Goodreads Giveaways: Important Changes Effective January 9, 2018

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GOODREADS GIVEAWAY CHANGES

Like many authors and publishers, I have used Goodreads giveaways for years to help with discovery, create buzz, and seek honest reviews for newly released books.

I have been a big fan of the Goodreads giveaway, having written a few articles about it on my blog.

I’m still a fan, but there are some important changes coming January 9, 2018:

  • All KDP authors/publishers will be able to offer eBook giveaways. Previously, this was only open to traditional publishers.
  • It will cost a minimum of $119 to run a Goodreads giveaway. That’s in addition to the cost of purchasing and sending physical copies (if you choose to run a contest for print books). Until now, there has been no fee to run a Goodreads giveaway.
  • Entrants will have the book automatically added to their Want-to-Read lists (which friends potentially see through their update feeds).
  • You will gain additional exposure, as Goodreads will notify the author’s followers and anyone who has already added the book to their Want-to-Read list about the new giveaway.
  • Initially, Goodreads giveaways will only be open to residents of the United States. (This restriction applies to entrants, not to authors.)
  • It’s possible to gain premium placement among Goodreads giveaways by paying $599 (instead of $119) for a Premium Giveaway (instead of a Standard Giveaway).
  • You will need to link an Amazon account to your Goodreads account in order to run a Goodreads giveaway. (You can create a new Amazon account if you don’t already have one.)

Are these changes good or bad?

Like most changes to the publishing world, it will be better for some authors than others.

Let’s start with the bad. There are really only two things that I don’t like:

  • It’s no longer free. Having to spend $119 seems a bit pricey. And if you run a print giveaway, it costs even more, as you must pay for author copies plus shipping and packaging.
  • Only residents of the United States may enter the giveaway, at least initially. It’s not a big issue for me, personally, since most of my book traffic comes from the United States, but I have acquaintances in the United Kingdom and Canada who feel left out.

The real question is this:

Will the benefits of a Goodreads giveaway offset the cost?

Keep in mind that with the changes to the Goodreads giveaway program, it’s possible that it will be more effective now than it has been in the past.

How might it be more effective starting January 9, 2018?

  • There might be less competition from other giveaways, making it easier for readers to discover your book. Not as many authors/publishers will be willing to pay the fee.
  • The giveaway might gain more exposure since the book will be automatically added to Want-to-Read lists, and since Goodreads will notify the author’s followers and anyone who has already added the book to their Want-to-Read list that a giveaway is available for the book.

Note also that the cost of the giveaway has not necessarily increased as much as it may seem.

Starting January 9, 2018, you can run a Standard Giveaway for $119. However, if you choose to run an eBook giveaway instead of giving away print books, you will save on the cost of author copies, shipping, and packaging. I’ve actually paid more than $119 for a Goodreads giveaway when it was FREE: I’ve spent over $50 on author copies and over $80 on shipping for several giveaways, which comes to over $130. In those cases, I would have saved money by paying $119 for an eBook giveaway.

The new cost of the Goodreads giveaway encourages authors/publishers to offer more prizes.

You pay the same $119 fee for a Standard Giveaway, regardless of whether you offer a single book as a prize, or several copies of the same book.

If you only give away one book, $119 is a pretty steep price to pay. However, if you offer several copies of your book, the cost per book drops down dramatically.

Like all paid marketing, Goodreads giveaways are more likely to be cost-effective for authors who write compelling books. If you only sell a few books per month, paying $119 for a giveaway will come at a great loss. If your book sells thousands of copies per year, paying $119 is relatively cheap.

Are you upset that you won’t be able to run a free/inexpensive giveaway?

That’s ridiculous! Of course you can.

You can run an Amazon Giveaway directly from your book’s Amazon product page.

You just pay for the selling price of the book. For a print book, you must pay the shipping charges, too. In either case, you will be compensated partly later when you receive your royalty. You can even require entrants to follow you at Amazon. (When you publish a new eBook through KDP, Amazon notifies your Amazon followers of your new release.)

Learn more about the changes to Goodreads giveaways:

  • Click here to see the Goodreads giveaway help page.
  • Click here to read an article by David Wogahn.

Would you like to tell Goodreads how you feel about the new giveaway program?

  • Click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the survey (if it’s still available). Look for “send us feedback” in bold letters.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2017

Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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What Cool Word Have You Read in a Book Recently?

I was reading The Secret of Spellshadow Manor today by Bella Forrest, when I came across the word

—susurration—

meaning soft murmuring or rustling sounds.

It’s not a word I read or use every day. I enjoy coming across a cool word when it happens once in a while.

I don’t like it when an author goes out of his/her way to use uncommon words. I like the book to read well (for me).

But when the best word to use happens to be uncommon, the ‘best’ word is still the ‘best’ word.

When I don’t recognize the word and the author includes a little clue to help deduce the meaning, I like it even better.

In the case of the book I was reading today, it was great: The book is quite readable, the word felt (to me) like it belonged, and I could tell what it meant from the context.

(If you want to check out Bella Forrest’s—who I expect has never heard of me, and who certainly has no idea that I’m writing this post—novels, I recommend that you start with The Gender Game.)

Please share a cool word that you read in a book recently, including the title and author of the book. Surely, the author deserves a little publicity for helping you enjoy the word.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2017

 

NY Published Author Successfully Transitions to Self-Publishing: The Amazing Story of Cheryl Holt

After Writing 24 Books for New York Publishers, Cheryl Holt Adds 24 More by Self-publishing

This amazing, inspiring author success story needs to be shared throughout the indie publishing community.

I was very fortunate to interview Cheryl Holt, who had written 24 books for New York publishers and then successfully transitioned to self-publishing.

You can hear Cheryl’s story straight from her, and there is much that you can learn from her answers to my questions.

(1) What have you done to help market your self-published books? Was this a viable option when you were traditionally published?

When I wrote for the NY companies, I was “just” a paperback romance writer, so I got very little marketing assistance from my publishers. The biggest thing they did for me was to always buy me an ad in a romance trade magazine, Romantic Times, when I had a book released. Otherwise, I was pretty much on my own as far as handling any marketing. So from the very beginning, I had to devise my own marketing strategies, and I’ve continued to use those old tried-and-true ones as well as latching on to new ones that technology has made available.

