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Ebook Success: Cookbooks Or Romance?

30% Growth In Ebook Supply

August 21, 2014 — Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and other ebook platforms have almost completely taken down any market entry barriers for aspiring authors and writers. Courses and books on “How to publish a book on Kindle” or “How to make money with ebooks” have been mushrooming. The result is a continuous flood of newly published titles: More than 75,000 books come online in the Kindle store every 30 days; thereof ca. 65,000 English titles. This represents a growth in Kindle book supply of more than 30% a year.

One can debate at length about the quality and value added of many of these new titles, but the fact of the matter is that many authors put high hopes in these books and look for a continuous flow of “passive income”. The envisaged business model is simple: one upfront effort for creating the book, ideally followed by a constant stream of royalties. Ebook success has become the dream and pursuit of many.

 140820 Cookbooks Romance Blog Graph

Cookbooks — The Gold Mine Of Ebook Publishing?

Many a participant of such “Earn money with Kindle” course has taken the approach to publish in the Self-help, Health, Fitness & Dieting or Cookbooks, Food & Wine category. Cookbooks in particular seem to represent a book genre where the barriers of entry are extremely low. It is very easy to outsource the books, and the copyright (or lack thereof) when it comes to recipe ingredients limits the creative effort required to come up with a new book.

But what are the odds of ebook success in the cookbook genre?

Well, you will be the judge: There are approximately 38,000 English cookbook titles for sale in the Amazon Kindle store. The average Amazon Best Sellers Rank across the Top 100 cookbook titles (monitored over a week’s time) is 7,886. This translates into roughly 18 sold copies a day for an average title in the Top 100 out of 38,000 books. True, at the very top, a lot of money can be and is made. The No. 1 position in the Cookbook category averaged an overall Amazon Sales Rank of 112. This is outstanding. But already at position No. 100 in the category, the sales rank drops around 15,000 to 16,000. At a book price of $3,99 and a maximum royalty level of 70% such sales ranks translate into roughly $6,800 to $7,300 in annual royalties. Whether this is enough to pay the rent of feed a family is not the point; the case in point is: How much will the authors of the remaining 37,900 titles in the genre earn? – Right.

Lack Of Ebook Market Information

The issue is that many authors just follow the beaten track, without much information on the actual sales performance of the book category or chosen market niche. This results in phenomena such as more than 2,800 different paleo diet cookbooks or 1,500 low carb recipe books for sale on Amazon Kindle. The majority of of these titles sell less than a copy a week (if at all).

The underlying reason for such development is that many independent authors who want to make a living from writing, lack the market intelligence for informed publishing decisions.

So what could be an alternative to cookbooks?

Example: Romance Novels

Let us take one example – the Romance genre. Everybody close to the publishing industry knows that this genre is incredibly successful and shows an insatiable thirst for new authors and titles.

True, romance is not necessarily an easy genre to be successful in and has higher barriers of entry and much higher levels of competition than cookbooks:

  • Romance is the 3rd most competitive genre in terms of number of titles
  • You need great cover artwork, ideally surveyed, to resonate with the target audience and stand out from the crowd
  • Like any hyper-competitive genre, a title requires intensive book marketing and promotion
  • Price realization is the worst of all genres on Kindle
  • It is not that easy find ghostwriters due to high demand
  • Romance books have 50-100% more pages than cookbooks and take more effort to write

BUT: Romance is currently the highest selling category on Kindle; the category outsells cookbooks by a factor of 27 (!). See exhibit below.

Writing romance books may not be for everyone, but if you hit a chord with the audience (therefore market survey and testing recommended) the thing is big. Remember, The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy was launched in 2011 by British Author E.L. James and has already sold 100 million copies worldwide.

Romance or Cookbooks

Ebook Market Publishing Choices and Niche Selection

Now, this article does not advocate that cookbook authors should drop the pencil and publish Romance novels now. No. This was just an example to illustrate how different the level of demand and underlying economics of different book genres can be.

Economic success in publishing has a lot to do with the proper niche selection – in other words the choice of the right sub-genre or sub-market and the question of how to dominate in such sub-market. And such niche selection requires adequate market intelligence and trend scouting.

Kindle publishing has become like drilling for oil. Highly profitable for those who know where to drill and hit a well; incredibly frustrating for those whose exploration efforts take place in the wrong fields or lack the proper technology.

This is where K-lytics, ebook market intelligence for success, comes into play, a unique system to improve your chances of ebook success.

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