Is KDP oversaturated? Well, I very first wrote this blog post in 2021.
As I write this, it’s 2023. So, I thought it was definitely time that I updated this post for you.
I still hold many of the same views really… HOWEVER….
There is one very important thing that’s exploded in 2023, that may make quite a significant impact on KDP.
I mention that a little bit further down. Please feel free to comment and leave your own opinions below!
A couple of things before we start….
What is KDP?… This stands for the Kindle Publishing Platform. A place where you self-publish books and sell them on Amazon.
Since 2019, I’ve been focusing on making money with Amazon KDP & self publishing low & no content books and it’s been an exciting ride so far!
Amazon deals with the printing & shipping part – you just upload your cover PDF & PDF interior file – fill in your books details and keywords… Amazon deals with the rest.
What are low & no content books?
This refers to either books with no content – notebooks, sketchbooks, graph paper and so on.
Low content – anything with a little more content… such as guided journals, log books and planners.
Now there is a further definition STILL…. Medium content!
Medium content will refer to things like colouring books and activity books. These types of books are not considered low content by Amazon and as such, you do not need to click on the “low content,” check box when you upload your book to be published.
There are many other types of books published on KDP – such as any type of fiction or non fiction books and some self-published authors have had great success.
But for the purposes of this post, I will be concentrating on low and no content books. Primarily because that is mainly what I’ve published myself on Amazon KDP.
Should You Try Publishing No Or Low Content?
When I very first started on KDP, all I did was upload some of the designs I already had, because I sold T-shirts on Merch by Amazon.
I put designs that might work on plain lined notebooks. The designs I chose, were the sort fo thing that would appeal to the gift market.
Broadly – my very first designs were based on peoples passions. Stuff based on people’s likes/dislikes and hobbies.
After I surprisingly made some sales from these notebooks, I quickly turned to low content books, because I had heard they could be more profitable.
They definitely were. I immediately started making more sales.
That said, I do think creating low content books is the best way beginners can get started and learn the basics.
If I hadn’t personally started with no-content, I’m not sure I would have published that first book at all.
Because, for me, it was all completely out of my comfort zone and felt complicated enough at the time.
Once I’d gained some confidence, I was keen to learn more and build on the skills I had. That’s when the low content came in.
How Do You Build On Your Success?
Once you have made a couple of sales within a particular niche, try and expand on that.
Create a new book in the same niche, but in a different style.
Or create a book in a closely related niche or sub niche.
Unless you’re doing a simple planner, don’t just use one interior with multiple different covers.
Instead, make each book unique if you can and this could be done with simple tweaks.
For example; I have expanded on a niche by combining two niches in one.
This could be combining a hobby/passionate interest – with a favourite animal or pet, for example.
You can tweak your interior, by adding different clip art, or changing the font and layout in some way.
Is Amazon KDP Oversaturated?
There is certainly more competition now, than there was when I started.
A LOT MORE.
Without a doubt, this is growing all the time.
I’m sure this will increase more and more as time goes on too.
But this is what happens when there is an opportunity with a low barrier to entry.
It’s not the books that are coming in now that are so much the issue in my opinion – as the fact that so many books are now established in the high volume niches, with hundreds or thousands of reviews.
This is where no-content can still do well sometimes – because if you have a good cover, it doesn’t matter how many good reviews the next book has.
If it’s just a notebook, people know what they’re getting anyway and are just looking for a great cover. Especially if they’re looking to buy a notebook as a gift.
But when it’s low content, (Journals/Planners/Diaries/Log Books/Guest Books Etc…) They go more of the reviews and feedback.
So, if you’re in a highly competitive space, you will really need a great looking book to get those initial sales.
(Or rely on KDP Ads to give you a boost… )
Once you start getting some reviews coming in, at least you have more of a chance.
You Can Still Do It! Here’s Why….
I did a little experiment of my own recently.
I published a book in one niche that started selling right away, practically as soon as it went live.
This was a different style of cover to what I would normally do, but in a niche that I had already had success in.
I had other books in this niche, with multiple five star reviews. But nevertheless, this book sold.
So, I tried something.