I market my self-published books in exactly the same way that I marketed my books that were published by the NY companies. My biggest marketing tool, and the one I spend the most time on, is growing my mailing list. I started my mailing list with my very first release, and I constantly work on it. I have sign-up forms posted all over my web site, and I run contests several times a year, where I give away autographed print copies of my novels as the prize. The entrants’ email addresses are added to my mailing list. I work on the list constantly; I work on it everyday. The number one way to sell something (in any field) is through direct marketing to your dedicated customer base. So I keep track of my readers, and when I need to notify readers about a new release, that’s where I start. They’re loyal and voracious, and they’ve been very kind to me in sticking with me through all my career ups and downs. I’m always so grateful to them, and they’re the first to hear about everything that’s happening with me and my books.

There have been changes to my marketing that have come over the years. I have a Facebook fan page, and a Twitter account, but I don’t use them for personal postings. I simply post about my books, what’s coming, and what’s happening. I’ve always had a web page, ever since it became a “thing” that people could have (around 1999). I’m meticulous about keeping it updated. My readers like to know what’s coming next and when it’s coming, so I try to make it easy for them to log on and quickly see what’s happening. If you’d like to take a peek, the URL is www.cherylholt.com.

When I have a book coming, (in the month before the release date) I do a ton of promo to get myself noticed. I do blog tours at the big romance reader sites, I run contest giveaways, I do interviews, I buy banner ads, I buy spot ads, I do reader promotion at reader sites. I’ve even hosted Facebook parties with lots of guest authors and prize giveaways.

The main problem for self-published authors is that we’re being buried by a wave of content that’s swept over all of us. So it’s a hundred times harder to get noticed than it was ten years ago. There are so many books out there now, and even with my name recognition and dedicated fan base, it’s an enormous and exhausting challenge to get people to notice that I have a book coming.

For example, this was the first year since 2005 that I didn’t produce a book trailer for my new series. The web is so overloaded with video content that it’s just about impossible to justify the expense of creating a book trailer. Even with expanded distribution by a video company, any video is thrown into a sea of millions of other videos. So I’ve stopped doing them.

But otherwise, each and every year, I do more promo. It’s a constant battle to stay ahead of the game, and that hasn’t changed with self-publishing. I’m doing more and different types of promo, and I’m using more intense marketing than ever before.

(2) What advice would you offer new authors who are just learning the self-publishing ropes?

My biggest advice would be to read all about self-publishing and to learn as much as you can about it before you jump into it. And once you get going, keep reading and keep learning. The publishing industry—both on the NY end of it and in the self-publishing world—is changing so fast, and you have to keep up, or you’ll get crushed in the wave of what’s happening.

I heartily advise people to join a writer’s group (both a local one and a national one). At the local one, you can hang with other writers once a month and listen to how they’re working and adapting to this strange, new world we’re in. There are also big national groups you can join in various genres, such as Romance Writers of America or Sisters in Crime. You’ll get a monthly newsletter that contains articles about markets, trends, and changes.

If you can afford it, try to attend a big national writer’s conference. They’re always held once a year. Take all the classes and chat with other writers so you can absorb some of what they’ve figured out.

There are publishing companies, such as Writer’s Digest Books, that publish tons of “how to” books about writing, publishing, and book marketing, particularly e-book, self-published marketing. Start buying them and reading them.

Go out on the web and find some good blog sites (how about Chris McMullen’s blog?!) and other sites where authors provide guidance and advice. If you’re a tech dummy, as I am, find companies that can help you figure out how to format and publish on your own. I always use BookBaby to format and distribute my novels. I met them in the vendor’s room at a national writer’s conference, when I was first trying to figure out how I could start publishing my own books. I had no idea how to do that, and it seemed really complicated. I’m not much of a computer person, and all the processes seemed beyond my ability to figure out. At one on-line site, I was told to read their 85-page formatting manual before I tried to post anything! It was all so bewildering.

When I talked to the Book Baby book rep, he said, “We can do all that for you.” I about fainted. It had never occurred to me that there were companies out there that could provide exactly the sort of services I needed.

There are all kinds of companies now that help authors get their books published. When I first started writing novels, the web wasn’t a “thing” yet. I lived in a little town in rural Oregon, and I staggered around for years, trying to figure out how to start. It’s so much easier now to get information. Join a writer’s group! Attend regularly! Find several good blog sites, read them religiously, and absorb every bit of advice that’s offered! Read books about marketing and trends! Do some research and find companies that can help you. Read, read, read. Learn, learn, learn.

That’s always the best advice. Learn—and get smarter and better.

(3) When you made the switch from writing for NY publishers to self-publishing, what changes (if any) did you make to your writing?

I started writing manuscripts in the late 1990s, and my first books were published in 2000. For a decade, I wrote for various NY publishers, and I was a genre paperback writer. When I started out, paperbacks were really long. I’m dating myself, but do you remember books like SHOGUN? They were massive in length. So my first novels were really long, but “book length” was a factor that changed significantly in the decade that I wrote for those NY companies. And that’s precipitated the biggest changes to my current writing.

Book length is measured by word count, and my early novels were around 110,000 words. But starting about 2004, the price of paper shot up dramatically, so the NY publishers responded by shortening the length of books that they published. This caused a significant abbreviation of the size of novels, but it also caused authors to adopt major stylistic changes in our writing as we had to be able to tell much more story in a much shorter span of pages. Authors had to cut descriptive prose and tell the story using more dialogue. This brought us fast, fleet stories that were much easier (quicker) to read, but for many readers, they’ve gotten much less satisfying.

My early paperbacks were around 110,000 words, and when I finished writing for those NY companies a decade later, my books had to be between 80,000 and 85,000 words. That’s a considerable drop in book length, which brought about significant changes stylistically, so my early NY-published books are very different from the later ones.

I liked writing longer novels, and my biggest NY sales came in the beginning of my career when books were much longer and I was able to write long, emotional stories. I’m great at using emotion and drama, and I feel like I’m better at a longer length—and that my readers enjoy a deeper, more satisfying emotional story. So I’ve gone back to writing long books. With my self-publishing of e-books, I don’t have to worry about the price of paper or of page length. I’m typically writing books that are 120,000 words now, and my readers seem to really enjoy the longer length. I’m able to give them a “bigger”, more involved story with more in-depth characters and interesting plots.

My longest books, the ones I’ve published on my own, have been my biggest sellers in my career.

Cheryl Holt’s Story: The Transition from NY Publishers to Self-publishing

BookBaby author Cheryl Holt made a name for herself, as well as a respectable living, writing historical romance novels, first for a dedicated paperback publisher, then for several big mass market publishers. Her books did well, though Holt often had to come to terms with market forces beyond her control, that didn’t light her creative fire.

