Today I'm excited to share a new way to earn money on Amazon.
And it doesn't require shipping out orders or even sourcing inventory.
I'm talking about self-publishing your own books on Amazon.
Now before you start to panic about your less than stellar grammar skills, this kind of self-publishing doesn't actually require you to “write” a book. Which is great news because that's definitely the hardest part of self-publishing books!
On Amazon, you can create and sell low- or no-content books. And because it takes so little time to create these empty books, you can upload as many as you want.
Once you have enough books for sale, you can start to create a nice passive income stream.
It's all possible with Amazon's print-on-demand KDP service. I'll show you how you can use KDP to start creating (and selling!) your own notebooks, journals, and planners on Amazon.
What Is Amazon KDP?
Amazon KDP stands for Kindle Direct Publishing. Despite the name, KDP handles both digital and physical books.
KDP is the place to go for self-publishing your own print books. If you've been around on Amazon for awhile, you might know this service by its old name, CreateSpace. But now it's all handled under KDP.
Amazon KDP is a great alternative to the traditional publishing method. By self-publishing, you save yourself a lot of time and steps. You can have your book listed for sale that much faster.
KDP is a Print On Demand service. This means that your KDP books aren't printed until a buyer orders one. This is great news for you as an author because it means you don't have to hold or store any inventory.
If you want to self-publish your own book (whether that's a novel or a journal), you just have to upload all of the information to KDP. This means you provide a cover image, the interior contents, a title, and your keywords. After that, Amazon does the rest.
When an order comes in, Amazon will print your physical book and ship it off to the customer. And, like with Amazon FBA, they also handle any customer service issues. After that, you get paid in the form of a royalty payment!
You can get a lot of sales because Amazon is still THE place to shop for books. That means your uploaded books are getting placed in front of the eyes of Amazon's hundreds of millions of customers.
No (or Low) Content Books
As you can see, using KDP to self-publish your own books is something that you can easily scale. You only have to upload one book one time and then you can get multiple sales on it. Your only time investment is the time it takes to create and upload the book.
So if you create a book with almost no content in it, you're saving yourself even more time.
Examples of No Content Books
Here are just a few examples of the kinds of low content books that sell well on Amazon. This should help spark some ideas for your own creations!
- Journals (blank or with prompts)
- Blank sheet music
- Doodle Books for kids
- Writing/Composition books for kids
I've included a photo of 4 different book covers for you to look at. As you can see from The Blank Comic Book Notebook example, the cover designs don't have to be that elaborate. That book is actually a really hot seller on Amazon!
These 4 books are mostly geared at children which means you can have a little fun with the design if you want. Of course, you could also design journals for moms, office workers, graphic designers, or any other niche you want.
The contents of the book are really up to you. The Unicorn Composition Notebook has blank, wide-ruled pages inside. The Music & Lyrics Notebook includes blank Staffs for writing music and wide-ruled pages for writing lyrics.
Some journals marketed for adults may include prompts or inspirational quotes on a few pages. That's why these books can be “no content” or “low content”. You can pick whichever option makes the most sense for the buyer.
Your Book Design
Designing your books will be pretty simple. You will come up with a concept for the book, a design for your cover (both front and back), as well as decide on the inside pages.
For kids' items, think of the kinds of designs that they would want to show off in front of their friends at school. Or, from the parents point of view, think of an item that might inspire their kids to be creative or do their homework!
When you are designing for adults, you may be designing an item that's for private use (like a gratitude journal) or you might be designing a book that they'll be taking to work or a book club meeting with friends.
This means your cover might be a beautiful image or something fun. For example, here's the cover of a journal that's for school nurses.
This would make a perfect gift for the first day of school and the nurse would (hopefully!) get a smile from it.
You can feel free to have fun with your designs or you can keep it simple. Some book covers are just text with no artwork or images and they still sell. So even if you're not that artistic, you can design your own book covers just by using some fun fonts.
Amazon KDP for Merch Sellers
I want to take a minute here to address Amazon Merch Sellers. If you are already selling designs on Amazon's Merch platform, you're going to love Amazon KDP.
A lot of Merch t-shirt designs can be re-purposed to print on book covers. That means you can use the same designs that you already created to add a new income stream with print on demand books.
And here's the best news: you don't have to wait on an invitation to get started with KDP. Unlike Merch, you can just create an account and start selling.
