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How to Sell eBooks on Amazon: Avoid These 5 Mistakes That I Made

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Millions of Americans have a passion for reading, and they love to dig into a new fiction or nonfiction read whenever they get the chance. And for good reason. It is fun, good for the mind, and encourages creativity.

Oftentimes, a passion for reading is accompanied by a passion for writing. I'll never forget the day I got the itch to write my first book, and I'll also always remember the feeling of pride once I listed it for sale on Amazon.

But like most other new entrepreneurs, I made mistakes, mistakes that cost me time and money to fix. But now, I'm here to teach you how to do better!

Here is how to write and sell eBooks on Amazon, while avoiding five common mistakes that I fell victim to.

What is an eBook?

eBooks are digital and electronic versions of books that can be purchased online and read on devices like tablets, smartphones, computers, or eReaders. Since eBooks are not physical, they are oftentimes accessed online as PDFs, ePubs, MOBIs, AZWs, or other similar file formats.

eBooks are known for a number of features, including their readability across numerous devices, their portability, and their interactive content, including audio, visual, hyperlinks, or even graphics to present a more holistic reading experience.

Why eBooks are good for writers

For these reasons and more, it is well documented that readers really enjoy the eBook experience. But oftentimes, it goes unspoken about that eBooks can be really favorable for writers too! Here's why:

  1. They're easy (and free) to publish

  2. Authors retain full control over their work

  3. Higher royalty payouts

  4. Faster to get your book to market

1. They're easy to publish

Gone are the days that you need a publisher and a book deal to make it in the literary world. Now, eBooks make it possible for anybody to self-publish their own books.

There are different softwares that can help you out with this, but if you're looking to list on Amazon, Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is probably your best bet. It is easy, free, and can help you publish in more than 10 countries and 45 different languages.

2. Authors retain creative control over their work

In another pro that cannot be overemphasized, authors of eBooks will also retain control over many aspects of the creative process. For example, you'll have the final say over matters including content, book formatting, your cover, and everything else.

Even beyond creative control, you'll also be able to make all strategy-based decisions on things like:

  • Pricing

  • Rights and licensing

  • Marketing

  • Distribution

3. Higher royalty payouts

eBook authors also stand to benefit financially from higher potential royalty rates, up to 70% of the sale price of each title, depending on the platform where you sell your book.

Even at rates in the 30-70% range, you'll earn far higher royalty rates than are typically offered by traditional paper book publishers.

Higher earnings? Yes please!

4. Faster to get your book to market

Actually getting your book out to consumers is a more streamlined process when publishing an eBook.

In fact, when I first published my book, Grow Your Green: Financial Self-Help From America's Favorite Generation, the entire formatting and publishing process took me less than one whole day to complete.

Of course, my editing and final proofreading had been completed before this, but still, Amazon KDP and other solutions out there are really efficient.

What types of eBooks sell best on Amazon?

Books of many different categories sell well on Amazon, including:

  • Children's Books

  • Self-Help/Personal Development Guides

  • Side Hustle and Money-Making Help

  • Short Stories & Essays

  • Mystery, Suspense, Thriller & Horror Fiction

  • Cooking And Food Books

  • Health, Fitness & Dieting Books

Each of these categories carries a good profit potential and provide opportunities for those that write both fiction and nonfiction.

How much money can you make selling eBooks on Amazon?

The amount of money you make off your eBooks on Amazon will depend on your pricing, but not in the way that you probably imagine. The Amazon platform structures its royalty program to pay authors 70% of the sales they generate, so long as your book is priced between $2.99 and $9.99.

Meanwhile, books priced outside this range will earn 35%.

This means that you may be able to earn make more money selling the same number of books priced at $8.99 than you would at $10.99.

5 mistakes I made writing and selling my eBook

Like I mentioned, when I write another eBook in the future, there are some things that I will definitely do differently. Here are the 5 biggest mistakes that I made the first time around.

1. I neglected proper editing

It can be really hard to balance pace and perfection when penning your own eBook. But you should never compromise spelling, grammar, and formatting. And while my eBook was not littered with spelling mistakes, there are some things that I wish I had taken more time with, my tone among the most notable.

In hindsight, I shifted between formal and informal voice, and this constant mismatch cost me some credibility with readers.

My advice is to pick a voice and style that works for you and then stick to it. You'll be happier with the end result.

2. I didn't plan out my marketing and promotion

The second blunder I made in my naivete was assuming that marketing and book promotion wouldn't be necessary. But the "if you build it, they will come" mantra does not apply to entrepreneurial ventures like writing eBooks.

If I had a do-over, I would have built social media traction and an audience ahead of my book's launch. That way, I would have had a community of potential buyers waiting for my book's release.

I could have even built a pre-order list.

3. My book cover was boring

One of the leading indicators that can help predict how well a book will sell is how much interest its cover generates. Interesting covers, in conjunction with well written summaries or synopses, can help covert hesitant potential readers into dedicated readers and patrons of your work.

My book cover was more boring than it should have been, featuring a white dollar sign on a dark green background. But this cover didn't do anything to help overcome objections that may have kept certain readers from buying my book.

4. I mispriced my book

Your pricing says a lot about the contents of your book, a lesson I learned the hard way.

In hindsight, I actually would have priced my book a little higher. I settled on $2.99, and later $3.99, as a price point, and the more I learned about sweet spot pricing, I realized that my price point was a problem.

