Is Publishing on Amazon Worth It? How to Self-Publish on Amazon and Succeed
Is publishing on Amazon worth it? That was one of the first questions I asked myself when I finished my first book. It went something like this:
Okay, I’ve finished my book.
OKAY, I’VE FINISHED MY BOOK. What now?!
Now it starts the other journey. The journey to get to your readers.
And it can be daunting and hard. But you’ll get there.
Is publishing on Amazon worth it then? Let’s analyze.
Is publishing on Amazon worth it? Should I self-publish or go for traditional publish?
Only you can answer this question.
But, I can’t tell much about traiditional publishing because I’ve never done it.
That’s because I chose self-publishing for my first book. However, I have to say that I would like to traditionally publishing one day as well. I plan in writing several books so I just want to experiment.
Why did I choose self-publish to begin with? Is publishing on Amazon worth it?
Here are my reasons, and I hopefully will answer your “is publishing on Amazon worth it” question with a big YES! It is worth to publish on Amazon.
1. It is hard to find an agent, and this can take months or more, even years
I just wanted to get my book out there. Of course, I knew I would have to put a lot of effort in marketing it myself, however, I was willing to do it. Simply I just didn’t want to go through the troubles of looking for agent after agent, getting rejected, trying again. It can be much harder, and a lot of wasted time.
I wanted my book out as soon as possible after it was ready.
Control freak? Who? Me?
You are the boss in self-publishing.
I see self-publishing as owning a business in which your books are the products you are trying to sell. It is very hard to own a business, however, when you own one, you are the one who decides everything. The title, the cover, the content. You decide who you are going to hire to help you: editor, no editor, you tell it. You’ll tell if you are going to make the cover yourself or if you’ll hire an artist, etc. You decide if the book will have illustrations, if you are going to illustrate it, everything.
You are the boss.
How much does it cost to publish on Amazon? Which is Amazon self-publishing cost?
Okay, with self-publishing, you’ll have to spend your money to get your books out there.
However, there are cheap ways to do that, mainly Amazon, and I’ll teach you more about it later on in this post.
The good side is that, everything that you sell is yours. You decide if you want to sell the book for 0.99$ or for 12$. Discounting the fees, everything else is yours.
You usually get 20% copyright maximum when you go for trad publication. Sometimes, even less.
Amazon costs nothing! (except for a small fee per book). And is publishing on Amazon worth it? Super worth it!
I’ll tell you more about that in the rest of the post.
When you self-publish, the internet is the market… which means, THE WORLD is your market. You can be outside of the US and reach the US. If you publish on Amazon, you can sell to Japan. Everyone with an internet connection can be your reader.
When you traditionally publish, it very much depends on your deal with the book publisher. Sometimes, your books are going to die in a book shop. There, you have no control whatsoever where they are placed, how to promote them, and over the fact that they will go only for those people at that city.
On the internet, you can market it and grow. You have the world within seconds of you. EVERYONE can be your reader.
5. Different media
When you self-publish, you can go for an ebook, a physical book that will be printed on demand so you don’t have to pay for it beforehand, and you can even make an audiobook. You decide. Because you are the boss. Then, you can do everything.
You are not stuck with a contract with your publisher, who will tell you that ebooks and audiobooks won’t do for them.
I don’t want to have a business. I just want to write.
Remember when I told you that self-publish is creating a business?
You have to treat it like that if you want to self-publish.
Is publishing on Amazon worth it? Yes, yes, yes. But you have to do it right. And I’ll tell you how.
By self-publishing, you are basically alone. You’ll need to market your books for yourself. You’ll need to grow.
This might sound scary. “I just want to write”.
But imagine being a best-seller author. Just imagine it. Conquering it all yourself. Without depending on publishers that might not treat your book right. Aren’t you afraid of it ending up in a bad-localized book shelf cemitery? Where you can’t market it, you can’t do anything besides look at it drowning in no-sales until your contract ends. “We signed your contract for 1000 books, that’s gone now, so bye-bye”.
I know I am.
I want to have control, and I want to be able to sell in Japan if I want, in Mexico, France. Of course I want to print how many copies my readers order, being 5 or 5 milion. Because I don’t want to depend on a publisher, on a contract, that will pay me only 20% or less for the copyright. And I don’t want people deciding about what goes and what stays in my story, developing a book cover that I don’t even like that much, not paying full attention to my book because they have a lot more to sell.
