Authority Business “Traffic and Income” Report #5 [Jul. to Sep. 2014]

Authority Traffic and Income ReportWelcome to the fifth update of the Authority Internet Business Traffic and Income Report.

We’re almost at the two year mark from the start of this case study. During this time, I took a brand new site ( or DGH for short) and built a successful self-publishing business around it.

To give you an idea of what’s actually working for my business, I break down the financials and traffic on a quarterly basis.

If you haven’t read the last four updates before, then I recommend you start here:

Like the last two updates, there were a number of breakthroughs (and setbacks) in the last quarter. My Kindle-specific income decreased for each of the three months, but I’ve also discovered a few new streams of revenue. So let’s dive in with the financial stuff.

4 Lessons from the Third Quarter

Lesson #1. Diminished Returns on the “Habit Stacking Effect”

The second quarter was a big one$125,857.37 in a three month span. A major reason for this income breakthrough was due to the success of the book Habit Stacking. But in the third quarter, the sales on this book declined (we’ll get to the “whys” in a bit.) The end result was my overall Kindle income decreased as well: $41,340.21 in July, $31,940.92 in August and $21,128.63 in September.

The reduced sales on Habit Stacking is only one piece of the puzzle. When it was doing well, I saw a 50% increase on the sales for my other books. So when the one book dropped, the others experienced the same trajectory.

Like I said in the last update, Habit Stacking has been shredded in the reviews. While I love the concept—I have to admit to myself that the quality was nowhere near what it could have been. (And that’s why creating an updated version is at the top of my “to-dos” for the fourth quarter.)

On the other hand, I’m starting to see income from other sources, so let’s talk about that next.

Lesson #2. Exploiting Foreign Rights

If I have an all-time favorite blog post about self-publishing, it’s Joanna Penn’s article titled “It’s Not Just One Book. Your Rights And How to Exploit Them.”

The post begins with a great hook: “Warning: this may blow your mind!” And honestly, after reading this post…

Mind. Completely. Blown. Away.

She starts with the obvious that most of us know about self-publishing. With any title, you want to create an eBook, print version and audiobook. Most authors know this information and (should) already do this.

After that, the math gets really interesting. Take each book and multiply it by all the possible languages. Now take this number and calculate it by all the books in your catalog. I’m no math wizard, but that seems like a heck of a lot of books blanketing the globe.

As an example, I currently have 14 titles in my habits catalog. Let’s say I only created 10 translations (or sold the rights to a foreign publisher) for each title. That’s 140 books—each potentially generating its own stream of income. Throw in a print version and audiobook version for each and this number goes up to 420 pieces of content for sale on the Interwebs.

Obviously, this is an oversimplification on my part. Some of our books won’t sell well and it’s next to impossible to get a translation for every  book in every language in the world. But, the key point here is to start thinking of the world market instead of a few markets on Amazon.

For the third quarter, I put the foreign rights theory into practice, doing everything in typical Steve Scott fashion—trying a bunch of things and making lots of mistakes.

Specifically, I’m testing four different strategies:

#1. 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.

I’ve had 14 total translations spanning four languages (Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian.) So far, the results have been less than impressive—a whopping $36.43 in the last month. Maybe in 10 months, I’ll earn back the money I invested for the cover images.

#2. 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. This is a veeeerrrrry long process where you sign something, wait a few weeks, sign something else and eventually…four months later, you get a wire transfer deposited into your back account.

At this point, I’ve signed about 10 contracts. So far, two have paid out to the tune of $3,495. Not bad for dealing with a little bit of paperwork.

#3. Working with an agent to negotiate on your behalf. Again, you negotiate a traditionally published deal and spend an obscene amount of time reviewing/signing contracts. The advantage of working with an agent is you typically get a better advance in exchange for a 10% commission.

As an example, I’m working with one agent (in a particular country) and we’ve signed a contract with two publishing companies which equates to $7,000. I haven’t seen this money as of yet, so I won’t count it my “income totals” until the wire transfer comes in. But this experience has taught me the value of working with a professional who understands the intricacies of foreign rights publishing.

#4. Partnering with a hybrid translator/marketer. Another thing I learned from Joanna Penn is knowing when to partner with someone who can provide both translation and some basic marketing in their home country. The idea here is to find someone who wants “skin in the game” and is willing to work for free upfront in exchange for a 50/50 split of the royalties.

For instance, I’m currently teaming up with a marketer/translator to build up my catalog of habit-related books in the German market. So far (for the fourth quarter), we’ve published one book on, with two more to be released in late November/early December.


Foreign rights exploitation is an incredibly confusing strategy that’s filled with landmines and potential scams. I know I’ve already made a bunch of mistakes and I’ll probably make a bunch more in the months to come. So the point of this lesson is to show what I’m doing – not to provide step-by-step advice on how to handle the rights exploitation of your books.

I’ll definitely write more about this strategy in the next month. So hang tight and I’ll detail a plan for how to get started with foreign rights.

Lesson #3. Supplement Income with Affiliate Marketing

Way back, when I was researching ideas for this case study, I followed a seven-step process that led to picking “habits” as a niche. The mistake I made was to gloss over step #3—locate affiliate products. Since then, I’ve had a hard time finding affiliate products that naturally align with the habits market. (Most personal development courses talk about nebulous topics like happiness or The Law of Attraction. Both aren’t really my thing.)

Fortunately, two of the people I’ve connected with in the personal development space have created habit related products (Sticky Habits by Barrie Davenport & Mini Habit Mastery by Stephen Guise.) Now I have a few quality offers to send my email list whenever there is a lull between book promotions. As an example, one email promo of Sticky Habits in July generated $1,616.41 in affiliate commissions.

In my opinion, there are two keys to making affiliate marketing work as a Kindle publisher:

  1. Make sure each product directly relates to your book audience. The reason I waited over 18 months to promote an affiliate offer is because I couldn’t find something that related to readers interested in habit development.
  1. Remember you’re a self-publisher, not an affiliate marketer. I consider each email promotion to be a “big ask” from my subscribers. Even when the product is great, you don’t want to go overboard with too many promotions. Your job is to build an audience around books, not to pitch every offer that comes your way.

