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Is Amazon Self-Publishing Profitable? Worth It?

Audiobook Book Lover

Amazon self-publishing is where you write or outsource a book, turn it into multiple formats, publish it on Kindle, Audible, and Amazon.com, sprinkle in some marketing, and hope passive income finds its way to your bank account each month. But will it? Well, that depends on you, of course. I mean, yeah, if you look around, you’ll find plenty of people who’re making plenty of money publishing their own eBooks, paperback books, hardcover books, and audiobooks on all of Amazon’s sites.

NEXT: Compare This To Publishing On Amazon

Something like seventy percent of all books are sold through Amazon and I have to imagine that number’s only gonna get bigger. So the potential’s there. And Amazon makes it easy to self-publish. So you could argue there’s never been a better time to be an author. Gone are the days where your only option would be to land a big book deal with a major publisher, then do as they say and abide by their timeline and maybe one day get a small cut of the total revenue that comes in from your book, right?

Today you’ve got full creative control. You can get these books done as fast as you want. Publish ’em yourself. And keep the lion’s share of the profits. Well, Amazon’s still gonna take a cut, but it’ll be about one-half to one-fourth as much as a traditional book deal. Point being, you can sell fewer copies and make more money as an Amazon slash KDP slash ACX self-publisher. And you wouldn’t be here, reading this, if you weren’t already well aware of the advantages of the quote-unquote publishing life.

Which are, for starters, you’re doing the work (or hiring it out) once, and reaping the rewards for a long time to come. A lot of people like to think of eBooks and audiobooks as digital assets or virtual real estate because of the residual royalties or “rent money” they can bring in each month. Second, if you find good ghostwriters and narrators, it can be pretty scalable. Third, you can direct your readers and listeners to join your email list and buy more stuff from ya. Fourth, you gain authority and credibility by having a book.

Published Author Amazon

But now let me unsell you on the idea. Because you’re probably seeing YouTube ads from gurus who’re all: “There’s a new way to make money on Amazon, and you don’t need to know anything or write anything or do much of anything and yet you can make passive income from anywhere in the world.” And then they try to sell ya a two thousand dollar course, right? Hence the hype. Which is the first thing I wanna address. No, it’s not that easy. Back in the day, maybe, but not today.

It’s too competitive and Amazon’s algorithms are too sophisticated. You can’t just slop together a low content journal or pay someone on Fiverr a couple hundred bucks and expect to have a bestseller on your hands. Not gonna happen. Believe it or not, your book’s gotta be good if you wanna stand a chance. Which brings up the next thing. As noisy as it is now, even an excellent audiobook, for example, isn’t gonna sell itself. You need to market, you need to promote, you need to get lots of five star reviews to build enough momentum to eventually make your way to the top of Amazon’s search results.

Another thing that scares me is Amazon’s never ending and always changing fine print. It’s easy to goof and not even know it and find yourself banned for life from publishing on their platforms. Last, even if it is a simple process, there’s still a learning curve. Finding good niches, creating a solid manuscript, writing or outsourcing the dang thing, quality control, cover art, optimizing the listing, marketing, ads, reputation management. It’s a lot. So, is self-publishing on Amazon profitable? Yes, potentially. But is it worth it? For me, not even close.

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Katie Smith: if you want someone who will talk straight with you, respect your time, and show you a business that might actually work for you, you should watch this short video.