My Kindle Failure and Future Plans for Success

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):

  • How to Write Great Blog Posts
  • How to Create a Blog That Will Drive Clients to You
  • How to Use Social Media for Freelance Writing Success
  • How to Find Clients
  • How to Set and Negotiate Rates Confidently
  • How to Create an Ironclad Contract
  • How to Bill Your Clients and Deal with Non-Payers
  • How to Make Sure Your Clients Love You
  • How to Build Your Freelance Writing Business

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:

  • I get to publish on Amazon without compromising the value proposition of my freelance writing guide.
  • The budget-conscious can pick up the Kindle eBooks at no cost (or just $2-$3 if they miss the free offer).
  • Those who are only interested in specific aspects of freelance writing can pick and choose the books they purchase.
  • In writing the mini books I will also be able to add even more content to the full information product.
  • Those who purchase the information product will still receive the greatest amount of value (with the full guide, future updates, the existing extras and the upcoming additional extras to be announced soon).

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!

Comments

  1. says

    This is SUCH a good post — really helpful to anyone else out there who’s thinking about using Kindle! I really think you’re smart to release the mini guides and price them low — I’d love to hear more about how that works for you. (I’m planning to do the same, writing one as we speak.)

    As for people complaining about the price, you will always see that no matter how you price your ebooks or other products. I’ve gotten complaints from people about pricing (who haven’t bought the product and seen what they get for their money), and at the same time received thank you emails from people who paid that same price and were grateful for everything they got for it. You can’t please everyone!

    Happy New Year!

  2. says

    Tom, I had a similar experience with Amazon. Had a book published that was featured in Publishers Weekly, got rave reviews online, got rave reviews during two lecture tours and virtual book tour. Yet, it only garnered a couple of “yeah, it’s okay” reviews on Amazon, and what they chose to focus on were not the main points of the book. That was almost four years ago when there was still a big stigma to self-publishing and ebooks.

    If I do decide to publish another book that will hit Amazon, I’m going to do what you’re talking about – a series of $1.99 books that I self-publish. Otherwise, I do way better money and review wise staying on my own sites for now.

  3. says

    This gave me a giggle! Although you didn’t like it I’m always amused when randoms take on things they know nothing about! Character building for you if nothing else! Love the idea of the mini guides. Why not ask the people who bought your full guide to leave you some reviews. The dodgy one will soon go down the list. I just left you one – been meaning to do it for a few weeks!

  4. says

    Tom,

    I love that you displayed your Kindle ‘oopsie’ here. Mistakes are often the best teaching tools for the rest of us.

    I currently have 4 Kindle ebooks up for sale. All except one are around the 10K word mark. However to keep myself out of trouble, I mention three key things in the description:

    1) The number of words;

    2) Approximate type written page count;

    3) That these are “mini reports” not full-size business books.

    This way no one can claim they were deceived. All buyers go in knowing exactly what they’re getting.

    Also, when you’re doing these shorty reports, try to cover unique angles that people really can’t find in a lot of existing online articles. For example, instead of “how to write great blog posts,” try “7 blog posts that generate a ton of business for freelance writers.”

    Just some ideas!

    Monique

    • says

      Thanks for sharing Monique! This whole word count thing seems utterly absurd to me — surely it’s quality over quantity — but I appreciate that Amazon users seem obsessed with it. Food for thought…

  5. says

    A great post Tom.

    I was looking at your book on Amazon just yesterday after taking a while to get around to it, saw the bad review and cringed when I saw your reply. I know nothing (or next to nothing) about publishing for the Kindle (and a lot of what I do know comes from here) but even I saw the faux pas you made in rising to the comments made. It also looked to me that the other two reviews were ‘associates’ of yours (rightly or not) rather than natural reviews which compounded your issue. It actually made me decide not to buy yesterday, and my high opinion of you took a knock just from that review and your reply to it.

    Not trying to criticise, just agreeing with what you already wrote. By writing so frankly and realising what you got wrong, my faith in you is restored :D

    Thanks for sharing this, it’s probably saved me from making the same mistake when I finally get around to publishing my own Kindle mini guides. Again well done for being so upfront and forthright in sharing your learnings from what you do. The important thing in my mind is that you ARE doing things and you ARE sharing what happens, warts and all. You are continuing to inspire me as a result.