As an example, I promoted Sticky Habits in July and it took until October to promote a different offer (i.e. Tiny Habits). I’ll admit that I might be a little paranoid, but I feel it’s important to focus on selling books, not pitching too many affiliate products.

Affiliate marketing is a great way to supplement your income. However, don’t let the idea of generating “quick cash” get in the way of writing and promoting your next book.

#4. Kindle Unlimited Might Not be a Magic Pill

For most of the third quarter I was on a long vacation in the Pacific Northwest, Italy and Cape Cod. In fact, I was in the middle of the Dolomites mountain range when I received a bunch of frantic emails asking my opinion on Kindle Unlimited.

My first thought… “Kindle what?”

It wasn’t until a few weeks later (back in the U.S.) when I was able to come up with a few thoughts about Kindle, which I wrote about here. Initially I was positive about this program, but now I have some doubts.

Here’s what I’ve seen so far…

In the first lesson of this post, I talked about what I call the “Habit Stacking Effect.” In May and June, seven of my previously published books experienced a 50% increase in sales. Then, Kindle Unlimited launched on July 19th.

The other day, I calculated the earnings for all seven books during the three month span (February through April) before Habit Stacking and then I did the same calculation in the three months after the “Habit Stacking Effect” (July through September). Finally, I compared the two numbers:

  • 70 Healthy Habits: 34% earnings decrease
  • Wake Up Successful: 132% earnings increase
  • Writing Habit Mastery: 13% earnings decrease
  • 10,000 Steps Blueprint: 191% earnings increase
  • 23 Anti-Procrastination Habits: 47% earnings decrease
  • Declutter Your Inbox: 28% earnings decrease
  • S.M.A.R.T. Goals Made Simple: 59.5% earnings decrease

I’ll admit this rudimentary calculation would give fits to any statistician. Anyone could make the argument that the decrease in book sales could be caused by other factors like: More time in the marketplace, negative reviews or increased competition. But I feel like the launch of Kindle Unlimited definitely negatively affects these numbers.

That said, I’m not ready abandon ship on KDP Select or Kindle Unlimited. Each month, I’m carefully tracking my book numbers. Perhaps I’ll pull a few books out of Amazon and test them on different platforms. However, I’m not going to make any rash decisions until I have all the facts.

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

Okay… Develop Good Habits is not going to win any blogging awards in the near feature. As before, I’m giving minimal attention to the site. For now, the traffic numbers are eerily similar to the last T&I Report:

  • 50,467 unique visitors compared 50,026 visitors (an increase of 441 visitors)
  • 02:02 average visitor duration (a decrease of 0:04)
  • 70.31 percent bounce rate, down from a 70.40 percent bounce rate.

When looking at these numbers, you’ll see that the traffic is basically the same. Even the visitor duration and bounce rate stayed static. I’d say this is “win” since I published a grand total of six articles in the last quarter—two of which were direct promotions of my Kindle books. In theory, if I was more serious about targeting keywords and publishing more frequently, this number could go up.

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 50,467 unique visitors):

  • 38,256 Direct (including Kindle book readers and most email subscribers)
  • 24,707 Search Engine
  • 1,897 visits from major blogs (,,,,,
  • 1,109 Amazon (browsers, not book buyers)
  • 975 Pinterest
  • 640 Twitter
  • 548 Facebook
  • 402 SlideShare (people who don’t go directly to my squeeze page)

The two numbers that stand out are the 24,707 search engine visitors (more than double from the 11,397 visitors in the second quarter) and the 1,896 visits from a couple of major blogs. (I even got traffic from a wishy-washy review of my book from The Guardian.) These numbers show that the site is getting organic backlinks and is starting to perform well in the search engines. Mayhaps I should start focusing on getting more traffic from Google, Yahoo and Bing. For now, I’ll publish an article every 10 days (or so) to see if this increases the amount of search visits.

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: 5,150 subscribers
  • SlideShare: 1915 subscribers
  • Search Engines: 701 subscribers
  • Kindle books (last page advertisement): 360 subscribers
  • (author page): 112 subscribers
  • Guest Posts: 45 subscribers
  • Twitter: 19 subscribers
  • Other: 270 subscribers
  • Total for 3rd Quarter: 8,572 subscribers
  • Previous total: 14,621 subscribers
  • Grand total (up to Oct 1st): 23,193 subscribers

Now, these are the gross numbers since I launched DGH. Recently, I’ve deleted the people who have unsubscribed and haven’t opened a message in the last six months, so a more accurate account is closer to 19,000 subscribers.

(Read this post to learn more about email marketing and how I’m building a list.)

As always, the Kindle books are still the #1 source of email subscribers with SlideShare and search engine traffic doing their part. Moving forward, I’d like to find another source of subscribers, but that probably won’t happen until 2015.

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 now comes from a bunch of places:

  1. Habit Kindle Books70 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, Master Evernote, 115 Productivity Apps and The Daily Entrepreneur.
  2. Amazon Associates: Physical product and book recommendations on DGH
  3. RevMob: An advertisement platform for the app Trigger Monitor.
  4. Audiobook versions of my books published through the program.
  5. Print book versions of my Kindle books.
  6. 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
  7. Foreign rights advances: Traditionally publishers who offer an upfront payment for the rights to publish one of my books in their native language.
  8. Sticky Habits: One of the two affiliate products I occasionally promote.
  9. “Income X”: I signed a non-disclosure agreement, specifically saying I can’t talk about my financial numbers with this company.  So (for now), I have to give it a secret code name.
  10. BabelCube: A website where you can work with translators and publish in different languages on different platforms.

