What is a Low-Content Book?
How does a low-content book differ from other books published on the KDP platform? And why are some books described as no-content books?
In this article, I’ll explain exactly what a low-content book is and give examples of many different types of low content. I will also briefly explain no-content books. You’ll learn the pros and cons of creating these types of books and how to get started.
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Low-Content Books Defined
No-content or low-content books are simply that – books with little to no text in them. The person that purchases the book will write, color, or sketch in the book, supplying the content themselves.
You design publications with little or no substance, such as notebooks and planners, coloring books, and activity books, among other things. Because there is so little substance in these types of books, they may be produced in a much shorter period of time than a novel or traditional non-fiction book. Within a week, you could complete many books that you can then sell on Amazon and through your own website.
In recent years, adult coloring books have become a favorite pastime for many people. In addition, many people love filling in journals and planners, Puzzle and activity books are also popular with people of all ages – from tots to seniors.
A low-content book should never be published as a Kindle eBook. The buyer has to be able to write or sketch in the book so they should always be produced as a paperback. Occasionally you may decide to also publish as a hardback; for example when the book may become a keepsake after it’s been filled in.
Can you make money publishing low-content books?
Absolutely. There is a constant demand for low-content books. When one of these books has been completed, a replacement has to be purchased. But to be clear, this is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Producing quality books that provide value to the buyer is the key to success. In the past, some people flooded the Amazon marketplace with blank or lined notebooks (and you’ll still see some YouTubers recommending this) but that no longer works and only gives a bad name to independent publishers.
Examples of Low Content Books
- Journals – Diaries are included in this category. Even though many people produce blank line journals, prompted journals are popular and a good way to create a unique book of value. Examples are gratitude journals, prayer journals, prompts for writers, prompts for feelings and thoughts, etc.
- Guest Books – These books are for recording visitors (and sometimes their thoughts) at special occasions like weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays. This is a category where the book could become a family keepsake and therefore a good opportunity for publishing as a hardcover.
- Music Composition Books – These contain blank music staff so the buyer can write in music scores. Some books contain charts for recording tab nomenclature (this should be specific to an instrument)
- Coloring Books – Adult coloring books have been very popular for years. To be successful you’ll have to have some artistic skill or be willing to outsource the work to someone that does.
- Quotes/Jokes – These books contain one quote or joke per page usually within an ornamental border. If you produce this type of book you need to be careful not to violate copyright laws. Many people assume that quotes are not copyrighted but that is not correct. See this article concerning quotes and copyright.
- Planners/Calendars – Books for keeping track of to-dos, shopping lists, appointments, etc. fall in this category. Planners could be daily, weekly, monthly, or a combination of calendars for recording events.
- Puzzle/Activity Books – Like coloring books these can be targeted at adults or children. Childen’s activity books usually, but not always, include an educational element.
What Are No Content Books?
A common example of a no-content book is a composition notebook. All of its pages are blank-lined pages. Some books, like sketchbooks, will have only entirely blank pages. Blank comic books also fall into this category.
I don’t recommend creating no-content books. The barrier to entry is so low that the marketplace has been flooded with these types of books. Besides the competition on Amazon, you’re competing with brick and mortar stores where these books can be bought for one or two dollars. You can’t price a paperback that low on KDP since it wouldn’t even cover their printing costs.
What Are the Benefits of Selling Low-Content Books?
Other than coloring books, it doesn’t take more than basic design skills to learn to produce book interiors. And many interiors can be obtained from a site like Creative Fabrica and modified. Covers are the most important element to getting sales and will take quite a bit of practice and layout skills to produce with high quality. The covers can be outsourced at a relatively low cost.
A low-content book is much faster to produce than a novel or non-fiction book. The minimum word count of a traditional book is 50,000 but most typically 80-100,000 words in length. Some eBooks are published as short stories with around 10, 000 words. But a low-content book could only contain one or two sentences a page (prompts, jokes, quotes) or only a few headings labeling areas for the buyer to fill in content (guest books, logbooks, fitness trackers.) Many low-content books consist of only one or two template pages copied 100 – 200 times to fill the book.
Once the work on a book is completed and it’s published you can continue to earn for months or years. So publishing is a great source of passive income.
KDP publishing is a low-cost business to start. You could get started free using a free Canva account, Google Docs, or an open-source office suite application like Libre Office. Many people already have Microsoft Office on their computer and though you may think of PowerPoint as only used for office presentation, many people use PowerPoint to create their low-content books.
Publishing with KDP gives the benefit of Amazon’s large customer base. These are people ready to buy. And Amazon takes care of all the heavy lifting: printing and binding the books, taking and fulfilling orders, billing, shipping, and handling customer service. You collect royalties two months after the sale has been completed.