    • says

      I was one of the reviewers, and I am not an associate or affiliated with Tom’s work at all. I read the book, marked it up, and refer back to it often.

      • says

        Thank you Liz — I’m glad that you like the book. Make sure to sign up to the list to get the new mini guides (which won’t just be carbon copies of the existing Kindle guide) for free!

        • says

          Oh no, David, I’m not offended. I’m sorry my comment reads that way.

          I looked back at my review after reading this comment and thought you were right in that it sounded like a paid advertisement–I think it’s because I’ve read so many of them!

          I thought I should leave a reply letting everyone know that I’m regular person. :D Thanks for your reply.

    • says

      Hi David,

      Glad I can help :-)

      However, I would love clarification on my response to the review. I *still* don’t understand what was so terrible about the response — was it my directness? I wasn’t after all speaking to a customer — I was speaking to someone who would never *be* a customer. I felt that what I said was totally reasonable given the circumstances — she left a slanderous “review” of a book she hadn’t read.

      I guess I made the mistake of responding to the review in the exact same way I would reply to a comment on this blog (i.e. in an honest and forthright manner). I think I’ll avoid commenting on Amazon altogether now, which is a real shame (in my opinion).

      By the way, neither review was solicited :-)

      Cheers,

      Tom

      • says

        Hi Tom,

        Yes in a nutshell I think it was all in the tone. You came across as defensive and belligerent. Again as above I probably read things that aren’t there at least partially and picked up an emotional slant that you didn’t have or weren’t aware of when you were writing it. Of course you must realize as much as anyone that this is one of the biggest dangers in the written word rather than face to face. It’s really difficult to give a clear and unambiguous message without emotional nuances creeping in (or to only get across the emotional nuances that you intend to). I know I’ve done it numerous times, particularly in emails, because I have a tendency to be ‘direct’ as I like to think of it, but other people often read ‘blunt’.

        I think that as you say this is exactly what’s happened here. You’ve written in an honest and direct style, but in the context of replying to a negative review I certainly read it in a way that you probably didn’t intend. The fact that others have responded the way they did would suggest that they read it the same way I did at least to an extent.

        Hmmm I think I could write you a guest post about this topic ;-)

        Anyway, hope I’ve helped rather than confusing more, and keep up the good work!! :D

        David

        • says

          Hi David,

          I understand what you mean and you’re totally right about it being difficult to convey tone in writing.

          I certainly was being defensive, but not in a sense of hating the concept of any kind of criticism — just defensive of ungrounded criticism of a non-existent marketing “ploy”. I certainly didn’t intend to come across as belligerent though. Lesson learned…

          Cheers,

          Tom

      • Brandon says

        Tom,

        This was my interest as well, in your reply. I’ve been a follower for a while now. I’m not offended by your response, as I was never really a buyer (I watched Pat Flynn’s stuff for like 2 months before buying Market Samurai from him).

        I think the key (and challenge) is dealing with people who don’t care about you. Your response was definitely going to get you trouble since you responded so harshly. Did the person deserve it? Yeah, they were trying to torpedo your effort, would it have upset me as well? Yes.

        In thinking on your response the things that matter the most were the language you used and the presumptions you imposed on your reviewer. We’re you “mortified”? Because watching someone die is mortifying, not a bad review on Amazon. The inflammatory language definitely brought some defenders to the reviewers aid. Additionally, the presumption that any reviewer was going to do anything for you was arrogant and overreaching.

        I say that not because you were in the wrong, because I believe you should defend your hard work. But in this case, it was more about how you said it, than that you said it at all.

        Anyway, I believe that you ha e a talent and enjoy your writing. I look forward to your success in 2013.

        • says

          Hey Brandon,

          Thanks for the feedback.

          Upon reflection, the use of the word “mortified” made no sense at all anyway, as it means to be embarrassed or ashamed.

          I certainly wasn’t being arrogant in my response, nor did I “presume” anything (just hoped). But I appreciate how you feel it came across.

          Anyway, I think I’ve learned all I can from the episode now. I’ll certainly be fat better equipped to deal with a similar situation in the future, partly thanks to you! :)

          Cheers,

          Tom

  6. says

    I do think it’s a very good idea you have splitting up the chapters, though I have no idea if they are interesting enough by themselves to become great sellers.

