I seriously love creating (and of course selling!) low-content books. In this article, I get into the benefits of creating low-content books along with a few considerations when it comes to creating them.
Benefits of Creating Low-Content Books
Before I get into the how of making low content books, I want to talk about the benefits of them. Here are a few of my favorites:
Low-Content Books are Quicker and Easier to Create than Regular Books
It takes weeks, months, or in some cases years to write a regular book. In contrast, I’ve created many low-content books in a day or two. Since they’re quick and easy to make, I find they’re less daunting than writing even a short Kindle book. Because of that, I find that creating low-content books is a nice break for me.
Also, the more books that I have out there, the more income streams I have. Since low-content books don’t take as long to create, they’re a great way to supplement my writing income.
Create High-Quality Low-Content Books
By the way, just because low-content books are quick and easy to create, I want to caution you against slapping them together and calling it good. Take pride in the work you do, and try to create better quality low-content books than your competition.
When it comes to checking the quality of your low-content books, ask yourself the following question.
Would you buy the book for yourself or give it as a gift?
If not, it’s probably not worth creating.
Low-Content Books Make Nice Companion Books to Your Other Books
Low-content books are a great way to add value to books you’ve already published. For example, you can create a workbook, planner, or journal that goes hand-in-hand with one of your other books. This works best for non-fiction books. For example, one of my books is Blogger’s Quick Guide to Blog Post Ideas. An excellent companion book for this would be a low-content book for researching and recording blog post ideas.
You Can Create a Low-Content Book for Your Own Purposes
A huge benefit of learning to create low-content books is that you can custom design them for your own purposes. For example, You might want to create a certain type of journal that doesn’t yet exist, or at least not exactly how you’d like.
Perhaps you’ve been dissatisfied with journals or planners that currently exist. Or you may love a journal or planner but wish it had some element that it’s missing. In either case, you can create a book designed exactly the way you desire.
Low-Content Books Make Great Gifts
Low-content books make amazing gifts. They are super meaningful. Put yourself in the potential recipient’s shoes. Books that are handpicked for someone make excellent and meaningful gifts. When you actually create a book for a specific person, the significance of the gift is through the roof.
An example of this is when I created the My Memory Pal journal for a friend of mine that has short-term memory loss. In spite of the fact that it took me just a couple of days to design and cost me very little, this was a very meaningful gift.
The added bonus of this is that even if you create a low-content book for yourself or as a gift, you can sell it and bring in additional income.
Low-Content Books Don’t Require a Lot of Writing
There are a lot of people who would love to publish books but feel intimidated by the actual writing process. Your intimidation could be based on the feeling that you don’t have time to write a book. Or perhaps English isn’t your first language. Even if it is, perhaps you’re not confident in your writing ability, or simply don’t like to write.
Even if like me, you love to write, it’s nice to occasionally publish books that don’t require a lot of writing.
Planning Your Low-Content Book
Before you start working on your book, it’s important to do a bit of planning.
Determine the Type of Book You Want to Create
There are many different types of low-content books. These books range from simple line journals to journals with a specific purpose, to planners, workbooks, and more. Some, such as simple line journals have nothing but pages with lines. Others such as workbooks may contain a good amount of text. Many books fall somewhere between those two extremes.
So, the first thing to consider is what type of low-content book you want to create. Do you want to create a journal? If so, do you want a simple lined journal, or do you want to include journal prompts? Do you want to create a workbook to go with one of your other books? Or perhaps you want to create a planner.
Determine What You want to Include in Your Low-Content Book
After you’ve decided what type of book you want to create, jot down some ideas for what you want to include in the book. When you do, be sure to keep in mind the intended outcome for the book.
As an example, when I decided to create the journal for my friend with short-term memory loss, I did a little bit of research. I jotted down some ideas of what elements in a journal would help someone with short-term memory loss.
First, I thought it would help to start off with some pages that explained how to use the journal. Then the actual journal pages wouldn’t need a lot of explanation and have less clutter.
Second, I also thought about helpful things for her to track such as taking medication, eating since she had a tendency to skip meals, and reminders to drink water.
I also include space to record who she talked to and what they talked about, since she often couldn’t remember conversations. I included space to record anything that concerned or frightened her, things that she was grateful for, as well as space to record anything else she wanted to make note of.
Finally, I wanted this gift to be not just practical, I also wanted it to be meaningful. I wanted it to affirm the person I made it for. So I decided to include a dedication page, which says, “This book is dedicated to my dear friend, Sherry Johnson, and all the fond memories we share.”
When I gave her this journal, she thumbed through it and was very happy with it. But the dedication was the thing that made her tear up.
Determine the Trim Size of Your Low-Content Book
Before starting to design your low-content book, you need to decide on a trim size. You also need to decide whether to go with bleed or no bleed. Let’s dive into what those terms mean.
First, trim size simply means the size of your book. Trim is a printing term that refers to where the book is trimmed. This is the final stage of the book’s production.
