5 Benefits of Self-Publishing on Amazon for Nonfiction Authors
Self-publishing on Amazon is the most cost-effective way for nonfiction authors like yourself to make your book available to a global audience.
This article will showcase the main benefits you’ll enjoy by using this powerful distribution, marketing and sales channel to bring your nonfiction book to market.
5 Amazing Amazon Benefits for Self-Publishing Nonfiction Authors
Amazon has truly changed the book market in ways that were unthinkable only a few years ago.
Below you’ll find the 5 most amazing benefits that will allow your self-published nonfiction title to compete head to head with the most popular books in the genre:
Benefit 1: Worldwide Reach
The global ubiquity of the Amazon brand has truly leveled the playing field for nonfiction self-publishers.
In short, Amazon managed to change the shopping behavior of buyers from offline-bookstore discovery, where shelf space is highly coveted and tightly guarded, to online discovery, where shelf space is virtually unlimited.
With gatekeepers gone, publishers of any size – including single-book publishers like yourself – can share the same shelf space, and with some digital marketing savvy (which you can learn or hire for) you can even become as discoverable.
What this bookselling revolution has achieved for nonfiction self-publishers is something that just twenty years ago was nearly impossible: reaching a global audience.
Up until the late nineties, if you wanted your book to cross borders you would have had to engage an international rights agent, and if you were lucky enough to land one you then had to deal with reams of complex legal contracts.
And even then, there was no guarantee that your book would appear on bookshelves in international markets.
Nowadays, more and more nonfiction self-publishers are fielding business inquiries for services from places as far away as South East Asia and South America as a result of their book appearing on Amazon.
Benefit 2: Worldwide Book Printing
As if global reach wasn’t enough, Amazon also implemented distributed on-demand printing technology to make it possible to print one book at a time cost-effectively and ship it locally soon after an order arrives.
This game-changing development allowed Amazon to free up large amounts of space from their warehouses by not having to inventory the majority of titles they carry, while eliminating costly shipping expenses.
With several plants serving North America, Europe and Australasia, your nonfiction book is now printed upon the arrival of a paid order and shipped to the end user at low domestic rates (or free depending on their level of service).
This means that you no longer have to invest in costly inventory before any books get sold, plus it allows you to make quick changes to your book’s content at any time (e.g. fixing typos) without having to throw away misprinted books.
With this new distribution paradigm, you get to receive payment for every book sold on Amazon without ever having to write a check to cover costs.
Upon receipt of payment, Amazon will take 40% from the top as their commission (this amount is taken off your list price), they’ll then deduct their printing cost and pay you the balance as a royalty.
Benefit 3: World’s Biggest Book Search Engine
But the story keeps getting better. On top of the above two amazing benefits, Amazon also happens to operate the largest dedicated book search engine in the world.
In fact, as of late 2018, Amazon surpassed Google in the number of product searches conducted globally every year (including books), and they haven’t looked back since. This is another game changer in the industry.
Before Amazon, readers had to visit a physical bookstore and browse the aisles in order to discover a new title, with premium shelf space being restricted to titles that had a history of moving product for the bookseller.
Now, all readers have to do is to enter a search into Amazon about a problem they want to solve, an area of interest, or simply a question like “how do I lose 10 pounds in 10 days” and Amazon will oblige with the titles that most closely address the user’s search.
And unlike the past, you can’t pay your way into this virtual shelf.
All publishers large and small have to do the exactly the same work: conduct keyword research on their target audience to find the keywords that match the most searches in their niche.
Even if you don’t really know how to do this (you probably won’t), you can always hire a book-marketing professional for a few hours to help you find the best set of keywords for your book.
But here’s the best part, the vast majority of self-publishers choose the keywords themselves without doing the proper research. So, just by doing this work right you’ll be creating a tremendous competitive advantage over your peers.
Benefit 4: Low Self-Publishing Cost
All of the above benefits can be achieved at a very low cost. As a matter of fact, the creation and set-up of a new self-publishing account is actually free of charge.
It’s just mind blowing to have free access to the untold millions of dollars that Amazon has spent over the years developing the largest online bookstore and the largest dedicated book search engine in the world plus a global network of on-demand printing facilities. This was completely unthinkable before Amazon.
Having said that, you have to consider that if you want your book to be successful in the marketplace, you’ll have to incur expenses above the free self-publishing setup.
