Tim’s Ebook Marketing Success Story

Last fall, I talked to customer Tim Brennan, chess tactics

Last fall, I talked to customer Tim Brennan, chess tactics master, about his marketing plan for the holidays. He’d written an ebook – his first – and had a fresh list-building tactic to try out.

He just followed up with me to report, 3 months later, “This has been a HUGE success.” Here’s Tim explaining just what businesses just starting out can gain from this tactic. (We assume you’ll want to try it (we sure do), so we’ll link to that at the end.)

A Snapshot Of Tim’s Success (In His Own Words)

This is the book I used to build my list.

What Tim Did: Leverage Amazon for email subscribers

What It Got Him: Sales (10-15 books/day) and subscribers

Tim Says: “I used to have to actively try to get people to sign up to my newsletter, but now I don’t make any effort, and it is pretty much on autopilot.”

The Rankings
It is currently ranked #1 for Kindle chess books, and #3 for all chess books (paperback or electronic). It goes between 1-5 in the category rank normally; the sales rankings are updated every hour.

The Email Subscribers
I have got a lot more signups to my e-mail newsletters and my backend database product. I used to have to actively try to get people to sign up to my newsletter, but now I don’t make any effort, and it is pretty much on autopilot.

I don’t have exact stats about how many new signups I have gotten, or what the percentage increase is, but I do know that getting new signups is much easier for me than it was before, and I get a lot of people telling me that they heard about my site from the Amazon ebook.

The Income
I am selling about 10-15 books per day.

I just got a deposit today from Amazon for $827.99 for December, and that is just the US sales (not international, which pushed the total over $900) for December.

The Upsells
The Amazon prospects are much more qualified as well, because they came from Amazon (meaning they are buyers, not lookie-lous or freebie seekers) so I get a lot more upsells to my main product (this program).

I never really made much money from the program, but using this tactic has made a huge difference.

Before Using The Ebook Tactic:

17 sales from July 1 – Sept 30 (and the price was lower) = 1 backend sale every 5.4 days

After Using The Ebook Tactic:

26 sales from Jan 1- March 4 = 1 backend sale every 2.4 days

So I am making 225% more sales than before.

The Authority
Having a book (especially one that is ranked #1) gives you a lot of authority. People are very impressed by that. I have been asked to be a judge for the USCF (United States Chess Federation) on one of their contests, and have been featured in newspaper columns, blogs, etc.

The Experience
I’ve learned A LOT about putting books out on Kindle, and I think it is something every marketer needs to do, or at least seriously consider.

At first I didn’t really even think I was going to make a lot of money, but it turns out to be a really nice side income, and once you have the page up there it is no work at all – Amazon handles all of the payments, customer service, returns, etc. You can literally “set it, and forget it.”

I have got a lot of new fans in the process, and I hear from people all over the world every day how much they like the book. I have people asking me already when the sequel will be coming out!

Tim’s Tips To Grow Their Lists

  • Put out something that is really good quality. It doesn’t have to be long, but it does have to be GOOD.
  • Keep the price low – you are looking for a lot of people to buy it. My book is half the cost of similar books in my niche.
  • Put a call to action for people to sign up to your list. Put it in the very front, so even people who don’t buy the book can see it in the preview (“look inside”) section. I also put a second call to action at the end to remind people to sign up, with a hyperlink sending them to a “squeeze page.”

I’d be happy to answer any more questions, or talk more about the subject. It is very exciting, and I could go on and on about it. 🙂

You Heard The Man

If you have a question for Tim, ask in the comments and he’ll answer you.

If you want to check out his book, it’s here.

Now, to live your own success story:

Who Tim Brennan Is

Chess tactics master at Tactics Time. Developer of Amazon-to-email ebook marketing tactic. AWeber customer. Online business success.

Details here.


  1. Jo Harrison

    3/19/2013 1:37 pm

    These are great tips, and I particularly like the reminder at the start of the book to sign-up, this is what I suggest to my own author clients.

  2. Steve

    3/19/2013 8:48 pm

    Tim- thanks for the info, good stuff!

    Question. Let’s say you write your book in Word. It’s done.

    1) Now you need to find someone to design the ebook, do you have someone you recommend? (I’ve been on ODESK- there are 30 gazillion “ebooks designers”- looking to cut through the masses)

    2) Now you need someone to convert to Kindle and iBook formats. Is it as easy as sending your newly designed book to someone on ODESK again and bam…it’s done?

    Thanks! Any suggestions for streamlining that process?

  3. Tim Brennan

    3/20/2013 8:29 am

    I don’t do any formatting conversion at all – I upload a Word document to amazon. They convert it to the mobi format. They have eliminated a lot o the work that authors had to do.

    I did outsource my cover design to 99designs.com, and then held a contest w my subscribers where they could vote on which cover they liked the best. This cost about 300 dollars, but I ended up w a cover people loved, and my readers felt involved in the whole process of making the book. This created “commitment and consistency”, which Robert Chaldini talks about in his book “Influence”.

