputation with my previous books…)
I’m also going to be experimenting with a ton of other marketing ideas that I had.
For example, I live about an hour away from a state capitol — where there are a TON of independent bookshops. I’m thinking of trying to pitch my Createspace paperback versions to these shops.
I think it would be cool to actually get my books onto shelves in REAL book stores!
Also, I’m thinking of creating a membership course to go along with my new series of books. I’ve heard that it’s really profitable to have a decent sized upsell for book customers — as long as you don’t push it TOO hard.
And lastly, I’ve also heard from numerous bestselling authors (James Roper, Tyler Wagner, Chandler Bolt, and one dude I don’t remember) that having a free audio version of your book as a lead magnet gets AMAZING email list conversion rates. (For kindle book traffic, mostly.)
I think James said he could get 90% of his Kindle customers to convert to email subscribers.
So, I’m also experimenting with audiobook production. I’ve outsourced it to an awesome guy on Elance who professionally does voice acting for novels. (And I got him to do the first chapter of my book for free — he’s the perfect fit for my tone/style.)
Are there any other tips you have that I could do to expand my business?
I’ll be pretty busy over the next couple of months with the experiments I’ve already got on my plate, but the more the merrier!
Thanks again Steve for such an awesome post!
Hey Mark — Good to see you pushing the envelope and trying new things. I really like the audio version, so might have to try it out… agree with James, Chandler, etc who say it works.
Re: Tips. Feel free to email me…I know we’ve talked before, so more than happy to provide specific advice for your situation.
Great report. Did you happen to see any boost in Kindle sales from the interview you did with James Altucher?
Christina — I definitely saw a bump around that time. Not sure if it was because of the few successful books OR the interview. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to quantify. My guess is the podcast DEFINITELY helped.
First, congrats as always on both the writing success and being willing to be honest and upfront.
Next, add me to the list of those interested in hearing about how the translation stuff goes.
Third, you mentioned a goal of NYT best seller. I know you do lots of research, so don’t know if you know yet, but hitting almost all of those kinds of lists really has become a situation of buying your way on in round about ways. Unlike in years past where people could read honest reviews by newspaper/magazine reviewers, respond to big publicity campaigns, it’s a very very different and untrusted process in the publishing world. Having that behind your name would still be fun no doubt, but it’s quite the process to attempt and not sure it would even fit with all of the good stuff you have going on now.
Lastly, next time we need pictures of Italy :-).
Hey Cheryl — Glad to hear you’re interested in the translation stuff. Still a “work in progress,” but hope to have lots to share in the months to come.
Re: NYT best seller. Yeah, I’ve changed my thinking somewhat. Honestly, with Kindle Unlimited and borrows in general, I’d lose a LOT of money if I published elsewhere with that book. (Because you need to publish on specific platforms to hit that list.) Honestly, I’d rather work on building up the Kindle stuff.
Compared to a year a two ago when you shared your income reports this is a really amazing breakthrough! Plenty of diversification now however your Kindle business seems to be the majority income earner now.
I had a question though. I noticed you penned most of your Kindle books under your own name. What would you do if you decide to go into another niche that is different from personal development and the other books you have written. Do you think you would still use your name or go under another name?
It seems easier to have it under one pen name for promotional purposes but just wondering how it would be viewed if you had penned books in different niches under the same pen name.
Hey Samuel — Odds are, I’d use my same name, but I’d start another author page. Really if I did a whole new line of books, they’d have to related to a personal passion. So it would make sense to fully embrace the brand, instead of trying to hide it.
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