Man, selling your own stuff is so much fun!
Almost exactly one year ago (it was on Oct 18th 2011), I was doing the “post-mortem” analysis of my first paid eBook launch. I had sold a minute 22 copies in about a month as compared to 12,600 downloads of my free eBook: Dividend Investing (Which is now showing 24,270 downloads, you should DEFINITELY get your copy!).
This time, in less than three weeks, I’ve sold 226 copies (as of October 15th) of Dividend Growth. If you make the calculation, it’s $2,257.74 of gross income. Minus the 30% Amazon cut, I will get a check slightly under $1,580.42 (there are a few additional small fees). Therefore, it’s over $500 net per week and it keeps coming. Remember that my first number was 144 sales in the first 12 days. In the following week, I sold 82 copies in seven days. So technically, I’m still going at an amazing rate of 12 sales/day! And the most interesting part is that only yesterday (so exactly 19 days after the launch date), I sold 6 copies. This could mean two things:
#1 the Buzz around the book is not over yet (I’ve got 2 additional reviews over the weekend for 11 reviews so far!)
#2 Amazon is selling books for me as I sleep (literally!)
Chances are that it’s a combination of both statements but I truly hope that Amazon has already started to work for me. When I look at my Amazon affiliate panel, I can see that I have sold the 226 copies but I don’t know how many were linked to my fellow bloggers affiliate program. For the past 82 copies, I know I’ve sold 38 of them so 54% of my sales in that week are coming from outside my direct network. Let’s hope that half of that is coming from Amazon! This would mean that I’m selling 3 copies a day without any effort! Oh well, I’ll see that in late November I guess!
But I’m not here to brag about my new book today, I’m here to give you more info on how I’ve setup my marketing plan and to look at the results coming from it. But first, let’s start with a few funny numbers…
I’ve noticed a few interesting trends in terms of sales. During the first day, I was all excited to see my first sales coming in during the morning. I thought that during my one hour lunch, I would make a killing as people would buy the book during their pause. Funny enough, I made a big fat $0 from 12pm to 1pm!
On the other hand, I checked my sales around 10pm each day and at 5am when I wake up the next morning. Believe it or not, I never spent a night without selling a book! It seems that most people are buying books at night when they get back from work. When you think about it, it totally makes sense. But it’s just funny to make money while you are sleeping and not while you are eating!
When you publish a book on Amazon, you can see if someone bought the book and decided to ask for a refund. What I found funny is that I have 15 refunded books but no negative emails or reviews whatsoever. And I’m not talking about fellow bloggers reviews and emails. Technically, you may think that these guys are biased as they are my friends in the first place. I doubt that most of my friends would badmouth my book on the web! However, I have received some great reviews, comments and emails with regards to this book from my readers and customers. I didn’t receive any bad comments. I’m not saying that my book is perfect, but I would really like to hear what those people have to say about my book!
I also have 20 borrowed units. Borrowing a book is possible if you are one of Amazon’s “prime members”. I think you can borrow 1 book per month. I’m flattered to see that 20 individuals decided to use their privilege to read my book.
Don’t forget to include your Amazon affiliate links when you are promoting your own book! I generated $83.43 in commissions in September along with $51.38 in the first 2 weeks of October. The funny part is that I’m not only making money on my books but from all the other things that my visitors are buying on Amazon at the same time. So it goes literally from the “body press Ab wheels” to the “Hardwire Ionization Smoke Detector” someone bought after clicking on my link. Did you know that you can buy an ionization smoke detector???? I’ve never received a check from Amazon since I started to blog back in 2006 and I’ll be getting my first check in November!!! So ALWAYS include your Amazon affiliate link! Ok… enough with the numbers, here are some second thought strategies if you plan on launching an eBook….
If you publish a book on Amazon, it’s the same thing as if you publish a website on the web: you want to get found. With a website, there is something called Search Engine Optimization that is all kinds of methods used to help you rank higher in Google (‘cause that’s all that matters anyways when you are doing SEO!).
Well, when you publish a book with Amazon, I’ve seen a similar result: your book will rank for specific keywords within the Amazon search algorithm. Unfortunately, I’m pretty new to this “Amazon Ranking Game” since I was too busy fighting with a Panda lately! But, I noticed that my book had different rankings from day to day for different keywords. I can’t obviously rank high for a generic word such as “investment” but I’m doing pretty well in my niche though.
In the “book” section, here are my rankings as of October 15th:
Dividend: #10 (1st page)
Dividend Investing: #11 (1st page)
Dividend Growth: #1 YEAH BABY!!
In the “Kindle Store” section (Since my book is not offered in any other format yet):
Dividend: #8 (1st page)
Dividend Investing: #10 (1st page)
Dividend Growth: #1 YEAH BABY!!
These rankings kind of validate that Amazon will be able to sell books without me pushing it anymore. On the other hand, I’m curious to see how long I can stay on the first page for the three keywords. Investing is still a highly competitive niche and I’m afraid this ranking is only temporary. It’s like a website without new content or new links coming in; your ranking will eventually fall even if you have a top quality site.
