Low/no content publishing is one of the newest fads in the self-publishing industry and it has become harder than ever to break into. Authors are reporting diminishing returns across the board, and content creators giving it a go for the first time are finding they have their work cut out for them. Oh well, the only constant is change, right?
What is Low/No Content Publishing?
You might not be familiar with publishing no and low content books. It’s the process of listing paperback books like planners, calendars, guest books, and journals of all kinds on Amazon. These types of books do sell on Amazon, and they take comparatively little effort to put together.
At the beginning of this year, my wife Miranda and I (Jordan here) listed about 600 low and no content books for sale on Amazon. There is a learning curve to creating these types of books, but once you get past that, the sheer number of books you could create is staggering. We created journals, workbooks, guest books, prayer journals, etc. We put a lot of time into creating these, but put in little to no capital investment upfront to do so.
Thus, the lure of publishing no and low content books on KDP:
- There is only a slight learning curve
- Products are easy to create and upload
- It costs only your time (unless you’re paying for covers or for someone to upload your books for you)
Looking over the above, you can see why this era is coming to an end. It’s way too easy to get into and doesn’t have any real staying power. Sure, you could create thousands of offerings and MAYBE one or two of them will stick on Amazon’s top search rankings, but maybe not. And other people are creating thousands as well, flooding the marketplace.
I remember a story from a guy in a Facebook group who uploaded around 20,000 products in only a few months. I was advised early on to only upload around ten per day to avoid getting on Amazon’s bad side. And let me repeat, if you have ANY business on Amazon it’s worth it to stay on their good side at all times. We are by and large flies that they have no problem swatting away if provoked, regardless of how much “good” content we upload to help make them money.
Uploading several hundred a day seems like a bad idea, right? Well, I haven’t heard from this guy in months. He most likely was banned or suspended for too many uploads. Or MAYBE he’s on a beach somewhere raking in the royalties. Some people get away with these shady tactics, but it doesn’t make them any less shady or risky.
The Call to Diversify
Don’t jump on a fad bandwagon like this without diversifying in other areas as well. Build a platform that isn’t dependent on one source of income.
I know some people that are doing extremely well with low/no content publishing and making a ton of money with it. I’m happy for them. My humble suggestion is that publishers of this content should also have other revenue streams and paths to success outside of Amazon.
Archangel Ink’s recommendation for a rounded business model is to create offerings at several price points to allow your audience to support you. Something like this:
- something entry-level for free (like an email opt-in incentive) to lead with value
- low-cost content ($1-10 or $20) to demonstrate your expertise
- a mid-tier product ($50-500) that’s scalable, such as an audio/visual course or seminar, to deepen the connection with your core audience
- a high-tier offering $(500-$5000+) that is more time-intensive, such as in-person events, mastermind groups or individualized coaching, to profoundly impact your key followers
As the tiers go up, you need fewer opt-ins to provide a significant source of revenue. You build a library of offerings that can operate on auto-pilot to bring followers into your funnel. This early capital investments in quality production sustains you over time and brings your target audience up to speed. With the time freed up, you can dive deeper and expand more broadly in your arena of expertise, building a legacy alongside of a comprehensive business model.
How I Approach Diversification
I often share on my blog that my ultimate goal is to become a full time author and maybe a speaker someday. I don’t want my only dividends from writing to come from Amazon. Of course, a large part of my royalties come from this platform, but I also sell books outside of the ‘Zon as well. It’s smart to do so. It’s also smart to have other goals and other ways of making money that don’t depend on one source.
If Amazon blocked your account or decided to close up shop, would your business follow suit? Don’t be 100% dependent upon any one thing. Keep an eye out for alternative platforms and opportunities.
If you are one of the lucky few to jump on the low/no content bandwagon while it was hot, all the best to you. If you are doing it now as a side hustle without depending too much on it, consider yourself prudent. OR maybe you’ve already made enough from it to retire to a Cancun resort. In that case, enjoy a Mai Tai on my behalf.
For the rest of us, the adage is true: it’s not safe to put all your eggs in one basket. The low/no content publishing route is starting to turn into a casket, unless you have ridiculous design skills or are a market research genius. Go ahead and give it a try (and check out Rob Cubbons excellent resources here to get started), but don’t drop everything to do so.
Best of luck to you as you continue building upon your publishing empire!
-Jordan and the Archangel Ink Team