We began our Kindle publishing in March 2011. Our first royalty check was $10.26 in May.
See how this and the next check… along with our competition can help lead you to greater financial security and satisfaction.
Here is an excerpt from the latest lesson of Self Publishing 202… Tidbits on Kindle
Self Publishing 202… Tidbits on Kindle
Lesson Four: Threading a Focus Created by Competition
Often our biggest obstacles lead us to our greatest opportunities. Obstacles like competition are really not obstacles at all. Successful businesses don’t see competition as a problem… they use competition for stimulation and as leverage instead. A lot of competition is a sign that there is a big problem that many people are trying to solve. Problems create opportunity and competition can act like a slingshot to enhance your self publishing success.
My second check from Amazon.com com arrived in August. The amount remains small… but is four time larger than the last. See why I am excited about forty five bucks (and sixty one cents) and how I am getting help from what we have learned in this process and from my competition.
Today it is possible for anyone to have an international publishing business. The secret is simply to start, but to start slowly and grow from your existing experiences and skills. This is what we are doing at Amazon and watching our competition will help the next step of growth.
This “go slow” approach works especially well when you start your business doing something you enjoy. This allows you to turn your passions to profits. For example, if you love to golf, consider publishing “The Guide to the World’s Best Public Golf Courses”. This is a publication that might even lead to organizing golf tours around the world. We’ll look at the tour aspect a bit more in a moment.
Perhaps, your publication should be a calendar with 12 famous overseas golf courses. A report on the best new golf clubs might be good. If you are involved in natural health… how about “Seven Ways to Golf Yourself to Better Health”? How about “When golf is important to you, which countries should you exclude to move to.”
The list of ideas could go on and on. The point is you will turn pleasurable activity (to do a golf tour or a calendar, you obviously have to play those courses!) into a tax deductible expense and hopefully, make some profit as well.
This is one way to use competition to help you get ahead. Spot two large markets… like golf and natural health. Create a niche using both of them like perhaps “Natural Secrets that Avoid Golf Injury.” You create a unique niche within two large areas of focus… and have two markets… the golfers and the natural health believers to tap.
This is called “A Double Niche”. Remember the phrase because we’ll see later in the lesson how we expanded our profits and list size from 20,000 to 30,000 in a year in this way.
Here are three simple steps, you can use to start your publishing business.
* Step #1: Become more informed. Set a schedule. Regularly read everything you can about your area of focus. Remember, everything you read has been published by your competition! Talk to experts (other experts if you already are) with an open mind and others involved in the area of interest.
* Step #2: Get started in a small way. Big is not better… especially when you start. Make your mistakes (and you will) while your business is small. Mistakes are the magic markers in your learning curve! Doing is a better teacher than the reading in Step #1 above. This has been our Kindle approach using experience to help us create our plan.
* Step #3: Study your competition. It is the confirmation that you are on the right track… that a market exists for your product, service or information. The aspects of their service or product you hate are what you’ll avoid. What they offer that you love… you’ll make better. The cost of their product… you’ll beat… in some way…though not necessarily with a lower price.
Let me insert an important point about pricing and profit here. The key to maintaining profits is margin. Good margins usually mean good profits. The way to maintain margins is to make your product, service or publication unique. The reason we study our competition is not to create a similar product, that we sell at a lower price. Similar products can become commodities and the only way to compete with commodities is by lowering the price.
The reason we study competition is to understand the problem they solve and to create a unique niche within that area of focus that can be uniquely priced (with an even better margin).
Let’s review one other incredibly important point about publishing and price. All the concepts of pricing in publishing are being thrown out the window because of epublishing. Previously hardbound books cost $12.95 or $24.95 and paperbacks $4.95. With time and inflation the price doubled. Normally 10% to 15% of this price went to the writer. The balance was absorbed in the printing, publishing, promoting, delivery process.
When epublishing came along prices dropped in half. You can buy most well known authors on Kindle for $12.95 or less.
This drop is not enough. The publishing industry was dominated by the high cost of getting books to books stores. Editing, printing and shipping costs inhibited newcomers and this allowed the big publishers to be very antiquated and inefficient…. for generations.
This also left established publishers with a lack of imagination. They were thrown into the highly competitive, rapidly evolving world of high tech… thinking like antiquated businesses spawned by Gutenberg. Cutting the price in half… when the costs of publication have dropped 80% and could drop 90% or more, is not enough. The collapse of Borders is just the shot across the bow. Expect more established publishers to fold!
Merri and I read fiction to relax and we like most Baldacchi (James Patterson is too dark for Merri and me)… loved the Stieg Larson’s books. I am a Reacher Creature (Lee Child) and buy most of Michael Connely’s books and get a kick out of the Wizard PI from Chicago, Harry Dresden (Jim Butcher). However, the last three books I purchased on my Kindle were none of these names. Chris Culver, Rick Murcer and Kate Johnson got my money instead… new names selling their books at .99 cents each. They were all good and I am increasingly hesitant to pay $12.99 for a book when I can find a good read for .99 cents. I am betting that millions of others are feeling this way as well!