At the low end, you’ll have to purchase an ISBN for your title ($125 for a single number or $295 for a block of ten). In addition, you’ll have to hire a book-marketing professional to properly set up your book in your Amazon account.
But beyond that, you’ll have to hire one or more editors, a book designer and a cover designer. These costs are a must for nonfiction authors (think of it as an investment, because you’ll obtain a return from these expenses).
There’s no point in launching a new nonfiction title on Amazon if you can’t complete on quality with traditionally published titles, which are all designed and edited by professionals.
How much will all of this work cost you? Depending on the level of experience of the professionals you hire, between $5,700 and $11,500.
Now, this may sound like a lot of money on the surface, but consider that your business or you career will truly get to a new level by leveraging the “expert” status you’ll gain by publishing a top-notch nonfiction book.
For example, many nonfiction authors have turned their books into magnets to land lucrative contracts worth tens of thousands of dollars that would be very difficult to land without the cachet of being a published nonfiction author.
Many others have launched highly profitable public speaking careers because of their books, regularly attracting fees anywhere between $5,000 and $20,000 per talk (depending on the scale of the event and their public-speaking experience).
And most report increasing the size of the businesses as their books become profitable prospect-conversion machines.
Benefit 5: Lower Barriers to Entry for Bestseller Lists
The final benefit is another game-changing feature offered by Amazon for the benefit of self-publishers: lower barriers to entry into bestseller lists.
Amazon’s massive library of nonfiction titles is organized into a tree of categories, sub-categories, sub-sub-categories, etc. As of right now, there are over 3,000 different nonfiction categories available on Amazon.
Each of these “tree branches” has its own bestseller list. Now, top-level categories will naturally always be highly competitive, requiring a large volume of sales in order to qualify for entry.
But lower-level branches require a much lower number of sales to be considered a bestseller. So, if you choose the right tree branch for your nonfiction book, you’ll be able to be included in its bestseller list at a relatively low volume of sales.
Once you do, you’ll get full bragging rights as an Amazon bestseller, which is marketing gold regardless of the category!
This new bestseller status will, among other things, attract media attention, command higher public speaking fees and increase demand for your business or professional services.
How do you find out what the best categories are among the over 3,000 tree branches, in order to maximize the chances of your book being included in a bestseller list?
This can be quite complex and may require that you hire the services of a book marketing professional (which you’ll be needing already in order to select your book’s search keywords as stated in Benefit 3).
But the investment of a few hours of time from an expert will make a huge difference in the ultimate success of your nonfiction book.
If you’d like to familiarize yourself with the basics of this work, you can read my companion article: “How to Promote Your Nonfiction Book to Rank High on Amazon.”
Amazon has completely reinvented the way books are distributed and sold by disrupting and reinventing the book industry. This has leveled the plaiting field for nonfiction self-publishers in ways unimaginable in the not-too-distant past.
As a result, the only thing stopping your book from reaching a global marketplace is no longer a multiplicity of gatekeepers, but your own passion and drive.
Now, I don’t want to imply that this is a cake walk, because you’ll have to do the best you can to complete in the marketplace (hence the need to hire a team of experts to help you get there). But this was no different before the advent of Amazon.
What’s different now is that you can enjoy the same access that used to be restricted to traditional publishers. By hiring a few key professionals, you’ll be able to develop the necessary competitive advantages to thrive in the nonfiction book market as a self-publisher.
Best of luck!
If you enjoyed this article and are in the process of self-publishing a nonfiction book, be sure to check out my free nonfiction success guide, drawn from years of experience editing books for bestselling authors (including a New York Times bestseller) and ghostwriting for CEOs and politicians. Simply click here to get instant access.
Leave me a comment below if you have any questions or a specific need that I can help you address – I operate an author services firm that specializes in helping entrepreneurs, professionals and business owners who want to publish books as a calling card for prospects, to establish their status as an expert or to just to generate additional leads for their businesses.
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Bennett R. Coles is an award-winning author of six books published through Harper Collins (New York) and Titan Publishing Group (London). He is also the publisher at Promontory Press, editor for multiple bestselling authors (including a NY Times bestseller), ghostwriter for CEOs and politicians and the founder of Cascadia Author Services, a boutique full-service firm that specializes in premium author services specifically designed for busy professionals. Our end-to-end services include writer coaching, ghostwriting, editing, proofing, cover design, book layout, eBook production, marketing, printing and distribution.