In the last report, I mentioned that the business generated total revenue of $125,857.37 in the preceding three months. So here’s what happened in the third quarter of 2014:

July 2014

  • Amazon Kindle: $41,340.21
  • Amazon Associates: $986.37
  • RevMob $0.00
  • Audible: $5,117.73
  • CreateSpace: $1,839.05
  • BuckBooks: $0
  • SUBTOTAL: $49,286.36

August 2014

  • Amazon Kindle: $31,940.92
  • Amazon Associates: $389.44
  • RevMob $0.00
  • Audible: $3.685.88
  • CreateSpace: $1,939.09
  • BuckBooks: $343.00
  • Sticky Habits: $1,616.41
  • SUBTOTAL: $39,914.74

September 2014

  • Amazon Kindle: $21,128.63
  • Amazon Associates: $541.47
  • RevMob $0.00
  • Audible: $3,321.83
  • CreateSpace: $1,887.38
  • BuckBooks: $29.00
  • Foreign Rights Advances: $3,495.00
  • “Income X”: $122.54
  • Babel Cube: $36.43
  • SUBTOTAL: $30,562.28

Income 3rd Quarter 2014 (July through September): $119,763.38

Previous Grand Total: $201,615.77

GRAND TOTAL (for everything that DGH has earned so far): $321,379.15

As mentioned before, Kindle income is down. I kind of expected that to happen because I basically relaxed for the entire third quarter and didn’t work much on my business. I feel my earnings will go back up when I execute a few strategies during the fourth quarter.

What I’m excited about is the $9,000+ September revenue beyond the Kindle books. While some of this is still related to Amazon, it makes me feel a little more protected from any sudden policy change to the KDP program…like … {ahem}… Kindle Unlimited. You never know what will happen in the future, so it’s nice to have some income diversity.

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:

  1. Content: Blog posts, guest posts, editing, Web articles, lead magnet creation, autoresponders, and a few e-book sections
  2. Graphics: Stock photography, logo design and e-book covers
  3. Audio and Print: Turning Kindle books into different formats. (Here’s the service I use for all my print and audio needs):
  4. Marketing and Development: Press releases, Web design tweaks, Fiverr gigs, paid advertising, hosting, domain registration and various experiments
  5. 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:

  1. Content: $2,320.79
  2. Graphics: $364.00
  3. Audio and Print Versions: $976
  4. Marketing and Development: $895.33
  5. Virtual Assistant: $2,730.00

Expenditures 3rd Quarter 2014 (July 1st through September 30th): $7,286.12

Previous 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: $321,379.15 – Total Expenditures: $31,435.14 =

Net Income: +$289,944.01

I’ll admit … the numbers are beyond what I thought possible with self-publishing. But, it’s disconcerting to see Kindle royalties go from $41K to $31K to $21K. Even the lowest amount is good, but any sort of downward trend isn’t fun to watch. That’s why I’m going to be very strategic for the fourth quarter and focus on three activities:

Future Strategies of Develop Good Habits

There are three strategies I’m currently implementing for the fourth quarter of 2014:

#1: Re-Launch Habit Stacking

I often talk about the 80/20 Rule. So if I 80/20 my business, I see that much of my income comes from a handful books. One of them in particular (Habit Stacking) has done really well. It only makes sense to go back, fix the mistakes I made with the content and publish a completely revised, updated version.

In the last quarter, I talked about working hard on a book that solved a specific habit-related book. Well, now I’ve decided to indefinitely postpone this project and focus on turning the second edition of Habit Stacking into something great. After a LOT of feedback from readers, I now know where I went wrong with this book and have a clear path of what to improve. Ideally, I’d like to create a pillar book that will help my entire catalog.

Sidenote: One of the things I love about self-publishing is you get instant feedback and an opportunity to fix your mistakes. I’ll admit the negative reviews on Habit Stacking definitely sting. But it’s not like people came to my house and punched me in the face.

What’s been the difference maker in my business is I’m not afraid to get out there and try different strategies. Sometimes things go well. Other times, I make spectacular mistakes where I get reviews like: “It’s like Buzzfeed in a printed book.”  

The key is to embrace these failures.  Often the best lessons come, not from the successful strategies, but from the epic mistakes you’ve made.

#2: Collaborate with Rebecca Livermore

Technically, this update talks about July through September, so I haven’t talked about my recent collaboration efforts with Rebecca Livermore of Professional Content Creation. Recently we published a book titled The Daily Entrepreneur. And now we plan on releasing two more in the next few months.

Collaboration is a scary proposition. Not only does the person have to complement your business, you also have to relinquish control over aspects of your workflow. That’s why you need to build trust and have open communication before, during, and after a book is published.

I chose to work with Rebecca because she’s strong where I’m weak. Whereas I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-entrepreneur, she’s freelancer who has 20 years of professional experience. When combining forces, I feel like we can maintain a consistent publishing schedule, while providing a wealth of content inside each book.

Since The Daily Entrepreneur was published in the last few weeks, we don’t have any “official numbers” of what it’s like to collaborate with another author. But I’ll definitely talk more about this in a future update and in my forthcoming podcast.

#3. Pursue More Foreign Rights Exploitation

I feel between 2015 and 2016 we’ll see a surge in e-reading in non-English countries—specifically Brazil, Germany, France and India. Ideally, I’d like my books to be at the forefront of this trend.

Like other aspects of my business, I’m going to implement a very sophisticated strategy—throw a bunch of *stuff* against a wall and see what sticks.

So far, I love the ideas of working with a translator/marketer and approaching overseas publishing companies. Both strategies have paid small dividends. In the fourth quarter, I’d like expand upon and systematize these processes. I think they’ll be big, but I won’t know how big until I take action.

Why Mistakes are Good (or Why You Should Be Your Own Guru)

The third quarter was an interesting experience because I did a large number of podcast interviews. Being the super-introverted person that I am, it took some time to get used to the idea that I had any real “secrets” to Kindle publishing. My results have basically come from trying stuff, making mistakes, seeing what works and focusing on the winners.