- Most trade paperback books are 6″x9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
- Most workbooks are 8″ x 10″ (20.32 x 25.4 cm) or 8.5″ x 11″ (21.59 x 27.94 cm).
So I recommend using one of those popular trim sizes. If you plan to sell both a print and a PDF version of your low-content book, you might want to go with 8.5″ x 11″ since that is a common size for printables.
Decide on Bleed Vs. No Bleed
Now let’s talk about bleed and no bleed.
If you have a book with bleed, it means that there are elements, such as images, that extend all the way to the edge of the page.
Here’s an example of bleed vs. no bleed.
The image on the left is a journal page with bleed. The image on the right is a journal page without bleed.
As you can see, the image on the page on the left goes all the way to the edge of the page. The journal page without bleed on the right has a blank margin all the way around.
You need to decide whether you’ll go with bleed or no bleed before you start designing your journal because it makes a difference in the page dimensions.
If your book has bleed, you’ll need to add 0.125″ (3 mm) to the page width and 0.25″ (6 mm) to the page height.
For example, if you decided you want the trim size of your book to be 6″x9″, and you want the images on your book to go all the way to the edge, set the page size to 6.125″ x 9.25″ (15.54 x 23.46 cm).
Color Vs. Grayscale
Now let’s talk about color. I love color. Especially when it comes to creating artsy things like journals. But from a cost perspective, it doesn’t make sense to have color in your journal interiors.
To illustrate this, I ran a few calculations using the printing cost and royalty calculator.
For the sake of example, I’m going to act as if I’m creating a 100-page journal. Most 100-page paperback journals on Amazon are priced between $6.99 and $8.99. I’ve had good results with pricing my journals that are more than basic lined journals at $8.99, so I’m going to set that as the anticipated list price. Let’s take a look and see how that comes out.
As you can see, a 100-page book with a black interior priced at $8.99 gives me a royalty of $3.25 if the book is sold on Amazon and $1.45 with expanded distribution. This is nice because it’s a fair royalty for me but also is very nicely priced for the customer.
Now let’s take a look at how changing it to color impacts royalty.
You can see that we have a problem. For color, the minimum list price is $13.09 – and at that price, I wouldn’t get any royalty.
So let’s take a look at how I’d have to increase pricing in order to get the same $3.25 royalty that I’d get if I make the interior color instead of black and white.
You can see that when I use the calculator that I’d have to price the book at $18.50 to get the $3.25 royalty. And there’s still a bit of a problem. Even at $18.50, the price is still too low for expanded distribution.
Finally, when I entered an anticipated list price of $19.99, it was high enough to qualify for expanded distribution.
$19.99 is simply way too much for a paperback journal or planner, and that’s why I recommend going with a black and white interior.
Tools for Creating Low-Content Books
There are a few primary tools people use to create low-content books. Here are a few of the most popular ones:
- Google Slides
- Microsoft Word
Any of the above-listed tools work for creating low-content books. I decided to go with Microsoft PowerPoint because I can use it in many ways for content creation. For instance, I can use it for blog and social media graphics, videos, and low-content books. The versatility of PowerPoint is my primary why. Focusing on learning one primary tool for my content creation has reduced the learning curve. In addition to that, I already have it, so there was no need to purchase another program. Google Slides is also free, but I found it lacking in functionality compared to PowerPoint. Canva is also a great free option, but the free version is missing some features that are available in PowerPoint. InDesign is top-quality choice, but many don’t have it or find it challenging to work with.
How to Use PowerPoint for Designing Low-Content Books
I love PowerPoint so much for content creation that I created an entire course on the topic of creating low-content books in PowerPoint.
How to Set Up Your Low-Content Book Pages in PowerPoint
The good news is, it’s easy to set up your book pages in PowerPoint. You’ll find the options in the Design tab, under Slide Size, and then Custom Slide Size.
Creating Lined Pages for Low-Content Books in PowerPoint
Lined pages are some of the most popular page types in journals, planners, and workbooks. Thankfully, they are easy to create in PowerPoint.
There are two main ways to create lined pages in PowerPoint.
- Create a table, and then remove the outside borders.
- Create a text box and then using the shift and underscore keys, add lines to the text box.
Creating Dot Journal (Bullet Journal) Pages in PowerPoint
Before I get into the how of creating bullet-style journal pages in PowerPoint, here’s a little disclaimer. “Bullet Journal” is a trademarked term, so don’t use it in your book title or description.
Now that I have that out of the way, here’s and overview of how to create dot journal pages in PowerPoint.
- Start off by creating a text box
- Change the font to Calibri size 10
- Type some periods in the box
- Highlight the periods and then right click. Select “font” from the menu
- Change the character spacing from “Normal” to “Expanded”
Creating Unique Low-Content Book Pages in PowerPoint
In my course, Designing Low-Content Books in PowerPoint, I share several techniques for adding elements to your low-content book pages. For example, I get into using shapes, borders, calendars, manuscript pages, and more.