How to Get Rich with Kindle Direct Publishing

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Kindle Direct Publishing

When I began this blog, I really wanted it to be a journal of various issues and anecdotes that I felt like writing about. But many of the emails I receive are from young writers wanting tips on how to make it as an indie author. 

I go out of my way to help my readers with whatever they need help with, and this blog is no exception. Personally, I hate writing about writing, but I'm happy that I've reached a level of success that others reach out to me for advice. So, here's a few more tips:

Getting Rich: The Non- 4 Hour Workweek Style

Before you can even think of becoming a successful writer, you must adopt a successful mentality. Our culture seems to value the "get rich quick" scheme. It has taken various forms throughout the ages and has manifested in modern culture with multi-level marketing. And to some extent, the 4-Hour Workweek mentality.  

Now don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the 4-Hour Workweek. In fact, I think Tim Ferris is a genius. I've used his principles in several of my own businesses, including my law firm and my career as an author, and there's invaluable information in the 4-Hour Workweek. I would highly recommend checking it out if you haven't yet (and for those of you struggling with weight loss or body image, his book The 4-Hour Body is also excellent.)

But it isn't for everybody. I believe that for many people, the system of shortcuts he's selling will simply not work. The reason I believe this is detailed and can be discussed on another post if need be.

Ultimately, he's selling a dream and it's a nice dream to partake of. But I've started more businesses than I can remember and what I can tell you is that if you want success you must work for it. Very, very few people can make vast sums of money without putting in the correct amount of work. And submitting to the correct amount of failure (in my own life, I've had twenty businesses fail for every one that succeeded.) 

Writing is no different. There are no shortcuts. You must learn your craft. You must learn characterization, plotting, grammar and syntax. Of course this doesn't mean you should write like an English professor. Once you put in the time and learn the correct way to write, break all the rules. My favorite writers ignored the rules of proper writing and wrote how they felt, which is what I try and do. But don't think that this comes easy or that you can just plop out a few books and get rich. It took me fifteen years of writing nearly every day to get where I am, and all the successful writers I know have put in similar time. 

If you want to get rich using Kindle Direct Publishing, first realize you will have to work hard. The one rule I've learned in becoming a successful author is that content is king. And for that you have to learn to actually write. 

Getting Rich with Kindle Direct Publishing

Once you can actually write, the rest is the fun part. My favorite part of business is marketing and sales. I've spent years perfecting my pitch at my law firm in order for my clients to appreciate my level of experience and feel comfortable enough to hire me. My pitch was developed by studying psychology, not business per se. Because business is psychology; the cornerstone of all business is marketing and sales and those are based on simple behavioral models that anyone can learn. 

So, with the psychology of your target audience in mind, think of these next few steps and how to apply them yourself: 

1. Pick Your Genre:
  
You want to get rich selling books on the Kindle but you like writing literary fiction? You're probably more likely to win the lottery. It's good to take bets sometimes but you have to take calculated bets. The odds are that the genres you can make real money in are not the ones with shrinking markets. Science fiction/fantasy, mystery, thriller, romance, erotica, horror and contemporary fiction are all good genres to pick. Leave the poetry and literary fiction for once you're established and can play around a little.

2. Pick Your Market

Before you put a single word to e-paper, consider your market. In every business I own, this is the secret of my success. Think of your market first before you act. This requires some serious research. Does your chosen genre have many female protagonists and that's how the readers prefer it? You'll have to develop that female voice. Does your genre require knowing esoteric scientific knowledge? You better brush up online or get a subscription to Scientific American

I write some science fiction but I come from a mathematics and philosophy background; two fields that help me enormously in that genre. I wouldn't even attempt to write sci-fi without at least some scientific context. 

So know what your market wants, do the research and put in the work, and cater to that. 

3. Ignore Bad Reviews

Some authors I hear from tell me that they have received many bad reviews and are discouraged from writing. Let me be clear about this: IGNORE REVIEWS. Just ignore them. To a point. 

We all come to the table with different ideologies and prejudices and who the heck really knows why people leave the reviews they do?

To give you one example: a reviewer gave one of my books a one star review because they were upset that my protagonist used an iPhone and Mac and the reviewer preferred android. I'm not kidding, that really happened. 

So ignore the bad reviews on a personal level, but learn from them if there's something to learn. It's a fine line you have to walk, but occasionally reviewers leave constructive reviews. You just have to separate them from the nut-balls and you might actually learn something. 

