Imagine you could sell access to your books for a $1 monthly subscription and every reader you’d ever make would stay with you forever.
All you’d need to do is take the money you made the month before and reinvest it in advertising, next month you’d have more readers, the old ones plus the new ones… even more $1 bills to use, burn all of that on growth and keep repeating the cycle until you reach the edges of the internet. Million of readers paying you $1 a month for the rest of their lives. The mythical fairy tale land.
This is what all the hip unicorn startups are doing nowadays. Burning as much cash as possible to gather as many members as they can. They create huge libraries of content and offer it for a insignificant recurring fee like $10/month. Billions of dollars of content offered for such a small fee. Sounds crazy, until you learn they have hundreds of millions of users, bringing in billions a month (e.g Spotify, Netflix, Amazon, Disney). Whatever their huge initial investment it was totally worth it.
Let’s get back to earth… we don’t have millions to invest in promotion and we won’t have Netflix levels of retention. Even so, their system is worth considering. If you can reach a few hundred member-readers you’d still end up with a nice safe recurring revenue that can help you scale. That’s the beauty of a recurring system, you can re-invest into growing our audience and improving your craft.
If you sell 200 books on Amazon ( most self published authors sell around 250/300 copies in 1st year) for $9 (pretty steep for someone unvetted) you make around $1300 (70% royalties) — one time.
If you have 200 members on your own platform paying $9/year, you get to keep all that money ($1800 — first year only), but more importantly you have a recurring system. By adding new books most of those members will stay with you next year also, you don’t need to re-invest in running promos for every new work, and the lifetime value of your readers becomes much higher.
You can use Amazon for you print copies and keep most of the digital ones behind your paywall, getting the best of the both worlds.
A good approach would be to have 2-3 books already. Promote one for free or 99 cents with Amazon Ads and BookBub Ads and have it link back to your platform. The rest of the books on Amazon you would keep at the high limit of pricing near the $9.99 together with their print versions. On your platform you would give yearly access to all 3 ebooks for only $9/year (offering a 30% off for the first year). This makes it look like a great offer and should give you great conversion rates.
Similarly to how Netflix works the more books you add, the easier it becomes to grow and scale. The bigger your library, the easier it is to attract and onboard new members and retain old ones. Even if you add a cringy version from time to time, people still see it as added value. They get more for the same price and you have more room to experiment and grow your craft.
Having your own platform goes further than just selling books. It allows you a more direct relationship with your readers, you build a community, you get better and faster feedback, you find out who your ideal reader is, you have stronger engagement, you can test new book ideas, new chapters, you can do live events and Q&A sessions with people who are actually interested in your work and its direction.
You also get more options to improve your earnings by having your own subscribers. You can promote other author’s books or other relevant products, earning affiliate commissions or expand your own offering with digital courses or digital tools.
It’s a little harder to start, sure, but nowadays simply joining a library marketplace won’t move the needle at all. You still need to invest a lot of time, energy and money into marketing and promoting yourself, so why not drive traffic to your own digital platform instead of pushing it all to Amazon or to other established giants, who will have no issues promoting other books on your “own” page.
A few thousand members paying you $1 or more a month can set a path towards a full time income allowing you to focus 100% on your writing.
If you like the idea, check out the One Dollar System book. It’s free for Kindle Unlimited.
I’m working on the tools and step by step video series that show how to implement the theory above, using affordable technologies, like WordPress and a few plugins. Everything should cost you under $100 to setup (domain name, web hosting, design, plugins) and you’ll own 100% of it. There is no arm and leg donation needed. And everything is just configuration, technical knowledge will not be necessary.
The course and tools I build will all be available for $9/year (80% off) at onedollarsystem.com for the first 100 members.
If it’s something you find of interest please don’t hesitate to share any feedback/ideas/objections in the comments section below. I’d love to hear some real life opinions instead of just my own thoughts. Have a beautiful day!