The truth about passive income through Kindle books

I’ve recently become aware of online “gurus” who are selling courses on how to “create a 6 figure salary through publishing Kindle e-books”. So, as someone who has published several books through Amazon, I thought I would shed some light on what kind of money you can realistically make by following their advice.

First thing’s first, where did the initial claim that you could make easy money through publishing Kindle e-books come from?

Several years ago Kindle Unlimited (KU) was one of the best ways to make money for writers. The writer could release e-books onto Kindle and people who paid for a KU subscription could read the book for free, but the writer would actually make a comparable amount to if the book sold traditionally.

It was a win-win for everyone. People get free books, and writers make good money.

Unfortunately, there was a glitch with this system. According to Coffezilla’s video on the subject, you could actually make much more money per e-book by creating 25 page mini-books (by either breaking down a larger book into a series of 25 page mini-books, or covering an individual subject in 25 pages).

If someone read your mini-book, you’d get around $2.07 (which is a big amount per e-book sold… I make $0.35 per e-book sold of The Influencer Bubble, which is $1). As a result, a group of people exploited this system by releasing a huge amount of mini-books.

Obviously Amazon realised they were making a loss on KU, so they’ve since amended the glitch.

If you were to do this now, you’d make considerably less, approximately $0.12 when someone reads the entire book on KU (much less than the $2 per book previously). I know this by looking at the KU royalties for The Influencer Bubble where 25 pages read in America equated to just $0.12, with other countries being much less (if a KU reader in the UK picked up an e-book, 25 pages equates to around £0.0008 – literally less than a penny).

The majority of money made from publishing on Amazon nowadays is through people buying e-books or paperbacks. Would creating mini-books still work effectively for this?

Realistically, I don’t see anyone buying a 25 page paperback unless it’s for children and is illustrated. Even then, I believe it would need a celebrity/influencer endorsement and/or lots of 5 star reviews to succeed.

As mentioned in my last book (Those Who Shout Loudest), you don’t make a great deal of money if your paperback is priced under $5 (due to the printing cost + Amazon’s royalties cut). If you want to make multiple pounds per book sold, you need to charge a premium price (closer to $10). As a result, you can expect people to be extra critical if it’s not very good.

So, in order to get those 5 star reviews and charge this more premium price, you’d either need it to be a life-changing 25 page book or one of the best children’s book of all time (we’re talking The Very Hungry Caterpillar type shit).

In terms of e-book, apply all the criticisms above, plus add that you’re selling to a much smaller demographic (as less people read Kindle titles than purchase paperbacks). Additionally, Amazon make it hard to buy Kindle books nowadays. I’m not sure if this is exclusively on Amazon.co.uk, but I can only buy e-books on the Amazon website, it’s impossible to buy through the Kindle app or the Amazon app.

The “gurus” want you to release several mini-books, too, so you’d have to achieve this success around 15 times to achieve success. If you can create 15 groundbreaking 25 page books, you’re in the money…

In conclusion it’s all lies to sell their online courses. There’s not much money in releasing books on Amazon, and I would only suggest it as a hobby. I do it because I love writing. If one day my books make me a pretty penny, it’s a bonus, but I’m not counting on it funding my livelihood.

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I was originally going to cover this in the new book, but felt like it didn’t have enough weight for a full chapter. Plus, if I’m going to breakdown publishing books properly, I’d want to provide more insight into how to successfully launch a book, and I don’t think I’ve achieved that knowledge yet.

Stay tuned for more updates!

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