Amazon Prime Day, July 15, 2015

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.

AMAZON PRIME DAY, JULY 15, 2015

July 15, 2015 is a one-day sale exclusively for Amazon Prime customers.

It’s a Black Friday type of event in the summer, but instead of benefiting retailers across the USA, it’s just for Amazon Prime shoppers.

Smart move, Amazon. A special sale just for you, so you’re not splitting the business with hundreds of department stores.

But to take advantage of the savings, customers must join Amazon Prime.

If you’re not already a member of Amazon Prime, you can still sign up. In fact, you can get a one-month free trial.

I have Amazon Prime. I love the free two-day shipping. I also watch free movies with Amazon Prime Video (not all Amazon videos are free, only those in Amazon Prime Video, but there are many movies and television shows included).

You can also borrow one free book per month as a member of Amazon Prime. It’s different from Kindle Unlimited, since you can borrow as many books as you want with Kindle Unlimited, but only one book per month with Amazon Prime. Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime are two separate things. Amazon Prime offers free two-day shipping and free streaming of videos, whereas Kindle Unlimited does not.

You must be a member of Amazon Prime to enjoy the savings on Amazon Prime Day. Kindle Unlimited doesn’t count.

(If you want to borrow a free book as an Amazon Prime member, shop from your actual Kindle device, not from your pc or laptop. Otherwise you will only see the Kindle Unlimited option. Note that there are about 100,000 books included in Kindle Unlimited which are not available to Amazon Prime members.)

Prime Day lists several kinds of products that will be on sale, from electronics to clothing to video games, and much more.

But it doesn’t list books. It will be interesting to see if any books are on sale for Prime Day. If so, they will probably be print books, since Amazon Prime is mainly about free two-day shipping. We’ll see exactly what is or isn’t on sale on July 15, 2015.

There is also a Prime Day #PrimeLiving photo contest. You could win $10,000 in Amazon gift cards. (Visit Amazon and click the ad for Prime Day on their homepage to learn more.)

You can take advantage of Prime Day savings as a member of:

  • Amazon Prime
  • Amazon Prime free trial period
  • Prime Fresh
  • Amazon Mom
  • Amazon Student

Prime members can shop for savings from any device. (You don’t have to have a Kindle to enjoy savings on Prime Day. You can shop from a pc, laptop, mac, iPad, iPhone, android phone, or tablet, for example.)

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

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

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

More changes to the WordPress Reader…

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.

WORDPRESS READER UPDATE

It looks like the WordPress reader is changing again.

I like scrolling through my WordPress reader to check out recent posts from blogs that I follow. I spend time every day reading several posts.

It’s always a shock to the system when the layout or functionality of the WordPress reader changes.

Here are a few things I notice with the current WordPress reader update:

  • Who wrote the post? I must really squint to see who the blogger is. Is this good or bad? It’s easy to fall into the habit of looking for your favorite bloggers, sometimes ignoring other posts. Will this help focus more on what looks interesting than who wrote it? But there are some magical bloggers, no matter what they write, we know it’s going to be worth a read, and we get excited when we see their posts.
  • Presently, if you proceed to click on a post that you’re not sure if you want to read in its entirety, the reader screen opens full screen, rather than in a window. And once it’s opened, the options have moved around and changed. I really don’t like this; it lacks visual appeal, and it’s hard to find any options. Tip: Skip the middle man. Click the link just under where it says There’s More. This will save you a click and you can read the post on the actual website instead of in your reader.
  • The word count was replaced with estimated reading time, like 20 sec read or 3 min read.
  • Visually, the layout has changed, too. Maybe it’s more mobile friendly. But it looks ridiculous on my very large monitor, with huge empty sidebar areas.

How do you feel about the WordPress reader changes?

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

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

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

Can you use an Amazon logo or frame your book in a Kindle?

Amazon, Kindle, and Fire and all related logos are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.

Amazon, Kindle, and Fire and all related logos are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.

AMAZON KINDLE BRAND USE

Did you know that authors can use Amazon Kindle logos and device images to advertise their book on another website provided, of course, that they first read and follow the guidelines for using them?

Amazon even provides the image files for their logos and device images for you to use.

I got this straight from the horse’s mouth, and you can easily confirm it. Visit this KDP help page. Click the Kindle Brand Use Guidelines link.

Before you use the Amazon Kindle logos or device images, read the Kindle Brand Use Tagging and Framing Guidelines.

Also, read the Amazon Brand Use Terms and Conditions, available here.

Of particular note are these rules:

  • You must include a trademark notice, such as, “Amazon, Kindle, and Fire and all related logos are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.” Amazon tells you what language to use in their Amazon Brand Use Terms & Conditions.
  • If using the logo or image for a giveaway, you must also include the following disclaimer: “Amazon devices are given away on behalf of <company>. Amazon is not a sponsor of this <contest / promotion / event>.
  • Use an approved Amazon provided image file (see below for a link to a page with these image files).
  • Write something like, “Available on Amazon” beside the logo. Amazon also offers approved image files for these badges (see below for a link).
  • To frame your book in a Kindle device, you must use an actual photograph of a device. Amazon supplies these image files, too (see below for a link).
  • Your Kindle e-book must be available for purchase at Amazon and must work on the Kindle device.
  • If you follow the Tagging and Framing Guidelines, your use is pre-approved (so you can skip Step 1 of the Terms & Conditions, as noted in Step 3).
  • Obviously, your use must be in a way that reflects favorably upon both Amazon and the Kindle device.

