Leaving Work Behind

My New Kindle Publishing Strategy

Written by Tom Ewer on March 21, 2013. 19 Comments

Kindle eBook reader.When I released my freelance writing guide back in October it was always my intention to publish a Kindle version. If you’ve been following my Kindle publishing strategy to date then you will know that I pivoted sharply away from my original plans to publish an abridged version of the book on Amazon for $10 and decided instead to create a series of $3 mini eBooks that each tackled a specific topic relating to freelance writing.

Well, with three published Kindle books under my belt I thought the time was right to let you know about my progress to date and what I have planned for the future. One thing is for sure — my experiences to date have definitely changed my perspective on how to make the most of the Kindle publishing platform.

My Progress So Far

I had no real expectations going into “phase two” of my Kindle publishing strategy — my plan was to publish all of the books then take stock. I originally planned to release nine books although that increased to ten with the release of my guest posting guide.

If you’ve been keeping up to date with my income reports then you will know that I have made just over $200 so far from my Kindle eBooks — not anything to write home about but not disastrous either. Last week I made a total of $37.34 on Amazon.com (i.e. excluding international sites such as Amazon.co.uk) which equates to just over $160 per month. I’m not complaining but I hope and expect for those numbers to rise.

There’s just one issue with my planned approach — my heart isn’t in it. Publishing ten books is a huge commitment and as I have dug into my work I have found that my phase two plan wasn’t perhaps as practical as I first thought. With that in mind I have decided to pivot and adjust my strategy once more.

My New Strategy

At this point I plan to publish just two more Kindle books. I do this for two reasons:

  1. As I just mentioned, my heart’s not really in Kindle publishing. I need to take the core of what I have and demonstrate its potential before pouring more effort into the process.
  2. In reality some of the mini eBooks I had planned simply aren’t justified in terms of the quantity of content I am practically able to provide.

This is the thing: I have discovered that success in Kindle publishing is all about the market. In the same way that you have to pick a decent keyword to succeed in niche site publishing, you have to pick a decent market in order to succeed in Kindle. And while my loyal readership of freelance writing enthusiasts have helped to get my first few books off the ground they are not likely to start selling by the shedload any time soon. As such I don’t want to pour huge amounts of time into an endeavour that may not offer a suitable return.

My new strategy can be split up into three stages. Once I have completed those stages I will step back, analyse the results and decide how to proceed.

Stage 1: Finish Publishing

The first thing I want to do is finish the last two books in my series on freelance writing and publish them on Amazon. The two titles are:

  1. Freelance Blogging Success: How to Find Clients that Will Pay You $100+ Per Article
  2. Freelance Writing: How to Set and Negotiate Rates Confidently

These will complement the already published books on writing great blog posts and creating a blog for freelance writing success. Although there is more that you should know about becoming a successful freelance writer, these are the “sexy” topics that are likely to be most successful.

As per usual, each newly published book will be made available free of charge to those who subscribe to my Kindle email list. You can subscribe by entering your email address in the box below and hitting “Subscribe”:

Stage 2: Cross Promote

This second step forms the crux of what I believe to be a winning approach in Kindle publish — cross promotion.

By this point I will have five books published — all in the same niche of blogging/freelance writing. A person who reads one is likely to be interested in at least one of the other books and $3 is a low enough price point to make a purchasing decision relatively easy. The key therefore is in making the reader aware that other books of a similar nature are available. In this way one purchase may turn into two or three.

I will cross promote my books in two ways:

  1. By including an “Other Books by Tom Ewer” section at the beginning of each book
  2. By mentioning other books when it makes sense to do so within the content of each book

Stage 3: Further Promotion and Requests for Reviews

Although choosing the right market is vitally important, publishing in the most lucrative market will be of little use if you don’t get a generous selection of positive reviews.

Therefore, once all five books have been published I will selectively make each book available free of charge to my Kindle email list on a regular basis, so that people who missed out the first time around can grab a free copy. I know that some of you are thoughtful enough to leave a positive review by way of thanks which is greatly appreciated (and vital to the potential success of my books).

My Thoughts on the Future of Kindle Publishing

At this stage I am extremely doubtful that my existing line of books (including the two that are to be published) will generate more than a few hundred bucks per month at best. While I am certainly not going to turn my nose up at that it would not represent the kind of return that I was hoping for.

I am aware of people who are doing very well indeed out of Kindle publishing by targeting lucrative markets but it is not something that I necessarily want to get involved with. There are some aspects of Kindle publishing that remind me all too readily of niche site publishing — the somewhat arbitrary nature of it, the sole reliance on one source of traffic, and so on. The going may be good now but I am unsure of Kindle publishing’s long term viability.

Having said that I am making no commitment to my future involvement (or otherwise) in Kindle publishing at this stage. I want to get my five books out into the open, make sure that they are well-optimized for cross promotion and observe the results of my efforts. Only then will I be better informed to make a decision as to how I should proceed.

