PTM 015 – Self Publishing Amazon Kindle Books with Jay Herring, Author of The Truth About Cruise Ships

Part Time Money PodcastIn today’s episode, I talk with friend and author, Jay Herring. Jay is the author of the The Truth About Cruise Ships (available for $9.95 on the Kindle). From one of the reviews: “this book makes for the perfect reference for anyone entering the cruise industry or even passengers who are interested in the other side of the spectrum”.

Jay’s book is now generating over $4,000 a month in Kindle sales through the Amazon.com. Listen as Jay shares his story of deciding to write a book, getting it self-published, and what he thinks is the reason behind his success through Amazon.

Jay’s Story: Writing a Book for Extra Income

When people found out Jay Herring used to work on a cruise ship, they would pepper him with questions like, “What was it like?” or “Could you get off anywhere you wanted to?”

After Jay resigned from working for Carnival Cruise Lines in IT, he found a job in sales working 4 hours a day making $10 an hour for 20 hours a week. His wife was not a US citizen, though, and therefore unable to get a job. Their family finances were very, very tight. They were in the red every month with only a little bit in savings to hold them over.

Jay had an entrepreneurial spirit, so he searched for job ideas that would earn him more money than minimum wage. He realized that with a book, once you write it, it has the potential to earn money forever. So he set out to pen his experience as an officer on a cruise ship. The Truth About Cruise Ships would be a book about all the things that happen below deck that the passengers would never know about or otherwise see.

Publishing and Marketing a Book

After weighing the options between self-publishing and traditional publishing. After reading The Self-Publishing Manual by Dan Pointer,Jay opted for self-publishing. He discovered that meant he would be the one responsible for hiring the editors and printer, and he would be responsible for all marketing on the book. But most importantly, Jay learned a big publisher would pay him a royalty of 10% or 15% of what they would make on the book. Since he didn’t want to give away 90% of the profits, self-publishing seemed like his best option.

Jay opted to do both a hard copy of his book, as well as an eBook. Ninety-five percent of his $4,000 monthly (average) revenue has come from Amazon Kindle sales. For more information about e-publishing, read this post.

Setting up a book for Kindle sales, Jay said, is surprisingly easy. Amazon has helpful articles for getting started. They will review it to ensure it’s not plagiarized, and as long as it’s the author’s own content, it will be approved. If a writer has problems, their customer service will respond within 24 hours. Amazon also offers sales tracking through their site, as well as giving the author the ability to make cover or book description adjustments.

I had never written a book before. If you would have asked me 10 years ago if I thought Iwould ever write a book, I would say there was no way I would do that. I do not consider myself an author.

Jay’s Secret to Success

It was a year and a half, though, before Jay saw his book sales take off on Amazon—or any site for that matter. Jay said that while he’s not sure exactly why, he thinks 4 things contributed to his recent success:

1.Niche audience: 14 million people in North America cruise every year, a million people every month. Jay’s book caters to a large niche.

2.Title: He split tested his title with a different tile using Google AdWords. The current title, The Truth About Cruise Ships, outperformed the other title 3:1.

3.Teaser: He includes a teaser in his book description on Amazon. He includes 2-3 pages of Chapter 1 and leaves the readers hanging, waiting for more.

4.Content: Jay says he wrote the best book he could possibly write. He didn’t cut corners. It took him almost 4 years from start to finish

Again, 1,000,000 people cruise a month, and I have only tapped into 600-700 in a month. There are just so many people out there that I think would enjoy this book that either do not know about it or just for whatever reason have not found it. Yeah, this could really take off. I am not quite sure how to get there yet.

Listen to the Podcast

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Here’s more about what Jay and I discuss:The Truth About Cruise Ships - Self Publish on Kindle

Motivation and Deciding to Write

What made you want to make some part time money?
What made you want to write a book?
Why did the book take so long?
What motivated you to write this book?
Were you looking for other money making ideas or were you just in it for the book?
What’s the book about?

About Self-Publishing

How does the self-publishing process work?
How easy is it to self-publish?
When did you release on the Kindle vs the paperback?
Who did the binding and editing?
Where did you find the editors?

Getting into Amazon and the Kindle

Tell me about the Amazon Kindle sales revenue you have.
What type of format do you need to have the book in?
How do you get your book into Amazon and on the Kindle?
Is Amazon the one place to sell?

Marketing the Book

What made sales grow?
Jay gives 4 reasons why his book is doing well.
Did sales grow because of reviews?
Where are you in terms of your growth?
How have you marketed the book outside of Amazon?

Other Tips and the Future

Any other tips for someone wanting to self-publish into Amazon?
Can you turn any information into a ebook for Kindle?
How is this helping you financially?
Where do you see this going?

Full transcript by clicking show

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