Publishing and selling low content books is a great way to open a lucrative passive income stream.
Self-publishing your own low content book doesn’t require you to have stellar writing skills. In fact, creating books with little to no content takes only a few minutes, and can keep generating revenue for you over and over again, even when you’re traveling or sleeping.
Residual Royalty Academy is a great example of recurring residual income through low content book publication.
That’s not bad at all for a year. But as Matt (the creator) pointed out, he wasn’t really consistent with his work, and believed that with more focus and consistency he could have earned a lot more. Still, I wouldn’t be unhappy with an extra $25k+ a year!
Low content books are paperback books that have little to no content. A notebook is a great example of a low content book. A notebook usually has a cover and on the inside, all you find are lined pages with no text. Also, every page inside is identical!
The end user of the low content book will fill in the content as required. You don’t need to do anything else!
Creating books like this only take a few minutes to a few hours and you don’t even need to have printing machines. All you need is a set of online tools to design the cover and the inner pages.
Amazon KDP or other platforms where you will sell the low content book will take care of printing and shipping.
NB: Recently Amazon have been discouraging books as low content as this, due to the extremely low barrier to entry and therefore the sheer amount of sellers. They’ve stopped offering free ISBN numbers for books which are simply one page repeated throughout.
Does this mean the end of low content books? Absolutely not!
Firstly you can still upload your low content books, but you will have to purchase your own ISBN number which isn’t cheap. Therefore I recommend you take just a little more time and focus your efforts on creating books that are still low content, but with less repeatable pages.
Here are 10 creative ideas for low to medium content books;
1. Coloring Book for Kids
2. Adult Coloring Books
3. Activity Books
4. Guided Journals
5. Guided Memory Book
6. Themed Planners
7. Puzzle Books
8. Fun Meal Planners
9. Guided Travel Diaries
As you can see with just a little thought and creativity you can design something fun for your chosen niche!
How to Make Money with Low Content Books
Start by selecting your niche and target audience.
You may already have a niche in mind such as music composition notebooks, adult coloring books, kids puzzle books, etc. Ideally you’ll want to be in a niche you know well and have some interest in, but most importantly it needs to have high demand. You don’t want to be creating low content books that no one is ever going to buy.
As the biggest ecommerce platform in the world, use Amazon as your guide to research demand, competition and estimated monthly sales and revenue.
First search for the niche you have in mind and have a look to see how many results your main search term displays.
For example here is the result for ‘adult coloring books’;
That’s a lot of results, which shows the competition is high. Ideally you’ll want to niche down until you see 20k results or less.
Here’s the result for ‘adult coloring books for women’;
And it gets even better when you niche down to ‘adult coloring books for women inspirational’;
Now we know we can likely compete in a market with only 3000 books rather than 50,000, but how can we see what the demand is and how many monthly sales current book sellers in this niche are making?
I use a tool called Junglescout, which has a chrome extension that gives me all these details and more;
As you can see on average there are just over 300 monthly sales, with an average monthly revenue of $2.3k. That’s a niche I’d be happy to have a go at!
You can also use a tool called BookBolt which has specialized software called KDP Spy, which shows best sellers rank, ratings, estimated sales & revenue, Amazon search volume, etc.
Once you’ve determined demand, take a quick look at the ratings to ensure there isn’t one dominating brand taking most of the top ten spots and ideally that there are two or three competitors in the top 10 with lower ratings.
Using the Junglescout extension you can quickly determine whether some of the listings in the top 10 are making good monthly sales even with low ratings, which is a great indication you can compete.
Once you’ve decided on your niche and the type of books you’re going to create it’s time to choose where you’re going to sell your books.
To get started, I recommend Amazon KDP and Etsy.
Once you’ve made a decent amount of sales and have a system in place you can expand and start to sell on other platforms like IngramSpark or Barnes & Noble Press.
You can create low content books fairly quickly using some great tools which make your job easier. It can take anywhere from a few minutes, up to a few hours depending on the content and your skill levels. You could also outsource this part of the process and find someone on Upwork or Fiverr with better design skills than you! (My preferred choice as I’m a terrible designer!)
