How Much I Made Self-Publishing 10 Books Through Amazon KDP

From Medium:

Back in 2013, I was offered a publishing contract with a small book publisher. They asked me to write ‘Freelance Writing on Health, Food and Gardens’ – a 160 page book based on my success in specialist journalism.

The contract was royalties-only, but based on their expertise and enthusiasm, I had high hopes for the title. I expressed reservations because I thought the focus was too niche, but they didn’t agree. They pointed out that health is a massive growth area, food journalism is huge etc. Fair point. So I signed the contract.

After publication, reality kicked in. Sales were abysmal; marketing, non-existent. It got good reviews, but I only made £126 in royalties. It was a huge amount of work for £126.

. . . .

When I was ready to produce another book, I decided to self-publish and get a decent cut on each sale. ‘Freelance Writing: Aim Higher, Earn More,’ was born. It was a collection of my articles, most previously published in magazines, on how to succeed as a writer. I’d been writing for magazines for four years by this time, and was making a nice living from it.

I wrote new chapters to fill gaps. Over the next few years, I sold 140 copies and made about £250.

. . . .

Every time I had a slow period at work, I looked at my articles and considered whether a collection of themed articles would sell if I turned them into books. Still hoping for great things, I decided to publish more books.

Over the next six years I published:

  • The Little Book of Freelance Writing
  • Pagan Journeys
  • Healthy Inspired Living
  • Memories of the Second World War
  • A Grand Tour of Scotland
  • Writing Success
  • Candida Albicans
  • The Guinea Pigs’ Guide to Training Humans
  • Pestilence — an apocalyptic novel

With the exception of the last three, they were all collections of articles that I’d had published in magazines. Most of them were available in ebook and paperback formats on Amazon.

. . . .

To date, I’ve made just over £900 across all my titles. The writing books generated most of that income, although the most recent one flopped — I guess my readers have had enough!

. . . .

To be honest, I’m feeling Medium has more potential as a good earner if I publish regularly. Trying to sell books is very hard, unless you find a niche that sells itself.

. . . .

To keep my costs down on self-publishing, I created my own covers, formatted my own interiors and did all the practical work myself. I have MS Word and graphics software already, so the only investment required was my time.

Some people prefer to buy design and editorial services. But with modest incomes from books, you can see how it might be hard to make a profit if you’re paying out cash to cover designers, editors, and formatting companies.

Some people prefer to buy design and editorial services. But with modest incomes from books, you can see how it might be hard to make a profit if you’re paying out cash to cover designers, editors, and formatting companies.

. . . .

I’ve been disappointed by sales to date. The rewards seem to be diminishing. My writing books, which used to do well, aren’t selling now. The newest titles are selling in small numbers, but not enough to justify writing another novel, for example!

The novel was a huge amount of work and I’d hoped to sell 1000 copies, but I’ve yet to sell 100… despite running Amazon advertising campaigns.

. . . .

If you can get a publishing deal with an advance of £1000 or more, I’d grab it. I wrote another book in 2017, commissioned by a publisher, for which I received a £1500 advance. I’d consider that again.

Self-publishing however, is a bit hit and miss. Brilliant books get overlooked. Popular topics can do really well if they get noticed, despite flaws in the manuscripts.

. . . .

Cover design helps, but I’ve seen people use KDP standard templates and sell thousands! It depends to some extent on whether you have a ready audience.

. . . .

But for me, right now, I’m focused on growing my Medium profile, and obviously, the day job, writing for magazines. My next bestseller will have to wait!

Link to the rest at Medium

2 thoughts on “How Much I Made Self-Publishing 10 Books Through Amazon KDP”

  1. So, if I read this right, the author:

    1. Repurposed a bunch of standalone, already published non-fiction articles;
    2. On esoteric topics;
    3. With little effort to make them attractive to anyone;

    And then laments they didn’t sell like gangbusters. And, after throwing up the equivalent of free crap as ebooks, wonders why his novels didn’t sell too assuming he used the same name.


  2. Um so write a book on healthy living, pagans, how to write, how to raise guinea pigs and a book on world war two and your shocked you dont have a ready made audience. Someone who reads one of those books is so likely to look and purchase your others.

    When I read an author who writes a good niche world war two history book I can tell you ill preorder their next book on gold mining right away and a third book in healthy vegan living for midgets of Antarctica would seem a natural follow up.

    Maybe capitalize in astrophysics too. Rumor has it that NASA was actually able to launch the Webb telescope after just a few days delay and a couple dollars of cost overruns

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