Links to eBooks

I wrote a few Kindle ebooks to see if I could make money at it.

CSS: an Overview for Developers

Backups: Avoiding Computer Disasters

There are others, but these are the two I care about: CSS and backups.

Lessons Learned

Ebooks alone don’t make a lot of money. Bloggers say they need to be part of a group of related media properties that lift each other up. So an ebook that builds on a successful web page or blog post will do better than one that’s just in the Kindle store.

All the successful ebook blog authors say you don’t start to benefit from promotions until you have a dozen titles. Typically, someone who gets a freebie goes on to buy one of your other titles. This doesn’t happen until you have other related titles.

The entire publishing system must be streamlined to crank out books. I got it down to writing a 25-page book in five hours. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I based it on the Pandoc ebook platform, which outputs HTML and MOBI files. While it’s an otherwise excellent system, Amazon seems to have focused their tools on MS Word, so newer Kindle features get activated on books in MS Word.

Use SEO techniques. Your title and description need to be written to be found by people searching for web pages. You need to build some inbound links to your titles. You need to put links to your other books inside your text. As with SEO, this all implies that you need “long tail landing pages” or specific ebooks that target a specific set of search terms.

If you want to “get rich quick”, it won’t happen with ebooks, but you can probably build up a library quickly by outsourcing the writing to people in India. I never did this, because that wasn’t my goal. I also didn’t want to spend the time to research what to have written. If you’re paying to produce books, you need to research the audience. You need to know there are people buying books on a subject, know that the subject is findable on Amazon, and be able to produce something that ranks high in the searches.

There are also blackhat techniques. The main one is fake reviews. Using a fake Facebook persona, go into a Facebook ebook reviews group, and trade fake reviews. The more reviews you get, the more readers will be fooled into buying your book. These fake accounts are usually operated by professionals in South Asia who are focused on the task of generating reviews, and as a newbie they’ll take pity on you. I went in with my real account, and wrote actual, honest reviews. It was funny, in retrospect.

If you see an ebook with 100% 5-star reviews, all glowing, they’re fake.

Likewise, you may not know it, but some good titles won’t have reviews at all. One of the better writers I read was a web developer in New Zealand, Paul Chubb, but he had no reviews when I read his book.