I guess the key is to play on the following metrics:
- Get customers to write a review on Amazon
- Sell more copies
- Offer a print copy for sale
Mike Piper from Oblivious Investor (yeah, he is my 2012 hero!) told me to Amazon link your Kindle book to your paper copy in their system adds it up to your “book power” in their ranking. This is another reason why I’ve decided to launch a printed copy in December. Speaking of which, the process isn’t really rolling right now as my designer is fooling around with the format… sometimes I wish I was good with formatting!
Hum… okay, the above sub-title is only half-true. In fact, one of the biggest advantages of dealing with Amazon is that they handle everything from A to Z once you have published your book on their platform. They handle the marketing on their site, they take the payments, deliver the copy, they process the refund and send you a check after 6 weeks. Technically, it’s a hand off process where you can truly enjoy passive income once the machine is rolling.
But a big part of my marketing strategy was based on using my newsletter. I’ve grown a significant size mailing list throughout all the investing sites I own which totals over 8,000 subscribers. When I send an email, I know that 50% of my readers will open the email and read it. Therefore, I’m opening myself to 4,000 potential replies. All right, it’s not THAT scary as most people don’t reply. But still, I had to reply to over 131 emails concerning my book. Some people had questions, others commented on my work. I wanted to make sure I answered everyone in a timely manner with a personal answer. Actually, if you are a subscriber of any of my newsletters and you reply to any of my messages, you’ll be sure to get an answer back to all of your questions. I’m just thinking that if you are kind enough to take 5 minutes of your precious time to write me an email, the least I can do is to write you back, right? But then, it had created an additional work load, especially during the first week as I now receive only 1 or 2 emails a day concerning the book.
I am super happy with my results. But still, there are things that could have been done differently in my strategy. Lucky me, I’m already working on another book where I will use my experience once again to make it an even bigger success. So for my next book, here’s what will be done differently:
I was so afraid to create another flop with this book that I paid a high price for a designer. I don’t 100% regret my decision as I got several features:
- A complete site design with logos and banners (not used yet! Can you imagine that???)
- 2 books formatted (I have 2 versions but it’s literally twice the work for the designer as both books requires separate work)
- 3D super fancy cover (man, I really like my logo and cover!)
- PDF, EPUB, MOBI format (and they are working on the paper version too!)
- Countless emails back and forth adjusting everything (and when I write COUNTLESS, I mean it!)
So I can’t say that I didn’t get enough for what I paid. However, I should have be more precise in stating my needs and use only specific features instead of going all over the place and trying to get everything done. Next time, I won’t ask for a complete site since I’m not even using it yet. I might not get 2 versions of the same book as it was a lot of work. Mind you, the Canadian version is the most popular and there must be a reason for that: because it’s darn specific!
If I can make a better selection of what I need or not, I will save a lot of money in terms of design and formatting. The good news is that I’ve learned from the process and from what is required by Amazon to get both a Kindle and print copy.
Huh? What’s the point of giving the book for free when you want to sell it and make money? Believe it or not, free is the new way to make money. But it’s not as simple as that! Lol!
Amazon gives you the possibility to offer your book in Kindle format for free for a maximum of 5 days during the first 90 days you publish with them. The point of offering your book for free is to build your “book power” in the Amazon ranking system. This is similar to search engine optimization as well: the more people download your book, the better the ranking you get. Therefore, if you have a good readership (such as my 8,000 mailing list subscribers) and you tell them that your book is free for a few days on Amazon, chances are that you will hit over 1,000 downloads pretty fast.
So instead of bragging that I rank on the first page for highly specific keywords, I could probably rank (temporarily) in wider range keywords such as investing and be part of the top/hottest downloads on Amazon. If this happens, it’s like doing the first page of Digg (well… a few years ago anyway! Hahaha!).
With a super boosted ranking due to your free downloads, chances are that the wave will continue to push your paid book higher. Even better, if you are smart enough to launch the paper version at the same time (which I will do next time!), several people will want to get the paper copy (most people still prefer to read a “real book” than an electronic version). So this is how you can make money from free.
In all my books, I’m referring to my site in order to not only get a happy customer but to gain a happy reader as well. It’s a derived way to grow your traffic without Google. But I’m not directly making more money with this strategy. I’m just slowly building more traffic.
The next step for me will be to create an upsell of my current product. It can be a sequel that already exists or another related product. For example, in my free book Dividend Investing, I’ve updated the previous version with mentions of Dividend Growth hoping that people who liked my first book will eventually buy the second one. Since I’m getting lots of downloads for my free book, this will eventually generate more sales of my second book. This is a good example of doing an upsell: people like your stuff, you offer them more and they become a bigger customer by buying more products from you.
This is what I’ll be trying with my new book (possibly to be released in 2013… so far it looks good for that!). Eventually, my goal is to sell over 10 eBooks per day. This would mean that I could be making roughly 35K in my pocket each year with pure passive income. I guess that if can I write 3-4 great books, I’ll be able to reach my goal!
Woah! I feel like I’ve literally dissected my brain with this post. If there is anything you feel that I didn’t tell you about my eBook adventure, now is the time because I can’t think of anything else. However, I’m sure I’ve forgotten some important stuff!
And if you have no questions, let me ask you one: what would you do differently if you were me now that you know what I’ve done to publish my book?
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