I created five OTHER books in different niches, but under the same brand and with the same sort of cover design style.
Basically, I decided I would try and create a brand and all these books would have their cover design style in common.
Well, to my amazement: 4 out of these 6 books started selling.
Not just in the UK, but in the USA and Canada as well.
In fact, three of these are now in my top 10 best selling books this month.
One of the best selling books out of this bunch, is my third best selling book this month so far.
So, what does this mean??!
To me, what this means is…. Design is incredibly important and that if you can create something that people want, you can STILL outsell your competition.
People will choose a design that stands out overall, irrelevant to weather other books have reviews or not.
To me, this was an encouraging discovery.
Because, it’s made me realise that I should still target those high competition niches. As long as I design a cover that people want.
Hmm… So, how do you do that?
Good question and not an easy one to answer.
You see what works and you try other stuff to try and improve on what is already working…….
You tweak and try and test and then sometimes…
You might just come up with a winning formula, that you could frankly replicate across various niches and still manage to be unique every time.
So, out of these six books I published… One managed to get a review and this was the golden ticket.
it was a 5 star review and was a lovely review where they had even taken pictures of the interior…. These are the best kind of review!
Relatively quickly after this, I got some more reviews as well and this always will help you boost sales.
It can be worrying, waiting for those initial reviews to come in and they won’t always be what you want.
But don’t worry too much.
One of my best selling books initially had a three star review. I was thinking that would be it… but it wasn’t!
It continued to get sales and gradually the 5 star reviews took over.
But then…. Along came Artificial Intelligence.
I imagine you’ve heard about Ai Art.
Well, in the last few months it’s completely taken off, with Midjourney becoming the front leader as I write this in Feb 2023.
It’s now possible to create some phenomenal artwork and even colouring pages, simply by writing text prompts within midjourney and letting it work its magic.
It’s even now possible to create your own children’s book illustrations, because it is even possible to create consistent characters in Midjourney – with multiple poses and expressions.
Without a doubt, this is going to create a vast wave of new books entering KDP.
The thing is, even though this tool is amazing – you are still going to be better off having some artistic or graphic design knowledge in order to get the best results from it.
Also, it’s not quite as simple as writing a prompt and clicking download. You do need to format the images correctly and much of the time, you may need to do a TONNE of prompts before you get the result you want.
Although, I imagine that over time – Midjourney will just get more and more advanced.
While I think it is a shame just how many artists, illustrators and graphic designers are sure to lose work from this… I also think it’s probably the most artistically gifted that could ALSO get the most from it, if they choose to do so.
Since this tool emerged, I decided to look at ventures beyond Amazon KDP as well and I’m working on some projects that use Ai.
It’s such early days, that I do still feel a bit unsure about it all and do suspect that along the way – some platforms online will need to bring in additional rules, in order to weather this Ai storm and learn how to adjust.
It may sound a bit premature, but I do feel we are moving at an intense rate into this new age of Ai and I’m unsure that anyone truly knows what the result will be of that.
That all being said, I am going to outline some points to bear in mind about KDP and saturation.
Some Key Points To Bear In Mind:
– It doesn’t really matter if KDP is “oversaturated…” or not.
Think about how many regular books are on Amazon and being published every day.
Just because there are so many books, does that mean new books never have a chance? No. New books become best sellers every day.
Also, when it comes to yearly specific books like planners and diaries – there are new opportunities every year, because people need to create brand new versions every year.
– You can still succeed in competitive niches:
When you create a brand new book, Amazon gives you a little boost initially in the algorithm.
If you make sales during this initial period, you have a book more likely to do well.
If you can create an eye catching design that is unique and appealing to a niche audience, this is going to give you the highest chance of success when it comes to ranking your book and making sales early on after publishing.
– Your COVER gets you those initial sales!
Your cover CAN bring you in those initial sales.
The design of your cover and who you’re appealing to is so important.
If you’re trying to appeal to EVERYONE – you end up appealing to no one.
When it comes to Amazon, niching down and targeting specific audiences is what helps you rank and make sales.
You want to create something that a niche specific audience will like – not what you think will appeal to absolutely everyone.