What are your thoughts on Kindle publishing? Have you experienced success or failure? I’d love to know your thoughts — fire away in the comments section!

Photo Credit: johncatral

My Kindle Failure and Future Plans for Success

Written by Tom Ewer on January 3, 2013. 78 Comments

KindleYou know I love talking about failure here on Leaving Work Behind. No constant success stories with all of the reality removed — you get all of the gritty details here. With that in mind, today I want to talk about the failure to date that has been my Kindle publishing efforts.

You may have spotted the blog post I published just over two weeks ago in which I announced the release of Successful Freelance Writing Online on Amazon. It is an abridged version of the information product that I sell here on the blog.

I’ll be honest — I was never totally comfortable with my publishing plans, and that has perhaps contributed in no small part to the failing of my first Amazon book. Read on to learn the full story along with what I plan to do next.

My Original Plan

Ever since I first thought about publishing a guide to freelance writing I was unsure as to which platform to go with — my blog (i.e. an information product) or Amazon (i.e. Kindle). In the end, I decided that I would try to get the best of both worlds.

I started off by launching the guide as an information product here on the blog complete with a bunch of extras (like an exclusive interview with Sophie Lizard, a booklet of 45 blogs that will pay you to write for them, and checklists for building your blog and writing blog posts). It sold (and currently sells) for $47.

Around six weeks later, after the dust had cleared, I published a Kindle version of the guide on Amazon:

"Successful Freelance Writing Online" on Amazon

The book was largely intact but all of the extras were missing, and it retailed for around $10. I was never fully comfortable with the considerable gap in price — the fact is that I value the guide far more than its Amazon price tag. Unfortunately, to price it any higher was completely impractical due to two factors:

  1. The average price of Kindle books on Amazon
  2. Amazon’s commission structure for books priced above $10

At the time I was concerned that the compromise I made in terms of pricing would lead to my failure, but I forged ahead anyway.

The Outcome

There’s one simple way to demonstrate how my guide has fared on Amazon to date:

Kindle Book Sales

Just six sales (including one refund) in a couple of weeks and a total of $34.20 in royalties. It doesn’t quite compare with the $2,500+ I made in the first 14 days of my information product’s release.

Not only that but there haven’t been any new purchases in the last few days — nor do I really expect there to be any more. Why? Because of this review:

Kindle Book Review

I don’t even know where to start with how misleading this review is. You can go check out the free sample on Amazon yourself and make your own judgement. The most important thing to note is that there is absolutely no bait-and-switch — I don’t even mention the information product in the Kindle book! It is a standalone product, available at a drastically reduced price when compared to the information product.

What really bugged me about the review is that Alexandra Romanov (who must be a LWB reader based upon what she said) clearly hadn’t even purchased the book. How can you review something you haven’t read? Fair enough if she had purchased it, thought it was crap, got a refund and left a negative review, but that’s clearly not what happened. Alexandra — if you’re reading, I’d love for you to get in touch with me and explain your position.

The reason why this review is so popular is because I made the huge mistake of posting a reply to it, which resulted in a veritable shitstorm of negative responses. Who’s going to buy a book with just three reviews, of which the most popular is scathing?

Lessons Learned

If you’re a regular LWB reader you’ll know that I often extoll the virtues of learning from your failures and this episode is certainly no exception. I’ve learned a great deal from this eBook’s failure and hope that I can utilize my newfound experience very soon. But before we get onto that, let’s explore the key lessons I learned.

1. Launch Hard

The launch of my Kindle book was rather half-hearted. Sure — I published a blog post and sent a note to my list, but there was no real pre-launch — the book just appeared one day. I didn’t follow up the launch with social media coverage and didn’t ask any of the people in my network to help me out.

With such a laissez-faire attitude, how could I expect for the book to perform well? In reality, I needed to hustle to give this book the best chance of success, but instead I did almost nothing. I relied far too much on the assumption that Amazon would somehow do all the hard work for me.

2. Ignore Negative Reviews

I never should have responded to that negative review. Doing so prompted a bunch of other people to respond and “Like” accordingly, which pushed it to the top of the review pile.

It would seem that a proportion of Amazon’s users are only too happy to voice their opinion in a manner that one might not consider user-friendly. Although I have come across a fair number of “trolls” in my time, I have gone largely without them throughout my blogging career to date. I’ve had plenty of disagreements, but they’ve largely been conducted in a respectful and constructive manner. Being painted as a calculating bait-and-switch marketer in such a public manner came as quite a shock, and as such I felt compelled to respond. I should have just let it go.

3. Amazon Is Extremely Price Sensitive

I have read time and time again (particularly in Cathy Presland’s excellent course on Kindle publishing) that Kindle books tend to sell well in the $2-$5 range (or thereabouts). The huge price sensitivity of Kindle customers (when compared to information product purchasers) is now something that I have now learned first hand with comments such as these:

Kindle Book Comments

Before publishing the eBook I acknowledged the price issue but felt that I couldn’t compromise the value of my book by selling it for less than $10. It just didn’t sit well with me when compared to the $47 price point for the full guide here on the blog. And that leads me onto the final (and most important lesson) that I learned…

4. Never Compromise

Ultimately, I recognise that it was folly for me to ever publish the book in this form because I felt it compromised my value proposition.

