This post describes my efforts at using Amazon KDP select to sell technical non-fiction books. After some success in my efforts last month (reaching the top of my sub niche), I can report that I fell back a few spots but for the most part sales have been steady. As can been seen in my Amazon sales chart, the rank for my Treading on Python book have been semi flat for the past month. Sales of my Decorator Book have been similarly flat. They have been hovering in rank 8-15 which is pretty good considering the other books are the standard Python recommended books or a textbook. Apparently self published books can do ok, considering my books and that number 1 or 2 is usually Al Sweigart's Invent Your Own Computer Games With Python.
What has happened in the past month?
During PyCon I ran a promotion on Treading on Python. The Rasberry Pi folks picked it up (probably due to Steve Holden's tweet) and I actually had more sales in the UK that in the US that day. (Odd considering that US is around 8-10X sales of UK in my experience.) Given that sales have been relatively flat, I'm wondering if I have peaked. Perhaps I have. Though I struggle with efforts to promotion. It seems I'm labelled as a troll if I try to post anything to reddit programming or hacker news related to my book. Which I find a little odd, because others seem to do so with ease. I can promote through Python channels, which for my more advanced books seems to work, but Treading on Python is aimed at people wanting to learn Python, so promoting through Python channels seems a little less effective there.
I'm still going to be running a few more promotions for my books. They seemed to have been effective.
Another challenge has been getting reviews. I think every author struggles with that. (And reviewing is long tail behavior).
In the meantime I've also silently pushed out my next guide, Guide to: Learning Iteration and Generators in Python. This book is not in KDP Select. I'll probably put a bundle back up on my site and perhaps BN or Kobo. If you are interested in a review copy let me know.
To close off this post. I think technical self publishing can be "successful". I'm not sure that you will retire like fiction writers who hit the jackpot. But I'm pretty sure that with Amazon's 70% (or more if I sell myself), I'm getting almost as much money as people selling their books for $20-$40 (most of the rest of the people in the Python top 20 list).