4. Write Like Crazy

There is no form of marketing as efficacious as a previous book someone enjoyed. I list all my books at the front and back of all my other books. I want to make sure all my readers know about all my books and nothing has led to more sales. 

Write as many books as you comfortably can in a year. I wrote six novels and a novella in 2012, adding an additional $3500 per month to my income from Kindle Direct Publishing. Many of you may not be able to write as quickly as I and that's fine; but whatever you do, don't take the publishing industry's advice that each book should take two years to perfect. If you're trying to get rich from KDP, then you need to think of each book you write as a roll of the roulette wheel. I took seven rolls this year. Do you really want to only take one roll every two years? Forget that and write as much as you can. 

I should say a note on writer's block here: I have never gotten it. I don't even understand really what it is. Are the words just not coming or can the writer not even articulate the ideas in his head? I think the reason I'm blessed with this is that I just treat writing like any other business. I sit down at the Mac every day and write and that's all there is to it. No ifs, ands or buts. You'll need to develop something similar. Too many writers spend too much time contemplating writing rather than actually writing. 

Psychiatrists and psychologists routinely recommend patients keep a journal. This is because the process of writing is psychologically different from the process of thinking. They involve different regions of the brain. 

How many NBA players come out one day and say, "I can't play basketball today?" How many television actors/actresses come out and say, "Sorry guys, you'll have to shut down production cause I just can't act today." People in every field have stress but writers seem to think they have something unique that prevents them from performing. It's BS. Just sit down and write every day and I promise you that after a number of months or years you won't even remember what writer's block is. 

5. Use Your Funds to Advertise Your Books

In my other businesses, and as every successful business does, I take much of the profit from my books and invest in new books. I market, spend on editors and book cover designers, travel to various events etc. Many writers take their funds and blow it on momentary pleasures. As a Mormon, for me this would probably be cars, travel and clothing (I love nice clothes). But for others it might be booze or drugs or prostitutes or gambling (writers are not known as a stable group). 

Don't do that. 

Instead, take your money and think like a businessman. Think, "how can I maximize the profit I just made to make even more next month?" Invest in your books and they will pay dividends. Ignore them, and like the books at failing bookstores all over the world, they will collect dust. 

6. Stick to Amazon and Kindle Direct Publishing: For a While

I've been successful at all the different book publishing platforms, but none of them are as responsive to marketing as Kindle Direct Publishing. Pubit, Barnes and Noble's publishing platform, can make a tidy sum but you have to forsake the Kindle Prime program which can garner a lot of money for you in loans (Amazon prevents your ebook from being published elsewhere if you join Prime). 

Some authors swear they've had more success on Barnes and Noble or even Kobo, but I've tested various marketing models and none of them responded like Amazon did. This wasn't a double-blind University study, so take it for what it's worth, but in my experience you can make a lot more with Kindle Direct Publishing and Kindle Prime than with anyone else.

Having said that, experiment and find out what works. I have an exclusivity deal with Amazon that expires soon and I'm going to allow Kobo and Barnes & Noble to publish my books in 2014. I'll report on whether market conditions have changed, but you shouldn't take my word for it. Try all the platforms out yourself and see which ones are the most responsive to your type of writing. 

7. Help Other Authors. 

There's just something about helping other people that leads to blessings in your own life. You may not believe in a God, so just think of it as karma or a principle of electromagnetism: What you put out into the universe is exactly what you get back. You be a jerk, you'll find yourself surrounded by jerks. But you be generous with your time and your knowledge and the universe will reward you likewise. So, for  crap's sake, just be a nice guy or gal and help out when someone asks you for help. 

These are some of the principles I've used to sell more books than I could've ever dreamed I would've sold. It's gotten to the point to where I'm not even interested in a book deal with a publisher because there is no way they would offer me as much as I'm making now. 

If you want this type of success, the only thing I can tell you is to treat your writing like a business, believe in yourself, and write as much as possible. Do this, and there's no way you can fail. 

As always, leave a comment or email me with any questions or clarifications. I'm always happy to help out my fellow wordsmiths.

By Victor Methos

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15 comments:

  1. I remember once reading, some time ago, that a successful author used to collect his rejection slips in a positive, humourous, kind of way. It made me laugh at the time and I can see the merit in it.