    Becoming a freelance writer is more powerful. Hopefully one of your mini-guides will catch on and people will find the rest of the books through that. Are you going to mention in the books they are all part of a series on becoming a freelance writer?

    I can still see some reviewers being pissed off if they find out they’ll need to pay nearly $30 for the whole lot, but there’s nothing you can really do about that.

    I wouldn’t sell yourself short and stick to freelance writing, maybe target something that’s known for being popular on Kindle.

    I see it as being an amazing passive income and I’m really going to get stuck into it this year. I stuck my freebie report on there that took a day to write and it makes about $50 per month.

    Everybody would do well keeping Kindle in the back of their minds.

    • says

      Hi Jamie,

      Some interesting stuff here. I agree that the standalone books may not always be as compelling as the complete guide, but I do think some books (such as “How to Write Great Blog Posts”) could be *more* successful.

      I will definitely be linking them all together — that’ll be a big part of the strategy.

      I don’t get why people would be pissed off that there is a more feature-packed product available for more money. That doesn’t make sense to me — it’s like buying a Ford and being pissed off that a Porsche is available, but you’ll have to pay more.

      If this first foray is successful then I will definitely be doing more Kindle books — I already have a few different ideas. One step at a time though!

      Cheers,

      Tom

  7. says

    Hi Tom,

    A really honest and heart-felt post here. I think you’ve done an amazing job of demonstrating that not everything goes to plan – or is the right fit for us right out of the gate. And yet you’ve been able to take stock and turn it around into what I think will be an amazing success for you. Can’t wait to hear the next installment!

    All the very best,

    Cathy

  8. Willi M. says

    I’m sorry this happened. Thanks for posting! This still is proof for me that the e-book publishing world is still in its infancy, and that no matter how many people tout its greatness, paying more than a few bucks for an e-book is just not a reality for most people.

    I’m still in this camp myself. Also, any site that allows for anonymous reviews is bound to have trolls and people who are paid or promoted to give positive reviews. Really sad reality. Signed up for your e-book series! :-/

    • says

      Hi Willi,

      Thanks for the comment. I personally wouldn’t buy an eBook from a “no-name” author without first having received a personal recommendation, so I’m my own worst enemy ;-)

      However, neither would I leave a scathing review on a book I hadn’t read, nor review a book on the basis of word count alone — that to me seems completely out of order.

      Cheers,

      To,

  9. says

    Hi, Tom!

    I think your first mistake was dropping the price point so drastically just because it’s digital. Your audience *is* digital, so dropping the price point to accommodate a different purchasing method (it’s easy enough to put your PDF’s on my Kindle or other devices) feels like you’re doing your die-hard customers a disservice.

    Word count, to me, doesn’t matter. Good content is good content, and I’d rather get have a useful checklist than 300 pages of redundant filler. The lack of ‘extras’ was my only reason to postpone my purchase. Knowing you’re going to be taking it down, though, prompted me to get it now anyway.

    I have several clients with both print and digital books on Kindle and for the most part they’ve initially tried the “go cheap” method thinking that the value of digital is somehow less, but they always ultimately have to raise the price because of the trolls that, like Alexandra, don’t bother to actually read the book, but take the time to write scathing (and invalid) reviews that demoralize the author. Legitimate concerns are one thing, whining because you’re too d*mn cheap to spend $10 on an ebook that could literally result in thousands of dollars of increased income is the tactic of only the saddest among us.

    I guess I know what I’m doing this weekend. ;)

    • says

      Hey Shawn,

      Thanks for giving me your honest thoughts.

      I can’t help but agree — dropping to $10 *was* a mistake and my lack of comfort in doing it was based to an extent upon the feeling that I would somehow be doing my blog “customers” a disservice. Having said that, in a couple of weeks I will be releasing a huge upgrade to the information product and it will be freely available to all existing purchasers, so with that in place I will feel like they have got their money’s worth (and then some).

      Cheers,

      Tom

  10. Kristen says

    So sorry about your Kindle experience. Your mini ebook idea sounds promising–I look forward to hearing how that goes!

  11. says

    At first glance, I thought the title of this post was “My Kidney Failure”.

