Can You Make a Good Kindle Publishing Income? Insights for Aspiring Publishers

Hear directly from five self-publishers whose lives look completely different now with a Kindle publishing income.

Can You Make a Good Kindle Publishing Income? Insights for Aspiring Publishers
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Anyone can absolutely make a good Kindle publishing income...just ask the thousands of AIA students who’ve quit their jobs to travel full-time, retired early, or even set out to sail the seven seas (more on that later). In this blog post, we'll do a deep dive into the online business model that's taking the passive income community by storm—self-publishing.

Hint: All you need is an Amazon account to get started. Check out our free Kindle publishing income mini course that shows you the exact blueprint to tap into AI and make money online, even as a total beginner.

How Can You Make a Kindle Publishing Income?

Earning money through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) involves the same royalty system that celebrities use to continue making money even decades after putting out a hit song. 

As a self-publisher, your earnings are directly tied to the choices you make during the publishing process. It might sound a little intense, but all that control is actually the best part of self-publishing. You get to make all the decisions instead of blindly following what a traditional publishing house forces you to do with your works and ideas. 

How Royalties Work on KDP

When you publish an eBook on Amazon's Kindle platform, you'll earn royalties each time a customer purchases your book. Amazon KDP offers two royalty options:

35% Royalty Rate

  • Applies to books sold in any territory.
  • Your book must be priced at least $0.99.
  • No delivery fees.

70% Royalty Rate

  • Eligible for sales in specific territories.
  • Pricing must be between $2.99 and $9.99.
  • A delivery fee is deducted based on file size (but it's usually pretty minimal).

You'll also earn royalties for your hardcover, paperback, and audiobook versions of the same book. These royalties will be paid directly to your bank account or mailed as a check two months after the book gets purchased.

Yes, those first two months can feel agonizing waiting for the notification from your bank that the funds have cleared, BUT as you grow your publishing business, you won't have to worry about that anymore because you'll be making a steady income even if you decide to take a month off to go explore France.

We refer to royalties as virtually passive income because you can literally sell eBooks in your sleep. Amazon operates round-the-clock, which means multiple books can earn money without any additional labor or costs on your part after the initial work to get the manuscript polished and published.

Wanna see how much Amazon might owe you for your next book? Play around with our free eBook royalties calculator!

How Much Does It Cost to Publish on the Amazon Marketplace?

Publishing on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is totally free. There aren’t any account maintenance fees, subscription fees, or anything like that. You don’t even need a Prime account. You can upload your book directly to KDP, set your price, and start selling without any upfront costs, depending on how much control you want over the process. On the other hand, you can also choose to outsource 99% of the work.

Here are some of the potential costs involved in the process of self-publishing on Amazon if you do decide to bring in some other creative professionals to help:

  • Manuscript Writing & Editing: With tools like ChatGPT and Grammarly, you can whip up a solid book outline and even an initial manuscript draft in no time, but AI just isn't to the point that it will be 100% publishable. A ghostwriter might run you anywhere between $500-1500+ depending on the length of your ideal manuscript.
  • Book Preparation: Formatting your Kindle eBook for publishing can be free if you do it yourself using tools like Amazon's Create app, Microsoft Word, the free version of Canva, or Google Docs. However, professional formatting services can range from $50 to $300+, depending on the complexity.
  • Cover Design: While you can use KDP’s cover creator for free, hiring a designer for a custom cover might be between $5 to $500+ using platforms like Fiverr or Upwork.
  • ISBN: Amazon KDP will automatically generate an ISBN for your book, but you'll need to buy your own if you plan on distributing your book to other retailers. The cost is around $125 for a single ISBN, but you can buy them in bulk for a way better deal through places like Bowker.
  • Proof Copies: If you're publishing a paperback, you have the option to order proof copies directly through your KDP account. You pay only the printing costs plus shipping and taxes.
  • Marketing: KDP also provides the option to enroll your book in the KDP Select program, which requires exclusive distribution to Amazon but offers additional promotional opportunities at no extra cost. If you decide to run ads, that will be a separate charge, but you'll be able to set a daily maximum budget.