Holt had started writing as a young mother in her 40s. At home with small children, she wanted something to do, something that earned some money. She landed on novel writing. “I was clueless about how the money worked, or how the business worked,” she admits. Inspired by stars like John Grisham, she drew on her legal training to craft her first books. Her forays into suspense didn’t pan out, so she decided to look elsewhere.

“The romance companies back then used to find their new talent among moms who were at home and writing to earn a bit of extra money. They were essentially paperback mills who ran romance book clubs. They bought straight from the writer. ‘I’ll sell these romances,’ I told myself, ‘then I’ll go back.’”

Her seventh manuscript, a Regency-era romance, finally sold. Holt didn’t go back, but dug in, writing and editing steamy tales in the car, at soccer practices and swim lessons, whenever she had a few spare moments. She discovered something she never suspected: She could write really, really good love stories.

At the time, romances ran longer and readers devoured elaborate storylines. “When I was starting and reading, historical romances were just massive,” Holt recalls. “They had wild love stories, when the heroine was, say, taken to harem after being kidnapped by pirates. I’m not a particularly romantic person, but I got hooked on them. Romance readers have certain things they love, but I didn’t know what they were. I had no preconceived notions. Readers loved that.”

Holt’s unconventional takes on the genre led to her selling book after book to publishers. One of her early books sold out nationwide due to a hot cover that connected with fans, and soon she built herself a sizeable following. As tastes changed, Holt learned the hard way to adapt. By 2000, erotic romance was the rage, and Holt wrote what publishers asked for. But her readers longed for the sweeping romantic tales that had launched her career.

“Books were getting shorter, more erotic,” Holt says. “It was leaning toward pornographic really fast. I wasn’t into that. My sales were starting to fall. My hardcore fans kept asking why everything was vampires and erotica, instead of real love stories.”

Then 2008 hit, the economic downturn that kicked the legs out from under many mass publishers. Holt had a deal in place, but her publisher faced a daunting reality: the overwhelming majority of bookstores closed as the economy faltered, stores where her publishers had banked on selling Holt’s work. “They wrote me off as a loss,” she sighs.

Holt found herself unemployed, with a family and a mortgage in Los Angeles, one of many workers in their 50s looking for a job, any job. She was so discouraged, she thought she’d never bother with writing again, though writing had been her profession for years. “The recession cut a swath through the ranks of paperback writers,” she says. “I took it personally. The universe was telling me to go get a real job, but there were no jobs.”

Time passed, however, and Holt noticed that fans were still out there, hoping for new reads from their favorite authors. Kindle came onto the scene, and Holt began to reconsider. “I asked myself if I should start over. I was good. I was popular, but the companies didn’t really care. We writers were a dime a dozen in their eyes. There was no chance to go back that way.”

Self-publishing beckoned. The project management and production side of things still seemed daunting, however. Then, at a romance conference, she ran into some people from BookBaby, who helped her see how simple publishing her work independently could be.

After writing 24 novels for publishers, Holt has put out 24 of her own, letting her own interests and fan response determine when and how she publishes her work. An example: She gave her readers all three books in a trilogy at once, where a traditional publisher would have doled the books out over several years.

Like love, an independent career is not as easy as it seems at first. It takes work. Holt still struggles to find the right supporting team, and income isn’t what it once was during paperback publishing’s heyday. But Holt is glad she’s still able to write and reach readers, now on her own terms. “It’s a blessing to be on my own. My best sellers are ones that the publishers rejected,” she laughs. “My Lord Trent trilogy, for example, have been best-selling books of all.”

You can find out more about BookBaby and their recent Independent Authors Conference.

More about Novelist Cheryl Holt

CHERYL HOLT is a New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon “Top 100” bestselling author who has published forty-eight novels.

She’s also a lawyer and mom, and at age forty, with two babies at home, she started a new career as a commercial fiction writer. She’d hoped to be a suspense novelist, but couldn’t sell any of her manuscripts, so she ended up taking a detour into romance where she was stunned to discover that she has a knack for writing some of the world’s greatest love stories.

Her books have been released to wide acclaim, and she has won or been nominated for many national awards. She is considered to be one of the masters of the romance genre. For many years, she was hailed as “The Queen of Erotic Romance”, and she’s also revered as “The International Queen of Villains.” She is particularly proud to have been named “Best Storyteller of the Year” by the trade magazine Romantic Times BOOK Reviews.

She lives and writes in Hollywood, California, and she loves to hear from fans.

Visit her website at www.cherylholt.com.

Follower her on Facebook.

Check out her latest series:

Forever Yours by Cheryl Holt

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2017

Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Optimistic Authorship

THE OPTIMISTIC AUTHOR

You can approach your writing with optimism or pessimism—your choice.

(Though complaints, worries, and frustrations may become more of a habit and less of a conscious decision.)

Optimism can be an asset to your authorship.

When you believe that your book will be successful, you are more likely to:

  • motivate yourself to work hard
  • stay focused while writing
  • do the necessary research
  • proofread carefully
  • put time and effort into cover design and formatting
  • put a small investment in cover design or editing
  • make a full effort to market your book
  • find a way to harness your creativity in your marketing

On the other hand, if you are pessimistic about the outcome of your book, you are less likely to put in the work needed to help make your book successful.

Thus, your outlook may pull a pivotal role in the success or failure of your book launch.

Once you start getting sales, if sales are slower than you expected, optimism can carry you through the slow times. If you are optimistic that you can improve your sales, you are more likely to try new marketing ideas and eventually discover strategies that work for you. You will be more likely to write additional books—and put the proper effort into those, too—if you remain optimistic that your writing will take off (and it sometimes takes multiple good books to gain traction). But if you are pessimistic, it’s easy to give up without really putting the effort into it.

The optimistic author will find the good in a bad review, while the pessimistic author will see something bad in a good review. The optimistic author appreciates the neutral review, whereas the pessimistic author is upset that it wasn’t a five-star review.

When a potential customer visits the optimistic author’s social media sites and blog, the customer has a positive experience.

When a potential customer sees complaints and frustration in the author’s social interactions, the customer is seeing publicized negativity.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2017

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Kindle Unlimited: October, 2017 Marks Steady Improvement

KINDLE UNLIMITED PER-PAGE RATE, OCTOBER, 2017

The Kindle Unlimited per-page has continued to increase ever since the inception of KENPC v3.0.

  • October: $0.00456 per page
  • September: $0.00443 per page
  • August: $0.00419 per page
  • July: $0.00403 per page

The KDP Select Global Fund has increased steadily over a much longer period (just a couple of years back, it was half as much).