KDP currently has a lot less competition than Merch which means this could be a great opportunity for your business to grow. I think most people assume that KDP is a lot of work (which it can be, if your goal is to upload 1,000-page novels). But low-content books actually don't take much more work than uploading a t-shirt design (I think they're easier).
How to Create and Upload your Books
If you're ready to get started selling low-content books on Amazon, you'll need to have a few things ready.
- A KDP Account [sign up here: https://kdp.amazon.com/]
- No or Low Content interiors for your books
- Artwork or designs for your book cover
You should also be able to do some basic keyword research so that you're creating designs that people actually want to buy. There's no point in making journals on a topic that no one is interested in. Spend a little time thinking about keywords and strategy and you'll be starting off strong.
For the design elements, you can design your covers with a tool like Photoshop, Illustrator, GIMP, or Canva. If you don't want to do any of the design yourself, you can outsource this part to a designer on Upwork.
The design of the interiors will be simple. Most of your pages will be blank or just lined (like in a wide-ruled composition notebook).
After you have all of the design elements in place, it's time to upload your books into KDP. You'll need to provide some basic information about your Print on Demand book:
- Book type (this needs to be Paperback not Kindle eBook)
- Language (English)
- Book title + Subtitle
- Author (you can use a pen name if you'd like)
- Publishing rights (Amazon wants to know if you own the copyright and publishing rights for this book)
- Keywords (this is how people searching on Amazon will find your book in the search results, so don't skip them!)
- ISBN (KDP will assign you a free ISBN)
- Publication Date
- Print Options: You need to choose your paper color & type, the size of the book, and some options for the finish
After you have everything approved and finalized in KDP, you get to set your price. As you price your item, Amazon will show you what the printing cost will be and then what your final royalty payment will be.
For the typical low-priced book, the royalties aren't massive. But even if you're making $2-$4 per book, that's all from work you only had to do one time upfront.
If you create a book that gets a couple of sales per day, it can add up. And if you create multiple books that get a couple of sales per day, it really adds up!
Design and Upload Books Using Book Bolt
If you really want to become more efficient at creating and uploading books to KDP, there are software tools out there that help. This is especially great if you're not comfortable using expensive software like Photoshop.
The folks at Book Bolt understand the needs of Print on Demand designers. Which means you can expect easy designs, fast uploads, and even keyword research.
Book Bolt is an all-in-one tool and can be your hub for all of your KDP designs. This is a lot easier than designing on one site, downloading interiors from another, and then uploading on KDP.
With Book Bolt, you get:
Book Bolt Designer
Simply plug in basic details about the product you're creating and Book Bolt gives you an easy template to create your design.
After that, you can start designing your covers. You can upload templates, clipart, or your own images. You can draw, choose fonts, and add layers and effects.
They also have premade interior designs to choose from. So it's easy to switch from blank pages to something custom like a recipe card template.
You can download both your Cover and Interior and then upload them to KDP.
Book Bolt Lister
You also get access to their bulk listing tool. This allows you to bulk upload multiple book design variations. This is a separate Chrome extension that's included in the cost of Book Bolt.
Even though the Designer is fun to use, the Keyword research tool is where you'll really make your money. Book Bolt has niche discovery and keyword search volume built right in.
Doing this research will help you create books that rank and sell on Amazon.
Start Your Book Bolt Trial
Book Bolt is just $9.99/month and you can cancel at any time. It's a great price for a product that will save you hours of time as a KDP designer.
But if you'd like to take it for a test drive, you can get started with a free 3-day trial
To begin your free trial, follow this link and select the blue Sign Up button.
After that, you'll be asked to create an account with your email address and password. Then you will need to go ahead and give your credit card details.
But because your'e getting the free trial, your card won't be charged for 3 days. You can cancel your trial at any time with one click of a button in your Book Bolt dashboard if it's not right for you.
If you never knew that becoming a published author could be this easy, now is your chance to get started!
KDP is a great added source of income. It's a perfect fit for any Merch seller but could be a low-effort addition to an Amazon FBA seller's business too. It's the kind of thing you can work on whenever you have a few spare minutes and it's nice to have the sales roll in.
Have you ever sold these kinds of journals or notebooks on Amazon? I'd love to hear your results. Let me know in the comments below.