Why You’ll Never Make Money Writing Kindle Books

Comes a question from a fellow Josh:

Love your emails and I occasionally listen to the Entreprogrammers podcast. I’m actually in a mastermind group with Wes Bos too 🙂

I’ve been working on my wife’s marketing, she writes and indie publishes fiction books on Amazon (http://wendyowensbooks.com). I’ve been using drip for the past two months for her and have grown her mailing list to 7k people over the last year or so. The issue I have is that fiction eBooks are in more of a tripwire price point and selling them on Amazon gives us almost 0 conversion info. I’ve been using affiliate links to at least track some conversion info, but I don’t know WHO is converting at all.

My thoughts are that I should move ‘upstream’ and sell a product directly on her site that is at a higher price point. I am kind of stuck at this point trying to come up with a digital product that won’t require time/effort to deliver outside of the initial creation phase.

I know your time is limited, any thoughts/tips are appreciated and feel free to share this with the list if it is interesting enough.

The first thing to know any time you sell on Amazon is:

Amazon is NOT your benefactor, your advocate, or your buddy.

No, Amazon is a rapacious beast, out to devour your business whole and spit out the bones.

Don’t believe me?

Well get this:

There is a “rabid dog” division within Amazon tasked with finding ways to undercut other parts of Amazon’s OWN business.

That’s right, Jeff Bezos is so cutthroat that he’s got employees actively working against the rest of the company, probing for weaknesses and opportunities.

Selling on Amazon is dog-eat-dog, and Amazon always gets the last bite.

Few groups have taken more Bezos body blows than indie authors like Josh’s wife, Wendy.

Year after year, Amazon keeps tightening the screws and finding new ways to squeeze money out of indie authors.

Lately it’s Kindle Unlimited, which is training audiences to expect a Netflix-style all-you-can-eat buffet of books for $9.99 a month.

Pay $2.99 for a book?

No thanks—I already have more than I can read for one low monthly price.

Where this trend leads I don’t know—what I do know is that it won’t be stopping any time soon.

What can authors do about it?

Step #1 is this:

Stop thinking of Amazon as your cash register.

Every time you send a customer to Amazon to buy your $2.99 book, Amazon “gives” you $2.09.

Meanwhile that customer is worth 10X or 100X that much to Amazon.

Fact is, to them you’re nothing more than a source of nutritious, high-quality traffic.

And to rub salt in the wound, tomorrow they’ll figure out how to shave that $2.09 down to $1.93, and $1.57…

“Publishing Kindle books on Amazon” is not a business model.

The right way to approach this is to turn the tables, and play Amazon’s game right back at ’em.

Instead of looking at Amazon as a marketplace to sell your books and earn an income

Look at it as a gigantic LEAD GENERATION MACHINE.

Your main goal then isn’t to get money out of Amazon—

The goal instead is to use your books as a traffic source that sends you new customers for your publishing business.

Josh and Wendy are right:

You can’t make a decent living selling Kindle books at $2.99 a pop on Amazon.

But you CAN earn a healthy return on your efforts when a Kindle book sale is the first step—not the end goal.

More on this tomorrow.