This incredible drop in price is possible because in epublishing the margins are almost 100%! Once the book is published and posted at Amazon.com, every sale is pure profit!
Amazon.com was evolutionary to spot this. By creating their Kindle system for the new publisher they left the established author and the antiquated, established authors exposed. The smart established authors will do okay. They’ll simply bypass their existing publisher and go direct.
Main stream publishing was never an industry where advertising counted a lot. Publishers threw a lot of mud…relied on word of mouth and protected that which stuck. This is why entry via the old system was so hard. Publishers did not know what new publication would work and were always afraid to step out…that cost too much.
The best the industry could do was put something on the shelf and try to get some buzz in the hopes that enough buyers would start a word of mouth trend. Word of mouth remained the big marketing tool and the publishing industry again and again failed to see the next big thing coming… James Redfield (Celestine Prophesy)… Harry Potter (JK Rowling) and the Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown) are three examples.
Each of theses author’s successes took the publishing industry by total surprise… followed by numerous lookalikes and a huge push to get these successful writers to create more and more books… creating the new brand driven novels… with James Patterson and Tom Clancy leading the way… basing their brand books on extensive market research and using their name but adding many coauthors.
With ebooks, in some ways nothing, has changed. Word of mouth still reigns as the number one marketing tool. Technology however in other ways has changed everything making the buzz easier and allowed the creation of the “Niche Buzz”. Remember this word “Niche Buzz” as we have just coined it here.
Remember “Niche Buzz” because this is what a lot of your course in the year ahead will be about.
When publishing was ruled by broadcast… a book’s appeal had to be large enough to cover the cost of marketing and delivering the book to the entire world. The closest the industry could come to focusing was to create genre sections in the bookstores. A book would be in the “romance” genre or “mystery”, or “new age” genre, but the publisher still had to get books on shelves around the world. It was hard to zero in low cost marketing to create the initial buzz. Plus if the buzz did not catch and the book did not sell well… the cost of printing delivery and storage was huge and could be devastating.
Technology has changed all this. Now it is easy and very inexpensive to create a niche buzz… to get word of mouth going through the small, well defined group of people who are the best potential buyers of any specific publication.
With this thought in mind, let’s see how competition can show you how to earn more.
A subscriber to this course…. a natural dentist who is expanding into publishing illustrates the importance of competition benefits when he wrote: (Bolds are mine): Gary, I wondering if you could take a look and let me know what you think, what you think might be missing, and any other advice you might offer. I’ve also been communicating with another publishing adviser from another self-publishing system and wanted your opinion on something he’s said.
His thoughts were that a info book might be a product that would be difficult to sell because “so much info is readily available on the internet”. What are your thoughts on the matter?? I know there’s info but it’s all scattered and needs to be searched for. When I do keyword searches via adwords there’s plenty of traffic but not much competition when dealing with most of the topics we’ve written about. Also any suggestions on my work in progress website would be great. I“m going to model it after mercola to some degree and have some ideas for products that would enhance the sales of the books.
Let me know what you think. Thanks a million. This is really fun stuff.
This new publisher is spot on! The more data… the more competition… the better!
The key is to just group your information into a short intriguing title…such as “Simple ways to cure a toothache”.
One of my most successful publications was called Fund Help International. For many years over 1,000 readers paid me $149 a year to work one day a month.
I was paid $149,000 for 12 days work a year… or $12,416 a day. Not bad? Actually there were some costs involved so my real income was probably only $10,000 a day. Still I can live withthat amount, even with inflation.
This was simply a publication where I took a huge volume of information about mutual funds that anyone could read… compiled this and made it an easy time saver. Anyone could have done what I did… but it took a day a month. Readers paid $149 to save 12 days a year.
The reader saved 12 days a year for $12.41 a day. What a deal! My earnings for each day I saved them that time at such a low price was $12,416…plus all the material was there in just one easy to read or to scan in one format.
Digesting is such an important part of publishing in the internet era that Hewlett-Packard is gambling its future on this fact.
An August 2011 Economist article entitled “HP’s grand vision – Aping IBM – HP needs to transform itself if it is to avoid becoming obsolete” (bolds are mine) says:
HP, the world’s largest computer-maker, unveiled plans to restructure and move out of hardware into software by spinning off the firm’s low-margin personal-computer (PC) business, and buying Autonomy, a British software-maker, for a handsome $10.3 billion. The article said: The firm’s PC business is the world’s biggest, but is not as profitable as HP’s other units. What is more, most buyers of HP’s machines are consumers, whose demands shift faster and more whimsically than those of corporate customers. So HP intends to turn its PC business into a separate unit and then spin it off.