If you’re creating a low content book, remember it’s going to be your interior as well, that eventually gets you those good reviews.
So, there is no point creating an amazing cover and then just rushing the interior.
– You don’t need to be a designer to succeed on KDP, (but getting better will help!).
You don’t even need to be an illustrator or an artist now, with the help of Ai Art.
But it definitely helps to gradually just figure out some graphic designs skills.
While I’m in no way a graphic designer, I learnt some skills over time just by being online this long and doing all the graphics myself.
Since I started back in 2019… I’ve definitely vastly improved and that’s largely just from practice, trial and error and YouTube videos!
Getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things is something that can really help you progress.
Amazon Changes & The Importance Of A+ Content:
After sometime, Amazon changed their conditions and now recognise Low Content books. As such you now need to click a tick box that describes your book as low content when you upload it.
The downside of this, is that you no longer get the look-inside feature for low content books.
This means, that when someone sees your book as they scroll on Amazon – they will not be able to see any of the interior and will have to go on the cover & description alone.
The look-inside feature was only ever available via desktop anyway, it wasn’t available via mobile but nevertheless, this does make a difference.
Fortunately, Amazon has something called A+ content, which is another way you can showcase your book on your main sales page and it’s now becoming incredibly important for low-content books!
As the competition in this space surges, A+ content is going to be created by more and more competitors and it will be something that YOU NEED for your book to really stand out.
You can read more about A+ content here and there are many tutorials on YouTube that can help you get started.
Do You Have Any Questions About KDP? Let Me Know In the Comments!
If you’re interested in learning more about KDP, I share some of the resources that helped me over at this post.
Take care & good luck!
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Good read. I’ve just started about 3 weeks ago. Have 18 books and I spent time doing some nice design inside and out. I just didn’t want to be that spammer upload hundreds of books with just lines. I’ve only sold one book so far. Spent a ton of time researching keywords and categories. But would you say it can take time, how long should I give it before tweaking maybe keywords. Review process is so long it’s 5-6 data now I’ve found. It’s getting saturated
Hey Ray – What type of books have you been doing? It is definitely harder with new books that aren’t established. I personally do run Ads often on new books now to test the water. It’s a good way to find additional keywords that convert and also, just a way to test whether people will actually click on your cover and whether you will get sales. 3 weeks isn’t very long — even when I started in 2019, it was about a month before I got my first sales coming in. I would keep steadily creating books and not just wait though, you will start to get sales and then figure out what works. For example; with that one sale you have — can you turn that idea into other books?
Nehemiah Maxwell says
Excellent article! Thanks for not holding back. Five stars
I missed your comment, apologies – thank you!
T. J. Williams says
I wonder where these low content books are on Amazon. I have searched for journals, planners, etc. Amazon’s search results show the brands, like Moleskin and others. I see maybe one or two books that seem to be from an individual. Based on what I read about this type of publishing, there should be hundreds and hundreds of these books, but I don’t find them. I have sent messages to some of the publishers who post YouTube videos about this and so far, no one has replied. I have searched those individuals since they say they make in the 6 figure range. The searches by publisher name comes up mostly empty. I did find one book, a gratitude journal, for sale by one YouTuber. It makes me think the business here is not in selling books but in telling people how to create a book and upload it. The YouTubers are making money on YouTube and not book sales. Love to hear your thoughts.
Are you looking on Amazon from another country? If you’re looking on Amazon USA, you need to put in a USA postcode in order to see all of the actual results. There are many thousands of books, but many are filtered out eventually from the regular search if they don’t make sales relatively quickly, (unless they are in a very low competition niche). Also, people don’t use their real names when they publish these books – they use multiple pen names. So, you will never find them from searching their names, (for the most part, some people also publish some books in their own names, as well as some under a pen name). The main people on YouTube show their income reports – yes they can make money from youtube and courses as well, but they aren’t just making money from youtube. I think anyone who is only talking hype about how much you can make is being misleading – most youtubers that I follow speak quite honestly that this isn’t an “easy,” thing to make money at all and actually takes substantial amounts of work, time and energy.
Bob Hort says
Hey, I don’t want competition for all my books, so everyone else needs to stop independently publishing books right now.