Pro Tip: All businesses, even online businesses, are going to incur costs. That's just how it is. But when you compare the profit potential of Kindle eBooks versus drop shipping or Doordashing, there's no competition. The Kindle publishing income cost in the short-term might be your dedicated attention and a couple of hours a week, but the long-term gains are complete freedom over your schedule and income.

Maximizing Book Sales

Making a good Kindle publishing income isn't about publishing multiple books as quickly as possible. It's about quality and strategy. At least, that's what separates a publishing hobby from building a real online business.

Here are some ways to get more Amazon book sales and take advantage of all of Amazon's content marketing features:

Smart and Effective Pricing Strategies

You cannnnn set a price for your Kindle books and forget about it, but you'd be leaving money on the table if you did. There's a better way to price your Kindle book and maximize your publishing income!

Introductory Offer:

  • Consider pricing your eBook at a lower rate, such as $0.99. This accessible price point encourages initial sales and makes it easier for readers to decide to purchase.
  • A lower price at launch can rapidly drive sales volume, helping you climb up the bestseller ranks.

Gathering Reviews:

  • Early sales are a great opportunity to collect book reviews on Amazon. Encourage readers to leave their thoughts, as these reviews serve as social proof for future buyers.
  • Positive reviews build credibility and can significantly influence the purchasing decisions of new readers.

Price Increment Post-Launch:

  • After accumulating a good number of reviews and initial sales (50-100), consider raising your book’s price.
  • Setting the price slightly higher than your competitors can create a perception of premium quality. It suggests that your book offers more value, which can justify the higher price in the eyes of potential buyers.

Monitor and Adjust:

  • Keep an eye on sales trends and reader reactions post-price change. If sales decline, it might indicate the need for a price adjustment.
  • Be flexible and ready to modify your pricing based on market response and sales performance.

Psychological Pricing:

  • Implement psychological pricing strategies, like pricing a book at $4.99 instead of $5.00, which can make a significant difference in perception and influence buying decisions.

Seasonal Promotions:

  • Consider temporary price reductions during holidays or special events. These promotions can reignite interest in your book and boost sales during typically high-traffic periods.

Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Algorithms

Kindle Unlimited is a subscription service that allows readers to discover and read as many books as they want. As a publisher, you're paid based on the number of pages Kindle Unlimited subscribers read in your book rather than per book sold.

Your book’s performance on Amazon is partly dictated by algorithms that favor:

  • High sales volume
  • Good reviews
  • Frequent updates

Expanding Your Reach with Multiple Book Formats

Offering your book in multiple formats can significantly increase your visibility and revenue. By catering to diverse reader preferences, you can also tap into different market segments and use other pricing psychology strategies like anchoring.

Exploring Print-on-Demand

If you've started with an eBook, consider taking advantage of Amazon's print-on-demand (POD) services to offer a paperback version. Other services like IngramSpark also allow you to upload your digital book file, set a sales price, and only print copies as they're ordered, reducing the need for inventory storage.

  • Cost Efficiency: Pay only when a book is ordered.
  • Wide Distribution: List your book on various platforms for greater visibility.

Venturing into Audiobooks

Audiobooks can reach an audience that prefers listening over reading, and it's actually how the Mikkelsen Twins got their start. Producing an audiobook involves narrating and recording your content, which can be outsourced to platforms like ACX, where you can connect with professional narrators.

  1. Selection of Narrator: Choose a voice that suits your book's tone and style.
  2. Quality of Production: Invest in good production to ensure a pleasant listening experience.
  3. Diversify Your Income: Once your audiobook is published, it will go on to sell forever!

What Is Price Anchoring and How Can It Increase Your Publishing Income?