It is difficult being a new writer either way. The difference is that when you self-publish, you can put in a lot of effort and grow on your terms, and grow A LOT, and be very sucessful without having to lower your terms in a publisher’s contract.
That’s the way I think at least. I would rather work 80h a week for myself and grow beyond imagination with my own efforts than work 40h for someone else and getting just a bit of what I deserve.
Also, you can grow your author business in a lot of other ways besides just selling books
- Create a blog
- Create courses and masterclasses
- Offer mentorship
- Offer your services, being as a ghostwriter, editor, proofreader, translator…
- Create a podcast
- Offer physical merchandise from your story
You have the control. Your market is the whole internet. You have no limits about how much you can grow.
If you need encouragement, I’m here to give you that. Look around, that’s what I’m doing! I’m trying to grow my following with this blog while helping other writers that are too afraid of standing up to their stories! I’ll help you! I’ll tell you that YES, you can, like I can, like a lot of people can as well.
And even if you are traditionally publishing, you are going to have to market it as well. The difference is that the publisher will already distribute it and give you a push. However, they are also publishing A LOT of other books, you are no priority, especially if it is your first book.
They aren’t going to treat your book like the baby you think it is.
Either way you are going to have a lot of work.
But, hey, you’ve already spent months to years writing a book. Now, let’s finish it together.
How to be successful self-publishing? Is publishing on Amazon worth it?
Short answer I know to be successful in self-publising: publish it on Amazon. Publishing on Amazon is worth it and now I’m going to show you why.
Amazon is growing a lot. It is VERY easy to publish a book there. You can do it in less than 5 minutes.
How much does it cost to publish on Amazon? It costs nothing.
You’ll pay them a small fee per book sold but only AFTER you’ve sold it, so you won’t spend anything upfront.
When I was researching for creating this article, I found out this one here that analyses how big Amazon is, especifically for books. I recommend you checking it out. Look at what this article says:
“Taken all together, Amazon accounts for more than 80% of English-language ebook purchases, Apple another 10%, Kobo 2% and Nook 3%”, “Self-published indie authors are verifiably capturing at least 20% – 35% of all multi-country ebook sales at each retailer. When you also include the uncategorized authors, each retailer’s true multi-country indie share lies somewhere between 25% – 42%”.
Really, look at the data that they are talking about there. It is very encouraging. They are telling that Amazon US sells 487 million ebooks per year. And Amazon grows more and more each year.
It is very promising, especially for English language books.
How to be successful on Amazon? Is Publishing on Amazon Worth It?
I’ve researched A LOT about it. Amazon has some secrets that I will summarize here:
- 1- Categories;
- 2- Keywords;
- 3- Amazon ADs;
- 4- Cover, Book Description and Book Title;
- 5- Reviews;
This might be one of the most important things to become an Amazon best-seller. You have to find the right category to place your book. This is absolutely vital.
You have to figure out how many books you’ll have to sell per day to become a best-seller on that category, or at least to rank well.
If you do not rank well, it will be much harder for people to find your book.
- What are Amazon Categories?
- What are Amazon Categories?
Go to the Kindle store on Amazon here.
That column on the left side is the categories.
This is where you book will be categorized (duh) so it’s easier for your reader to find it. Let’s click on a random category and analyze it.
I went for Teen & Young Adult.
That book over there, Educated, is selling more than Harry Potter, which is PRETTY impressive. And that other one, Broken Hill High, is almost getting there, which means it is selling A LOT as well.
As you can see, Harry Potter, one of the most famous books of our age, is in that category. If you want to take that second place over there, you’ll have to sell more than Harry Potter. This means that this category is VERY hard to rank for. You’ll have to sell a lot.
That’s why we go to subcategories.
Inside of each of the main categories, you can choose a subcategory. Here “Teen & Young Adults” open up to all those listed at the image.
And then, inside the subcategories, some of them have sub-sub-categories (I don’t know if this is the official name, I just call them that).
Let’s get to one of the subcategories.
I went for Horror then Ghost stories.
So it is: Kindle Story > Teen & Young Adult > Horror > Ghost Stories
Now, let’s analyse the numbers.
How do you know in each category the book is?
Let’s get to examples, the first one being that book that is selling almost as much as Harry Potter, in the Teen & Young Adult category. Broken Hill High.