    Sure makes a Kindle failure seem like not much of an issue, eh? LOL

    Anyway, I’m glad your kidneys are in good working order. Also, I saw that review a few days after the fact. I was ready to feed the trolls until I realized that you probably were ready to move on and leave it alone.

    It’s unfortunate that people are attracted to negative comments, even if they’re lies. Nothing she said was true–that’s a helpful comment? Geesh.

    I don’t understand how someone who is a freelance writer, or is interested in freelance writing, thinks that price should be based on number of words. Writers don’t base their prices solely on the number of words, whether it’s a blog post or an e-book.

    My rant is over. I’m thankful that you put this book out because I still look it over now and then. I’m a cheap Kindle book junkie, so I’m looking forward to this next venture.

    • says

      Hey Liz,

      Thanks — great point about the irony of aspiring freelance writers arguing over the value of word count! I hadn’t even considered how absurd that is.

      And you’re right, all of these things must be put into perspective. It *is* just a Kindle problem, not a kidney problem, for which I should be grateful ;-)

      Cheers,

      Tom

  12. Jonathan Jacob says

    It’s too bad that your first attempt on Amazon didn’t go as you planned but it’s great to see that are going to give it a second shot.

    Over at Smart Passive Income Todd Tressider recently posted about his experiences with Amazon. He gave away free copies of his book to the readers of his blog in return for a review on Amazon. It worked out quit well for him.

    His reasoning is that although he has a relatively large number of supporters (7000 subscribers) this number is dwarfed by the number of people using Amazon. So what he tries to do is get his book ranked as highly as possible with the help from his blog readers.

    Link to Todd’s post on SPI.
    http://www.smartpassiveincome.com/how-to-profit-by-giving-it-all-away-the-missing-ingredient

  13. Charley says

    Read the entire post and all the comments. I was expecting to see Alexandra’s comment, and I’m sure she is somewhere commending herself for the damage she has done. The mini ebooks is definitely the best way to go now and a strong indication that a stark chance of success still exists. It’s a shame that Amazon buyers don’t value ebooks reasonably.

    • says

      Hey Charley,

      I would like to think that she feels perhaps a little bit of regret for jumping to conclusions and damaging my chances of selling a completely legitimate product. On the other hand, I could thank her for galvanising me into a different approach that will hopefully be far more lucrative!

      Cheers,

      Tom

  14. says

    Hi Tom,

    I literally only just found your site through Problogger. In reading this post I felt compelled to reply to the Amazon posts – before reading the part about Ignoring Negative Reviews. ;)

    I just appealed to the “reviewers” to look at things differently – like taking a fair and balanced approach, and pay more attention to the content they’re buying rather than the number of words and pages…jeez

    Werner

  15. says

    Hey bud, great post! I am struggling with the exact same thing right now… taking a longer book, with a higher price point and bonuses, compared to a kindle ebook for amazon. Your post gave me a lot of insight and help.

    Very interesting about commenting on the negative review. I would have probably done the same, but will think twice after what you said.

    I was going to do an abridged version of my book on amazon and then sell a full scale version on my site, but I feared what would happen is the same that happened to you… people would think it’s just an upsell thing.

    So, what I am planning on doing is do the kindle book for a lower price point then talk about other products I have on my site in the book, to encourage deeper learning and subscribing to my list.

    I am curious how you made $2,500 in 14+ days on your last product launch? Do you have a post detailing how you did it?

    Thanks Tom!

  16. says

    Thanks for this post, Tom. I, too, am just beginning a Kindle writing/publishing business and am navigating the fiction waters. It’s been an interesting journey so far, and like you, I’m learning from my failures. (My only real success so far is some good reviews, but hey, that’s something, right?)

    Good luck to you!

    • says

      Hey Mary,

      Awesome! I definitely plan to write at least one novel in my life — a few more quid in the pocket and some more free hours and I’ll make a start :D

      And yes, good reviews are certainly something!

      Cheers,

      Tom

  17. says

    Hi Tom,
    It takes guts to post about a failure such as this but the value of this information to your readers is priceless. Thanks for being so transparent. I’m glad you are working with Steve Scott in your future launches, I don’t think anyone is doing it better than Steve right now.
    Best regards,
    Tim

  18. says

    Tough one man, especially at a low price point. I decided last year to only sell my book through my site and approved affiliates. I want there to be as much relevance as possible.

