Have you ever read “Do you like to write? Do you know how to use the internet? Try self publishing your work online for extra cash!” I read it. And thought to myself, “Hey, I like to write! I know how to use the internet!”
I Can Earn Extra Money Online By Self-Publishing My Work With KDP!
And so, on a cold December evening I set out to create a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) profile. KDP is a platform writers can use to publish their digital work. There are various royalty streams each with their own advantages and restrictions. Likewise, KDP has a number of marketing tools you can use to promote your work. But at it’s core, writers can publish their piece and it has the potential to reach readers around the world, while allowing the author to earn a profit from each sale.
Now, the sign up is no joke. It took me a good 45 minutes to enter all of my information, and they want some pretty personal information like your social insurance number and your bank account info, so they can do a direct bank deposit. I’m not normally comfortable giving away that kind of information, but I figured if millions of people have already jumped off that bridge, I might as well do it too! And just like that, I was signed up and ready to sell a million copies of my 99 cent (USD) comedic monologue, The Alien Stop.
Well, not just like that, because loading and formatting the files and cover took another 30 or so minutes for this newbie. But once you get the hang of it, the uploading and adjusting time cuts down significantly.
What I Like About Kindle Direct Publishing:
1. That ANYONE, even your average side hustler like me, has a means to get their creative or professional work out to the public and make some sort of profit from it. Prior to KDP, I can’t think of a global platform that allowed just about anyone to profit from their work, and with no upfront cost to the author.
2. Even though the sign up and formatting process is lengthy, it was fairly straightforward. Just be mindful of the tax information as it will differ depending on which country you call home.
3. They have a SUPER easy to use Cover Creator, because if you haven’t noticed I am NOT a huge picture person #WordsAreMyJam, so it’s nice that they have a few basic background designs that you can customize in addition to uploading your own images or cover art.
What About The Money?
Like most online sales sites, you are a VERY small fish in a VERY big pond. The last time I checked my author rating for this past year, based on sales, I was ranked 1,182,811… YIKES! You KNOW your at the bottom of the food chain when you actually have to think about how to pronounce that number. Signing up for KDP started out as more of a creative outlet than a money making side hustle. I just wanted to know that someone, somewhere could get ahold of my work.
And Someone Did.
A BIG thank you to my husband and my best friend for downloading my monologue. You guys rock! As a result of their purchases I made a cool, crisp 96 cents!! That’s right, since releasing my online “book” 9 months ago I have had exactly two sales, resulting in less than a dollar of profit.
But Lets Get Serious For A Second
Even though this side hustle hasn’t made me much money (I’m counting that 96 cents as profit dammit!), it has made more money for 1,182,810 people! Plus I think my return can be improved with more attention and dedication. I can do things like… increase the volume of work I post to KDP. And obviously I can work to improve my skills, which in turn will create better quality pieces (I’m still perfecting my craft, go easy on me!). I can also try to explore different genres including working on ebooks that directly relate to this blog.
So here are a few things I can do to improve my sales:
I’m very fortunate to have an active writers group in my city that allows people to vet their work. All I have to do is get over my extreme fear of reading my personal work in public (worst drama major ever). But the more I share with this group, the more feedback I’ll receive, and the better my writing will become. Obviously this would apply more to my future creative work, but maybe I’ll make a good proofreading connection who can provide honest feedback on my future professional work too.
Commit to a timeline. I’m going to aim for 2 more publications in 2016. And to get things going, this summer I published a new short story, Lifer, that can be all yours for the low low price of 99 cents USD. Now I only have one more publication to go, score!
Get The Word Out!
Luckily I now have this handy-dandy little blog that I can use to promote my work. Also, KDP says that an Author Page is also a good way to get the word out, so I made one! You can check mine out here. The author page lists all of your current work. It acts as a central hub for people to see all of your published pieces, the theory being if someone purchases and likes one book from an author, then chances are that person will like other work by the same author. The author page provides a quick and easy way for potential readers to get ahold of more stuff.
Now obviously there are more aggressive ways to market your work, such as positioning yourself as a professional author, using social media, and paid marketing services. I’m not interested in going down that route for my creative work, however, for my future professional publications, this is definitely something to consider. And rightly so, as a more polished piece will no doubt incur costs (editing, graphic design, etc) that you’ll want to at least recuperate. So, I’m going to do some research on other ways to get my work noticed on the information super highway. If you have any suggestions for articles or books on this subject, I’m all ears!
I’m not going to let my low sales and author rating discourage me from sticking with KDP. There is absolutely no cost involved in posting your work on this site, so in my mind, it’s a no lose situation. And who knows, maybe there’s a Producer out there who’s going to read my work and love my style of writing. AND THEN that Producer will get in touch and want me to move to Hollywood. AND THEN I’ll end up writing a hilarious smash hit about a quirky country girl and her crazy big city antics! Wishful thinking? Maybe.
But that’s the great thing about the internet isn’t it? You can be a small fish one day and a big fish the next. So if you’ve been thinking about publishing on KDP my advice is to make like a Nike ad and JUST DO IT! The worst that can happen is that you profit 96 cents, but the sky is the limit on the best that can happen and I think that’s the really exciting part.
I’ll be sure to update you on my adventures in self publishing and any tips I pick up along the way. But in the meantime, I’m putting a call out to the Side Hustlers of the world… Do you have a successful Side Hustle Story that relates to KDP? If so, Lets Connect! I’d love to hear your story and possibly feature you on the blog!