What surprised me most is I went from “Steve Scott—moderately successful Kindle publisher” to “Steve Scott—$60,000 per month Kindle Guru.”

Besides the obvious fact that I only made this amount for ONE month, it was interesting to see how a specific dollar amount changes people’s perception of your expertise. So far, I’ve received mostly wonderful, heartfelt emails, but I’ve also received a few vitriolic, hate-filled responses from some folks.

Usually my response to both is the same—I like to try a bunch of stuff and make LOTS of mistakes. And once in a while, one of these strategies pays out.

The point here?

Often when someone is touted as a “guru” of a specific topic, it doesn’t mean they’re smarter or a harder worker than you. All they did is try things, identify what works and focus on getting more of these positive results. You know…our old friend The 80/20 Rule.

Yes, it’s important to model successful entrepreneurs. But often it’s better to “be your own guru” and find out what works for YOU.

To close things out, I urge you to do the following:

  • Keep track of the individual sales for each book on a monthly basis. Look for patterns of when sales increase and decrease.
  • Track each of the strategies you use to promote your books
  • Talk to other self-publishers and find out what works for them. (Try here and here to connect with authors and exchange information.)
  • Build an email list. Email them frequently and ask them about the problems they regularly experience.
  • Examine your books and content. Ask a few questions, like: “What gets the most sales and/or social media shares?,” “How can I do to replicate this effort?,” and “Is there another way I can serve this audience?”
  • Focus on the strategies that work, disregard the rest.
  • Re-invest money back into your business. Keep scaling things up.

You’ll find that when you focus on a single market of books, you’ll develop an intuitive understanding of what this audience needs. Write the best possible book that you can, see what people resonate with and try your best to replicate the process. And don’t be afraid to make as many mistakes as possible.

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.

111 thoughts on “Authority Business “Traffic and Income” Report #5 [Jul. to Sep. 2014]”

  1. Great learnings from the last quarter Steve! I really appreciate your attitude to try new things and learn from them irrespective of the consequences. All the best for the 2nd edition of Habit Stacking. I m now reading the Daily Entrepreneur.

  2. Hi Steve,

    To be honest, I was waiting for this day. I love reading your income reports. They are so inspiring.. is new to me.. Will be exploring it in the coming months.

    If you are planning to sell foreign rights in India, there are a couple of literary agencies. To what I have heard, they are more preferable than contacting a traditional publisher directly. The advance paycheck is usually anywhere between $5k-15k (one of my author friend who has published with a traditional publisher told me). I will be trying them out for one of my book. This can be just another new window for some extra revenue. English books sell more in India than any other language.

    In India, there are five major agencies, namely Red Ink Literary Agency, Jacaranda Literary Agency, Siyahi Literary agency, ShernaKhambatta Literary Agency, and Writer’s Side Literary Agency. You can send them an email and inquire.

    Good luck with your future endeavors. Always loved your transparency. Looking forward to reading your next article.


    • Hey Harsh — Thanks for the comment. Honestly, I’d recommend taking it slow with Perhaps only put one book up and see if you like the experience. Honestly, giving way five year’s worth of exclusivity is not worth a free upfront translation. I think they’re are better deals to be made on your own.

      Appreciate the heads up on the Indian agencies. You’re right — it’s better to go with literary agencies. I’m adding your suggestions to the list and will be contacting them in the next week.

      Hope you’re doing well!

    • Thanks for these agencies Harsh, I was just saying that I wanted to try a couple of my books in India because they did so well on Kindle and here you are, providing this info – thanks!

  3. Hi Steve, Thanks as ever for sharing and also linking to my post – that realization also changed my life!
    I’d also emphasize the importance of country markets in terms of rights exploitation – as what has happened in the US in the last few years, and the UK/Australia/Canada in the last 2 years – has not even started yet in most of the world.
    I love the fact that I have sold books in 58 countries – and some of those markets may be huge in a few years. Americans tend to be US centric but you can still sell English books all over the world! We live in exciting times!

    • Hey Joanna — Thanks for the clarification. When reading the article, I wasn’t too sure about the difference between languages and signing contracts for specific countries, so I decided to simplify it a bit.

      Definitely agree that we tend to be U.S. centric. I catch myself doing that sometimes, but I feel (like you) that some of these markets are going to explode in the next year.

      Anyway, thanks for stopping by. Congrats on the success of your new bundle! Looks like it’s selling really well.

  4. Wow! The numbers just keep getting more and more impressive Steve, congratulations. My own venture has just started, if I can get to 1/10th of what you have achieved I will be happy.

    Great to see you are also branching out, the foreign sales could help your figures go insane.

    Keep up the great work.

    • Thanks Jamie! (And appreciate the share on Google+) I’m hoping the foreign stuff will do well, but it’s definitely been a learning experience on my end. Will keep everyone posted.

  5. Steve, your reports are so effin mundane. No gimmicks. No fireworks. Write, publish, repeat. I love them.
    When launched, the authors from 1st Pat Book group quickly determined that they used Fiverr freelancers to made their “translator-author” video from their frontpage. Any falsehood smells like trouble to me.
    I use #4 method to translate my books. My partners may not be the greatest translators or the greatest marketers, but it is sooooooo easy to cooperate with them. I’ve put about 3 hours of my work (at max) to publish my 1st book in Germany. The whole publishing process from the first email to the book on Amazon took less than 4 weeks.
    I see you got a negative review on Anti-Procrastination Habits on The same happened with Master Your Time. My sister who has lived in Germany since 90’s proofread it. I think that there is some translator competition trolling.

    • Hey Michal — Thanks, glad you like them. 🙂

      You know, I must have missed that thread from Pat’s group. Now I really wished I saw it before working with them. But I guess I’ll chalk this up as another learning experience.

      Sorry to hear you also got hit with a negative review in Germany. My translator is a native speaker and we also had an editor go over the content. So he’s completely baffled by why someone would say it’s not translated properly. I feel like it might one of those “things” with the German market. I’m still excited about publishing there, so will keep trying and see what happens.

