It’s no secret that self publishing on Amazon can be a lucrative business if done right.
However, a number of concerns naturally arise when we think about investing our precious time and money.
In this post, we’ll examine the biggest pros and cons of selling books on Amazon.
When it’s all said and done, you should be able to answer the vital question for yourself:
Is Kindle publishing worth it?
Small Initial Investment
When compared to most other business models, the initial investment needed to get started with Kindle publishing is quite small.
To get your first 3 books made and published, you’ll need around $1000 in total.
Most of the money will go to the writers, with the rest being allocated to cover designers and book promotions.
Should you be low on funds (or simply want to save money), you can always write the manuscripts yourself.
In that case, the initial investment will drop to a mere $100 or so for your first 3 books.
Assuming that at least one of them turn a decent profit, this will get the ball rolling.
Even if you don’t ace your keyword research or production quality, you’ll more than likely earn some money very quickly after publishing your first book.
I still remember the first sale I got from my first book, only a day after publishing it.
Just seeing that initial $2 come in (from a book which I’d written myself) gave me a great motivational boost.
While other new businesses may take weeks or months to generate revenue, Kindle publishing give you results right off the bat.
Witnessing those initial book sales show up on your KDP dashboard is a great feeling – especially when you’re just starting out.
Over the years, the Kindle Direct Publishing platform has been upgraded a number of times.
Today, it’s decidedly intuitive and easy to use, even for the most inexperienced.
Most importantly, the interface will guide you through each step of the publishing process for both your ebooks and paperbacks.
Also, you can quickly access your daily sales numbers by clicking the “reports” tab whenever you want.
Simple To Replicate Success
It will probably take you some time to get the whole publishing process right – from keyword research all the way to review gathering.
Once you’ve nailed the model, though, and you’ve released a handful of successful books, it’s relatively easy to replicate the success.
Sure, sometimes, books will simply not perform as well as you’d think they would.
Other times, they will drop in the rankings quicker than they should.
However, if you stick with the model and keep reinvesting into the business, it’s more or less just a matter of volume.
Keep on grinding and push out new books (ebook, paperbacks, AND audiobooks), and you’ll most likely see a nice, steady, upward trend.
In other words, there will be very few, if any, nasty surprises waiting for you down the line.
Actual Passive Income
Once you have a good number of books ranked, the income from KDP and ACX can stay pretty consistent over a long period of time.
Of course, if you stop publishing completely, your business will experience a downward trend sooner or later – most likely within a year.
However, if you’ve managed to snatch some evergreen keywords, you’ll enjoy a pretty steady income stream for quite some time.
As I’ve mentioned before, one of my most consistent best-selling books (which is actually a bundle – see this post to learn how to create those) was published almost 2 years ago.
I’ve only updated it a few times to add professional stock photos, and corrected a few spelling errors.
Other than that, it’s been completely hands-off for almost 24 months, and it’s still bringing in around $500 every month on its own.
Amazon will often pick up on consistent sellers such as this, and offer exclusive promotions to you via email, like so:
If you can rank some high-quality books in a handful of viable, evergreen niches, you will get to enjoy some actual passive income with KDP.
Dealing With Writers Can Be Tough
At some point during the life cycle of your KDP business, you’ll be faced with a number of challenges concerning your writers.
If you’re completely new, finding one or more good and reliable ones will likely take some time.
And even when you’ve found them, carefully managing your crew of hand-picked writers (or company reps) is a tiresome, but essential, task you can’t afford to get wrong.
If you don’t focus on this, you’ll have to deal with a lot of delays, revisions, disappointments, and unnecessary back-and-forth messaging.
For tips on how to find good writers, check out step 4 of the Kindle Publishing Guide.
The Treadmill Trap
In a number of very profitable niches, your books may earn a lot of money in the first 2 months.
However, you’ll often find that they start to fall off hard after that initial period.
If this keeps happening to book after book, you risk falling into what I call the treadmill trap:
You’ve made a return on investment from your books, but they fall down the rankings too fast for you to enjoy the accumulative effect of passive income.
So, you end up having to push out more and more books just to keep your revenue from going down.
Once and again, you’ll have a more successful book which puts you on an upward trend for a while.
But soon after you’ll be back to more or less a flat line once again – you feel like you’re spinning your wheels, and it’s incredibly frustrating.
This happens to a lot of Kindle publishers – especially those who only go for obvious, best-seller niches.
Having To Gather Reviews
This is easily my least favorite part about running a Kindle publishing business.
Still, it has to be done, or your sales will suffer tremendously.
Getting reviews for your books (the right way) can take some time to master.
Your fresh book desperately needs them in order to gain momentum, but most people (even the ones who loved it) simply don’t leave any.
Until you’ve built one or more dependable email lists of readers, or you’ve built a crew of virtual assistants, getting reviews will more than likely be tiresome and time-consuming for you.
It has to be done!
If you want to learn how to build an email list fast, check out this post.
Lack Of Control
There’s a BIG elephant in the room when it comes to self publishing on Kindle…
It can be scary to talk about, but the fact remains:
Amazon can take you out at any time.
Suddenly, for a number of reasons (such as perceived copyright violations), they can shut down your KDP account for good.
If this happens, most of your income (other than ACX) will be gone in a matter of minutes.
It doesn’t matter how hard you worked, or how much value you’ve provided to the platform.
If Amazon says you’re out, you’re out!
This is the number one reason why I don’t view Kindle publishing as a valid, long-term business strategy.
But don’t panic just yet:
What I have done, and what I suggest you do, is to get your KDP income to a comfortable level, say $3-4000.
When you hit that milestone, at least start on branching out into other e-ventures.
For example, building websites and doing affiliate marketing, as I have done.
You can still grow your Kindle business while doing this, but now you’ll have other income streams and projects to fall back on if Amazon decides to cut the cord.
Don’t do it right away, though – focus fully on KDP in the beginning, in order to grow as fast as possible.
When you’ve reached a decent income with it, consider diversifying your income streams – you won’t regret it.
Is Kindle Publishing Worth It?
So, there you have it, the pros and cons of Kindle publishing.
Now, think carefully about each of the points we’ve gone through here and weigh them against each other.
Based on your skills, plans, and personal qualities, you should be able to judge whether or not this business is for you.
That being said, I’ll leave you with this:
I sincerely believe that KDP is one of the best ways to get started earning money online.
If you can stomach the cons, and make good use of the pros, I’d strongly suggest you give it a go.