There are a lot of opinions from both experts and beginners on how to make money publishing books on Amazon.

There are many who say a lot of marketing or a lot of social media is involved. I have been trying to follow this advice but as an introvert, this is difficult for me and very much outside my comfort zone. So I have also been looking for other experts with differing opinions.

I recently found a book written by Dean Wesley Smith called “Think Like A Publisher.” (Available on Amazon.) Mr Smith has over 400 books on Amazon. The majority of them are traditionally published. In his book, “Think Like A Publisher,” he talks about getting publishing rights back for his vast backlist (books no longer being sold by publisher). He is putting those books, old short stories and new books up on Kindle.

Like everyone else who is talking about making a long-term passive income from books, a level of content quality is assumed. But after that, his opinions differ on the amount of marketing, social media and even length of the books.

In his book, he claims the way to make a comfortable income on Amazon is the same way traditional publishers do, by selling a few copies of a lot of titles. And he claims he’s making a comfortable amount of money off of the books he is indie publishing.

His theory is that unless you get lucky and have a book that, as he puts it, is a “home run,” you will not sell a lot of copies of any one book. So to sell a lot of copies, you need to have a lot of different titles each selling that small amount of copies.

I decided to analyze his books in Kindle.

He has written a lot of traditionally published fan fiction (Star Trek). I ignored those as they have a built in reader base. I also ignored everything that had a price above $4.99 as I assumed those were by traditional publishers. Since he is mainly a fiction writer, I ignore his non-fiction works.

This still left me with a lot of books, I stopped after looking at forty.

What surprised me the most about how he is putting his theory into action is the length of his books. Over thirty of the forty books I analyzed were under 7000 words. Of the six books that had a rank showing they sold at least a few a month, four of the six were under 7000 words.

Mr Smith claims that the only marketing he does is a post on Facebook or a tweet when he publishes, that’s it.

Now, I’m not saying that his methods will work for everyone. I’m not even saying it will work for me. What I am saying is that there is more than one way to create a publishing business on Amazon. And that we each have to find a way that works for us and meshes with our personality and comfort level.

However, having said that, I think there is one point he has that is absolutely true. The more good quality books you have to sell, the more potential money you can make. So unless you are hoping that you can be that one person who hits a home run, don’t stop at the first book you publish. Get as many good books of whatever length into your selling line as quickly and continuously as you can. Then from there decide what methods of marketing work for you.

Since it will be a long time before I have the number of different titles that he has, I will probably end up combining his advice with that some of other experts who suggest more marketing and social media. Maybe I can find a balance between all of them that works for me.

Good luck, I’m off to go work on more books!

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Philip Rees July 30, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Very useful post, Ann. Many experts will mention this in passing but not many emphasise your points which are so informative. Michelle Spiva provides an excellent framework to accomplish this.

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