      Did you do anything special to promote their? I just used the KDP Select free days.

      • Hey Steve

        The thing about Germany as a territory – I think they are likely to be pedantic. I have a colleague in a mastermind group who is English, but married a German guy about thirty years ago, has four german kids, and when she was looking for work a while back I told her she should try getting into the translation market (English to German).

        She was absolutely shocked at the suggestion. She said: My German wouldn’t be good enough.

        Wow.. I was staggered.

        Cool report btw. And interesting observations.

        • Paul — Think you might be right about that. I’m starting to learn the German market is really particular. I’m working with a native speaker and we’re using an editor, so I’ll try my best. But I guess no matter what, it’s all a learning experience.

  6. Great stuff Steve…expanding into foreign markets? Sounds like big business, when is the IPO?? LOL:)

    In all seriousness I think one of the best lessons you have taught us is that you need to be willing to make mistakes but also be able to dust yourself off and keep going when things don’t go well.

    Thank you for sharing the ups and downs, it makes us mere mortals feel like we can achieve some of the same success.
    Best always,

    • IPO? Not sure that would ever happen.

      Definitely happy to share the downs, as well as the ups. Honestly, I feel we all learn more from the times when things go wrong. Gives us the fire to keep trying new stuff.

      Talk soon!

  7. Dayum! These income reports just keep getting better and better! My enthusiasm for pursuing foreign sales died pretty quickly, but I know there’s a way to crack into it somehow. I hope you find it and tell all here Steve!

    Thanks again for all that you do. You have know idea how fun these are to read!

    • Yeah, I remember you talking about the French title that sold well on BC. Is that still true? Honestly, I’m not wild over the exclusivity or the lack of control over the books. I think it’s more than fair to compensate the translator, but don’t like the idea of being locked down like that. Glad you enjoy reading these reports. Thinking about expanding on them a bit when I get around to starting the podcast.

      • It wasn’t through Babelcube. It was actually a French-speaking friend of mine, and I published it straight through my own KDP account as KDP Select. It did well at first, then got shredded in reviews (2.8!) and died down to a simmer. It still gets sales daily, but nothing spectacular. Published something in Spanish. El Floparooski. I think it’s sold about $20 in two months.

        • Yeah, sounds similar to my experience with one book in Germany. Two reviews — one five star and a one-star. I have a few tricks up my sleeve…but I’d definitely say it’s a challenge to get good traction in these markets.

  8. Hey Steve,

    I really love these reports. They give me a lot of inspiration!

    I’m finishing up my 5th book right now, and plan on starting book #6 next week.

    I’ll admit that at first the idea of writing 20,000 (or more) words was intimidating to me, but after setting aside all the excuses and actually just doing it, the whole process just became almost easy.

    Anyway, thanks for being so transparent with your business. I’m nowhere near where you’re at with Kindle revenue, but I’ll keep at it until I start to get some traction 🙂


    • Happy to be as transparent as possible.

      I’ll admit — writing 20K+ words can seem daunting. I still struggle with some books, but the habit of doing it daily makes it a little bit easier. Let me know if I can help in any way.

  9. That’s awesome Steve.

    As always, your Income Report is inspiring and motivating.

    Keep up the good work!

    Personally, I’d love to see a blog post (or maybe podcast episode, in the future) about what your game plan is if things go south with KDP. I think KDP has so many authors wrapped around their little finger, and if they made major negative change, A LOT of authors would be really, really hurting.

    I personally don’t have much of a fall-back plan. I’m confident that I could get back on my feet again and figure things out after a couple of months, but things would definitely be rough for a little while.

    Thanks again for being so transparent and sharing all of these awesome and inspiring stats. In my opinion the coolest number is the 20,000ish email subscribers. That’s amazing!

    There’s so much potential there…



    • Honestly, I think the 20,000ish email subscribers is a bigger metric than the income. Having a list like this can help pivot if (or when) Amazon makes a sudden rule change.

      I’d definitely like to have an article (or podcast episode) about that topic. If you’d like, call it into the show and I’ll make sure to record an episode about it.

    • Hey Tara — I’ve been procrastinating like crazy on this…too many other projects keep popping up. I’m giving myself two weeks to get the thing launch. So hopefully the Monday after Thanksgiving.

  10. I had to laugh: I went from “Steve Scott—moderately successful Kindle publisher” to “Steve Scott—$60,000 per month Kindle Guru.”

    Awesome income report and so great to see how your mind keeps ticking over. You’ve been the crash test dummy on so many things and I’m looking forward to hear more about your foray into foreign language publishing.

    Thanks again for all this info and the inspiring and transparent income results. I’m going to read it all again now!

    • Definitely feel like a crash test dummy on some of this stuff. I feel there’s something there about foreign rights, just don’t know how to make it a reliable process as of yet. Will keep posting whenever I learn something new.

  11. Hi Steve,

    Love your income reports — they’ve inspired me to write more and better, and also explore other revenue streams from my books. I’ve gotten most of my titles available in all three formats, and one book is currently in Spanish, and it’s soon to be translated into Finnish and Lithuanian. It’s fun to see all of those royalties come in every month. I’ve been using Smashwords, iBooks, Nook and Kobo for quite some time so be sure to reach out if you’d like my two cents on those options.

    Someday you could add an additional income stream: an hour with Steve to the highest bidder. 🙂

    Thanks and best wishes for your continued success!
    Honoree Corder

    • Hey Honoree — It’s good to see you’ve also tried the foreign rights strategy. Did you get an upfront advance for these books or are you working with a translator?

      “An hour with Steve.” That might be worth doing as a way to promote the podcast…have to think that one over. 🙂

      • Ooh, I love that idea!

