Tag Archives: Amazon KDP Select

Going Free on Amazon – with Zero Marketing

Here are the results of my little experiment for Revolution Earth:

Zero Marketing Day Results
Yesterday I conducted a little experiment. I’m running a BookBub ad today(UK only)and on Friday December 5th one in the US with Kindle Books & Tips. Because the BookBub rules state that your book has to be discounted at 12.00am PST (Pacific Standard Time)on the day of your promotion I decided to make it free a day earlier. It’s as well I did as in fact Amazon didn’t set it at free until an hour later – 0100 PST (0900 GMT).

I decided to see if I could get any downloads with no marketing from me just to see what happened.

266 downloads Amazon US,
17 Amazon UK,
4 Canada,
2 India.

None in Australia but that could have been because of the time difference as the promo starts at 12.00am PST (Pacific Standard Time) (8.00am UK time) and the evening by then in NZ and Australia.

What does this prove about marketing? Dunno. Maybe we just got lucky. Or it proves that there’s still an appetite for free books out there.

But one thing’s for sure, the Amazon algorithm doesn’t discriminate so for one heady moment a novel about crazy Kiwi eco-warriors who want to blow up an oil refinery in Australia was at number 1 Free in Political thrillers on the US Amazon site.

Whether you love or loathe Amazon, what it does do is give writers from other countries other than the US (to misquote former Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd who seemed to have made up this expression) a ‘fair suck of the sauce bottle.’Screenshot 2014-12-02 07.33.57

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Sainsbury’s Launches EBook Site

As those of you, trying to reach out to new readers will know, they’re never going to find your books if they don’t know they exist in the first place.  Before the ebook revolution, readers relied upon professional reviews and bookshop in-store promotions.

In the digital age, it’s got a whole lot harder for authors to make their work stand out from the crowd, as so many more books are being published.  If you sell books on Amazon you have to put your faith in machines to attract attention, such as the ‘Customers who bought this item also bought’ algorithm.  Now, I know enough about technology to realise that a human had to design the recommendation algorithm in the first place, but even so, when I get emails from Amazon suggesting different books to me, I’m often puzzled by the selections.

According to the Codex Group, which tracks book-buying, ‘only 7% of books sold online were discovered online.’ (Source: James Bridle writing in The Observer, 3 February 2013 -We’re all talk when it comes to buying online).

If I had the choice, I would far rather have advice from a fellow reader whose opinion I respected.  So it can only be good news to hear that Sainsbury’s, which took over the reading social networking site, Anobii, last year, has launched eBooks by Sainsbury’s.  Not another social networking site, I hear you say. Won’t it just be yet another distraction to keep me from writing?

It’s early days yet for the site so it’s too soon to judge how effective it will be as a way to attract new readers.  But, on a positive note, when I wrote to Sainsbury’s, asking what their policy was on promoting the work of indie published authors, this is what they had to say:

“We are only able to sell ebooks via publishers or aggregators at this time; however, we are currently looking into establishing partnerships with aggregators that distribute self-published writers (SmashWords, Author Solutions etc.).  If you are signed up with such an aggregator, it will be our pleasure to offer your books for sale on Ebooks by Sainsbury’s once we have the partnerships in place.”

From the website:

“If you would like to display and sell your ebooks through our site we will require the following: country you are based in (for the moment we can only sell in the UK, but we welcome publishers from all over the world)extent of your digital catalogue file formats available (we accept epub/ pdf) metadata format (onix 2.1 is mandatory) any aggregator you use (we are implementing a number of them and so might be distributing your titles soon anyway).”

Whether or not eBooks by Sainsbury’s is going to attract a big enough readership to make it worthwhile for authors to come out of Amazon KDP Select and distribute their work through an aggregator, like SmashWords, remains to be seen.  But let’s hope so.

Marketing for Print on Demand

Many successful authors publish exclusively in digital format and wouldn’t ever contemplate bringing out a physical book, believing there to be so little profit margin, it is hardly worth bothering about.  And when we first published Revolution Earth as an ebook, I was convinced that digital was the future.  So it came as rather a shock when a number of friends and family confessed that they not only didn’t own an ereader, but felt that the price was still too high for them to bother to buy one. And when was our novel coming out as a ‘real’ book?

Promote your work at a local independent bookshop and to the local library   Despite the increasing market share of digital versus paper books, I still think that writers are missing a trick if they don’t offer their readers the choice.  If you are lucky enough to live in a town that still has a thriving independent bookshop that likes to promote local authors, why not talk to them to see if there is the opportunity to host a book signing session. And if you invite representatives from your local library (that is, of course, if you still have one) and they are prepared to buy a few copies, who they might consider running a promotion for you as well.

