The Big, Bad List of Low-Content (and Medium-Content) Book Publishing

The best way to make more money on Amazon is to have more books up on Amazon that you’re selling. Even better, once the book is up there it keeps making money for you while you’re writing the next one.

But how do you get a lot of books on Amazon? It takes time to write each one, and until your self-publishing empire is making enough for you to quit your day job, there are only so many hours in the day.

The solution: low-content books. Let me tell you all about them.

What are Low Content Books?

Low content books are books that can (generally) be put together quickly and tend to have minimal word counts.

They can be stand-alone products, or they can tie in with your other novels or non-fiction books to provide another product that fans of your other work will enjoy.

Low content books can not only be put together faster than writing a brand new novel, but can more easily be outsourced to another person that can create the book to your specifications, further increasing the speed to market.

You do need to know that not all low content books are created equal; the different printers and distributors may treat them differently depending on the type of content inside of the book. For example, both Ingram Spark and KDP Print have rules around low content books. Ingram Spark no longer carries non-book products that masquerade as books, such as notebooks or journals with mostly blank pages, or workbooks or summaries based on content for which the author does not own the copyright. KDP Print also wants to separate non-book products such as notebooks and journals, as they treat them differently in their store even though they will still allow you to sell them.

Our Favorite Kinds of Low Content Books

1. Activity Books/Puzzle Books

Books full of word searches, mazes, puzzles, and similar activities. Most consist of a simply or automatically generated graphic on each page. Most of the words are in the answer key on the back.

  • Examples and Subspecies: crossword books, sudoku books, word search books, logic puzzle books
  • Pros: less competition, can charge a higher per-unit price
  • Cons: more time-consuming, requires attention to detail

2. Coloring Books

These require no introduction. You know exactly what they are. These can be simple ones for children, ornate and complex works of art for adults. Order line drawings from and fill the book for under $100.

  • Examples and Subspecies: kids theme coloring books, paint or color by numbers, “adult” coloring books
  • Pros: simple production process, extremely low word count
  • Cons: the images cost money, must be vigilant about copyright

3. Diaries

Blank or lined pages where people can record their thoughts, experiences, and feelings. Can be themed or general.

  • Examples and Subspecies: blank books for writing, dated books for daily diaries, recovery diaries, diaries by date or year in school
  • Pros: no content of any kind, easy to produce, easy to spin multiple versions of the same interior
  • Cons: lots of competition

4. Event Countdown Books

These books provide a countdown guide to a major event like a wedding, vacation, graduation, conference, or book launch. Formatted like a journal or calendar, they give instructions and provide space to organize information.

  • Examples and Subspecies: countdown to a job interview book, wedding planner guide, vacation organization station
  • Pros: you can pirate guides on anything from online and customize for the book, the same basic framework can be applied to multiple events with a little tweaking
  • Cons: requires some context and specialized knowledge

5. Food Trackers

Diet and wellness experts recommend tracking what you eat to better stick to a meal plan. Books like these provide a tool to help do that.

  • Examples and Subspecies: weight loss food tracker, wellness food tracker, specialized diet trackers for things like Atkins and Paleo
  • Pros: can follow up on trends, easier keyword research, relatively low content
  • Cons: high competition, requires research to create a good product

6. Game Books

You used these as a kid on long road trips before smartphones. Each page spread is a game kids can play together or on their own.

  • Examples and Subspecies: board game a page books, pigpen or tic tac toe pads
  • Pros: low amount of written content, not reusable (you can sell multiple copies)
  • Cons: requires good graphics, you’re competing with apps

7. Guest Books

Big personal milestones and AirBnBs alike enjoy having a place for visitors to record that they came, and leave a comment about the experience.

  • Examples and Subspecies: wedding guest book, guest book for graduation party, guest book for a beach house
  • Pros: almost no content, easy to build multiple themes on the same interior
  • Cons: high competition, limited opportunities to create obvious quality

8. Guide/Journals

In this case, the difference between a journal and a diary is that journals track progress in or toward something. Some journals give generic space for whatever progress the user tracks. Others are themed in one way or another. Guides create that tracking space while also walking the user through a process.

  • Examples and Subspecies: practice journals for learning a skill, guides to clean a home in 90 days
  • Pros: easy to spin multiple specialties off a single concept, can get very niche
  • Cons: requires more unique content per page, high competition in some areas

9. Joke Books

Each page of these books has just one or two jokes, set in a memorable font.