AMAZON APPROVED IMAGE FILES

You can find Amazon’s approved image files here:

Click on the Download link or click on the image to open it full-screen with high resolution before you save the image (right-click and select Save Image As). (Don’t right-click on the tiny image or you get a small low-resolution image. Open it full-screen before you save it.) Then you can take an actual page from your book (such as the first page which shows your front cover) and place it on the screen (provided that the result appears exactly as it will when a customer views it on an actual device). Remember to include the words “Available on Amazon Kindle” or use one of the approved badges with similar wording.

If you also wish to link to your book’s product page at Amazon, visit your book’s detail page and look for the Share link near the pricing and purchasing area on the right-hand side of the page. The pop-up window provides a short link to your book, such as http://amzn.com/B00AA5CJ7C. This compact link can be quite handy.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, 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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Book Marketing Magic: What You Can Learn from Amazon

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.

BOOK MARKETING MAGIC

It would be hard to find anybody who can sell books better than Amazon.

At first, this seems like a great benefit of self-publishing. Just throw your book on Amazon, and the word’s greatest bookseller will sell your book for you, right?

Too bad it doesn’t work that way. Even though you may have heard others speak of book marketing, you stubbornly cling to the hope that you won’t need to learn it.

You just have to see for yourself to realize that you need to market your book.

And then book marketing seems like magic. Only you can’t find the right magic words. Or if you do, apparently you don’t pronounce them quite right. When you try using smoke, mirrors, and sleight of hand, it just doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to.

But it’s not really magic. You want easy and instant success. That really would be magic. That’s not marketing. That’s too-good-to-be-true luck that will never happen to you.

Book marketing is work. Think and plan long-term, learn effective long-term book marketing strategies, keep writing, and gradually add to your marketing with sights on a professional author platform several months in the future.

You can learn by watching others. And who better to watch than Amazon?

LEARN FROM AMAZON

It’s amazing how much you can learn about book marketing from Amazon.

This is where the fact that Amazon is an exceptional bookseller can help you.

You’re trying to sell books. You want to learn how. Watch the pro.

Obviously, I don’t mean you should create a website, pour millions of dollars into website development and advertising, and sell books yourself.

I mean to study Amazon’s marketing and make connections between how Amazon markets and what you can do to help market your own books.

Some examples follow.

CONTENT ENGAGEMENT

In my opinion, this is Amazon’s #1 marketing asset: content engagement.

The first step is that Amazon has amazing selection, convenience of shopping at home, and good prices.

With all that, plus good customer service, and already the top bookseller, you might think Amazon wouldn’t need to market at all.

Yet, Amazon does market, and markets very well. It shows you that even if you have a great book, you still need to market.

Amazon is exceptional at motivating customer engagement. Here are a few examples:

  • Customers engage with the website as they browse Look Insides and read customer reviews.
  • After the purchase, they are further engaged with customers-also-bought list recommendations.
  • The customer review platform brings customers back to Amazon after the purchase to engage with the site again. A few customers return again to check on voting and comments.
  • Kindle Unlimited motivates customers to return time and again to browse for books. With the habit of shopping at Amazon, some subscribers begin to check Amazon first when they need to buy other products besides books.
  • Amazon Prime similarly engages customers. Although Prime customers can only borrow one book per month, Prime also engages customers with Amazon Prime Video, for example. Prime customers also tend to shop at Amazon first to take advantage of fee two-day shipping.
  • Amazon frequently releases new programs or revises current programs. Each revision or new program is news, so Amazon is often in the media. Many of the programs spark debate among authors or publishers, which creates additional free publicity. The internet is almost always buzzing with the latest developments at Amazon.
  • Customers (and authors) can subscribe to a variety of email newsletters. If those emails engage your interest, well, you’re hooked. You’ll be aware of the next development. You’ll see an advertisement for a new service. But the emails aren’t just advertisements. The KDP newsletter, for example, includes a variety of tips and success stories. Good content is needed to make these work.
  • Promotional prices and exclusive offers bring customers back to Amazon. I’ve received offers such as: free $20 gift card when you buy $100 in gift cards, exclusive offer for $15 appstore credit, and great sale prices on Kindle devices. Amazon offers a one-time discount on something that’s likely to hook customers by engaging them. Selling a Kindle device at a discount may lead to regular reading of Kindle ebooks, and a free appstore credit can hook you on apps—or just get you in the habit of using Amazon from your phone.
  • Customer discussion forums encourage customers to return and engage on the site.
  • The KDP community forum engages many self-published authors. It’s not just readers Amazon is engaging.
  • The sales and royalty reports also engage authors. Once you dive into self-publishing, it’s a challenge to not check on those reports constantly. Kindle Unlimited’s new pages read policy makes the reporting even more engaging, since pages are likely to be read throughout the day. Sales rank is another number that engages authors.
  • Although Amazon has Twitter and Facebook accounts both for customers and for authors, direct social media posts are a minor component of Amazon’s marketing platform. These seem to be there more for the customers who love social media or who want some way to engage with Amazon. Though if you explore Amazon’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, you will see that they post regular content and there is customer engagement there. And although the following is large by a typical author’s standards, compared to how many hits Amazon gets per day, it’s tiny in that regard.
  • Amazon launched a new Amazon Giveaway program, where anyone can run a contest by purchasing a new product and having Amazon ship the product directly to the winner. Contest sponsors (for books, usually these are authors) tweet to announce the giveaway with the #AmazonGiveaway hashtag, and often other Twitter users retweet the contests. This way, authors and Twitter users who love to promote contests do all the promotional work, while the hashtag attracts contest lovers through Amazon’s name. It’s a clever and effective use of Twitter hashtags.