Once you have multiple versions of your books published, you can access new features inside your KDP account, like bundles. Price anchoring is based on the idea that, in most cases, readers purchase the best deal. Using this knowledge to your advantage, you can strategically choose which version to push—like your book bundles.

Book Bundles

Book bundles are an excellent way to offer value to your readers and encourage them to purchase more of your work. You can create bundles of digital books, combining:

  • eBooks
  • Audiobooks
  • Related titles in a series

Pro Tip: Price bundles attractively compared to buying each format separately. Your readers will get a great deal out of it, and you'll pocket more royalties than if you were to sell just one individual book. It's a win-win.

Applying Anchor Pricing to Your Book Formats

A lot of our students prefer actual walkthroughs, so let's take a look at what anchor pricing might look like for each version of a book.

Hardcover as the Anchor:

  • Premium Pricing: Price the hardcover version at a premium (e.g., $29.99) to establish it as the high-value option.

Paperback Version:

  • Mid-range Option: Set the paperback price slightly lower than the hardcover (e.g., $19.99), making it appear as a more accessible yet valuable choice.

Kindle eBook Format:

  • Affordable Choice: Offer the eBook at a significantly lower price point (e.g., $9.99), positioning it as an attractive option for budget-conscious readers.

Audiobook Pricing:

  • Value Proposition: Price the audiobook between the eBook and paperback (e.g., $14.99) to cater to audiobook lovers looking for convenience and value.

Disclaimer: These are obviously just an example that won't hold true for every niche market or audience. You'll have to research what your fellow authors and publishers are doing based on your unique book ideas.

Benefits of Anchor Pricing

  • Enhanced Perceived Value: By establishing the hardcover as the anchor, the perceived value of other formats increases, encouraging purchases.
  • Increased Sales Volume: The lower-priced options might see a higher sales volume due to their perceived affordability relative to the anchor.
  • Flexible Consumer Choice: Provides options for consumers with different preferences and budgets, broadening your market reach.

Pro Tip: Like all things publishing, pricing takes practice! If you don't get it right from the start, you're not doomed. You can still make a decent Kindle publishing income that will grow with time, even if you haven’t created any bundles yet. We can't tell you how many hundreds of our students have "accidentally" made $2k+ on just ONE book in ONE month.

Tackling the Business Side of Self-Publishing

Getting off the corporate hamster wheel and jumping into the Kindle publishing business model means having to get comfy with taxes and money matters, but it's really not as bad as you might think. Here's a quick overview:

Managing Finances and Sales Data

You’ll be responsible for tracking your royalties and book sales, even though KDP provides detailed reports every month. You’ll want to track: 

  • Monthly Income: Monitor the money you earn monthly from digital product sales.
  • Trends by Book: Use KDP's detailed reports to assess which books are selling and when.

Self-Publishing as a Business Model

Self-publishing is a legitimate business model offering passive income online for those willing to put in the upfront work. As a business owner, your focus should be on creating quality content, optimizing your book's visibility on digital platforms, and marketing. The strategy is to build a portfolio of works that consistently sell over time, generating a steady income.

  • Portfolio Growth: Expand your selection of self-published works to enhance passive revenue streams.
  • Marketing Strategies: Invest time in promotional tactics to increase visibility.

Writing Off Business Expenses on Taxes

One advantage of treating your self-publishing endeavors as a formal business is the ability to write off related expenses on your taxes. This can include costs associated with marketing, cover design, editing, and even a portion of your home if you have a dedicated home office. 

  • Deductible Expenses: Keep receipts and records of all business-related expenses for tax purposes. You can keep paper copies or scan them and keep digital versions instead. 
  • Tax Regulations: Familiarize yourself with tax laws applicable to self-employed individuals or consult a tax professional.

Exploring Advanced Topics in Kindle Publishing

As you build your publishing confidence, you can start thinking about scaling your business up even further with more advanced marketing tactics like these: 

Building and Managing a Book Series

Building a book series is a good way to keep readers coming back for more content. 