    Hope you sell more in 2013!

    • says

      I can totally see why you would go the direction you have. One thing I feel I know for sure is that you can’t sell comparable products on your own site and Amazon without there being issues. I think this new direction will take care of that.

  19. says

    Hi Tom,

    Great post.

    For me, the best lesson here comes your willingness and determination to rethink your strategy. Some may have thought “ah well, at least I had a go”, whereas you have demonstrated that it is possible to take a side road if the motorway is blocked. Inspiring perseverance.

    All the best,

    Sion

    • says

      I think that’s definitely a good lesson to learn. I think once I had experienced a bit of success that willingness to re-think and have another go started to come far more easily.

  20. says

    Tom,

    Great article. I love your writing style and your honesty. I am learning a lot from your blog.

    Keep up the good work and thank you for all your insipirational posts.

  21. says

    Wow, thanks again for your honesty Tom. I hope you know how much we appreciate this level of honesty. Have you any experience or know of anyone that has had experience of producing books on Lulu.com at all? Just wondered what you thought of this type of publishing platform?

    Thanks – and thanks again for writing up your recent experience so that we can learn something from it. Good stuff.

    • says

      Hey Kirsty,

      I hadn’t even heard of Lulu before you mentioned it, so I’m afraid the answer is no! Amazon is enough to keep me occupied at the moment ;)

      Cheers,

      Tom

  22. says

    Great that you posted this Tom, we shared this information with our readers back nearly two years ago after trying exactly what you did, only across a few different niche markets.

    You are definitely on the right track in terms of coming up with shorter, more pointed/specific reports/mini-ebooks.

    One additional word of caution (or tip for those that are not marketing business-related ebooks), we have found that our other markets (personal development, health, relationships, etc…) have had a much better response on Kindle than marketing/business related topics. Just an FYI if you continue to see less than stellar results.

    I purely use Kindle Platform for short products that are designed to be lead-generators for back-end products – no illusions that I need to make money from Kindle when it comes to business/marketing space.

    Jeff

  23. says

    Thanks for sharing this experience, Tom! I’m sorry for your experience, but I’m so glad for these lessons. Great idea to break the book down; that seems like just the right compromise.

    What an odd world Amazon is for non-fiction self-publishing… It seems you get lumped in with genre self-publishers and mis-judged as such, which forces you to take a counter-intuitive approach to publishing and marketing.

  24. says

    Tom,

    Sorry to hear about your Kindle experience, but y’know, you inspire me. Despite the drawbacks you’re still truckin’ on, and that helps me understand that just because there are going to be drawbacks and failures, you can’t quit. It inspires me to keep moving forward and make something out of all the work I’ve done that I thought meant nothing. Looking forward to reading your book and purchasing the mini series. Thanks!

  25. says

    I applaud your transparency, and believe the mini e-books idea is ingenious! You’ve been an inspiration in my freelance writing career, particularly with getting out of the “content farms” rut I found myself stuck in. I’ve also been inspired by your success, and have decided to create an informational product.

    I’ll be purchasng your product very soon; I’m confident it’ll be a great help in my career. :)

    • says

      Hey Shawanda,

      Thanks! I got a lot of help from some really switched-on people to come to the conclusion that mini eBooks was the right way to go, so I have to pass on the credit to them. I’m glad you’re getting (or have got) out of the content farms rut — that is awesome to read. If you need any help just let me know!

      Cheers!

      Tom

      • says

        I appreciate your offer to help, Tom. I am in need of help getting out of writing for content mills. It was seeing your montly income reports that confirmed for me that the money is out there, and that it was time to step away from the content farms for good.

        I’ve been on ProBlogger.net, and would love any other tips/suggestions on how to find better paying opportunities.

        Thanks!

  26. says

    Lol honestly Tom I probably would have done the same thing you did…as they say, “haters gonna hate”, and there’s not much we can do about it. Just like with failure, it’s part of us being in business for ourselves and is something that just comes with earning the stripes…I know I’m preaching to the choir here though!