  • Examples and Subspecies: joke books, riddle books, cartoon books
  • Pros: you can recycle content, high popularity
  • Cons: watch copyright so you know the difference between a public domain joke and something a comedian owns

10. Ledgers

Businesses and other organizations have to track their spending and income somehow. They can buy a boring, generic one at Office Depot — or they can buy something from you.

  • Examples and Subspecies: general business ledger, personal finance ledger, goal-oriented ledger, business-specific ledger
  • Pros: very low content, can make many iterations from one interior content
  • Cons: can require specialized knowledge, less room for creativity

11. Log Books

In a log book you track numbers toward or about a specific thing. They’re like a cross between a ledger and a guide journal.

  • Examples and Subspecies: exercise log book, education log book, martial arts training log
  • Pros: low content, can make many iterations from one interior, many customers buy more than once
  • Cons: hard to stand out

12. Notepads

This is just a blank book to write notes in. Maybe you put some themed sketches or quotes somewhere. Maybe you don’t.

  • Examples and Subspecies: lined notepad, blank notepad, graph notepad, dot grid notepad
  • Pros: can do one interior with a wide range of covers, no written content
  • Cons: lots of inexpensive competition, hard to stand out

13. Password Books

People have so many passwords today, some are buying books to keep track of them all. Bonus points for giving it a funny title that doesn’t tell casual observers it’s full of secrets.

  • Examples and Subspecies: business password log, home password log
  • Pros: a newer field with less competition, ultra-low content
  • Cons: hard to stand out, harder to advertise

14. Photo Books

Modern on-demand publishing makes it easy to publish a book of photos at a reasonable price.

  • Examples and Subspecies: location photos, wildlife photos, art books, books of your drawings
  • Pros: very low written content, higher barrier to entry if you’re qualified to make your own
  • Cons: higher print cost means lower margin, you may need to be careful about copyright

15. Planners

Planners are in-detail calendars that show the dates of the year and offer room to write the plan for the day in them. You probably use one yourself.

  • Examples and Subspecies: weekly planner, school year planner, year-long planner, school semester planner, athletic season planner, social media marketing planner
  • Pros: in high demand, opportunities to get very niche, can make many iterations from one interior
  • Cons: takes more time to create the first one, detail oriented

16. Prompt Collections

These are journals with some kind of writing prompt or assignment on each page (or set of pages). Some leave room to write the exercise in them. Others just put the prompt at the center of the page and encourage the user to write elsewhere.

  • Examples and Subspecies: writing prompt books, gratitude journals, meditation exercise book
  • Pros: easy to create niches, can partner with teachers
  • Cons: more content than most books in this niche, high competition

17. Recipe Books

Just what they sound like. Books of recipes you developed on your own, or collected from the internet. Note that lists of ingredients can not be copyrighted, but instructions can be.

  • Examples and Subspecies: cookbooks, meal planning books, meal plan books
  • Pros: very popular, easy to create a template
  • Cons: requires more content and research than most

18. Quote Books

A book of quotes about one subject or another, drawn from things you find on the internet. One per page works well, giving a book with more length and heft than you might think.

  • Examples and Subspecies: inspiring quotes, funny quotes, sports quotes, career-related quotes
  • Pros: easy to create them in many different categories, low actual content
  • Cons: takes time to research, can be tricky to format well, lots of competition

19. Sketchbooks

A blank book for sketching, drawing, and some painting. The difference between this and a notebook is size and intent.

  • Examples and Subspecies: hardback sketchbook, oversized sketchbook, travel sketchbook
  • Pros: no interior content, easy to create multiple versions
  • Cons: needs higher quality paper, hard to stand out

20. Skills Books

These are practice books for skills that require written practice. You used them in grade school, and parents buy them today.

  • Examples and Subspecies: math skills workbook, handwriting skills workbook, spelling skills workbook, general grade level exercises book
  • Pros: high demand, parents will often buy many if you hook them once
  • Cons: requires more content than most other options

One Last Little Thing: Another Way

One other kind of book with lots of content, but which requires much less writing from you, is to dip into public domain works. These are books for which the copyright has expired, meaning you can go ahead and publish them for profit yourself.

Find the books people who like your work would also want to buy, and make your own edition. Throw it up on Amazon and see what happens. It’s a quick way to increase your book count and income without having to write a whole new book yourself. Customize it and use it as a base of inspiration for even better success.

Want to learn more about low content books and how well they are selling these days? Join us for Training #532 – Low (and Medium) Content Books in 2024.

Image by Silke.