  • October: $19.7 million
  • September: $19.5 million
  • August: $19.4 million
  • July: $19.0 million
  • June: $18.0 million

Copyright © 2017

Chris McMullen

Book Marketing by the Numbers

Two Valuable Book Marketing Statistics

Consider the following two numbers:

  • 1 out of 1000. That’s a rough estimate of how many strangers will click on a typical link to an Amazon product page.
  • 1 out 40. That’s a rough estimate of how many strangers who visit a product page for a book will purchase the book.

First, we’ll discuss these rates, and then we’ll discuss them in relation to book marketing.

Click-through Rate

The first figure, 1 out of 1000, is called a click-through rate (ctr).

A ctr of 0.1% (which equates to 1 out of 1000) is typical of internet advertising.

I’ve placed over 100 ads for a variety of books under multiple pen names on Amazon itself using Amazon Marketing Services (AMS), and most of my ctr’s fall in the range 0.05% to 0.2% (varying from 1 in 2000 to 1 in 500).

Some books get better ctr’s than others. Here are a few factors that affect the ctr:

  • compelling book cover (if the cover is seen with the link, this can be a strong factor)
  • effective title (conveys content clearly, reinforces cover, concise, and/or catchy)
  • effective branding (recognition of the author name, title, or series, for example)
  • audience targeting (the book appears to be highly relevant to the people who see the link)

Conversion Rate

The conversion rate is the percentage of people who purchase a product after visiting the Amazon product page.

A conversion rate of 2% to 4% (1 out of 50 to 1 out of 25) is relatively common. However, the conversion rate can vary considerably. A few books command conversion rates of 10% (1 out of 10) or more, but there are also a significant number of books with conversion rates well below 1% (1 out of 100).

Some books’ Amazon product pages get better conversion rates than others. Here are a few factors that affect the conversion rate:

  • compelling book cover (draws visual interest)
  • compelling description (arouses curiosity, creates suspense, promises desirable information, and/or reads well)
  • compelling Look Inside (professional appearance, fantastic start to the story, reads well)
  • audience targeting (the description and Look Inside reinforce expectations created by the cover or the information available with the link that brought the customers to the product page)
  • other factors such as customer reviews, author photo, author biography, etc.

Illuminating Example

Consider a book where the author does no marketing whatsoever: The only people discovering the book are shopping on Amazon. In this extreme example, the author didn’t even tell a friend or family member about the book.

The book does get discovered. Maybe the cover and title show up in an occasional keyword search, or maybe a customer discovers it browsing in a subcategory (perhaps using a Last 90 Days search filter). Once the book sells enough, it may also be visible on other books’ customers-also-bought lists.

Let’s suppose that the book sells 1 copy per day on average. Obviously, this number can be much more or much less, but the math is very simple with 1, so it’s a good place to start.

Let’s also go with the rough averages: 1 out of 1000 people who see the cover and title on Amazon click on the link to visit the product page, and 1 out 40 of the people who visit the product page purchase the book.

Wow! With these “rough” averages, there are 40,000 people visiting that book’s product page every day.

But only 1 out of 40,000 who saw the book cover and title actually purchased the book. Another wow!

This number isn’t far-fetched. It’s actually pretty common.

I have much experience advertising books on Amazon through AMS (over 100 ads on a variety of books in multiple pen names), and have discussed advertising statistics with several other authors. Many of the ads show in keyword search results, and others ads show on other books’ product pages. Advertising increases the overall number of impressions (the number of times that customers see the cover and title), but the ctr’s and conversion rates are typical of ordinary customer searches. A ctr of 0.1% (1 out of 1000) and a conversion rate of 2% to 4% (1 out of 50 to 1 out of 25) are rather common.

(I have over 25 ads that individually made over 1,000,000 impressions, so I have plenty of my own data to analyze, but I also interact with many different authors and discuss advertising with some of them.)

There is significant traffic on Amazon. There are millions and millions of customers. And they are seeing covers and titles of many different products. Obviously, the top sellers are seen millions of times per day, but even products that sell once a week are seen roughly 10,000 times per day.

Here is another way to look at this number: For every sale that you get from a complete stranger, roughly 40,000 people saw your cover and title, and roughly 40 people visited your product page. (But it’s a rough estimate. Maybe 100 people visited your product page.)

How to Improve Your Sales

There are two ways to go about this:

  • Work hard to get more impressions (to get more people to see your cover and title).
  • Make your product page more compelling (cover, description, Look Inside, beginning of story, author photo, author biography, etc.).

The first point is saying, if you can get 400,000 impressions per day on average instead of 40,000 impressions per day, you can sell 10 times as many books.

The second point is saying, if you can get 1 out 10,000 people who see your cover and title to buy your book instead of 1 out of 100,000 people, you can sell 10 times as many books.

Really, you want to do both things. If you can make your product page more compelling, it will make all of your book marketing more effective. It’s too common for a book’s Amazon product page to have some kind of deterrent such that only 1 out 100,000 (or worse!) customers who see the cover and title purchase the book. It just takes a few too many typos in the description or first chapter, or a cover or description that is bland, or a description that doesn’t set clear expectations to significantly deter sales.

One little detail can persuade customers to walk away. It takes strong appeal all around to command a killer success rate of 1 out 10,000 or less (customers who see your cover and title and then purchase your book), and this is quite rare. (This figure combines both the ctr and conversion rate together.)

Book marketing is important, too. It starts out slow because you can’t get tens of thousands of people to discover your book every day when you first begin to market your book. You have to start a blog with content that people may search for in the future, set up social media and interact online, find your target audience both online and offline, publish additional books, and look for other ways to get your cover and title out there (local newspaper, guest post on a blog, write an article for a website, podcast, local radio, conference, seminar, etc.) so that you can gradually grow the number of people who discover your book each day.

Another way that book marketing is important is that it can improve your conversion rate. When you have a positive interaction with your target audience (online or in person), those potential customers are more likely to purchase your book, review your book, or ignore reviews already showing on your product page.

On Amazon, only 1 out of 40,000 complete strangers who see your book may purchase it.

When you create positive interactions with your target audience in person, you might sell books to 1 out of 10 potential customers (or better), if you succeed in coming across as knowledgeable, or if you succeed in creating interest in your book or yourself.

When you create positive interactions with your target audience online, it’s probably not as effective as interacting in person, but you can reach many more people online, and online interactions are probably much more effective than marketing to complete strangers on Amazon.

Branding. Branding. Branding.

If 40,000 see your cover and title today, but only 1 of those people actually purchases your book, all is not lost. There is still branding.