        For my foreign books, each time I had someone contact me and say they wanted the books {my single mom ones specifically} in their language because they wanted to help single moms there so we did an agreement where they did the translation and we split profits after expenses. Let me know if you’d like my agreement {done by my crack attorney} or to discuss. I haven’t actually done any outbound looking, although I “hear” Germany is the next translation I want to do …

        • Honoree — It sounds like we’re basically doing the same thing. If you’re willing, I’d love to take a look at the agreement. I cobbled my own together, but I’m not sure it’s in proper “legalize.”

  12. Steve,
    I really appreciate this information, I have 9 books on Kindle and honestly, I am not making any money with them, so I need to figure out what I am doing wrong. Hopefully I can take some of this information and turn it into earnings. Thanks


  13. Hi Steve,
    As a “babe in the woods” and the sun is going down new kindle Createspace author i totlly appreciate your expereinces & insights so i can make new mistakes & learn from them.

  14. Great stuff Steve. One thing to note about Kindle Unlimited… you only get paid when the person reads 10% of the book.

    One “dirty secret” of the publishing world is that many people never even make it this far!

    They buy the book, get a sense that they accomplished something, make a plan to “read it later”, and then never do.

    Previously as an author you didn’t really care if the person read it (from a financial point of view), because you got paid either way. Now you not only need the person to “buy” it, but also READ it. Huge difference from the old system.

    So I think one strategy is to make sure the readers get through that first 10%, so you get PAID.

    Keep up the good work!


    • You might be right. Though, I’m hesitant about doing anything with my books to “make sure” they go through 10%. In my opinion, if most readers aren’t getting past the first 1/10th of a book, then I’d have a bigger issue than getting a Kindle Unlimited payout.

      Overall, I think the program has possibilities. I’m just a little anxious about the downward trend I’ve seen since the launch of the program.

      • Right – I am not implying doing anything sleazy – say for example you have a book of 101 tips. 10 of these tips are REALLY great. Put these 10 tips right at the front instead of spreading them around, so the person is more likely to read through these. Maybe lose the “boring” introduction if you have one. Just make sure that first 10% of the book is a real “page turner”. (of course ideally the whole book is like this, but with any book, some parts tend to be better than others).

        • Good point! I do like the idea of trying to hook the reader in as much as possible. I’ve just seen a LOT of junk lately that’s designed to get people to go past the 10% mark. Honestly though, by the time someone has gone through the TOC, front matter and other stuff, they’re practically at the 10% mark anyway. I think your idea of front-loading with solid content might be a great plan for getting people past that milestone.

  15. Hi, Steve!

    You cannot realize how important your work is for me. Since I do not have time for any research, I rely on your advice and it always works! I wrote 2 tiny books, and working on the third one during nights, and if there is a person who sucks in marketing and speed writing – it’s me. Still, they sell.

    Anyway, your method works – it’s bulletproof. You inspired me so much, that I’d like to help you back and offer to translate one of your books into Russian free of charge as a gratitude. I’m a native speaker and graduated from a school with major in Russian and Russian literature. Also, I am a lawyer.

    I believe that books on kindle publishing and writing will be a huge hit in Russian speaking world (which is 260mln). In summer, kindle store had only 800+ books in Russian on amazon where half of them were translation of James Patterson, Steven King, etc.

    Let me know if you are interested.

    Thank you again,

    Yuliya D.

    • Great to hear you’re making progress Yuliya. You don’t have to translate a book free of charge. Honestly, Russia is one of the countries, I’m more working on getting advances instead of doing straight-up translations. Is there a way to sell it on Amazon? Like where would most Russians shop for eBooks?

      • I live in New York, not in Russia. Russians in USA use, the biggest Russian retailer is As I understand the procedure to publish in Russian on kdp is pretty much the same and it gets popular to buy there as well.

        • Thanks for the information. I’d definitely like to pursue something in Russian…I’ve sold rights for one book already, but would like to do more. Would you mind emailing me directly and we can talk about a few possibilities: stevescottsite[at]gmail[dot]com.

  16. Great stuff and thanks for sharing all of this info! I am also looking to translate my books as I have always felt that I’m leaving money on the table by just leaving them in English.

    This might be a stupid question, (I’m known for that, but Il stick my neck out anyway 🙂 ) : If you have a book translated into another language, is this listed as a totally separate product on the Amazon market place? Will it have a different “ASIN”. Some of my books are selling on all Amazon market places and they are published and listed in English

    I was also surprised to see that you have a way bigger income from Audible than you do from createspace.

    Thanks again for these insights! Take it easy

    • Jim — Yeah, the income from Audible is surprising. But I guess it makes sense… If I’m a book reader, it would be easier (and cheaper) to download the book. But if I’m one of those people who doesn’t have time to read, then audiobooks would be my choice. Honestly I feel Audible/Kindle deal with two totally different markets.

      Yes, the book translated into a different language is considered to be a brand new book. So it gets its own listing page and ASIN.

  17. Hi Steve,

    This is a really good post. Thanks.
    I purchased 33 success habit with Rebecca.
    I just love that book and keep reading it until I build some of those habits.
    Keep up the good work!


    Jun from Korea

  18. Great shares, Steve!

    Really appreciate it.

    Could you clarify something, please, with your subscriber numbers?

    1. Kindle books: 5,150 subscribers
    2. Kindle books (last page advertisement): 360 subscribers

    I think I get what the 2nd line is – you advertised your lead magnet on the last page of your books.

    but what’s the 1st item? Is this advertising your lead magnet on:
    – the first page of your books (only)?
    – throughout your books?

    Thanks for clarifying, and here’s to your BEST COUPLE OF MONTHS YET to close out the year!

    • The first item is a simple advertisement at the start of the book (with an eCover image). Here’s the text I use:

      “Your Free Gift

      As a way of saying thanks for your purchase, I’m offering a free report that’s exclusive to my book and blog readers.

      Lifelong habit development isn’t easy for most people. The trick is to identify what you’d like to fix and create a step-by-step strategy to make that change. The key is to know where to start.