I must say that I don’t know this book, I’m not affiliated with it or anything, and it won’t probably be there for a long time, because Amazon favours new books and it updates the lists each 2 hours. Also, the algorithm changes often. We need to keep ourselves updated.
You have to scroll down the book page until you find the product details:
You can see that this books is ranking #108 in Kindle Store (it considers all kindle books). This is extremely high.
Now, let’s check the best seller in Ghost Stories.
It is still a best-seller, but it is in #15,615 at the Kindle Store.
They both are on the first page, ranking incredibly high in their categories. The difference is that if you choose to put your book only in Teen & Young Adult, you are going to compete with that #108 book. If you specify to the subcategory Ghost Stories, you will be competing with the number #15,615 in Kindle Store for the first place (which is also pretty high but much easier to rank even so).
Now let’s look at a much less hard category to rank. I chose
Teen & Young Adult > Literature & Fiction > Geography & Cultures > Australia
#79,084, which is also pretty good, however, it is still much easier to achieve than #108. All these books I told you are best-sellers in their categories, but they definitely sell differently.
How can I know How Much a Book is Selling Per Day?
You have to use a calculator. There are some around the internet, but I use this one:
You just put that number in the calculator (without commas), for example, #108, #15615 and #79804, and it tells you how many sales the book is making per day.
You see, using the calculator, number 108 is selling 955 PER DAY.
That’s a bit insane. If you want to rank higher than that book, you’d have to sell more than that per day. It’s a too competitive category. You probably won’t be able to reach the top so you’ll have fewer chances of being found.
Okay. Number #15614 is selling 14 books per day.
Much better. Pretty achievable and still a best-seller, which means that it is promoted by Amazon. It can appear in promotional emails from Amazon, and it is much easier for people to find it.
#79804 is selling 3 books per day. This is doable.
Here you’ll have to see what is your goal. If you try to rank for a category that is not competitive at all, if you sell, let’s say, 1 book per day, you’ll become best seller, however, NOBODY is looking for that category and you won’t make much money. It is too obscure.
My advice is to look for an in-between category, that is selling well, like 5 books per day, and still, have someone looking for it.
When you upload your book, you’ll be allowed to choose 2 categories (with its subcategories) and Amazon will place you in the third from their choice.
How to find this perfect category?
I use a software called KDP Rocket to help me. I talk more about it, In the next section of this article but if you can’t wait, take a look at its site here.
Now let’s move on to the second most important thing, which is:
This is also vital. Even if you chose a category that you could possibly rank well, it will still have thousand of books or more. Kindle has over a million books for sale.
The secret for being found on Amazon is Keywords.
You have to fill every available space with keywords, however, it must seem natural. You don’t want to create a description like this:
Romance, Romance book, Romance with Guys, Romance Bad Boy, Romance…
It has to seem natural.
You can use it in titles, subtitles, series name, and description. You have 3000 words for the description. As a new writer, you can’t afford not using all the space and filling it with keywords. You have to write a lot, using maximum of keywords allowed, in an exciting way that also sell your books.
Also, you can put keywords on the first pages of your book because Amazon can read it. Amazon gives as a sample the first 10 pages, so you must do that.
How to Find the Right Keywords?
I use a software called KDP Rocket. The one that I also use to find categories.
This is what it looks like.
It helps me find the exactly keywords I have to focus. As the categories, they can’t be too competitive, otherwise you’ll never rank for it, but people must be searching for it, otherwise there’s no point.
It’s VERY hard to find this perfect balance without a software. You manually search for it, however, it will take a long time, and you can never be sure of it because you don’t know Google and Amazon algorithm.
That’s why I decided to invest in it, and it’s not that expensive at all. I want to make this self-publication thing work.
And, I was tired of guessing. All I wanted was to make sure that I would succeed.
You can search for keywords, analyze your competition, do category search so it helps you achieve the number 1, and do a search to help you with ads, that we will talk about in a moment.
3- Amazon ADs, also known as AMS
This is the Amazon Marketing Service. They are ads. It will make your book be sponsored.
By being sponsored, you will appear in a lot of different areas from the site that you wouldn’t normally.
This is very good, it is not expensive, and it definitely pays itself.
However, I can’t explain everything about it here in a few words.