Buying Autonomy also helps HP to move onto higher-margin terrain: the British firm’s operating margins exceed 40%. But the main reason HP paid a 64% premium for its shares seems to be that it believes that Autonomy’s technology could be turned into a platform to help companies make sense of their ever-growing pile of data. This includes not only “structured” data (payroll records, sales figures), but also the “unstructured” kind (documents, e-mails), which now makes up more than 80% of the information that flows through a typical company.
In other words, Hewlett-Packard, the largest computer maker in the world just paid $10.3 billion betting that “so much info is readily available on the internet” an investment of this magnitude in software to solve this problem can bring a huge can bring a huge return.
There is the problem…”the ever-growing pile of data”. Your publication can be the solution.
The specialist who consulted with the publishing dentist said “a product would be difficult to sell because so much info is readily available on the internet” was a victim of old publishing thought. That specialist was telling the dentist that there are already too many readers getting data.
If there is so much data out there… this means there are so many readers… and competition that can help you launch a digest or a more refined or “double niche”.
When I started publishing in the 1970s… I had a heck of a time selling my first book “Passport to International Profit” because there was no competition. I have to say the book was prophetic… the idea being to invest globally when almost no one else was recommending that idea. That is why the book did not sell through mainstream media. There was no competition to back me up. Most of the system opposed the idea at that time.
Later, the idea caught on. Competition started to grow and educated the public on the value of the idea of diversifying globally. this is when our publishing that data hit the sweet spot as leaders in a field where our competition propelled us ahead.
While researching international investment opportunities, we visited Ecuador and fell in love. We moved there and began promoting the idea… “invest in.. live in… and own real estate in Ecuador.” Again the idea was slow to catch on… until we gained the benefit of competition helping sell the idea of Ecuador and living in Ecuador.
This is how gaining experience, competition and evolution work together in publishing.
The balance of this lesson shows how to create a study of competition that helps develop your own “niche buzz” and “double niche” publications.
I invite you to enroll in our course Self Fulfilled – How to be Self Publisher. When you enroll you will also, over the next year, receive “Self Fulfilled – Self Publishing 202… Tidbits on Kindle… a continuing courses based around our Amazon.com publishing efforts.
This course is unique because we are writing it as we learn how to publish on the Kindle and help subscribers do the same… so it is a real time course.
This is why we are excited about our second revenue check from Amazon. We have published two Kindle publications… to get a feel as we studied the competition.
Now we are about to publish several more as we move into phase tow of our Kindle Marketing Plan.
“Self Fulfilled – Self Publishing 202… Tidbits on Kindle” is a course that never ends. This is increasingly important in this era when new technology makes such rapid change in how to do business.
How rapid is the change?
The next four chapters of Self Fulfilled – Self Publishing 202… Tidbits on Kindle will share… three case studies of our competition and our Kindle plan. As you’ll see in one study… one of the best Kindle publishers used Twitter to climb to the top. When we created our self publishing course and program on how to publish through the Internet, just a few years ago, Twitter did not exist!
Yet one cannot build a business just on technological whims. Otherwise… assuming you capture some new marketing idea based on some new technology… your fall may be as fast… or faster than your mercurial rise. This is why you should read more about Hewlett-Packard’s huge gamble
Instead a blend of solid business fundamentals that last forever needs to lead the way and be assisted by new technologies.
Big picture technological change have created internet marketing is broadband versus broadcast. Broadcast was optimum sending one message to millions of people. Broadband is optimum sending millions of messages to one person each.
Many publishers today are still caught in the old concepts of broadcast. New internet publishers will lead the way and we plan to be one of them.
Publishing has become a technology business and this is a sector of commerce where evolution takes place at a rapid pace.
But HP and its new boss should not be faulted for trying. They have little alternative, if they wish to avoid becoming a collection of commodity businesses. “Technology is a brutal business,” says Mr Apotheker. “If you don’t innovate and reinvent yourself, you will become obsolete.”
I would like to share what we learn as we evolve with you.
Special September only offer.
One reason we have not become obsolete in our 43 years is that as we evolve we publish AND conduct seminars and tours. writing and speaking both convey information and some years our publishing goes well. Other years the seminar business takes up the slack.
Seminars and publishing go hand in hand. This is why we have started another never ending course “Event – Full Business – How to Earn with Seminars & Tours”.
In our September only Special Offer when you subscribe to “Self Fulfilled – How to Be a Self Publisher”, you receive “Self Fulfilled 202… Tidbits on Kindle” and you can have the $349 “Event-Full” course for just $1… you receive all three online courses for $300.
Learn more about “niche buzz” publishing at our upcoming International Investing & Business seminar.
Read the Economist article HP needs to transform itself if it is to avoid becoming obsolete