39,999 other people who saw your cover, read your title, and saw your author name are potentially “branded” to some degree. These represent potential sales at a future date.

Branding is a very important part of book marketing (and all forms of advertising and marketing).

Your book cover is a visual brand. Your book title is another brand. Even your author name is a brand.

A brand is anything that customers come to recognize through repetition. In general, very few people purchase a product when they first discover it. Most people make a purchase after branding has occurred.

When you see a commercial on t.v., do you hop in the car, drive straight to the store, and purchase the product? If you watch t.v. for a few hours, you probably don’t buy the 100 different products that you saw the same day, right?

But when most people are purchasing a product, whether it’s a toothbrush or toilet paper, they usually prefer a “brand” that they recognize.

Branding is another reason that you should look for effective ways to market your book long-term.

The best brand is one that customers recommend to other people. When you write a book that is so compelling (or a nonfiction book where the information is so helpful), for example, that it generates significant offline recommendations (in addition to online reviews), this can really help your sales soar.

Three Kinds of Marketing Traffic

It’s important to realize that there are three kinds of traffic relevant to book marketing:

  • Shoppers at Amazon.com who happen to see your cover and title (in keyword searches, in subcategory searches, customers-also-bought lists, or ads placed with AMS, for example).
  • People who discover your book off Amazon (blog posts, social media, advertisements, Goodreads, business cards, and any of your other online or offline marketing endeavors).
  • When customers recommend your book to their friends, family members, coworkers, or acquaintances. It takes an exceptional book to garner significant recommendations, but books that achieve this can have their sales really take off.

If your book isn’t selling well enough to strangers at Amazon, your alternative is to try to get people to discover your book elsewhere (both online and offline). Ideally, you want both types of traffic to be significant.

Amazon Measures Your Click-through and Conversion Rates

The algorithm at Amazon knows which books are more likely to lead to clicks and purchases.

Suppose book A and book B are very similar, and suppose that the algorithm knows that 1 out of 500 customers who see book A’s cover will click on it, but 1 out of 2000 customers who see book B’s cover will click on it. Or suppose that 1 out of 20 people who visit book A’s product page will purchase it, but 1 out of 80 people who visit book B’s product page will purchase it.

Which book do you think is likely to display more prominently in customer searches (all else being equal)?

This is one more reason to make your product page as compelling as possible. Improve your cover, iron out your description, perfect your Look Inside, and write a quality book that exceeds the customers’ expectations. If you can improve your ctr and conversion rate, not only will you get more sales from the traffic you already have, but you might also get much more traffic.

Improved sales can also get additional exposure through customers-also-bought lists. Amazon’s system tends to reward authors who scrupulously help themselves (by making a more compelling product page, publishing a compelling book, or who generate sales through their own marketing).

You Should Also Measure Your Ctr and Conversion Rate

Amazon’s algorithm knows what your ctr and conversion rate are.

You should figure these rates out, too.

Once you see where you stand, you will have a better idea for how much room you have to improve them.

For example, if you knew that 200 people clicked on a link to your book, but only 1 person purchased your book, you would know that your conversion rate is very low (0.5% in this example).

How are you going to figure these rates out? Amazon doesn’t tell you in your reports, right?

Actually, there is a way. If you advertise a book with Amazon Marketing Services (AMS), the report for your ad campaign will show you the number of impressions, the number of clicks, and the estimated sales for the ad. If you publish a Kindle e-book with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), you can advertise on AMS via KDP. (Your book no longer has to be in KDP Select in order to take advantage of this.)

Note that advertising carries a risk. The royalties that you earn from your ad might amount to much less than the cost of the ad. Monitor your ad report daily so that you can pause or terminate your campaign if it doesn’t seem to be performing well enough. Although there is a minimum budget of $100 to advertise with AMS, you’re not obligated to spend your entire budget: You can pause or terminate your ad campaign at any time. However, note there are sometimes reporting delays, such that the ad report may continue to accumulate impressions and clicks for a few days after you stop your ad campaign.

If you can afford it, ideally you would like to hundreds of clicks to obtain meaningful results. Note that this data may come at a significant cost, especially if you place a high bid for your ad. For example, if you bid $0.25 per click, it may cost up to $50 to obtain 200 clicks worth of data.

To determine your ctr, divide the number of clicks by the number of impressions. To express this as a percentage, multiply by 100%. For example, if your ad has 100,000 impressions and 120 clicks, your ctr is 0.12%.

Another way to look at it is to divide the number of impressions by the number of clicks. In my example, you would get 833, meaning that on average 1 out of 833 people who saw the book cover and title clicked on the link to visit the Amazon product page.

To estimate your closing rate, you must first estimate the number of sales. The AMS report instead shows your sales as a dollar amount. If you didn’t adjust your list price during your ad campaign, divide the sales amount by your list price to estimate the number of sales. For example, if your list price is $2.99 and your sales column shows $14.95, you had approximately 5 sales during the ad campaign.

To estimate your closing rate, divide the number of sales by the number of clicks. To express this as a percentage, multiply by 100%. In my example, there were 5 sales and 120 clicks, so the closing rate is 4.2%.

Another way to look at it is to divide the number of clicks by the number of sales. In my example, you would get 24, meaning that on average 1 out of 24 people who visited the Amazon product page proceeded to purchase the book.

I like to combine the ctr and closing rate together. Specifically, divide the number of impressions by the estimated number of sales. In my example, there were 100,000 impressions and 5 sales, which means that 1 out 20,000 strangers who saw the ad ultimately purchased the book.

A killer conversion rate (number of sales divided by clicks times 100) is 10% or more. It happens occasionally, but it is quite rare. However, such books tend to sell very well on their own. A conversion rate of 10% or more is something to strive toward. If your conversion rate is 2% or less, your product page has significant room for improvement. Your product page isn’t as effective as it could be. Give your cover, description, Look Inside, and first chapter a close inspection.

Click this link to learn more about advertising on Amazon.

Imagine a mere 1 out of 1000 people who reached the bottom of this article proceeding to click the above helpful link. Well, hopefully the ctr will be better than that for my blog. 😉

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2017

Click here to view my Amazon author page.

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

What to Watch on Amazon Prime Instant Video

AMAZON PRIME INSTANT VIDEO

One of the benefits of Amazon Prime is that you can watch thousands of movies and television shows for free.

But you can’t watch any movie or t.v. show for free.

There are shows worth watching, but you have to sort through them.

The first step is to connect your device via wi-fi. The newest televisions make this easy. Otherwise, check your DVD player. Yet another option is to watch a video on one of your many other devices (PC, Mac, laptop, tablet, iPad, Fire, etc.).