Are There Reasons I Wouldn’t Want to Publish Low Content Books?
The low barrier to entry means you’ll have lots of competition.
Some people will copy your cover and interior. Unless they publish exact copies of the book’s title, interior, and description it can be difficult to have Amazon remove them.
It can take quite a while for sales to begin to gain traction. Sometimes it may be weeks or months before you begin to see sales – you have to have patience when self-publishing. Just keep publishing books, some will make sales quickly, some after several months, and some not at all. Anyone that has been doing this for a while we tell you that the majority of their royalties come from 10 – 20% of their books. Like building any business it takes time and work before you start earning; don’t give up.
How Do I Get Started Publishing on KDP?
If you already have an Amazon account (you’ve ordered from there before), join the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program here: https://kdp.amazon.com If you don’t have an Amazon account, then you’ll need to go the marketplace for your country and sign up first. You’re only allowed one KDP account and it will be linked to the email you use when you sign up for an Amazon account.
After you have completed the KDP account sign up, log into your account and you’ll be taken to your bookshelf. Once you begin creating books you’ll manage them here.
To add a new paperback book (remember all low-content books should be published as a paperback), in the Create a New Title section click the “+ Paperback” option.
Under the “Paperback Details” tab (partially shown below) you’ll need to enter the book’s title, subtitle, author name, description, keywords, and select two categories. I’ll describe this tab in more detail in a future article. When you’ve completed entering the information, click the Save and Continue button to move to the “Paperback Content” tab.
On the “Paperback Content” tab (partially shown below), you’ll select whether or not you want Amazon to assign an ISBN to your book or if you have one to enter. If you’re only going to publish the book on Amazon you should select the option to get a free ISBN assigned to your book. Then you will be asked to select the dimension of the book and whether you want your cover printed with a matte or glossy finish. Then you’ll upload your book’s contents and cover separately. Book covers need to be uploaded as a PDF file and I usually upload a PDF for paperback interiors also, though .doc, .docx, .rtf, and .html files are also allowed. I’ll describe this tab in more detail in a future article.
After you have completed entering the information requested and uploading the contents and cover, click the Launch Previewer button.
A preview of the book will open and any problems with margins of embedded fonts will be displayed on the left-hand side of the page. You can click through all the pages to ensure everything looks good. If there are no problems, click the Approve button. Otherwise, click cancel, make the needed corrections, and reopen the file.
When you approve the book, the cost for Amazon to print your book will be displayed. Click Save and Continue and you’ll move to the Paperback Rights & Pricing tab. On this tab, you’ll select which marketplaces you want your book published in and the price to charge. When you enter a price for your book the amount of royalty you’ll earn in each marketplace will be displayed. I’ll describe this tab in more detail in a future article.
After you’ve set the price to sell your book for, click the Publish button which will send your book to Amazon’s review team. A pop-up will give you an option to also publish your book as an eBook. Do NOT publish as an eBook; you’ll receive complaints and bad reviews from customers who purchase it and then find out they have no way to fill in the book on their Kindle device.
It usually takes a couple of days for the review to be completed. During some holiday periods, it can take a couple of weeks for the review to be completed.
Once the review is completed you’ll receive an email from Amazon. If the book has been approved, it will contain a link to your book listed in the marketplace. Congratulations, you’re a published author. If any problems are found during the review, they’ll be listed in the email and your book will be put in draft mode on your KDP bookshelf so you can make the needed corrections.
What Do I Need to Get Started?
Software for Creating Book Interiors
Common options are Microsoft Office (PowerPoint/Word), Canva, Adobe Creative Suite (InDesign), Affinity Publisher (a low-cost alternative to InDesign) and BookBolt
Software for Creating Puzzles
If you’re going to create puzzle books some options are Puzzle Generator (a PowerPoint plugin), Puzzle Wiz (included with a BookBolt Pro account), Instant Puzzle Maker (for word search puzzles), or Crossword Express (creates many different puzzles, free but can be difficult to learn)
Software for Creating Covers
If you’re going to create covers yourself some options are Adobe Creative Suite (Illustrator), Canva, BookBolt, and Affinity Designer (a low-cost alternative to Illustrator.
Often time you’ll find a need to reorganize the pages in a PDF or make an edit. A common task is emerging together PDF files. Options for performing these tasks include Adobe Acrobat Pro and I Love PDF (free).
There are many more options for software to use, I’ve only listed the ones most mentioned and used by independent publishers.
In this article, a lot of ground has been covered. You’ve learned what a low-content book is, examples of low-content books, the pros and cons of publishing these types of books, and some of the common tools used to create them.