Matt and I launched our second e-book this month and learned a lot in the process.
Before I dive into lessons learned and mistakes made, here are the numbers:
Website Traffic: 400
$13.00 – one month of hosting
$8.00 – keyword research tool
Annual Profit: $186.19
Writing our Second E-Book: Co-Authoring is Easier for List Books
For our first book, 100 Ways to Make Money Online: How to Make Money from Home and Start Achieving Financial Freedom Today,* Matt and I were able to split our co-authoring easily.
We each wrote about 50 ways to make money online, categorized them, then edited each other’s content.
Our second book, Online Business: 3 Steps to Turning Your Passion into Profit in Less Than One Year,* wasn’t as easy to split since it wasn’t based on a list.
As a result, we wrote a lot of content that we didn’t use in the final draft.
In fact, we determined the structure of the book primarily through trial and error, writing a lot of content and editing out what didn’t fit.
Both Matt and I marveled at how much more difficult it was to sync our writing styles and content when writing without a crystal clear outline in mind.
Depending on how well this book sells, we’ll likely stick to list books in the future for ease’s sake.
Titling Our Second E-Book: Viral Titles Vs. Titles Optimized for Search Engines
With our first e-book, we based our title on viral potential.
This paid off nicely, resulting in consistent sales for a solid month and a half.
Just like viral articles that are here today and gone tomorrow, we were concerned our first e-book would not have lasting sales because its title didn’t strongly correlate to Amazon keywords.
Google keyword research, a reasonable proxy for Amazon keyword research, indicates that not many people are searching “100 ways to make money online.”
So with our second e-book, we decided to use the search engine optimization technique of titling the book according to an Amazon keyword, “online business.”
The result was “Online Business: 3 Steps to Turning Your Passion into Profit in Less Than One Year.”
Our goal is for our book to pop up as one of the top results every time someone searches “online business” in the Kindle store.
Google keyword research indicates good search volume for “internet business,” and since some of the top results for this search in the Kindle store don’t have an insurmountable quantity of reviews, we think we have a chance of ranking for this keyword if we get a good number of reviews.
Email Outreach Mistakes
As we said in our last income report, we sent about 200 outreach emails requesting a review for our first book and received about 15 reviews directly from those email requests.
Since positive reviews can make or break the success of your book on Amazon, we decided to increase the number of email review requests sent for this book to 1,000.
If we could multiply our first success rate by ~5, we would receive ~75 reviews which we believe would increase the lasting sales power of this second book.
As we plowed through thousands of Amazon reviewer profiles scavenging for reviewers’ email address, Matt stumbled upon what we thought was the holy grail:
Rumor is that Amazon gives your product a boost in search engine ranking based on the trustworthiness (Amazon reviewer ranking) of the reviewer, so theoretically reviews from these individuals are worth more.
Better yet, most of these top reviewers proudly display their email on their profiles, which made our email prospecting ~5X faster.
We finally gathered 1,000 emails and used mail merge for gmail to send 1000 outreach emails over the course of 2 days.
The response we received disappointed us.
Most of the reviews we received were from non-top reviewers and many of the top-reviewers simply said they weren’t interested or were too busy.
Granted, at the time of writing this update, the book has not been published for long and the reviews might start rolling in soon.
But our tentative conclusion is that for whatever reason, top reviewers are less likely to review your product or e-book than the average reviewer.
Differences in Promotion between our First and Second Book
When promoting our first e-book, we used our personal network to increase free downloads by posting our book on our Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, and emailing friends for reviews.
Though we received a lot of downloads in the the first couple of days, we had no idea how many of these downloads were due to organic traffic on Amazon and how many were due to friends and family downloading the book.
As a test, we only let a couple of friends know about our second e-book launch, and totally avoided any social media posts.
If we had received approximately the same amount of downloads in the first few promotional launching days, we would’ve concluded that our social networks didn’t play a huge role.
However, we received less than half the downloads in our first free promotion day as we did for our first book and, as such, we can’t yet pinpoint exactly why this book hasn’t been as successful so far.
We also didn’t submit our e-book to any free promotion websites. For our last book, we applied to all 127 free ebook promotion sites listed here on Kindlepreneur’s website.
After painstakingly applying to each site, we only received confirmation from two websites that our book would be promoted, so the effort didn’t seem worth it.
The E-Book Pricing Conundrum
If you price your e-book at less than $2.99 a copy, Amazon takes a 70% cut of your profit instead of a 30% cut.
Books of comparable length to our first book were priced at $2.99 so we happily priced our first book the same netting us $2 in profit for each sale (or a dollar each for Matt and me).
But our second book is actually significantly shorter than our first book and, as such, has a comparable price point to shorter, 99 cent e-books.
We have decided to price our second e-book at 99 cents for at least the first month of sales since, according to this article, such a low price can bring in more reviews.
However, we feel like it’s worth $2.99 given its content quality.
Matt and I are still debating how to price it but the prospect of only netting 30 cents a sale (15 cents each for Matt and me) is somewhat depressing.
Questioning E-Books as a Business Model
As Matt and I have continued to think about the e-book business model and have run some numbers, we’ve realized a few things.
First, assuming we price all of our books at $2.99 (netting a dollar each of profit per sale) we would need ~40,000 yearly conversions to make $40,000 each in yearly revenue, which would probably end up in the low $30,000 range in terms of profit.
Net annual profit each in the low $30,000’s is probably the lowest amount at which I would consider leaving my day job (which is the ultimate goal with our blog and business).
We were hoping that this second book would confirm what we’ve heard about self-publishing on Amazon; that regularly publishing new books can sustain your previous e-book sales indefinitely.
Unfortunately, our first e-book’s sales have tanked and our lackluster second e-book sales aren’t giving any indication of boosting overall sales.
Even if we can manage to produce e-books that reliably sell one copy per day (which we have yet to do), we would need to write ~110 books to generate $80,000 of revenue per year (or $40,000 of revenue each).
If we continue our current rate of e-book production at one e-book per month, it would take us over 8 years to reach that level of revenue.
This has lead us to consider other business models with higher priced conversions that would enable us to make more money with fewer conversions.
Conclusion: Turning to Pinterest for Blog Traffic and Affiliate Revenue for Monetization
Like we mentioned in previous income reports, we have high hopes for driving blog traffic with Pinterest.
We also hope to employ the strategy of many great bloggers who sell web hosting and earn a commission through their affiliate links.
Bluehost affiliates* earn $65 a conversion meaning Matt and I would only need about ~1230 annual conversions to meet our $80,000 annual revenue goal as opposed to 40,000 e-book conversions.
So here’s the question:
“Is it easier to convert a lower number of individuals for a higher priced product or a higher number of people for a lower priced product.”
We’ll continue our experimentation and let you know!