Once you’re connected, and you start enjoying Amazon Prime videos, you’ll eventually reach a point where you’re trying to find another movie or t.v. series to watch.

One problem is that there are a limited number of videos in any category when you browse from your device (such as your smart t.v.). And most of the videos in any one category are usually irrelevant for what you like to watch. When you reach the end of the list, you may wish it kept going—you “know” there are more videos in that category, it just won’t display any more.

An alternative is to search for the video on Amazon’s website on your PC or other device. Once you find the movie or t.v. show that you want to watch, then you can search for it by name on your television, for example.

Which brings up another strange thing about searching for videos to watch on Prime: The search feature probably won’t work as you expect. As I type the first few letters, I see all sorts of strange results, and not the popular show that I’m looking for until I get many more of the letters typed.

I’ve been enjoying Amazon Prime videos for a few years. Let me offer a variety of recommendations to help get you started.

Note: Some of these videos may be rated R. Please check the ratings before you watch (if that concerns you). Although I noted mature content or violence for a few of the shows listed, there is mature content and violence on some of the other shows even though I didn’t mention it (for one, I don’t recall every detail of every show), so you should definitely do a little research if you’re concerned about such things.

I’ll start with t.v. shows. A great thing about these is that if you enjoy the series, it can last for weeks or months (especially when there are several seasons available).

  • Covert Affairs. I thought it was a cool spy series. There are a few seasons, so it will last for a while. I rather liked the characters. As the series progresses, it gets a little too suspenseful, perhaps, where you really feel compelled to watch the next episode.
  • Shaun the Sheep. I felt these were very well done. My daughter and I watched every episode, and we both enjoyed it. If you finish all the series available, there are a few bonus episodes somewhere (for example, there is one with Olympic-like sports that was worth watching). They also have the movie. Those sheep can do anything!
  • Orphan Black. This is a suspenseful sci-fi series that stays engaging throughout. I really enjoyed the variety of roles that the lead actress plays. There is some mature content.
  • Bosch. The title video at the beginning is stunning and worth a look. This is a detective show set in Los Angeles. There is some amazing video from the protagonist’s house in the hills of Los Angeles. The series is engaging and I enjoyed it. Maybe it was a little too real in ways, and a little slow at times.
  • Sneaky Pete. This is one of several Amazon Originals. It was suspenseful and, I thought, rather well done. There is some violence.
  • How I Met Your Mother. This comedy has a good vibe to it. There are several seasons so there is plenty of material. Although the reruns may still be showing somewhere, a great thing about Amazon Prime is that you can watch the entire story unfold in order without missing an episode (with no commercials, of course!).
  • I Love Lucy. Some of the classics in Amazon Prime are enjoyable. Lucy always does something crazy, and it often makes you laugh. The golf episode is absolutely hilarious. Some are funnier than others, but if you only watch one, find the golf episode. Look for Volume 3, Episode 11.
  • Spongebob Squarepants. There are several popular kids t.v. shows, such as this. They also have PBS Kids shows.
  • Family Ties. There are a number of popular comedies and family t.v. shows from one or more decades back that are worth watching. I like the character Alex.
  • The Andy Griffith Show. Another of a number of classics available on Amazon Prime.
  • Humans. I liked this sci-fi concept. Unfortunately, there was just one season available on Prime last I checked.
  • Hunted. Another spy show that I enjoyed, but again just one series last I checked.
  • The Night Manager. I watched it because it features the actor from House. I actually enjoyed it, but there was only one season available when I watched it.
  • Extant. I thought this was a cool sci-fi series with suspense. Maybe things got a little too extreme at some point, but that seems to be the way most series are these days.
  • House of Lies. Definitely some mature content. It was certainly interesting, but grew a bit too wild for my tastes.
  • The Wire. This features a police precinct. It seems very real, and naturally there are both good and bad aspects of realism. It has drugs, violence, and mature moments, as do many cop shows.
  • Defiance. This is another suspenseful, engaging sci-fi series. A couple of the characters were quite intriguing.
  • The Worricker Trilogy. This is one of several PBS shows (they also have Masterpiece Theater). This is an intriguing spy series. It’s a little slow, but just a few episodes.

Now for movies. I’ve come to prefer t.v. series for two reasons. First of all, sometimes I spend an hour trying to find what I want to watch: When I find a series that I like, my hour of research results in dozens of shows, whereas when I find a movie to watch, it only lasts for two hours. Secondly, a single t.v. show lasts between 30 minutes and an hour usually, so it doesn’t demand as much time as a movie. (When I was younger and had more time though, I used to enjoy movies more.) Some of the movies I actually saw in the theater, but I would have watched it on Prime had I not already seen the movie before.

  • Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise).
  • Mission Impossible (Tom Cruise). You can also find the original t.v. series.
  • Spectre (007).
  • Rush Hour (Jackie Chan).
  • The Hunger Games.
  • Hot Pursuit (comedy).
  • Ex Machina (sci-fi).
  • The Spy Next Door (Jackie Chan).
  • The Whistleblower.
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles (kids/family).
  • Ella Enchanted (kids/family).
  • Happy Feet (animated).
  • Ocean’s Twelve.
  • You can also find a number of classics: Ghost, Indiana Jones, Coming to America, The Hunt for Red October, 48 Hours, Braveheart, Star Trek, etc.

Amazon does add new titles to Prime periodically. Usually, when I finish watching a new series, there is new material to sort through.

However, occasionally a few titles disappear from Prime. So if there are several things that you want to watch now, be sure to watch your favorite first, just in case. (So it’s possible that a few of the videos on my list have dropped off of Prime since I wrote this post—but there will probably be some new ones out there by then, too. In my experience, I notice hundreds that get added, but only a rare show that disappears.)

Tip: Try searching on your PC or laptop:

  • From Amazon’s home page, choose Prime Video under Departments and select Included with Prime.
  • This is similar to searching on a t.v., but by clicking on the right arrow at the end of any row, you can scroll faster (the entire row is replaced with a new row).
  • For a few rows, when you reach the end, there will be a See More option, but for most rows there is just a limited number of movies displayed.
  • So there is another option that I like better. Return to the home page. Change All to Amazon Video (look at the top near A, don’t look for V) in the Search field, leave the search field blank, and click the search icon.
  • I did this just now and got 200,000 results. Obviously, that’s too many, but I like this as my starting point.
  • First I click the Included with Prime option. That reduced my results down to 40,000. This way, paid videos won’t get mixed in with the ones that are free with Amazon Prime.
  • There are some interesting options on the left that are worth exploring, such as Mood and Theme. For example, there is Exciting and Feel Good.
  • Also look at the genre and decade options on the left.
  • Another way to filter the results, besides the options on the left, is with the Sort By dropdown menu on the right. This is handy if you want to find New Arrivals.
  • If the various filters on the left aren’t working to your satisfaction, try adding a broad search term in the search field. It might not work quite as you’d expect, but it will help to narrow the search results considerably.