Here are the steps to follow:
You’ll need to create the cover design and all the interior pages before uploading to your platform of choice.
You’ll need to be aware of the measurements such as trim size, bleed settings, etc., for which you can use the KDP cover calculator.
Once you have the measurements, you can use them with Canva and Book Bolt. Canva will serve as the cover creator and Bookbolt will make it easy to create the interior pages.
Using your tool of choice, create your inner pages. Look at other low content books on Amazon & Etsy for inspiration.
At the time of writing Canva has released a new ‘text to image’ tool using AI.
Here’s a coloring sheet example I created using this tool;
You could create an entire unique coloring book in one evening using this tool!
Once you’ve completed your inside pages, make sure to create an eye catching cover design and then when you’re ready, upload your fantastic creation to Amazon & Etsy.
As you upload your low content books you’ll be prompted by each platform to add a title, keywords, description etc.
Spend some time here. The keywords you use will ensure you’re found when people search for books like yours. Add an enticing description and clear high quality images of the key pages in your book to encourage viewers to buy.
Promote Your Book(s)
Promote your low content books using advertisement options available through the platforms.
Those are usually paid advertisements and not all platforms will have the option. Also share them on your social media accounts and website.
Canva is the best tool for designing your book cover. However, you can also use it to create interior pages as I demonstrated above. It’s a super-easy graphic design tool that you can use for free.
If you can afford it however, I recommend a premium subscription to access premium design elements, which can help make your low content books stand out. Its drag-and-drop feature makes it a very user-friendly tool.
BookBolt is another great service that makes creating book covers and interior pages super easy.
The best part is that it comes with additional tools like keyword research, spying on other sellers on Amazon KDP, puzzle creator, and more.
Though it is a paid service, you can use the interior designer for free.Try Bookbolt
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing or KDP is Amazon’s self-publishing platform, and it is by far the most popular platform to sell low-content books.
You can create your Amazon KDP account using your existing Amazon account. KDP will allow you to publish both paperback and hardcover (beta) books.
There are 16 trim sizes available for paperback, and you can choose from two paper options – 55lb and 60lb.
The process to upload and sell is pretty simple.
- Design and create your low content book
- Create your Amazon KDP account
- Select the paperback book option when uploading your low content book (not Kindle eBook) then upload both your cover and the inner pages of the low content books and add the book title, a subtitle, and a few keywords.
- Select the primary marketplace and other marketplaces where you want to sell, (office products, notebooks etc). Just look at other book sellers in your niche for a guide.
- You are free to select the publication date, but you can leave that blank.
Amazon will also assign a free ISBN number if you want, or you can use your own ISBN. (Please note Amazon have recently updated their terms and conditions and will no longer assign a free ISBN for very low content books, in other words lined notebooks or books with very simple repeatable pages. See their T’s & C’s here.)
With ISBN, you will be eligible for expanded distribution which can help with a few extra sales.
Once you add all details, Amazon will then review your content, and once approved, the book will be available for purchase. Amazon will then print and ship the book to anyone who places an order.
With Kindle Direct Publishing, if your book is priced between $2.99 – $9.99 you will receive a 60% royalty on your listing price, (outside of that price range it’s 35%), but Amazon will also deduct the printing price from your royalty earnings.
The printing cost depends on how many pages your book has, the ink type, and the Amazon marketplace from where the book is ordered.
Do keep in mind that Etsy will prohibit you from selling blank journals with lined pages as printables because they can be easily acquired from anywhere.
However, if you are selling books such as word games, coloring books, guest books, puzzle books, bullet journals, etc, you can sell them as printables.
Etsy will charge $0.20 per listing but they will not take any commissions for the first 40 copies you sell.
To get started with publishing low content books on Etsy, simply;
- Design and create your low content book
- Sign up to Etsy and create your Etsy store
- Create a product listing for your book, including title, description, 10 images, price, etc
- Promote your low content book!
Barnes & Noble Press is yet another place for low content publishing. On this platform you can choose paperback cover finish, hardcover with a dust jacket, or hardcover with a printed case.