Watch this 100% free course on AMS ads. I did and I absolutely loved it. Now I’m positive that I’ll have ads for my books.
I’m telling you, you won’t regret it. And it’s totally free.
4- Cover, Book Title, Book Description, Author Information, First ten pages etc
This one is pretty obvious.
Keep in mind that what will sell your book is your name and your cover.
People won’t read your book before buying it.
They don’t know if the book’s content is good or not.
All they know is that: “oh, it’s cute, it sounds interesting, I’m buying it. If it’s bad, it wasn’t a lot of money anyway”.
You have to design an appealing cover that is very noticeable in a small square.
Your title must sound appealing and interesting.
My best advice here is either pay a freelance artist to design your cover or learn a bit of marketing and do it yourself.
A fantastic marketing book is: Cashvertising.
Do yourself a favor and spend some bucks in this amazing book. It will really help you with everything about marketing.
Also, don’t forget what I said about Keywords. Put them everywhere, use the 3000 characters you have to write the book description, write nice information about you. Make it interesting. Make people think “I want to know more”.
The first ten pages are essential because people will have access to them at “Look Inside” (it is when you click on the image of the book on its page). Put keywords there as well. Don’t make ten pages of cover, index, acknowledgments.
People are going to look for reviews if they don’t know you.
If you don’t have any review, you can ask your families and friends to leave a sincere review after they bought the first copies.
Don’t do anything illegal like buying reviews, okay? If Amazon finds out, it will shut your account.
1- You can ask your friends to write some few phrases with their
sincere opinion and you can put it in the book description. For example:
“The best thriller I’ve ever read!”, Matilde, high-school teacher.
Nobody needs to know that Matilde is your mom.
And it will be even better if your friend is a journalist or something like that.
Don’t make it too stupid, okay?
2- Ask for reviews on the last page of your book.
Definitely do it. On the last page, say something like “If you’ve enjoyed this story, I ask you to please help me and leave a review on my book page (and now you link it), your opinion is really important to me!”. Also, now you are going to ask them to look for you on your social pages and also link your blog, or other books by you if you have any.
But, don’t worry too much about reviews though. They are natural and it will be obvious that your book is new in one way or another.
Summing it up. Is Publishing on Amazon Worth It?
1- Choose the right categories: Too competitive and you’ll never appear on the first page, too little competitive and you’ll never sell anything because people are not looking there. Use the calculator to see how many books they are selling per day. You have to beat it.
2- Choose the right keywords: even if you choose the right categories, without keywords you’ll never be found. Put them everywhere you can. Use the 3000 description. Use KDP Rocket to find the right keywords. Too competitive and you won’t rank, little competitive you won’t be found because nobody is looking for it.
3- Learn everything you can about AMS. It’s a great way to be found and it pay itself if you know what you are doing. Take this free course here, you won’t regret it.
4- Make your book appealing. Your cover must be beautiful. Your title must be appealing. Learn everything you can about marketing. Read Cashvertising, you won’t regret it. Your ten first pages are essential because people read it before buying the book. Don’t waste space there.
5- Ask for reviews on your book’s last page. Also, promote yourself there.
Then, I hope I answered: is publishing on Amazon worth It? Definitely, yes.
As always, don’t hesitate to contact me!
If you need help with the writing a novel part, I have a step by step, so check this post here.
Love the advice! I also have a novel available on Amazon called “The Headspace”. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08NDT5JTQ
[…] Is Publishing on Amazon Worth It? How to Self-Publish on Amazon and Succeed […]
[…] As Isadora Felix writes, if she wants to sell in Japan or Mexico, she can. She doesn’t have to print and send stock, wait years for the publisher to agree a contract and she will retain the bulk of the earning. […]
Wow Isadora! So glad I stumbled upon this.
Yeah, I paint pinups but I’ve already written a collection of dark fairy tales. Thus the site name before I switched over to painting.
I never knew Amazon doesn’t charge you. I’m old, so I remember the days when you had to get a publisher and it took years and a million letters and phone calls just to be taken seriously by a publishing house.
So much easier! I’m going to try it.
I’m so happy that you’ve found the article useful! Definitely try it. I think Amazon is changing the publication market. It’s so easy and, if done right, you can be a best-seller. It’s much better than sit by and wait years for a publisher that won’t treat your book right! If you have doubts about the process, feel free to contact me