I hope you find some videos that you enjoy watching.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2017

Click here to view my Amazon author page.

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

Author of:

  • The Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks
  • A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers
  • The Visual Guide to Extra Dimensions (on the geometry of the fourth dimension)
  • An Introduction to Basic Astronomy Concepts
  • Physics workbooks
  • and more

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

The Best Place to Self-Publish Your Book (a Fresh Look)

Image used under license from Shutterstock.com.

Where Should You Self-Publish Your Book?

Maybe you’ve written a book. (That’s amazing, by the way.) Maybe you’re thinking about writing a book.

Or maybe you’ve self-published before, and you’re wondering if the option you used is still the best option for you. After all, book publishing is dynamic.

The best place for you to publish depends on which type of book you’ve written and which marketing ideas (if any) you have in mind (or you’re willing to try with earnest).

99.9% of self-published authors should be thinking one main word: AMAZON.

However, there are different ways to go about making your self-published book available on Amazon.

Even if you get most of your sales from Amazon, there are other ways to help supplement the sales that you draw from Amazon. And there are a few self-published authors who are highly successful with other sales channels.

Which Self-Publishing Options are Best for You?

That depends. First of all, there are different types of books that you can publish.

  • E-books. This is the most affordable option for customers. Most self-published novels sell better in digital format, but there are many other types of books that also sell very well as e-books.
  • Paperbacks. There are many nonfiction books, such as guides or educational books, where customers like to highlight and annotate. Paperbacks also make for better gifts. They also provide a few marketing opportunities, like sales to local bookstores or libraries and book signings.
  • Hardcovers. Many parents prefer this for children’s picture books, for example.
  • Both print and digital. Congratulations! You picked the ‘correct’ answer. Maximize your market by publishing your book both in print and as an e-book.

Where should you self-publish your e-book?

  • Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). This is a must. This makes your book available in the Amazon Kindle store, where most customers shop for e-books.
  • The other guys. You could visit Nook Press, Kobo Writing Life, and a host of other places, but it’s much more convenient to choose an e-book aggregator like Smashwords or Draft2Digital.
  • Option (C): Just KDP _or_ KDP + Smashwords (or Draft2Digital). That is the question. You see, Amazon dangles this choice before your eyes, which is called KDP Select. If you enroll your e-book in KDP Select, you’re not allowed to publish your e-book with Nook, Kobo, Smaswhords, Draft2Digital, or anywhere else (unless and until you successfully opt out of KDP Select, and also wait for your current 90-day enrollment period to end). So you must choose: Will you publish your e-book with Amazon KDP only (to reap the benefits of KDP Select), or will you publish your e-book everywhere you can (staying out of KDP Select)? That’s a tough question. We’ll come back to that later.

Where should you self-publish your paperback?

  • CreateSpace. Since this is Amazon’s original print-on-demand self-publishing company, it’s the logical way to make your paperback book available in Amazon. I recommend CreateSpace: There are no setup fees, you can order inexpensive author copies, they offer Expanded Distribution (to sell your book through other channels in addition to Amazon), you can choose to use a free ISBN (if you don’t mind CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform showing up in the publishing field on your Amazon product page), and being an Amazon company—yeah, this is worth repeating—it seems like the logical way to make your paperback book available for sale at Amazon.
  • Kindle Direct Publishing. It’s not just for e-books: You can publish your paperback through KDP, too. That’s convenient, especially for new authors who follow the steps outlined in KDP Jumpstart, Amazon’s new self-publishing guide. However, I still recommend CreateSpace over KDP for the paperback version: CreateSpace lets you order a printed proof (which every author should do), purchase inexpensive author copies, and offers better distribution to channels beyond Amazon.
  • Ingram Spark. This is the main competition for CreateSpace. Ingram Spark is Lightning Source’s self-publishing platform, and Lightning Source has been a major book distributor for several years. One reason that I recommend CreateSpace is that CreateSpace has zero setup fees, whereas it costs more to publish with Ingram Spark. If you have reason to expect significant sales through the international market (perhaps because you’re based in another country and have solid marketing plans there), or if you’ve done ample research and have effective plans for potential sales through local bookstores or libraries, in those cases it may be worth comparing the pros and cons of Ingram Spark and CreateSpace more closely to see whether the possible benefits may outweigh the higher setup fees. If you’re an illustrated children’s author or have other reasons to expect significant hardcover sales, you might like Ingram Spark’s hardcover option.
  • Option (D). There are authors who use CreateSpace for Amazon distribution and who use Ingram Spark for other sales channels (even though CreateSpace offers Expanded Distribution). I generally don’t recommend this, unless you have compelling reasons to expect significant sales through other channels besides Amazon—since, again, Ingram Spark has higher setup fees, whereas CreateSpace lets you publish for free. Before you try this option, search the CreateSpace community forum (or the great wide internet) for discussions about how to pull this off (and the potential pitfalls).
  • There are a few other options. CreateSpace and Ingram Spark are the two major players. Next on the list is Lulu. There are authors who use Lulu. One nice thing about Lulu is that you can sell your book through Lulu’s store: This option may be handy for those authors who can drive significant traffic through their own marketing (though, in general, if you drive traffic to Amazon, customers are more likely to follow through with a purchase, since more customers know and trust Amazon). For the rare author who can move books in person (for example, by selling dozens of copies after a presentation), you can find relatively cheap printing options if you plan to purchase 1000+ books up front: In that case, it’s worth doing some research for inexpensive book printers. If you want to order a few hardcover copies, but don’t need distribution, instead of paying setup fees at Ingram Spark, one possible alternative is to use Nook Press (their hardcover option lets you order author copies, but doesn’t offer print-on-demand distribution).

There is yet another way that you can publish a book: You can make an audio book. For this, I recommend using the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) to make your book available at Audible.com, Amazon, and iTunes.

KDP Select

Now let’s come back to that critical e-book question: Should you enroll your Kindle e-book in KDP Select?