  • Plan your series arc: Make sure each book connects well with others to maintain reader interest.
  • Consistency in branding: Use similar cover designs and titles to create a recognizable series identity.

Collaboration with Ghostwriters and Designers

Working with ghostwriters and designers can elevate the quality of your Kindle books.

  • Ghostwriters: Craft clear contracts detailing expectations and deadlines.
  • Designers: Strong cover designs are vital; choose designers with a portfolio that aligns with the style you’re looking for.

Running Amazon Ads

Amazon ads can enhance your books' visibility and increase sales.

  • Targeting: Be precise with your targeting options to reach your specific audience.
  • Budgeting: Start with a modest budget, then scale up as you analyze ad performance.

Building Facebook Groups

Creating a Facebook group can foster a dedicated reader community and boost engagement. It’s definitely not something you have to do to be successful, but some of our students really enjoy engaging with their readers this way. 

  • Active Participation: Regularly post content and engage with your group to maintain interest.
  • Exclusive Content: Offer group members special content to incentivize membership and loyalty.

Continual Improvement and Growth

As a self-publisher and business owner, bumps in the road are inevitable, but the quicker you can bounce back from them, the better you can make your next book and the more royalties you’ll see in your bank account. 

Analyzing Reader Feedback and Reviews

Reader feedback can make you a better Kindle publisher if you don’t take it personally. 

  • Monitor reviews on your Kindle book listings for insights.
  • Identify patterns in reader responses, both positive and negative.
  • Repeat these steps for your competitor’s reviews, too!

Iterative Writing and Publishing

To iterate something is to build off it after multiple repetitions, like learning to ride a bike and eventually getting rid of the training wheels. 

  • Experiment with different niches until you find one that sticks. 
  • Know that you might have to partner with several ghostwriters and designers before you find the perfect fit. 

Each publication can be a stepping stone to understand your audience better and enhance your strategy for future releases.

How Can You Make a Kindle Publishing Income Without Being A Writer?

Earning income through Kindle Direct Publishing doesn’t require you to be a writer. 

Here are several methods to generate revenue on the Kindle platform:

1. Hire Ghostwriters: You can hire a ghostwriter to craft books for you from scratch or build on your drafts. This is a common practice where you retain full rights to the content while the ghostwriter remains anonymous. Most people don’t even realize that 9/10 celebrity books are all written by ghostwriters. 

  • Research topics that are in demand
  • Find proficient writers within your budget

2. Use AI Writing Tools: AI writing programs can produce a draft or list of ideas, which you can then edit and polish to your standard.

  • Combine AI insights with human editing for quality
  • Example: ChatGPT doubles as a niche finder software, idea generator, and book outliner

3. Curate Public Domain Works: You're allowed to publish public domain content according to Amazon’s content guidelines. However, these works must be differentiated by adding your own commentary or illustrations.

  • Verify public domain works and copyright information online
  • Add value with your unique contributions

How Much Time Does Amazon KDP Take?

The publishing process itself is relatively quick. You can upload your book in a matter of hours, and it typically appears on Amazon within 24 to 72 hours after submission, provided there are no issues with your content or book cover (front, back, and spine).

Here's a general timeline you can expect:

  • Writing: Variable (weeks or months)
  • Formatting: 1–7 days
  • Cover Design: Hours (KDP tools) or Weeks (professional)
  • KDP Submission: A few hours
  • Live on Amazon: 24–72 hours

Do You Have to Live in the US to Make a Good Kindle Publishing Income?

Absolutely not. You can make a good Kindle publishing income from anywhere in the world. You don’t even have to be in the same market as you’re selling to. For example, some of your most avid readers might end up being halfway across the world in Australia! You’ll be able to check this within your KDP dashboard. 

Who Is Amazon KDP For?

