“Life without a Kindle is like life without a library nearby.”
– Franz McLaren
Yesterday afternoon I decided to play a little game. The rules were simple: before I went to bed I had to write an eBook and upload it to Amazon. However, I was not allowed to spend any money in the process. That meant I had to format it myself and design a cover. As it turned out, my challenge sounded a lot harder than it actually was.
For my book I ended up making another guide to bartending. This time I made it more broad and used fifty of the most popular cocktail recipes that I could find. I wrote a little introduction, filled up the book, threw on a conclusion, and had a product within twenty minutes.
Formatting everything ended up being the hard part. I kept getting weird spacing issues every time that I’d try and convert my document. After thirty minutes of frustration, I solved the problem. So far I was still on target.
While formatting my book was the hardest part, designing a cover was the most time consuming. Not knowing where to start, I initially tried making my own cover. Five minutes later I scrapped that plan entirely. I went back to the drawing board and tried again. This time I looked on a stock photo site and ended up finding a picture I liked. Unfortunately the site wanted me to buy the image with their own nonsensical token system. The process looked like It would be a pain so I abandoned it.
Not sure what to do, I skipped ahead to uploading the book to Kindle Direct Publishing. While there I noticed that Amazon had it’s own cover generator. I tested it out and ended up with a pretty cool design. Best of all, it didn’t cost me a cent.
With my new cover in tow I eagerly uploaded the book to Amazon.
Around midnight I discovered that my book had been published. I spent roughly twenty minutes trying to market my book before going to bed. When I woke up this morning I’d already sold three copies.
Considering my time investment, this venture wasn’t very lucrative. I spent a couple hours working on a product that’s only earned me a single dollar. With that said, I did accomplish my goal of creating a book with zero input costs and having it up and on Amazon within a day.
Here are some additional notes on my experiment:
- Recipe type books are the easiest products to make.
Most recipes are in the public domain, as such you are free to reuse them however you see fit. Additionally, they take very little time to churn out. Other genres, like erotica, are better sellers, but they take a lot longer to produce. Grandma’s Stuffing Recipes takes a lot less effort to write than Stuffing Grandma does.
- People actually buy food books.
Unlike a lot of niche genres, cookbooks are actually popular sellers. A fifty page recipe book will sell. If I wrote a three thousand page epic fantasy novel about trans-dimensional wizards, almost no one would buy it. Eating is a hot trend. Food Network and the ten trillion assorted cooking blogs have made cooking and eating into a fade.
- A low profit is better than no profit.
I think James Altucher once said something along the lines of: “Selling fifty thousand dollars worth of books is easy. Just write fifty thousand books and charge a dollar for each.” Ten bucks a week doesn’t look like much but it adds up. In one year you could easily write and publish a Paleolithic cookbook, book about foods with the best protein sources, or a guide to various exercise routines. These books don’t have to be anything elaborate, just a couple thousand words each. After twelve months I could easily imagine that you’d have made at least a couple hundred bucks off the venture.