A Kindle Unlimited Content Mill Has Been put up for Sale – Got $2.5 Million?
How would you like to be the next Hardy Boys?
A friend has brought my attention to a new listing on the Empire Flippers business marketplace (thanks, Isobel!). It seems one of the content mills responsible for producing novels in the Kindle Store is up for sale.
We don’t know the name, but the listing describes a 5 year old operation that only really started to succeed after the launch of Kindle Unlimited.
This listing is for a Kindle Direct Publishing by Amazon business created in November 2013 in the romance niche. While most of the revenue comes from selling 100+ ebooks, the business also has 20+ print books and 10+ audiobooks, providing multiple income streams on Amazon. A USA Today Bestselling Author pen name is included in the sale. The books are highly rated and the business has very strong year on year growth.
The business regularly receives KDP All-Star Bonuses ($) which Amazon awards to books and authors that are read the most. There is also a small Amazon Associates affiliate income on their own products gained from Facebook ads. The target audience is adult females. The Seller has recently started translating books into foreign languages. This is a large area of potential growth as Kindle is scaling quickly overseas.
The Seller spends time each week studying the market and overseeing the content creation. The business has a planned content schedule which is carried out by in-house writers and launches 2 to 3 books per month. The team, based in various locations in the US, includes two writers, an editor, and an assistant who takes care of promotions and customer service. Currently, the Seller takes care of social media and email promotion, though this could be outsourced.
With two branded websites, an email list of over 70K+ subscribers, and several social media channels in place for the brands and authors, this business has been set up with expansion in mind. The email list subscribers receive daily newsletters and some automated sequences and segmentation are in place. The business also has multiple Advance Reading Copy teams that get early access to read the books and leave hundreds of honest reviews.
If this looks to you like one of the infamous KU book stuffers is getting out of the business before they too get banned, you’re not alone.
I think this is someone who was exploiting loopholes to cheat in Kindle Unlimited, but now that Amazon has changed the rules they have decided to get out. Alas, we do not know the name, so all we can really say is that this was a content mill.
And while that has negative connotations now, the practice is widely accepted in the industry and has been around for as long as Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys have been in print.
Disgusting Dude August 3, 2018 um 6:26 am
Content mill? Possible.
Stuffer? A stretch. Improbable, though.
Assuming the listing is truthful, which for that price needs to be verifiable:
1- Five years in business means they started before KU.
2- Content mills are neither illegal nor unethical.
3- The numbers say their staff are well paid since 4 employees are splitting something like 80-90 grand a month.
4- Overhead must be low since it sounds like work from home for all involved.
Mastermind got tired/is sick/wants to move on? Maybe the writers want to move on. What they’re really selling is the IP and business model. Sometimes success is a burden.
Or maybe the scam is the listing.
Mark Williams – The New Publishing Standard August 3, 2018 um 7:54 am
What strikes me as incongruous is the 155 ebooks but only 25 paperbacks.
It is a simple task to produce CreateSpace or KDP Print paperbacks to match the ebooks, and if the ebooks are selling as suggested then the token expense needed to extend an ebook cover to a full-wrap for a paperback would be quickly recouped. Any business of this scale with five years experience would understand that.
Which begs the question whether many of these ebooks are just those 10-20 page erotica short stories that pervade the Kindle store.
Gregory Elfrink August 5, 2018 um 7:14 am
I’m the director of marketing for Empire Flippers. Also, I happen to be a huge fan of literature and in general the business of fiction writing (amateur writer myself).
To give a bit of background on us, we heavily vet all of the businesses that come to our marketplace before we sell them. In fact, the majority of the businesses that get submitted to us are rejected. We only want to serve up legitimate business opportunities to our list of buyers, so we take this super seriously.
We’re familiar with the KU exploitations that’s been happening in the industry, after all this isn’t by no means the first kindle publishing business we’ve sold.
This business is not using book stuffers, nor is it in the erotica niche as many people who’ve been around the block might think.
The publisher has done it the right way, hiring writers, creating story outlines/briefs, and overall good marketing. I think it would be fair to look at the business more as a publisher company rather than just a kindle business.
As far as the lack of physical books vs ebooks, this isn’t that uncommon from what I’ve seen. Ebooks just are way more profitable margin-wise and unless you got some kind of sweetheart deal, most indie publishers find it hard to get their physical books down to a reasonable cost if they use a Print on Demand service like Createspace.
One more point on the book stuffer epidemic, I’ve seen these guys around before and I don’t believe I know any that are running facebook ads and email marketing campaigns.
Typically, more black hat marketers just focus on the loophole and have no real care to build any kind of brand (or in this case pen name) since they know there is no longevity typically in their strategy.
As far as why anyone would sell such a profitable business, there are a TON of reasons why someone would. Everything underneath the sun – from business to personal reasons.
Some people get uncomfortable being tied to one platform such as Amazon and want to divest their earnings into other businesses that are less reliant on Amazon, others want to buy real estate free and clear, or do a mini-retirement.
Most entrepreneurs that sell their business with us rarely have just one business, they often have several projects running in tandem and one reason they might sell is to offload some mental bandwidth in addition to the nice cash injection.
Anyhow, I hope this helped your community here.
I love the kindle and the new opportunities it’s given us writers (even us more amateur writers that just do it as a hobby).