    Looking at the issue from a level head, I’m still not sure I know what I’d do. I see the merits in responding–you’re just letting your product look bad if you don’t respond. But then again, responding sends fuel to the fire. Maybe the best thing would’ve been to just contact them privately if at all possible…

    • says

      You’re right — that would’ve been the best option, and I would’ve done if I’d had the opportunity. Like you say, it’s just part of being in business!

  27. says

    I’m going to give a dissenting view.

    I can see you had a horrible experience on Amazon, and I don’t think the person who left the one-star review was particularly constructive in their criticism. However, I do think they had a valid point, and they touched a raw nerve.

    In much of the internet marketing community, there’s a huge sense of unreality about what ebooks are worth. It’s a fantasy world, disconnected from reality.

    If I go to my local bookshop, most of the books are priced between £8 and £15 ($12-$20). Within that price is the royalty for the writer, the cost of printing, marketing and distribution, and profit for the publisher and the retailer.

    In the world most of us inhabit, $47 (around £30) is around half a day’s wages. It’s around a third of the cost of a flat screen TV, and quarter of the cost of a Kindle Fire.

    This is the world the so called “haters” and “trolls” on Amazon come from. I know they don’t always go about making their point in the best way, but they do have a valid point.

    $47 for an ebook, the vast majority of which is profit for the author, is a huge amount.

    I don’t think it’s a reasonable price for an ebook.

    • says

      Hi David,

      I can see where you’re coming from but I have to disagree.

      The very fact that information products (I deliberately avoid using the word eBook as what I am offering is not precisely that) do sell for higher prices than “real” books demonstrates that they are not “disconnected from reality” as you put it. On the contrary, they exist in a reality of their own that happens to operate by the “natural laws” of economics. The fact that these information products are sold at such prices demonstrates a natural balance of supply and demand.

      To come at the issue from an alternative perspective, the books in your local store are sold in huge volumes and the profits generated are far higher than that of your typical information product (for multiple parties no less — author, publisher, etc), so I don’t consider it a particularly relevant comparison.

      Selling my information product for say $10 just wouldn’t be worth the effort I put into it, so do I sell it for more or just not bother creating it at all? Furthermore, the idea of comparing the value of it against a flatscreen TV seems somewhat redundant, given that a flatscreen TV doesn’t teach you how to build a viable online business. Let’s just imagine for a moment that the book gives you the necessary tools to earn $5,000 per month by working 4 hours per day — does it still seem like an unreasonable price?

      I’ll close by saying that none of the above is intended to be read as argumentative — it is great to have the opportunity to respond to honest and thoughtful criticism and I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

      Cheers,

      Tom

      P.S. My guide actually sells from $27 here on LWB — I introduced new price points today on the basis that some people would consider $47 an unreasonable price. So like I say, I do have an appreciation for where you’re coming from, even if I do disagree with the main thrust of your argument.

  28. says

    I hope you don’t mind me laughing a little at your predicament. I’m sorry, but the story about the idiots ganging up on you, along with the screenshot of the various complaints, tickled my funny bone. Sorry!

    I do thank you for sharing your experience because it actually confirmed to me my plans to publish e-guides on Amazon. I was thinking of using the price points that you came to in the end, after all the hassle you went through during your “failure.” (A relative term!) It’s nice to have my initial thoughts on this confirmed.

    Lastly, I do want to thank you for sharing this information! It’s nice to read someone who is real and isn’t afraid to say, “I made a mistake.” I think one of the best lessons to take away is to stay true to your instincts and principles. While I may be getting too deep into the psychology here, it seems maybe the reason you didn’t market your first outing is because you didn’t really believe in it.

    • says

      You’re exactly right Anne — it always felt like a compromise and I should have listened to my heart and figured an alternative approach out. Lesson learned!

  29. Patrick King says

    I certainly get your point that the customer buying a book is paying for information, not binding or paper. That said, an electronic book is very easy to produce and should offer some sort of customer discount taking that into account. I think that is the pov of many purchasers of this type of product.

    Recently however I have found myself re-buying titles I already own in paper for the much greater convenience of being able to pull them up on my device for immediate reference. Some of these titles were not cheap but the electronic media is more malleable and so necessary for my projects.

    I think as time passes people will be more amenable to spending more money for the convenience of access electronic publishing affords. In the meantime I suppose we have to be realistic about what we can expect from shrewd and cautious purchasers. Neither of my titles exceed a $3 price.

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