If you enroll your e-book in KDP Select, you can’t publish your e-book anywhere else. (But you may still publish a print book anywhere you want.) The benefits of enrolling in KDP Select include:

  • Kindle Unlimited. This is the main benefit. Customers who subscribe to Kindle Unlimited (which costs $9.99 per month in the US) can borrow KDP Select books for free. Amazon pays you about $0.004 per page read (although a “page” usually turns out to be significantly more than a typical printed “page”) by Kindle Unlimited customers. Obviously, $0.004 doesn’t seem like much, since it’s just one page (although it’s usually higher, and has occasionally exceeded $0.005), but if your book gets tens of thousands of pages read through Kindle Unlimited, it can really add up. Amazon currently pays over $19,000,000 per month in royalties for KDP Select books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited, so this is a very significant market. But there are also over a million books in Kindle Unlimited competing for pages read.
  • Kindle Countdown Deals. If your book is priced from $2.99 to $24.99 (for $2.99 only, your converted .mobi file size must be below 3 MB), you can run a Kindle Countdown Deal. This lets you put your book on sale for up to 7 days every 90-day enrollment period. The sale price by itself doesn’t always attract the attention you’re hoping for. However, if you find effective ways to promote your sale price, this improves your chances for improved sales. There are several websites that help to promote sale prices, like BookBub and E-reader News Today (note that BookBub is much more expensive, and very difficult to get accepted into).
  • Free book promos. Instead of a Countdown Deal, you could choose to give your book away for free for up to 5 days every 90-day enrollment period. I’m not recommending that you earn zero royalties, just including it as a possible benefit. There are a few authors who use this effectively, especially when they have a compelling first volume for a series of books. Again, to get the most out of this, you usually need to promote the temporary sale price effectively. In this case, you’re hoping that any free copies pay dividends down the road, but there are no guarantees.

The main question is this:

  • Would you earn more royalties through Kindle Unlimited pages read?
  • Or would you earn more royalties from sales through Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, etc.?

That’s basically what it boils down to. There really is no way to know without trying. One option is to enroll in KDP Select for 90 days and see how it goes. (This gives you an extra 3 months to learn how to format your book for Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, or wherever else. Formatting is a little different for other platforms than it is for Kindle.)

Good Luck!

And I mean it. I wish every author success with their publishing endeavors.

My advice is to think long-term. However many sales you make this year, strive to make more sales next year. Keep writing, keep publishing. Enjoy your writing and you’re sure to enjoy the experience.

Learn how to do a little marketing, and try out new marketing ideas periodically. Think long-term with your marketing. The best place to start is with a free blog. I recommend WordPress’s free dot com site. Since you love writing, you’ll surely enjoy blogging. I do. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2017

Click here to view my Amazon author page.

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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KDP Jumpstart: Amazon’s New Simplified Publishing Guide

STEP-BY-STEP E-BOOK PUBLISHING WITH AMAZON’S KDP JUMPSTART

Amazon introduced a new simplified step-by-step publishing guide called KDP Jumpstart.

It’s designed for new authors, but could help anyone who needs Kindle formatting help.

A nice feature is that the 12-step program is available directly on the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) help page. You can find a link below (or visit Amazon KDP’s help pages and look for KDP Jumpstart near the top left).

https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G202187740

Following the guide, e-book formatting for most books is done through Kindle Create (Amazon’s free reflowable book conversion software). There are two ways to do this:

  • Open Kindle Create and then open a .doc or .docx file.
  • Install the Kindle Create add-on and run it from Microsoft Word. (This option is intended for authors who plan to publish both print and e-book versions through Amazon KDP.)

Kindle Create offers a convenient way to apply paragraph styles without having to learn how to modify and apply styles within Microsoft Word, and without having to learn HTML.

Here are a few things that I like about KDP Jumpstart:

  • It makes self-publishing a Kindle e-book appear relatively quick and easy. The number of steps to follow is kept to an absolute minimum, and the information is very concise.
  • Everyone should take a look at Step 6, which provides a cool visual introduction to book design. Note, however, that the labeled diagrams specifically show paperback designs.
  • The Kindle Create plugin for Microsoft Word is designed to let you design a paperback interior in Word and quickly create an e-book from the paperback file.
  • KDP Jumpstart covers important topics like writing the book description, cover design (review Step 6 before you read Step 9), and how to choose categories and keywords.
  • The guide includes insider tips as well as helpful activities. For example, one activity gives you specific author pages to check out, while another helps you learn how to research browse categories.

I’m not saying it’s the perfect publishing solution, and I’m not saying that all authors should switch to this method. It does look like a good place for new authors to start, and anyone who could use help with Kindle formatting (or who may be looking for a convenient way to go about it) should at least check it out.

Following are a couple of possible cons to consider:

  • Maybe it’s a little too short and simple. There are usually many pitfalls for new authors to learn regarding Kindle formatting. New authors tend to have a few habits that usually cause problems with Kindle formatting, like using the tab key to indent, not using paragraph styles, typing two spacebars after a period, using the Enter key to create blank lines, etc. Perhaps Kindle Create helps with a couple of common habits, but it doesn’t seem like it would be foolproof. I’d like to see the guide mention more common issues for new authors to avoid.
  • I still recommend CreateSpace (Amazon’s original self-publishing company) for paperbacks. It’s convenient that Amazon KDP now offers paperback publishing, but it doesn’t yet appear to be as fully developed as CreateSpace. At CreateSpace, you can order a printed proof (which every author should do), you can order author copies, and you get wider distribution (unless any of this has changed recently).

Regarding the first point, there is more information available in the KDP help pages than what you can find in the simplified publishing guide, if you spend time browsing through the help pages (or try using the search feature). There are also some good discussions regarding formatting and publishing on the KDP community forum (especially, if you use the advanced search feature and change the date range to All Years).

Copyright © 2017

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Comments

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Kindle Unlimited: Movin’ on up (September 2017)

KINDLE UNLIMITED PAGES READ, SEPTEMBER, 2017

The Kindle Unlimited per-page rate increased for the second month in a row.

The September, 2017 rate of $0.00443 is a healthy boost over the August rate of $0.00419 and the July rate of $0.00403 per page.

Both of these increases followed the introduction of KENPC v3.0.

The KDP Select Global Fund for September, 2017 is $19.5 million.

Overall, Amazon is paying out more money per month than ever for Kindle Unlimited: The global fund has climbed over 20% over the past year.

That comes to over $200M per year, and that doesn’t even include royalties for ordinary sales—that’s just for pages read through Kindle Unlimited (and to a much lesser extent, Amazon Prime).

Copyright © 2017

Chris McMullen