I have worked very hard to build a really fantastic bunch of supporters here at LWB and I know that many of you have purchased my guide and found it highly useful — the fact that after 135 purchases I have not received a single negative review or had to give a single refund (apart from one person who loved the book but still wanted a refund) should be enough proof to me that I have something of value.

I should have recognised that fact and stuck to my pricing guns. I will now.

So What Next?

I’m not done with Amazon — not by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I have come up with a solution that I think will result in eBooks that sell and a better information product for people who want the full package. It’s not a compromise, and mostly important, it feels right to me.

I am going to be taking down Successful Freelance Writing Online from Amazon soon and will be replacing it with a series of nine mini eBooks which will make up the Successful Freelance Writing Online series (please note that these are draft titles):

Each book will be approximately 5,000-10,000 words and will sell for around $2-$3. When combined (for a total price of $18-$27) they will be close to the upcoming lowest price point of my information product (soon to be announced — stay tuned!).

I plan to release a book every two weeks, with the first to be published in just two weeks, on 17th January. Each one will be available, completely free of charge (for a limited time), to LWB email subscribers and those who sign up to my Kindle eBook notification list. Just enter your email address below and hit “Subscribe” to ensure that you get your hands on free copies of all the upcoming books!

Please note that I have no plans to publicise the launch of books here on the blog, so if you want your chance to get these books free of charge you need to subscribe above.

If you are an existing LWB subscriber you may also want to subscribe to the above list as I will likely keep those subscribers more up to date with my Kindle goings-on when compared to my main list. Finally, if you can think of anyone who might be interested in getting my books for free, please take a moment to send a tweet out to your followers.

All I will ask from you in return for the free book(s) is to leave an honest review on Amazon. In this way I can offer you valuable content at no cost and you can reciprocate by helping me boost the books’ exposure on Amazon.

My sincere thanks go out to Cathy Presland and Steve Scott for helping me to get to this point — their advice has been absolutely invaluable.

Onwards and Upwards

I am really excited about the new direction I am taking with Kindle publishing — I think it works every which way you look at it:

However, the proof will be in the pudding. It’s time to get my head down and execute on my plan, and as always, you’ll get to read all about the results!

Your thoughts and feedback would be highly appreciated — please let me know what you think in the comments section below!

“Successful Freelance Writing Online” is Now Available on Amazon!

Written by Tom Ewer on December 18, 2012. 17 Comments

Successful Freelance Writing OnlineUpdate: my Kindle plans have now changed and this book is no longer available in its totality on Amazon. Click here to find out why!

The number one request I have received since launching Successful Freelance Writing Online has been for a Kindle version of the guide. Having just bought a Kindle Paperwhite myself I can understand what all the fuss is about — it it truly is an awesome reading platform.

A Kindle version is something I planned to do since before I published the original guide and as such I am delighted to announce that Successful Freelance Writing Online is now available on Amazon!

What You Can Expect

Successful Freelance Writing Online on Kindle

A snapshot of the Kindle version of my guide.

The Kindle version of Successful Freelance Writing Online is an abridged and stripped back version of the PDF guide (minus all extras). However, it is also cheaper — retailing for around $9.99.

If you are on a budget then the Kindle version could be right up your alley. On the other hand, if you want the full guide, all of the extras, free revision upgrades and secret bonuses (along with a complimentary copy of the Kindle version), you’ll want to get your hands on the full version.

But that’s not all the news for today. In addition to the launch of the Kindle version I can also announce that the main guide’s extras have now been expanded to include five completely exclusive articles:

Not only that but I have a big new update planned in the New Year for existing and future owners of the full guide. You’ll just have to stay tuned to wait for that!

Can You Do Me a Favor?

My aim is for Successful Freelance Writing Online to become a bestseller on Amazon, but in order for this to happen it will need to be a top seller (obviously!) and well reviewed.

Therefore, if you own the guide or like it, please go ahead and “Like” the guide by clicking the button in Amazon:

Like My Guide

You can also pick tags that will be associated with the guides — the more votes I get, the higher they’ll rank for that tag. You’ll find these tags just above the Customer Reviews section on the product page. Just check the tags you agree with and click on “Agree with these tags?”:


Finally, if you would take the time to review the book I would be enormously grateful. It’s the reviews that really make the difference so if you do purchase the guide, taking a few moments to write one on Amazon would be such a huge favor to me.

What Do You Think?

In case you missed the links above just click here to buy Successful Freelance Writing Online from Amazon right now.

So this is another big step forward for my first information product. What do you think — will you be buying? Are you a fan of the Kindle platform? Let us know in the comments section!