  4. Greg

    3/20/2013 9:46 am

    Hey Tim, great story!
    How did you strategically get to #1? Can’t image the chess strategy niche is just wide open…
    Would you recommend Amazon Kindle selling for someone who specializes in blogging topics?
    I totally get who you were able to incrementally build authority, but really curious how you checkmated all the other Kindle products in your niche…

  5. peter mcgrath

    3/20/2013 10:51 am

    Hi Amanda well you do manage to collect a lot of very interesting articles and marketing tips together in your Aweber page I actually look forward to reading your emails
    regards and thanks

  6. Tim Brennan

    3/21/2013 10:06 am

    Hey Greg,

    Well most of the people who write books on chess, know a lot about chess, but are not experts at marketing. So I was able to get an advantage in that niche by doing things like SEO, use of keywords, writing a good description, getting a great cover, having a good intro, using social media, etc.

    There are supposedly more books written about chess, than all other sports combined, but most of these books make some kind of killer mistake in their marketing – they are over priced, have a silly cover, have a bad title, no implied benefit, are hard to read, poor graphics, etc.

    For a book on blogging, I would try to sub niche it. My book is really a niche, inside a niche, inside a niche. Chess -> Chess Tactics -> Chess Tactics From real players, which is a new category that I created.

    So you want to pick a niche within blogging, and then even a smaller niche inside that. Like Blogging -> Word Press -> Word Press Themes -> How to make money selling Internet Marketing Word Press themes.

    or something like that.

    Blogging might be a tougher niche, since the people are probably good marketers who are writing books about blogging.

  7. Ponn Sabra

    3/21/2013 12:38 pm

    Tim’s efforts are brilliant and he deserves this success! I’ve been working on his tactics this week, as we launch 3 Kindles this week and each has an optin aWeber free gift link. We hope to see a fraction of his success! Congrats again Tim!

  8. Geri Richmond

    3/21/2013 5:52 pm

    Hey Tim,

    Thanks for the info. Always looking for new ways to make money. I was wondering if I could use your story on my blog? I would never claim authorship, especially since my name is not Tim. Tee Hee!

    Sincerely, Geri Richmond

  9. Linus

    3/23/2013 11:34 am

    these are great tips especially keeping your price low which is a very effective marketing strategy !

  10. David Gamut

    3/28/2013 2:05 pm

    Hey Tim,

    Once you had your book done, how do you get it on Amazon Kindle? I don’t have a Kindle and have no idea how they browse or how to get listed. Asking them sign up is smart. I have a great book I’m finishing up on memory and others to follow regarding memory and applying it in specific ways.


  11. Tim Brennan

    4/1/2013 1:09 pm

    @Steve – I actually just upload the Word document directly to amazon. I think that you used to have to do all kind of formatting tricks (converting to ePub, HTML, or mobi formats), but this is no longer the case. This makes it really easy.

    @Greg – there are a lot of tips and tricks that I used. I read a lot of books on the subject of book marketing. The main things that are under your control are the Title, Cover, Description, and what is seen in the Preview. You want all of these to be really great.

    The competition in the blogging niche is probably more sophisticated than the competition in the chess niche, because anyone with a successful blog probably understands the basics of marketing. If you can find a niche within the niche of blogging that would be best.

    I chose a niche within the niche of chess, and really created a new category within that subniche. So it was chess -> Chess Problems -> Chess Problems from real games (new niche that I created).

    So for blogging you might want to focus on Blogging -> WordPress plugins -> WordPress plugins for internet marketing.

    or something like that. Make a book that solves a problem that someone is looking for an answer to.

    @David – You signup at kdp.amazon.com – it doesn’t cost anything, and is pretty easy to do. Just enter all the information, upload your document, and that’s it!

  12. Hans-Dieter Maier

    5/27/2013 10:25 am

    Hey Tim,

    I’m happy that your ebook is successful. One thing I’m wondering about though are the delivery costs. Amazon charges $0.15/MB in the US and at 29 MB (it’s a big ebook), you’d already have to fork over $4.35. In other words, with the book being priced at $3.95 there’d be no profit left once Amazon has deducted delivery costs.

    Am I missing something?

  13. Tim Brennan

    5/28/2013 10:02 am

    Yeah the $0.15/MB is only if you take the 70% commission from amazon. If you take the 35% commission, the book can be as big as you want.

    So you are right – if we took the 70% commission we would literally make no money, so instead we take the 35% commission, and we make about $1.75 per book.

  14. S.S.

    5/28/2013 1:59 pm

    Hi there Tim!
    I love your book contest idea.
    I am writing a book for young women in college.
    Do I need to have pictures through out?
    Ebooks on kindle or nook are usually basic and just have text with little to no graphics.

    Also, where can I get great marketing copy written for the description of my ebook?

    Are you open to offering feedback for my cover?
    Thank you

  15. Hans-Dieter Maier

    5/29/2013 2:44 am

    Ah yes, I completely forgot about that. Thanks for clarifying.

  16. Tim Brennan

    5/29/2013 8:49 am

    You can find most of what you need on fiverr.com – cover design, people who will write good descriptions, people who will do video trailers, people who do press releases, people who specialize in free promos, etc, etc. All very inexpensive.

    Sure, post a link to your cover. The most important thing though is that your “customer avatar” likes it. You can always change the cover as well, and do “split testing” with things like facebook ads, if you want to get clever.

    You can have pictures if you want. My book has over 1000 pictures in it, for each of the chess diagrams.

  17. Omri Hussain

    11/20/2013 5:54 am

    Dear Tim,

    I would be grateful if you could inform me how exactly did you leverage Amazon for its email subscribers?

    Many thanks.

    Omri Hussain