Goodreads Giveaways As well as the chance to promote your work to your local community, you can also offer up pre-release copies of your books as giveways on Goodreads.  Readers put their name down for a free book and if you are lucky the giveaway will be oversubscribed.  Even if you offer, say, six books to lucky readers, you could have at least a couple of hundred others who may have missed out, but who will be generating some buzz by talking about your book. Goodreads take away the hassle of running the giveaway, inviting readers to enter and then selecting winners randomly.  Winners not only get a free book but it is posted to them free of charge. So the only downside for the author is that you have to agree to ship the books to the winners and pay for postage and packaging.

Use up some of your free days on Amazon KDP Select If you publish on KDP Select, you should really think about taking advantage of those free days in a cross promotion, perhaps highlighting the fact about the paperback release on Twitter and Facebook.  If you can get a temporary boost in the rankings for the ebook then that ‘s another way of drawing attention to the newly released paperback version.

Don’t price yourself out of the market What price to charge for the print version on two factors: firstly, whether or not you can cover your costs and secondly, what your competitors in the same genre are charging.  As part of my market research I noted that a fellow thriller author has a paperback version of her book coming out next month in the US and although the list price is $14.95, already there is a line through the higher price and a 40% discount is advertised for those readers who pre-order. That brings the paperback version down to $7.98.

Although that particular book isn’t advertised yet in paperback in the UK, I did a quick calculation, using today’s mid-market exchange rate, that would work out roughly around UK £5.00 per copy.

As you can see, while bringing out a physical copy of your book might not make you rich, it is still a valuable way of promoting your work.  And there is nothing quite like seeing the tangible, physical book and being able to turn it over in your hands and being able to say,  “I made that!”.

Formatting and Previewing Your Book

I have just recently made some minor edits to Revolution Earth, incorporating the changes suggested by a leading UK literary agent.

As I was making the edits I noticed that we had inadvertently given chapters 21 and 26 the same title.  Red faces all round – how could I have missed that one?! It really does go to show that even if you have a book professionally copy edited that you shouldn’t rely on the copy editor to pick up every minor proofing error.  No matter how many times you have proofed your own book somehow these minor errors still slip through.  Fortunately for us and for all of you who are intending to publish on Amazon KDP Select – making these updates is a piece of cake.

Since I last revised the book and went to update the changes on Amazon, a new and very important feature called Previewing your book on KDP Select has been introduced.  This allows you to preview your book as they appear on Kindle, Kindle Fire, iPAD and iPhone. 

If you own a Kindle you can, of course, read your book on your own device but my worry was that I have only the most basic of models and since I bought mine, back in 2011, a host of new and more sophisticated e-readers have been introduced.  And I had heard via other writers that sometimes there can be formatting problems with these new devices.

As Amazon state: ‘previewing your book is an integral part of the publishing process and the best way to guarantee that your readers will have a good experience.’ Today I looked at every single page of our book as it would appear on Kindle Fire – and I was able to experience the book just as the reader would.  And it was at this point that I really did feel like I was now a publisher rather as well as a writer.  And I can’t tell you how empowered I felt as a result.  Because when I look at our book compared with that of a mainstream published author, who has had their book professionally designed and formatted, I can’t tell the difference.

So if you asked me whether or not professional formatting and layout really do matter, I would say that with the launch of Kindle Touch and Kindle DX, yes more than ever. A poorly formatted book not only looks amateurish but it could result in  complaints from readers.  Amazon takes this sort of feedback very seriously and could even reject a book if a reader brings poor formatting to their attention.

It might sound shallow but when we first indie published – back in June 2012 we could see how competitive the market was becoming. We use the professional publishing package Adobe InDesign to format our work and just download the free plug-in for Mac users.  One of the reasons we published exclusively on Amazon in the first place was that the Kindle Publishing Programs are very user-friendly.

So if you published your e-book on KDP Select before the introduction of the preview feature on your Bookshelf – I urge you to go and read it now.  Because one thing is for sure, the format is under scrutiny as soon as a reader clicks on the ‘Look Inside’ feature for your book.  When I’m trawling Amazon for my next indie read, if it has been formatted in Word, the book has to work that much harder to hold my attention, than a properly designed one .

So make sure that your book is getting noticed for all the right reasons.  After all, you sweated blood to get it down on the page, didn’t you?