December 2013 Kindle Publishing Report


Welcome to the third Kindle Income Report. I’m writing these reports on a monthly basis in an attempt to capture the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to my Kindle Publishing business.

My goal is detail important events that happened the previous months, how much I made (or lost) during the month, key takeaways I learned and what I’m working on in the coming months. Since Amazon doesn’t release my monthly earnings until the the 15th of following month (December’’s earnings were released on January 15th) I plan to write up a report around the 15th of each month.

Let me be clear from the beginning – this monthly report isn’t to claim I make the most money on Kindle or beat my chest as the works greatest publisher – I don’t and I’m not – but rather take a few minutes to capture and reflect on the previous 30 days.
Important Occasions In December

Piggybacking off our success of our holiday recipe books we continued to have them produced in December. This time we focused on the Christmas Holiday with a book on Christmas Recipes.

We followed the same outsourcing formula as our Thanksgiving book and the same Pump the Brakes promotional strategy to bring in sales. We started by getting 5 reviews of the book from our Authors Advantage group (link) and also using this software (link) to find reviewers.

Then we used the pump the brakes promotional strategy to bring in downloads and more sales of the book. We got all the way to #2 in our category and brought in dozens of sales for the book in a short time.

At the end of the promotion, the sales were about half that of the Thanksgiving book and here’s why I think that is. When you think of Thanksgiving, you think primarily of the main meal being served, families gathering, etc but when you think of Christmas you primarily think of giving gifts, spending time with family, and then a meal.

To put it simply – Thanksgiving is meal centered, whereas Christmas is gift centered. Yes I also know there are religious reasons for Christmas but I think you get my point. One thing I did notice and I plan on capitalizing on for next Christmas is dessert books. I noticed a lot of best selling books on pies, fudge, and other holiday treats and it makes sense when you consider company Christmas parties, multiple family gatherings, and that some people prefer to gift food over presents.

Having had two books for each holiday, and seeing the results of each of them, my plan going forward is to focus more the Thanksgiving holiday for complete recipe and niche diet books and focus on dessert books for the Christmas holiday.

I expect to scale up in both areas since this niche has proven profitable and with any luck I’ll have 3 to 5 books for each holiday by this time next year.

Income Breakdown

We took an income dip in December and I believe there were several factors that caused this.

1. Slower than expect recipe book sales. The Christmas book didn’t sell as well as the Thanksgiving book (which was a large portion of the November income).

2. You can’t mess with Santa. I noticed a sharp decrease in book sales prior to Christmas and I can only believe that was due to people saving their money in favor or buying presents, holiday travel, meals, etc. I did however notice a great increase in books sales immediately following Christmas which makes sense considering all the new kindle customers and new Kindle device owners Amazon produced. Not to mention gift cards and holiday money that shoppers had to spend.

3. Lack of promotion. Frankly I dropped the ball on promoting as many books as possible immediately following the Christmas holiday and I think that contributed to a lack of sales in December.

All told we made $136 in December which is less than November but still not bad considering how little time I put into working and promoting our books in December.

Key Takeaways

The biggest takeaway for December didn’t actually come until late in the month of January when I looked at dwindling kindle sales and asked “what is happening?” That’s when I had to take a hard look at my business and how I was running the publishing side of it.

To be honest, it wasn’t pretty and I’m going to share it with you so you can learn from my mistake.

Here it goes … my biggest takeaway was that you can never stop running the machine. Whether it’s publishing books, writing books, or promoting books – when you’re trying to build up your publishing empire (that sounds cool right), you can’t take your foot off the gas.

Looking back to December and even into January it was clear to me that was exactly what happened. I had one book published in December and no books started in January. I also only did a single book promotion in the month of December and practically nothing the following month.

It’s easy to let myself off the hook – I was busy, it was the holidays, I traveled a ton, my wife was finally home from her work …. all of these things are true, but the bottom line is they are also excuses.

No one is responsible for my success, but me. I can’t depend on others to push, prod, and remind me to do something. That’s why having a system in place is so important, but it’s only the first step. The second step – the step of taking action with that system – is where the magic happens.

It’s all pretty easy to get frustrated with myself and think about scrapping it all – but what would that accomplish? Nothing. So here’s what I’m doing instead:

1. Simplifying. The first thing I am doing is starting a promotional plan for a single book each week for the next month. No crazy funnels, no crazy plans, just a single book promoted each week for the next month.

By keeping things simple I’ll be able to keep on top of my promotional efforts and learn and adjust each week for the next book.

2. Making it a priority. On Monday I have a meeting, it will happen no matter what because I’ve told everyone involved if we don’t have the meeting heads are going to roll and people are going to be replaced. No matter what the meeting occurs.

Look, when you’re getting started, you can’t take days off. Sure you can stop and enjoy the roses but one day off, that leads to two, that turns into three eventually turns into forever.

So when we have that meeting on Monday we will leave there with a plan that includes having two books outsourced this month. Not 3, not 1, but two. We’ll get the ball rolling and get the machine up and running again.

To ensure it runs smoothly I’ll be doing checkups with my team every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Monday will set the goals for the week, Wednesday will check on the progress and address any concerns, and Friday will be a check in. If everything gets accomplished, we celebrate. If it doesn’t, we adjust.

It’s not hard or complicated to do, it just takes a commitment from me to the rest of my team to make it happen.

My goal this year is 30 books and since I’ve been slacking in getting them produced, that means I need to work hard over the next few months to catch up. By making things simple, following a system, and making it a priority I can’t see how anyone (including myself) can stand in the way.

Looking Ahead

With February upon us I’m going to start exploring a few new niches. The first one is children’s fiction and children’s illustrated fiction. My plan is to have someone create a few plot lines for me, I’ll pick the best one, and have it commissioned into a short book or illustrated book.

Next I’m going to work on writing my first non fiction book related to a topic I already know a lot about (so I don’t have to start from scratch and so I don’t have to do a ton of research). I don’t expect this first work to be the next New York Times Bestseller but I do expect it to accomplish a single goal: to solve and educate about a single problem or opportunity.

The truth is, you already have a great non fiction book/booklet inside of you. Don’t believe me? Ok then answer me this – what do you already know that someone else would be willing to pay you $3 to learn?

Have you lost weight, learned a new skill or hobby, have an amazing business or relationship, or something else completely. I’ll update you on the progress of the book but if everything goes according to plan I’ll be publishing it by the end of February.

Wrap Up

These past two months have taught me an important lesson and one I don’t plan on forgetting anytime soon. Based on the challenges I’ve faced, I’m going to use this new found motivation to really start cranking out books like clockwork and using the system that produced tremendous results for me in 2013.

This month I’ll be catching up from my slacking ways in December and January and by the end of February I’ll have ramped up not only production, but promotion of my books. I don’t expect everything to rebound overnight, I do however expect an increase in sales along with more products to offer the consumer.

I’ll also be testing out Kindle Countdown deals along with continuing to use the Pump The Brakes Promotional Strategy that took a student of mine all the way to the #3 downloaded book in Kindle and produced over 50 sales of her book in a week.

Production + Promotions = $$

That’s all for this month, I look forward to sharing with you how everything works out in a future update. Until then be well and keep publishing and promoting your books!

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