In other words, the dichotomy between my book's promises and my price point came across as spammy.

5. I neglected market research

Whether you're writing a piece of fiction or nonfiction, it is a good idea to conduct some market research to gauge interest in your book idea before you write it.

The best way to do this is to simply talk to people in your target audience. Then, once you've gathered a consensus on what they're looking for, you can start to write something that matches their wants and desires.

You may even be able to encourage pre-sales by collecting email addresses/social media handles as you perform research and then reach out to them with your work.

Four years ago, I skipped this step, opted to just write about what was in my mind, and I paid the price for it.

Tips for selling your eBook on Amazon

Selling your eBooks on Amazon does not have to be a difficult endeavor. To maximize your chances of a successful book launch, here are some tips to consider:

  1. Optimize your eBook description

  2. Set an attractive price (maximize royalties)

  3. Encourage reviews

  4. Engage with your readers

  5. Create something different

1. Optimize your eBook description

Most potential readers will scan your book's description and summary to help them decide whether they'd like to purchase it or not. After all, Amazon displays it front and center each time a potential reader clicks on a title. This makes this section really important.

It is an opportunity for you to connect with potential readers and to introduce them to your writing style. If your book is in the poetry or fiction genres, use the description as an opportunity to provide a brief summary on the plot or your artistic direction.

If non-fiction, write a paragraph to help potential readers to understand what they can expect to learn.

To illustrate this point, I used ChatGPT to generate examples of good and bad eBook descriptions, using a personal finance self-help guide as an example.


Weak Book Description:

Title: Financial Freedom Made Easy

In this book, you will learn about managing your finances and achieving financial freedom. We will cover topics like budgeting, saving, and investing. If you want to take control of your financial future, this book is for you.

Strong Book Description:

Title: Financial Freedom Made Easy: The Ultimate Guide to Achieving Your Financial Dreams

Are you tired of living paycheck to paycheck, drowning in debt, and worrying about your financial future? "Financial Freedom Made Easy" is here to transform your life.

In this comprehensive guide, you'll discover:

  1. Mastering Your Money Mindset: Learn how to overcome limiting beliefs and develop a mindset of abundance, setting the stage for financial success.

  2. Strategic Budgeting: Discover proven budgeting techniques to track your expenses, cut unnecessary costs, and create a realistic financial plan that works for you.

  3. Savings Strategies That Work: Explore innovative ways to save money, including automated savings plans and practical tips to build an emergency fund.

  4. Investing for Wealth: Unlock the secrets of investing wisely, from stocks and bonds to real estate and retirement accounts, ensuring your money grows over time.

  5. Debt Demolition: Say goodbye to debt once and for all with strategies for paying off loans, credit cards, and other financial burdens.

  6. Building Multiple Income Streams: Learn how to diversify your income sources and boost your earnings, creating financial stability and security.

  7. Setting and Achieving Financial Goals: Establish clear financial goals and a roadmap to reach them, ensuring you stay motivated on your journey to financial freedom.

2. Set an attractive price

Remember how I regret pricing my book at $3.99? This regret wasn't because the price was too high or low, but rather because it did not accurately reflect the value that I was offering my readers.

To help pick the right price point for your book, I recommend that you follow a couple of guiding principles:

  • Research what your competition charges: Look for other similar titles in your genre or niche and make note of how these books are priced. Learn what you can about the quality of their writing (either by reading it or analyzing reviews), and then use your assessment to price your eBook accordingly.

  • Test different price points: The Amazon platform does allow you the opportunity to adjust your price point and test how it impacts buyer/reader behavior.

But I also encourage you to stay within the $2.99-$9.99 price range if you can, so that you can earn the higher 70% royalty rate that I mentioned earlier.

3. Encourage reviews

Amazon, like other online stores, places a heavy emphasis on reviews as a way to judge high quality and low-quality titles.

With this in mind, the more (good) reviews you get, the better. I recommend that you offer incentives to your readers to leave reviews, including giveaways, exclusive content, or anything else you can think of.

4. Engage with your readers

Arguably the best thing you can do for the future of your book is to engage with your readers. Build an online community for readers to connect with you and discuss your work.

It can be as simple as creating a Facebook Group that you mention at the front or back of your eBook. Over time, this community will help spread word of mouth referrals about your titles for sale, and you'll likely notice an uptick in sales if you're patient.

5. Create something different

A surefire way to get eyeballs on your title(s) and readers of your work is to create something really different than what is out there. Sure, you'll still want to validate your idea through market research, but doing something can help win you interested readers.

Potentially different ideas include:

  • Collaborating with co-authors

  • Incorporating images, audio, visual, and other components

  • Mix fiction and nonfiction elements in the same story


Writing an eBook and selling it on Amazon can be an excellent way to fulfill your passion for writing, while at the same time avoiding the 5 most common mistakes that first-time authors often make.

Are you interested in writing and then selling your own eBook on Amazon? Tell me why or why not in the comments below.

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About Nathan Zarcaro

Nathan Zarcaro is the founder of The Student Debt Destroyer and is passionate about personal finance related causes.  A 2018 graduate of Providence College's Liberal Arts Honors Program, Nathan studied Finance, and worked for one of the world's largest asset management firms before starting his own consulting practice.  In his free time, Nathan enjoys playing golf and traveling with his wife Brigid.

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