Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Selling Books on Amazon – Is KDP Select for you?

What is KDP Select?

In a nutshell, KDP Select is a self-publishing program available to authors to promote, lend and sell their ebooks at no cost on Amazon.com. For a period of 90 days, authors give Amazon exclusive rights to their books; during this period, you cannot sell your book enrolled in the program elsewhere on the net in the digital format and you will have to put up your book for a free download for 5 days during the 90 day period. You can choose single days or use this promotional opportunity in blocks, or the entire 5 day period as one long promotion.

You might be thinking that the point of this promotion is for authors to gain visibility on the site and to drive up sales of their books, making money for themselves and Amazon. Not so. Amazon is a retailer, not a publisher. The point of this free download promotion is to supply Amazon customers who have bought Amazon’s Kindle e-reader with unlimited free ebooks, thus making the Kindle device a very attractive choice for the consumer. You can buy the Kindle e-reader and never have to buy a single ebook as you have unlimited access to a vast number of ebooks, on tap. Would you pay for a book if you could have it for free? — Exactly.

What are you gaining by enrolling your ebooks in KDP Select?

That’s the million dollar question. You might gain some exposure and gain readers, but what does this mean in practical terms? Your initial free downloads will be high; plenty of people will be downloading your free books but unfortunately the most likely post-promotion outcome is that this reader interest will not translate to paid sales in any significant volume, if at all. People will download anything for free, and your book will be valued accordingly, as a big fat NOTHING.

You might get some word-of-mouth and gain some residual sales, but the odds are stacked against you.
First of all, you are not harnessing an audience who is prepared to pay to be entertained; you are catering to people who are prepared to be entertained for free. These people are there for the free downloads only.
Second of all, Amazon is not actively promoting you as an author; the moment your free ebook promotion is over, so is your visibility on the site.
Thirdly, as a self-published author you probably don’t have a following or else you wouldn’t have to do free promotions; therefore, after your free promotion is over, you’re basically back to square one – no visibility and no incentive for Amazon customers to buy your product. Your book is buried under a mountain of other books on offer; unless someone specifically searches for your title by name and your author name, your book has no chance of being sold.

Will free downloads give you reader reviews?

If you are lucky, you might get a few. But the current market is saturated with free books so readers are getting lazy. Why give a review when you don’t have to? Like anything else, people are mostly moved to action when something goes wrong; for example, readers will post bad reviews on your book’s page if their free download had issues or they weren’t happy with some technical aspect of the transaction, which, of course, has nothing to do with your work, but it will get you a bad review, which BTW, you will find Amazon will be slow to remove. If they remove it at all.

This looks bleak, I get it and I’m sure by now you get it too. Given this state of affairs, is there anything you can do to help sell your ebooks through KDP Select?

Yes, there is. Promoting your kindle ebooks on Amazon need not be the soul-destroying, frustrating experience that it is for many authors who, given enough passage of time, begin to resent giving their creativity, knowledge, skill and hard work away for free, for no good returns.

You have to start valuing your work yourself. If you don’t, your readers certainly won’t. Put a price on your book, and charge it, at all times. To gain visibility and hopefully interested readers, publish short stories or only a few chapters from your books or the first book in a series in the KDP Select program and allow these to circulate for free, with a link to your book where readers can purchase it. You simply use the KDP Select to advertise your work, not to give the whole book away. Alternately, split your book into parts and give only the first one for free. End on a cliff-hanger so readers are motivated to purchase the rest of the story. After all, at some point, Amazon will want to convert this free download only audience to a paying one. So why not help them along? And if your 'giving it away' strategy isn't working, why not try not giving it away? This strategy isn’t a guarantee, of course, of a surge in sales, but if you’re not having many or any at all, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Remember, building an audience takes time, and very little sustainable success will happen overnight.

It goes without saying that you should have a Facebook page and Twitter account (for what it's worth, which may not be much but at least you'll feel like you're doing something) where you can promote your work, as well as a Goodreads account where you can blog about your books, and join reader-based groups. There’s not much point in joining groups of fellow writers; they’re all trying to do the same as you – promote their books. On the other hand, you might find that joining a writer forum to discuss promotional tips and strategies is just what you need to keep going.

The main thing is not to have high expectations or take the lack of sales or reader engagement personally. Just do your thing, do it well, and enjoy the journey.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Download The Chat and have a laugh

An eye-opening humorous tale of two merry widows going online to find love. Politically incorrect and not for the faint-hearted but definitely helpful to those thinking about joining an internet dating site. Based on a true story.

Now available to download from Amazon for a measly buck.

Reviews posted online will be much appreciated. Please, don't gripe about having to buy the novel The Dead Husbands Club to find out what happens next, or that you paid a dollar to download 17 pages. That's your choice. Keep in mind that this  is a promotion, after all. Other than that, say what you will.

Cheers, xxoo Ivana