I’m excited to share more insights with you from a friend and fellow product creator – Ruth Pound. Ruth has quite a success story in that she is able to make a living completely online AND travel at the same time (she is currently traveling all over Southeast Asia).
Ruth started making money online by writing in 2008 and has since grown to become an editor, service provider, website developer, blogger, affiliate marketer, PLR provider and, most importantly, she is her own boss! You can find out more about her at The Internet Dream. Her latest project is a Kindle book series. Check out her answers to my questions below! I think we can all learn a lot!
How To Become An Online Writer
How did you come up with the topic?
I didn’t do much research – this was a topic I just knew I wanted to write about. I did do some keyword research, but only to tweak the title. It’s also a good idea to take a look at how other books in your niche are selling on Amazon (by checking their sales rank).
In the past few years I’ve set up more niche sites than I care to admit, and one thing I learned over that time is that it’s far better to focus on the things I know about and am passionate about. Since I’ve been getting paid to write content for the web (in some form or another) for four years now, online writing seemed to be the most natural topic for me to write on.
I understand it’s part of a series. How did you come up with that idea?
I’ve been reading about Kindle publishing for a while now, and have seen people achieving success in a number of ways. One way is to create a series.
One major benefit of doing this is that it isn’t so overwhelming to write. You can write it in shorter installments (maybe 8,000 – 20,000 words) with each book focused around a specific part of the subject as a whole. Although some people try to publish the whole series of books in one go, I’m not sure if I would ever have gotten started if I had such a big goal!
The second benefit is that you can use the first book of the series to hook people in. This might work better with fiction, but it can work for non-fiction too. In my series, Online Writing Freedom, the first book is more of a beginner-level introduction, and I’m planning to keep the price low to make it accessible. The reader will definitely benefit from each of the books on their own, but hopefully they’ll want to get the whole series to get the complete picture and move onto more advanced strategies.
What research did you do?
I read quite a few books in my niche to see what they covered, and what the Amazon reviewers liked and disliked about the books. From this research, I brainstormed the general book topics for my whole series, and then made a rough outline for the first book.
I know the topic well, so I didn’t need to research the details. I did, however, need to make sure that what I wrote would make sense to complete beginners. This is where Amazon reviews and relevant forums can come in handy. Also, having an outsider read the book for me helped me to tweak it for beginners.
I know nothing about the process of creating a Kindle book and getting it on Amazon. Does it take a long time and are there many steps? Cost anything?
The main thing to be aware of is the formatting. As part of a past Kindle course I signed up to, I already had access to a formatting tool that does the work for me. I did, however, upload books in the past without the aid of a tool (which have since been removed since I didn’t realize Amazon does not accept content already published for free elsewhere).
You can find free or very cheap instructions online to help you format your book in Word, and you upload the Word document directly, but Kindle can mess up some parts of the formatting (like bullet points and indentations). The other steps involved in uploading are all easy to follow. But I do think it’s worth putting some effort in to make sure the formatting works correctly, as I have seen people get negative reviews for it. It’s something I still want to learn more about.
How do you determine pricing with Kindle books?
ricing is something I think you need to experiment with, and it depends on your market and the content of your book. For my first book, I’ve priced it at $0.99 (the lowest it can be) to hopefully build up a reputation for my series.
I’ll probably keep the price of the first book low for the reasons mentioned above, but price subsequent books at a higher price. With so many self-published authors now charging $0.99 for their books, I think it is worth experimenting with higher price points to see if the price affects the perceived value of the book.
Also bear in mind that you can earn the higher 70% royalty fee for books priced from $2.99 to $9.99. All other prices will earn you 35% royalty.
Did you create the ecover yourself or outsource it?
I really believe the cover makes a huge difference in sales, so I outsourced it. Before I did, I had a look around other covers in my niche to get a feel for what I might like, but I ultimately left the design up to the designer. Note: Ruth used http://quicksitestudio.com.
Any advice to someone who wants to get started?
My best advice is to start now. Although I’ve been writing online for four years, writing this book was very difficult. Not because of the length, but because the idea of a book going out there in front of so many people scared me. I found that writing just one page a day helped keep me keep moving towards my goals (thanks to Tiffany Dow for starting the page a day Kindle challenge).
All in all, it looks like one of the keys to success is starting with what you know! What do you think? Have you started writing a Kindle book? Let me know your thoughts below!