A Kindle publishing income offers the flexibility to craft your online business completely around your lifestyle without a boss or anyone else to answer to. These are some types of students we've had over the years:

The World Traveler:

  • Indie publishers can publish their works while exploring new countries and embracing the digital nomad life. Your next book could be written on a beach in Thailand or a café in Paris, with earnings supporting your travels.

The Full-Time Parent:

  • Self-publishing offers the flexibility for parents to work from home, allowing them to balance childcare with a writing career. Publishing on Amazon KDP can be fit around family commitments, offering a fulfilling and flexible income source. Let’s be honest—the price of childcare is insane these days!

The Side Hustler:

  • For those with full-time jobs looking to build an additional income stream, Kindle Publishing provides an avenue to publish and earn without quitting the day job. The passive income from book sales can grow over time, offering financial security and a safe transition from one to the other. 

The Retiree Author:

  • Retirement doesn't mean the end of productivity. Many retirees turn to Kindle Publishing to share their life's work, stories, or expertise, adding a valuable income source during their golden years. Publishing on Amazon is one of the best side hustles for retirees.

The Remote Worker:

  • Kindle publishing complements remote work well, offering another layer of financial stability and a creative outlet for people from all industries. 

Kindle Publishing Income Review: 5 Case Studies with Real Results

Who better to hear from than five individuals and couples who took our Kindle publishing income course and made an extra $500 a month their own? 

1. Retired Professor Turned Full-time Publisher

Koorosh came out of his retirement as a former professor after getting inspired by the thought of bringing in passive income every month. Just one book ended up doubling in sales month after month, eventually bringing him over $1k per month. That's when he decided to expand his online business by building his own website and learning how to format his own books.

Listen to his experience and best advice here!

2. Teacher and Grandma Who Overcame Self-Doubt

Robyn was also a former teacher who launched a book on Audible and almost gave up early on in her self-publishing journey. Her favorite part of the AIA course was the module about developing a "Millionaire Mindset" because it ultimately helped her push past all the self-doubt and limiting beliefs that were getting in her way.

If you need some inspiration today, this is it:

3. Father of Three Turned Best-Selling Author

Fred never thought he'd add "best-selling author" to his resume, let alone make almost $9k in a single month from just one book. He was even more shocked to find that he was still bringing in book sales, even during the months he was focused on being a dad instead of publishing.

4. Expert Publishing Coach and Former Marketing Exec

Stefan is one of the founding members of our accelerated course and a former marketing exec who knows how miserable corporate life can be. He shares his coaching expertise on how to build a community and really make the most out of our Kindle publishing income course.

5. Busy Mom Who’s Juggling It All

Carissa is a mompreneur who didn't think she'd ever have time to publish one book, let alone multiple. It took her longer than she would have liked to get her first book up on the Amazon Kindle store, but it all paid off when the royalties started coming in.

A Truly Passive Income Is Yours If You Want It with Self-Publishing

There are a lot of misconceptions about what it actually takes to self-publish a book these days.

We can tell you it doesn't take a million dollars, a college degree, or expert computer skills. At the same time, you can't just click one button and have a bestselling manuscript appear out of thin air (we're working on it, don't worry). The bread and butter of building a successful online business with publishing is making content that potential readers actually WANT to read. That's it. Whether you create it all by hand or work with a ghostwriter, that will always ring true.

There are two ways we can help:

1) If you're looking for a legitimate Kindle publishing income course with a step-by-step guide and video walkthroughs of every single step of the publishing process (without overwhelming you with too much information), our AI publishing academy might be a good fit.

2) If you're looking for a high-level, bird's eye view of the whole process and the strategies taught in our hyper-specific course, then our exclusive free self-publishing webinar is for you.

Both will show you how to find the most profitable low-competition niches and turn your book ideas into a Kindle publishing income that pays you for years and years to come. The question is, what are you going to do with your new publishing income? 

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