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  2. I think it was Scott Turow that wrote his first published novel on the backs of seven hundred rejection letters.

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  3. any ideas to when your follow up to Plague will be out, that was a awesome book.

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  4. Your advice on "writer's block" was really useful. Thanks.

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  5. Your advice of treating writing as a business is very helpful! I am looking for a way to move from the more "literary genre" to a more marketable kind for the time-being (I've published 7 books in traditional way, but it does not quite bring enough income to keep going). Your post is thought-provoking and inspiring.

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  7. Raymond, by the end of the summer.

    Marina, glad you liked it. Drop me an email if you need any help in your transition.

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  8. Thank you for this blog, i feel that it has given me more push than most of the "how-tos" on writing i have seen so far.

    More power to you kind sir.

    Amps

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  9. Douglas Adams said "Writers Block" was invented by a bunch of Californians who wanted to hang around coffee shops all day. Agree with you entirely - my first drafts are chunky & square but rough edges can be smoothed down and polished.
    Julia

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  10. Pascal, it was certainly a cumulative effect. Home-runs in this business are almost impossible and if that's what you're shooting for you mind as well play the lottery. A much better bet is to expect a couple hundred or so sales of a book per month and build your income from there.

    That said, I've had a few home runs (White Angel Murder has been in the top 100 three times on two continents). But I sat back mystified and wondered why. I did no promotion and thought some of my other books actually better written. Yet that was the big hit. A lot of the new ebook landscape is not only unknown, but unknowable. So just write what you love as long as it has commercial appeal and put out as much product per year as you can and you'll do just fine. Who knows, you may even hit a home-run now and again.

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  11. Lisa, the one thing that I didn't like about Prime is the exclusivity aspect. However, Barnes and Noble has failed and recently announced that they will not be further supporting their Nook. That leaves Amazon as the big dog so really you won't be missing out by being exclusive.

    Also, Amazon is great to work with. They selected one of my books for one of their own promotions and they were super-cool and laid back and actually listened to me (they even called and spoke to me about my views on KDP and how they can make it better, B&N would never in a million years do that).

    I would recommend to any author to go all-in with Amazon. They really don't have any competition anymore so you don't have anything to lose.

    Cheers,
    VM

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  12. Victor, so far I'm not doing too well. I've published three books and sales have been dismal. I try really hard with marketing and get a good number of visitors to my blog, but the traffic doesn't convert into book sales. That said, I've written six chapters of a new book.Should have done more but marketing is so time consuming and compulsive.

    I just happened on your blog, and I'm glad . It gave me a lift.

    Best wishes,
    Ann Massey

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  13. I like your blog here and it has good advice. one thing I would of liked for you to have clarified though is what you consider a novel. the measurement in general terms, a range of how large it should be at a minimum. there are a lot of short stories on kindle direct publishing or compilation of short stories. to say to write s many novels as possible without giving them your measure of a novel lacks well, clarity. for some people they may think of a novel in larger term and be discouraged unable to imagine writing so much but a novel can be shorter than one hundred pages or can be several thousand pages depending on the writer, the subject, and other variables. the only other thing I would say against your blog is that writer's block is real and not bs. the comparisons you gave are of people in careers where they already have a structure to follow, basketball has pre-established rules and design, actors have a script to go by. sure these people can put in their own unique perspective on it and even forge into some unknown but only from their established parameters and branch out. for a writer or painter or other artist usually they have nothing to start with except maybe a genre at best. an actor doesn't have to write the script before acting and a basketball player doesn't have to invent the game before playing it. for a writer many books start as a blank page not even an outline or concept. but I will agree that writers should not obsess over writer's block. it is used as an excuse not to try or not to try harder. if you are blocked in your current subject then start a new one and come back to it for a fresh perspective or write in a journal or read a book to be inspired by another author but don't stop and don't use writer's block as a crutch. that is my opinion on that subject. other than those two points I like your blog a lot and it is something helpful and something to think on. I myself would like to become a writer but I am less than a novice at it. we will see in time if I can produce something. no I should say that I will produce something regardless of time, effort, or outcome. I will try to eliminate all assumptions and discourage expectations. something I have recently told to my father which my be best put in a fortune cookie is that it is better to have an expectation than an assumption. with an expectation you aren't completely sure and so you still try or are open to different results but an assumption means you don't even bother trying or ignore the possibility of something different. what do you think on the subject?

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