This is the most fun I’ve had in business for a number of years! All I’m doing is uploading a couple of files and entering text. That’s how you sell notebooks on Amazon!
Attention: On August 27th 2018 Amazon announced that CreateSpace is merging with KDP Print.
KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) is Amazon’s e-book publishing unit launched in 2007 at the same time as the first Kindle devices were launched. Since then, self-publishers have been adding Kindles via KDP.amazon.com and paperbacks via CreateSpace, a print on demand service acquired by Amazon in 2005.
In 2016, they added a paperback option to KDP, so this merger was always going to happen. It makes sense to put e-books and paperback books under one roof.
What does this mean? Well, at the moment, very little. You can still upload at CreateSpace and only some people have an option to port all their books over to KDP. And, the word is that the migration can be done with only a few clicks and is all over in a matter of minutes.
However there are a few important differences between CreateSpace’s and KDP’s requirements, especially on title metadata and the interior PDF specs. I will update my course with all relevant information as soon as I can.
Regular readers are familiar with my various businesses: doing web and graphic design for clients, selling courses online, selling physical products through Amazon FBA, selling PDF ebooks on my site, selling t-shirts in the US through Merch By Amazon, to name but a few.
All of the above business were a long, hard road … and sometimes there was nothing to show at the end of a painful journey. However, selling notebooks on Amazon has been a very welcome exception.
I started creating the books in April. In May, I sold around 20 and made around $20. In June, I sold nearly 250 units and only made just over $100 (I realised I needed to put my prices up!)
In July, I sold over 450 units and made over $530. And all this with less than 250 books in my catalog. I’ve not seen a trajectory like this in a new business before. Ever.
Compare this to my Merch By Amazon business: 1st month, 1 sale; 2nd month, 1 sale; 3rd month, 10 sales. Clearly, the notebook business on Amazon is easier than Merch.
Selling print on demand notebooks on Amazon – WTF am I talking about?
I’ve found it quite hard to explain this business to people. To be honest, it took me a while to wrap my head around it. I couldn’t believe that people would spend $6.99 on a hundred paged blank paperback.
Added to that they’re perfect bound – the same sort of binding as fiction and non-fiction paperback books – so the spines liable to crack if over-used.
But, then again, I didn’t believe people would spend $30 on a t-shirt with three words on it. But they do.
What are the products, exactly?
Say you are creating a notebook, you literally provide a PDF of 120 pages of lines that people can write in. You also have to design a cover and create a product page on Amazon and that’s it!
However, I’m also talking about “low content books” which are books like diaries, logbooks and journals. There are so many niches out there. So, for example, you could make a wine tasting logbook where every page contains space for the customer to fill in the date, vintage, price, taste, etc., of the wine they drank on a certain occasion.
Basically any book where the content can be fairly easily created as opposed to a book where you actually have to write the bloody thing. I provide some interiors for free with the course.
The above video is of me extolling the virtues of selling notebooks on Amazon.
The benefits of selling notebooks on Amazon
- Easy to start: I believe that anyone from one of the 100+ countries in the world can sell on Amazon and start uploading books to the Amazon website.
- Easy to continue: Once you have a kdp.amazon.com account there are no limits to how many products you can create. Unlike Merch which limits you to 25 when you first start out. However, don’t go crazy! I’ve heard of people uploading 50 a day being told to slow down by CreateSpace and KDP or, even worse, getting their accounts suspended or terminated! Don’t ever upload more than 10 or 15 a day.
- Easy to sell: Whoa now hold on right there! It’s never easy to make money anywhere. However, so far I seem to be able to sell notebooks within some incredibly crowded niches.
- Amazon are less paranoid about things like copyright infringement or product descriptions than they are elsewhere on their site: OK, I’m NOT saying that you should publish copyrighted or trademarked material and pass it off as your own. But, for example, on Merch, Amazon will reject listings for the most stupid reasons. This doesn’t happen on CreateSpace where common sense seems to rule.
- No marketing: All I do is upload a book on KDP and forget about it. It might sell, it might not. I didn’t cost me anything to put it up there and I’m not going to spend one minute marketing it. I just rely on the keywords on the product listing and the amazing reach of the Amazon marketplace.
- Sell everywhere. One upload to KDP means the book can be bought not only in the United States, but also in Amazon’s European websites, including Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.es, and Amazon.it. Compare that with Merch which is US only.
The disadvantages of selling notebooks on Amazon
- It helps to have either Photoshop, Illustrator, or proficiency in a good image editing application like GIMP or Inkscape for the covers. You can do them in Canva. But book covers are a huge deal. If you can create attractive covers that are right for the market then you’re going places on CreateSpace.
- I don’t yet know how big this market is. I have a feeling there’ll be a lot of bandwagon jumpers coming in from Merch and a lot more sellers coming into this market soon. Early mover advantage is crucial. We’ll have to see.
- CreateSpace is being merged with KDP Print. This isn’t the end of the world as there will always be an Amazon print on demand paperback book publishing arm. But Amazon might start imposing tiers, upload restrictions, and generally make the environment more difficult for sellers in an attempt to discourage bad actors. Again, we’ll have to wait and see.
- PEOPLE ARE GETTING THEIR ACCOUNTS SUSPENDED! As with any new online business that receives some coverage on social media, the “get rich quick brigade” moves in and tries to “crush it”. I’ve heard of terminations and suspensions due to multiple uploading of low quality products. Take it easy out there!
- You can only sell perfect bound books. If KDP Print start offering spiral bound books, tabs, the ability to choose paper stocks, etc., I’d be a very happy bunny!
So, are you interested? Read on, I’ll tell you how to create multiple products on the Amazon marketplace in seconds!
How to upload a paperback book at CreateSpace
Have a look at this video which is the condensed version of the notebook uploading and creation process on CreateSpace to sell on Amazon. I’m currently making a video that shows a similar process on KDP.
I go into more detail in the course.
To be successful in this business there are two things you need to do
- identifying niches that have sufficiently high demand and low competition to make books for
- creating visually appealing book covers
The niches can be found by searching on Amazon and using a couple of Chrome extensions. The fact that multiple products can be created very quickly means that you needn’t spend ages on this. However, you soon realise the power of keywords in the product title and back-end keywords.
You could argue that only a talented designer can create visually appealing book covers, but I would disagree. Less is more. Some of my most successful designs have been a royalty free image with the title text plonked on top.
Your success in this business depends on how well your product fulfils a need that’s out there. Just a great cover design alone, however good it is, isn’t enough to sell a $6.99 notebook.
Although there aren’t a huge amount of groups and videos on this subject, but the few that we have are great. Join and subscribe to the following resources:
- Katharyne Shelton’s Facebook Group
- Katharyne Shelton’s YouTube Channel
- Kelli Publish YouTube Channel
- Self-Publishing with Dale YouTube Channel
- Self Publishing Books Facebook Group
- And, don’t forget my YouTube channel!
Can you do it?
Yes, you can. Selling notebooks on Amazon through KDP has been the easiest and best side business I’ve started in the last 10 years.
In my new course I show you exactly how you can research profitable niches and create the notebooks using free software.
In the course you will receive two FREE editable Word templates AS WELL AS two Google Slides templates to get you started creating the notebook interiors plus a link to a Facebook group where we can help each other grow our publishing businesses.
In the meantime, feel free to let me know what you think about this new business. Would you like to join me?