      In 77 Good Habits to Live a Better Life, you’ll discover a variety of routines that can help you in many different areas of your life. You will learn how to make lasting changes to your work, success, learning, health and sleep habits.

      This lengthy PDF (over 12,000 words) reviews each habit and provides a simple action plan. You can download this free report by going here.


  19. Thanks for your transparency, Steve! Very interesting to read as always.

    From my dabblings in the app market, I’m seeing some parallels between it and the ebook market with the internationalization aspect of things.

    I’m attracted to the “partner” business model… a 50/50 split, and the international partner takes care of all the stuff on their end. Basically, like an affiliate business model but better… because they’re doing the translation.

    Interested to see how it goes… i’ll be watching intently.

    Thanks again, Mike

    • I agree… there is some parallels to the app market. The trick is to make sure the content is good enough for the end reader. Still unsure about how to do that.

      I’d say a translator is like an affiliate partner. The author acts as an adviser and lends financial/idea support. But the person in the country does some of the heavy lifting. Hopefully I’ll crack this code in the next quarter or so.

      • A way to ensure the quality stays up could be to hire an editor for that language that would serve as a third-party quality control step. The translator does the grunt work and the editor (hopefully without too much extra expense) would make sure the quality is where it needs to be. Over a couple of revision cycles you should have a pretty good product for a given market without having to learn Swahili. Maybe they could even throw in a rewrite your author page and marketing copy, if those countries have their own versions of Amazon or whatever.

        On another note, I could definitely see your niche of habits being not just evergreen, but universally adaptable, as opposed to a niche with a lot of pop culture references or slang…those would be more difficult (or impossible!) to translate properly.

        • Definitely agree with you on this Mike. As authors, I think we should treat a foreign translation like one of our books — good editing, cover design, etc. So I’m definitely going to hire an editor for each book that I release.

          Re: Universally adaptable niche. You know, you’re right. I didn’t think of this early on, but habits is definitely a market that pretty much anyone can appreciate. The hard part now is in future books, to make sure that I’m writing content that has more of a universal appeal.

      • Hi Steve!

        There is at least an emerging market. Unfortunately a pretty hefty tax is added on top of the e-books (24% for e-books while it’s 10% for regular books).

        I think that Amazon is a far better option when it comes to e-book marketing.


        • Hi Steve!

          One question though … when you translate a book to a foreign language, do you also build a e-mail list in that very language?


          • Thanks for the clarification. I heard that happens with a lot of eBooks in some countries. Perhaps this will change down the road.

            Re: Email list. Ideally, I’d like to create an email list for EACH major language. Really, it’s not that hard. Just have the translator create a new lead magnet, re-write a few autoresponder messages and do a translation of every broadcast. In theory, it can all be systematized.

  20. Love it Steve!

    It’s awesome how transparent you are with your figures and what you are doing. I really appreciate you.

    Excited to see how your 4th quarter fares as you go forth with those renewed strategies. Especially the foreign rights exploitations…I’ve been approached by some people for that and it all seemed so scammy.

    I was tempted to take an advance for polish publishing rights on one book because I couldn’t see how it could hurt – but I just didn’t feel like I knew enough about what I was signing away. So I’m grateful for everything you are sharing on the topic…sounds like a cool opportunity.

    This is the company that was trying to get polish rights – have you heard of them?

    They appeared to be publishing some well-known names in the personal development space – like Joe Vitale and others – they said they would publish me on their brand in this site:

    Thanks again for sharing so openly – I have learned a lot from you and really appreciate it.

    • Aaron — Actually I was approached by Even signed a contract for two books, but just sent them in a few weeks back, so I don’t have a definitive answer if they are worth the time or not. I’d say it’s worth trying with one book. But read over the contract VERY carefully to see what you’ve giving up. (Obviously, all of this is NOT legal advice…it’s basically what I’ve been experimenting with for the last few months.)

  21. Thanks for sharing this great content Steve. I was thinking of getting my books translated also, which would you put as the best one for a beginner to start with. Babelcube or selling the rights? I’d love to read your thoughts.

  22. Hi Steve,
    very useful report an glad that you share your experience with Kindle Unlimited. I am eager to see where it will lead to. I must agree with you: don’t send too much affiliate links – I hate when I receive ones even from you. But I trust you and I forgive you.
    If you try on other platforms or outside of KDP Select that would be a very interesting post too.

  23. Steve

    On a more detailed second read through…the thing that strikes me as most interesting isn’t the fact that the kindle income declined from 41 to 31 to 21 – but it’s that fact that each month as well as the Kindle income you’re making pretty close to 10K in OTHER income.

    I lurk in a lot of the fiction forums and there are writers who would give away their children just for that revenue! And I really like the idea of the ‘Pillar Book’ concept. Would you launch that as a new book, or a Version 2.0 of the existing book?

    You should be able to counter those negative reviews in your sales copy by explaining the move from Version 1.0 to 2.0 and saying I had this feedback….and this is what I’ve done to turn it round. That way potential buyers won’t be deterred by the old negative feedback.

    Keep rocking it man.


    • Yeah, I’m actually happy to see close to 10K in the other revenue streams. Makes the business a little more stable.

      Good question. This would be a totally new book, with a different ASIN, different listing page. Honestly, the book has been so demolished that it’s worth starting from scratch and making sure the book stands out.

  24. Hi Steve.

    Well, my case is somewhat odd – something you might call “swimming against the current”.

    I write instructional music ebooks in Spanish. I know the English market is bigger at this point, but I feel like there’s a lot of good material in English, but much less for Spanish speakers on the topics I write about. So it’s like a personal mission for me, although I don’t earn a lot with my ebooks.

    But I hope somehow that changes in the near future, and I can see better retribution for my efforts. I have to admit sometimes I feel kind of lost on what should I do about it. I feel that the Spanish market has a somewhat different mindset than the English market, and it moves slower. A lot of what works on the English market desn’t seem to work on the Spanish market. Maybe there’s something I’m not doing right? Anyway, I know that there will be a breaking point and eventually everything will start to take off.