You have the option of selecting the trim size you want. There are nearly 20 options to select from.
As for the paper quality of your printed books, you can select the cream paper or white paper for 50lb paper. For 70lb, only white paper is available.
Other print options include print colors such as standard color, black & white, and premium color.
One of the major problems with Barnes & Noble is that distribution of your low content books will be limited only to the United States.
Printing costs will depend on the page count, page size, book cover format & finish, and paper color.
Barnes & Noble Press offers 55% royalty and deducts the printing cost from your royalty earnings. Here is a sample cost estimator from Barnes & Noble:
Lulu Press is another great platform for generating passive income by creating and selling low content books.
They have printing services and you are free to choose paperback, hardcover with and without a dust jacket, and even spiral-bound options.
Lulu Press will allow you to select a trim size from 17 available options, and they have various templates to guide you. You can select 60lb white or cream paper or 80lb white. They do have 100lb white reserved for specialty products like calendars. The platform offers standard and premium options for both black & white and color prints.
Lulu will distribute your low content books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble Press, and IngramSpark alongside a listing on the Lulu Bookstore.
50% of the gross revenue you earn will go to the distribution channels. From the remaining 50%, Lulu will deduct the printing costs to derive the gross profits. From the gross profit, you will receive 80% and Lulu will take 20%
If you sell your low content books on Lulu Bookstore, there will be no distribution fee. This means that you can earn a few dollars extra for each sale.
IngramSpark will not accept lined notebooks, blank books, and sketchbooks.
On a case-by-case basis, they will accept puzzle books, activity books, workbooks, etc. Their condition is that the entire book cannot have more than 10% blank pages.
Even for those low content books that they accept, you need to show proof of concept. Simply put, you must have already sold multiple copies through Amazon KDP.
Uploading a book (even a low content book) on IngramSpark will cost you $49. Plus, you must absorb the cost of all returned books.
Though they have 45 to 65% royalties and a massive distribution network, selling low content books on IngramSpark can lead to losses, unless you have a proven sales model.
Blurb is another platform where you can sell your low content books. They keep things pretty simple and offer only three trim sizes.
You are free to select the 70lb premium paper or you can settle for cream or white 50lb paper.
They will distribute your low content books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble Press, IngramSpark, and Blurb Bookstore.
Blurb doesn’t mention the royalty percentage for the third-party distribution channels, but they offer 100% royalty minus the printing costs of Blurb Bookstore.
As always, printing costs will depend on the page count and the different print options you select.
You can create low content books and sell them on PublishDrive with the benefit of no revenue split.
However, they will charge you $24.99 a month or $249.99 a year for publishing 6 books on their platform.
They have a 14-day trial, which might not be enough to sell a few copies, but you can get a hang of their platform. They offer 28 trim sizes, but there is no information on the paper type available.
What’s interesting is that they will distribute your low content books to Amazon, Ingram, and CNPE – a Chinese distributor.
With Amazon and IngramSpark you will earn 60% and 45% royalties respectively, and for CNPE, you will receive 50%.
As a print on demand marketplace, RedBubble provides only two types of print books – spiral notebooks and hardcover journals. They provide the inside of the book and you simply create your own branded cover design.
The specifications for the paper type are not available, but they are usually a bit thin and standard.
The platform will distribute your low content book in 10 regions including the US, the UK, Germany, and Australia.
Royalties will depend on your markup price above the base price. The base price is $11.75 for a 120-page spiral notebook and $19.09 for a 128-page hardcover. (Ouch!)
Self-publishing low content books is one of the easiest ways to become a self published author without having to write a novel!
It’s also a fantastic way to generate a very decent monthly recurring income which has the potential to become mainly passive income after your initial efforts, and therefore is a great lifestyle business model for digital nomads and solopreneurs.
If you’re looking for a great side hustle and like the idea of self-publishing, but you don’t have the time or inclination to write your own masterpiece, low content books are a great opportunity that you can capitalize on.
Get started today and check out these other related posts to help you on your journey;