The internet provides countless ways to make money, and if you believe every blog you read then there are also hundreds of opportunities to get rich. You read about these make money schemes online, normally in long thing paragraphs that are selling e-books, and while you might be skeptical it can sometimes be very convincing.
I was similarly tempted by a long strip of text I stumbled upon myself, on how one guy allegedly made millions from selling his books on Kindle. The books weren't even his – he used books that had fallen out of copyright – it was merely a matter of how he packaged the offers and marketed them.
So I had a go myself, and the results were mixed. I'm not trying to sell an e-book, so allow me to share a more honest (and less narrow) account of what my experience was.
The process of selling books on Kindle is first and foremost remarkably simple. Unlike using an App Store, or even clickbank, when you sign up to be a publisher on Kindle there is no need to pay any up-front fee and anyone can go right ahead for free (of course Amazon take a 30% cut of profits which is how they keep things profitable). And unlike selling apps there's no need for any specialist knowledge either – you can upload a book as a .doc file and a couple of images such as a cover and a thumbnail and you're up. You don't even need to convert the files to the epub format – Amazon do that for you. So far, so good.
One downside though is the payment system which is slightly complicated and a little frustrating. For instance it takes 60 days after the end of each month for your payment to be sent (um, why?) and there's no way to bring up a clear and easy history of your payments either. You can see the books you've been sold, but no grand total nor when you are next going to be paid. It can leave you feeling a little uneasy and I'm not looking forward to filing my tax return on this one either. Thanks Amazon.
The other slight flaw is that the conversion isn't always perfect if you let Amazon do it themselves. I'm selling a book on there called 'Make Up Tips for Beginners' and currently it is organized nicely so that there's one paragraph on each page. That's quite off putting for people who read the exert (they can read an exert before they commit to buy) and it wasn't really my fault, so a tad frustrating. All in all though it's been a pretty smooth ride.
So am I rich yet? Sadly no, otherwise I probably wouldn't be writing this blog – I'd be on a sandy beach in LA sipping margaritas (actually I don't like margaritas). Note that this is how you also know not to believe all those long narrow sales pitches too.
However I am richer than I expected, and I've learned a lot more money a lot more quickly than I did at first with AdSense. I wrote the books myself, and used some that my friends and girlfriend had written, and this was a good move I believe. I also smartly targeted niches, and approached this in the same way that you might approach a search engine – by thinking of keywords and looking at the competition to make sure I came at the top of the results.
While there are quiet months, I have earned as much as £45 in a month (that's $90-ish) and I have no doubt that this number could be higher – if I fixed the formatting on some of the books for instance, and if I were to release more books. Currently I only have around 5 on there.
So in other words if you're smart with this, and if you use a good strategy you actually can earn money from doing nothing much this way. Particularly if you have good content writing skills, or if you know someone who does, this is not only a smart way to make money but also a rewarding one. I wrote a novel when I was about 18 and it was still on my harddrive. Someone has bought this novel, meaning that there's a success-starved teenager in me who is now very happy.
Will you get rich over night? No, probably not. But if you are interested in earning money online they this is one gravy train you actually probably should board. And in other news, major authors should probably look at going behind their publishers' backs on this one.
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