    Now I’m considering translating some of my ebooks to English, and see how it goes. And maybe I should consider translating to other languages (German perhaps?). So thanks for this post, Steve. The details you share here are very useful to me at this point. I’ll also be cheking out Joanna Penn’s article.

    Best of luck!

    • Angel– Unfortunately, from what I’m learning, each market has their own particular tastes and marketing strategies. What works in the U.S. doesn’t always do well in other places.

      Honestly what you’re doing is a good idea. The hard part, is the Spanish eBook markets don’t seem as vibrant as they do here.

      If I could advice, I’d say identify the best-selling your book in catalog and try it in English. If it sells, then reinvest the money back into publishing the same in German.

  25. Wow…I don’t think there is another author who is brave and honest enough to give us a peek behind his curtain. Your warts-n-all approach gives the rest of us hope that we can crack this market.

    Good for you. I hope that some of your lessons make it easier for the rest of us…

    • Thanks Patricia! I try to give an honest breakdown about self-publishing. Think this stuff is important — especially when it has become a very competitive market.

  26. Thanks so much for sharing all of this again Steve – it helps immensely!

    I’m looking into the foreign book space myself and I think the key here is that you just have to keep diversifying your income because Amazon is definitely going to make a few changes in the coming years, the writing is on the wall with KU…

    Can’t wait to hear how the foreign stuff goes – I’m keen to try getting a couple of my books published in India because they did crazily well on Kindle!

    And re the horrible emails – sometimes people have nothing better to do than pick on others and it’s generally because their own lives are somewhat lacking – I’m sure you’re very thick skinned, but just thought I’d share that with you too 🙂


    • Hey Lise! (Sorry for the delay…don’t get to my blog too often.) Definitely give the foreign market a try. I’m anxious to hear how your experiences go with India.

      And by the way, congrats on the success of your latest book. I see it’s doing extremely well!

  27. Hey Steve,

    I always look forward to these reports because these are the proof how ebiz and self-publishing is doable! And further, it is an on-going inspiration to “catch up” and follow this model. I’m struggling to write my first book while in the midst of my day job. Your book “21 Days…” is what I am holding on to. Though I do not see the number of days being a real rule to follow- by just outlining the process is sufficient to kill the overwhelming feeling of writing a book.

    All the best 😉

    • Hey Rob — I do hear you on that. At the time, I said “21 Days” because that’s the pace that I was keeping. But overall, it’s about keeping to a schedule and fitting it into what you do every day…whether it’s 21 days or 3 months. Whatever works for you.

      • I get you Steve. I have no disagreements. I’m actually grateful for the book because by having a specific time and set of to-dos, it makes it easier for overwhelmed writers like me. The number of days is really up to the writer.

  28. Hey Steve,

    I thought I would share this with you but you can probably diversify your Kindle book catalog even further by creating a Udemy course. I’m trying this for a niche that I’m in. I noticed that some of your Kindle books can be converted to courses on Udemy. If anything it can provide another stream of income and new subscribers. I’ll let you know of my results after launching them.

    Also it’s eye opening the possibilities of converting your Kindle book into different languages. Even translating the audio! These are exciting times!

    Congratulations on your success and thanks for opening up your business to us all!

    • Completely agree Samuel! My problem is time. While I’d love to create a whole series of courses, right now, it’s not doable with all the things I’m trying to put together. Hopefully that will change in the near future.

  29. Wow! Steve, how do you fit it all in. Not only is this one of the most detailed traffic/tracking blogs I have read, you also respond to your numerous blog comments. Thank you for modelling exceedingly excellent business skills☺ Great to see your break down and tips and strategies you use to grow your business. Thank you

  30. Seriously impressed Steve. I’m fascinated by how you anecdote your entire journey. That’s so difficult to balance, between execution and storytelling.

    Anyways, always enjoy the read.


    • Glad to provide Ian. It’s a little easy because I only publish these reports every quarter…don’t know how well I’d do if I had to report back every month like some popular bloggers.

  31. Awesome Steve!

    You are transparent and I appreciate that! Congrats on your stats!

    Btw, did you mention anywhere how many books in total you have in your catalog?

  32. Thanks a lot Steve for filling me up with enthusiasm, as i am on my new venture and was not at all sure that these things works, but your efforts have pumped me up. Keep sharing and keep growing.

    All the Best and keep growing 🙂

  33. Hi,
    I just downloaded the 111affiliate strategies ebook by you.
    reading it. you are an affiliate marketing GENIUS.
    I am addicted to your ebooks in amazon.

    • Thanks Vinodh. I don’t really do a lot of affiliate marketing anymore…but it’s good to see that there’s still some value in the old pieces of content.

  34. Well, my mind was completely blown by this post.

    It’s great to see you doing so well Scott and many thanks for sharing all your income streams and Kindle information. Kindle is something that i have been looking into but I have no book written as yet.

    Hopefully 2015 will change that. 🙂

    Thanks a million for the post!

  35. Hey Steve,

    Awesome post, great results!

    Quick question, I want to jump in and self publish some children’s story books aimed at 3-6 year olds but the only hesitation I have is that the niche is dominated by 0.99c books.

    I know you are solely in non-fiction but what are your thoughts on competing in a niche where most books are priced at 0.99 cents and aiming for sales at $2.99 price range? (Eg. If all others are selling for low prices do I necessarily need to follow?)

    • Carl — I’d say you could start with a $0.99 book, even a perma-free one. Then have longer, more quality children’s books. Perhaps start a series where there is an ongoing theme. By making the entry point free/cheap, you can attract attention. Then have a very strong call to action in the back to get people to check out the rest of the series. Hope this helps!

      • Hey Steve,

        Appreciate the response!

        My initial thinking was to create a series so it’s good to see that confirmation. I’ll just jump into it and see what works …

        Call to action at the end of the book to join a mailing list (eg. A bribe to download activity sheets related to the book) or promote the rest of the series?


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