As I write this, I am in the final month of Q4 2020. So, I wanted to talk about my first Q4 with KDP self publishing, which was in 2019.
That way, you can then see how much difference a year can make when it comes to Amazon self publishing – but in particular in my case, selling low content books.
What is Q4? It’s simply the final quarter of the year. So, October, November and December and refers to the most profitable quarter of the year for many!
Although, when it comes to self publishing, people tend to see the big sales rush from around black Friday – to December 20-ish.
This is when many publishers can tend to see their regular income drastically increase.
So, why do I want to talk about my FIRST Q4 on KDP?
It was back in the final few months of 2019, that I got serious about self-publishing and decided to put a majority of my time & focus into creating low content books on Amazon.
If you have no idea what low content publishing with KDP is >>>> I recommend you check out this post first.
I had intended to learn about low content publishing for…. seriously, about a year!
But, it was a little out of my comfort zone and, I put it off.
And I kept putting it off.
Until one day I decided to just figure it out and threw up a few plain lined notebooks, using some of my Merch by Amazon designs on the cover.
This was at some point in the summer of 2019… Maybe June and I can’t even remember how many books it was now. I think it was 6.
I was busy then with other things and didn’t even check my account and didn’t expect any sales.
One day, I remember randomly checking my KDP account in August and was surprised to find, that I’d made a couple of sales.
This was all it took more me to recognise the potential.
I uploaded a few more books, but didn’t really start to concentrate on it again until the end of September/beginning of October.
My First Few Months Self Publishing On Amazon:
Between October 2019 and the end of December 2019 I put my energy into uploading books.
I am not sure how many books I had published at the end of 2019 – although, in this post, I mentioned that I did have around 200 books by mid January 2020.
I know I was trying to get as many up as I could in October/November, before I went away.
Because I went away for two weeks with my family to Florida in November/December to Disney & Universal….. Consequently, I wasn’t uploading during that time.
Nevertheless, by December I had a couple of books start to take off and one in particular started selling very well…
This also happens to still be one of my best selling books today!!
So, here is the breakdown of my first proper first few months, which happened to also coincide with Q4.
It might be slightly off, as I’m relying on book report here, (which I don’t have anymore) and it always seems to be a few dollars off… anyway!
October 2019: $30.92
November 2019: $259
December 2019: Nearly $1000!
I was so happy to make what I did in November and certainly didn’t expect to make what I did in December…
It was amazing also, because I spend half a month away having fun with my family, doing zero work and yet, still had this money coming in.
This didn’t suddenly go right back down after Q4 either.
Despite this year being a crazy and unpredictable one, my lowest month in 2020, wasn’t much below $1000.
My best month to date has just occurred in November 2020, when I made over $4000.
I write this in December, so I will update it when that’s known.
Post Update: I made close to $5000 in December – but then made over $5000 in January AND exceeded that again in February…
So, now my KDP earnings recently have been exceeding my Q4 earnings. This has been both surprising and incredibly exciting.
Work Vs Results In 2020:
I’d love to say that I worked solidly during 2020 and was super motivated, organised and focused on building my income….
While, I certainly had my moments, I also did struggle to stay focused.
It was just a weird year wasn’t it? – I spent several months home schooling and I was thrown out of my routine.
I also used to quite like to work in coffee shops, (where I seem to get far much work done)…. Which I was unable to do.
Nevertheless, as we head into December, I have around 450 books. So, I must have found that time somewhere to create and upload books this year!
I think just goes to show that even small consistent action is key. It may not seem at the time that you’re doing much, but it does add up.
I may look back at this first year self publishing and think of how much more I could have done in my first year, but ultimately I still have 450 books that I found the time to create and publish.
I don’t think it’s a good strategy to focus on quantity as the number one priority.
Yes, I think a combination of quality and quantity have a role to play.
But when you upload too many, the quality will suffer somewhere. Taking the time to carefully create good books, is definitely the way to go.
What’s more, people flooding the system with spammy books doesn’t help anyone.
Has Amazon USA Changed Their Algorithm?
I do believe that Amazon USA has changed their algorithm to filter out many independently published books in 2020.
I think this for a couple of reasons:
Firstly, when I started my sales were roughly a 50/50 split between the UK and the USA.
I think already by the start of 2020, this had already changed and now around 20% of my sales are from the USA.
The other 80% is split between, (primarily) the UK and some other Countries, like Canada.
Secondly, when I search for keywords now on Amazon USA – less independently published books show up in the search results, compared to how many do in the UK.
This is also compared to how many USED to show up. For example; when I was researching niches last Q4.
Note: If you’re searching Amazon US and you aren’t from the US yourself- you need to add a US zip code as your location, or you won’t see all the results. I use US zip code generator.
Q4 2019 VS Q4 2020:
October 2019 – $30ish dollars... Vs October 2020 – Nearly $2500
November 2019 – $259…… Vs November 2020 – $4167
December 2019….Nearly $1000 Vs December 2020 $4642
While I had intended to do more this year, I’m still very pleased with my results overall.
Something that is so frequently said, but which certainly appears true is — that most of your success will come from a fraction of your input.
the 80:20 rule is frequently talked about in relation to self publishing.
The idea in this example; being that 80% of your royalties probably come from 20% of your books.
In reality – it probably isn’t like this for everyone – it could be higher or lower.
But in general, it will be a minority of your books that bring you in the majority of your income.
So, you have to get your head around the fact that NOT every book is to sell.
Sometimes you may take a long time over creating a book that you think will be a best seller… and it may actually be the book that you didn’t expect, that takes off.
This is why some balance between quantity and quality is important.
You could just put one book together and have it be a massive success – but chances are, you may need to publish more to see the results you want.
Sometimes it can feel unnerving for a small number of books to attribute to a majority of your income and this was the case for me initially.
My main seller attributed to 50% or more of my monthly earnings at times!
Thankfully, I also had some more books take off and so, my earnings are gradually becoming more balanced.
While KDP is popular, some people do approach it carelessly.
Just because Amazon has a 1000 book a week upload limit…. That doesn’t mean this is what you should try and achieve.
Uploading multiple books with the same interior and barely indistinguishable cover designs, is not a good long term strategy.
Approach this platform as though you’re in it for the long haul.
Learn everything you can. If you’re not a designer, learn graphic design skills and how to use certain programs and create everything with the customer in mind.
So, What Are My Plans For 2021?
Well, I have a whole bunch of stuff I want to do this year.
- Start a YouTube channel,
- Expand on my books,
- Grow a brand with one of my author names,
- Get back on to Etsy,
- Grow my Merch & Redbubble accounts – (finally got to tier 1000 on Merch).
Have you got started with KDP? What have you found challenging?
Let me know in the comments!
Pin Me For Later! 🙂