HOW DOES THIS HELP YOU?

For one, you too can thrive on content engagement. Obviously, not in quite the same way.

To start with, you should have more than just one kind of content:

  • Your books are content, of course. That’s your main content.
  • Additional content can come in the form of a content-rich website, for example.

Creating a content-rich website is relatively easy, and you can find relevant nonfiction content even if your book is fiction.

Start out with a simple free blog and make regular (don’t have to be too long or too frequent) posts that have content relevant for your target audience. Blogging can start out very slow, but after months things can really accelerate. If you succeed in generating search engine traffic, you can pull in 100+ visitors per day from your target audience who didn’t already know about your book. My website began as a simple, free WordPress blog, and after a couple of years of growing, it nets hundreds of visitors per day.

Content is king. That is, what really matters most is quality content that your target audience will appreciate. That’s true about your books and also about your website, and any other kind of marketing content that you create. Some people can fool search engines with SEO tricks in the short run, but content rules in the long run.

Once you have the content, you want content engagement. You want your target audience to interact with your content.

Engaging your target audience brings multiple benefits:

  • If your readers regularly interact with you, they will be aware of your future releases. But you need engaging content to attract them and hold their interest.
  • Lively interaction looks good to newcomers, and helps invite their participation, so that your engaging content reaches beyond your existing fan base.
  • Branding, a huge part of marketing, requires repetition. Content engagement gives you that repetition, helping your brand your name and image as author.
  • Your audience gets a chance to see your personality. That personal touch can help drive sales, and is more likely to inspire reviews.

Here are some examples of how, like Amazon, you can engage your customers with content:

  • It’s kind of funny, but creating new content also helps with content engagement. Each time you release a new book (or even a story), it gives you another chance to engage your audience with it (and grow your audience, too). It’s another chance to create anticipation, do a cover reveal, and invite feedback. You also get new exposure in Amazon’s new release categories each time you release a new book (or a different edition of the same book).
  • Blogging provides a regular supply of new content to help engage your audience. Amazon is constantly engaging customers with new products or new programs. Your blog helps you regularly (even once a week is regular) provide opportunities to get discovered by new potential readers and to interact further with current fans. If the content is rich, you have good long-term potential for search engine discovery.
  • Another way to engage your audience is to request feedback. Amazon seeks feedback from customers via reviews. Authors can ask for feedback on cover reveals, blurb reveals, ideas for future stories, etc. In addition to engaging your audience, this can help create buzz for new releases or works-in-progress.
  • You can create an email newsletter, following Amazon’s example. Amazon includes valuable content, like tips, stories, or promotional discounts, in its email newsletter to make it worthwhile to join the newsletter and to check it out. That’s what you need: an incentive for fans to subscribe and to keep checking it out once a month or so.
  • Amazon provides good customer service, with a good return policy. Authors can also supply good personal service. Content engagement lets you provide that personal touch, and show your personality and character. Personal interactions, online and in person, improve an author’s chances for sales and reviews.
  • Much like Amazon, authors can offer short-term promotional prices. But, unlike Amazon, which already has a large following, authors must either externally advertise their promotional prices, or must grow a large subscriber base (such as through an email newsletter or an engaged online following). One thing Amazon likes to do is offer a discount on a product that’s highly likely to lead to additional sales. Series authors, for example, can discount the first in a series, hoping that readers will want to read the rest of the series.
  • Amazon is often creating buzz. Some new program or revised program has Amazon in the news much of the time. What are you doing that’s new? What are you doing that’s newsworthy? If you get yourself some media coverage, you also get to mention your book in the news. Good old-fashioned media coverage can offer nice exposure. Start small and local, where you’re more likely to have opportunities, and work your way outward as you gain experience.
  • You can hold contests. You can run an Amazon Giveaway for a print book, or a Goodreads Giveaway, or hold some other kind of contest.
  • Follow Amazon, Amazon KDP, and CreateSpace at Facebook and Twitter. You’ll get good ideas for ways to use these tools to engage your audience. Study how often they post, whether to include images, how they use images, what size images they use, etc.

OTHER MARKETING YOU CAN LEARN

There is more you can learn from Amazon about book marketing. Here are a few more examples:

  • When you shop at Amazon, what you see are pages of cover thumbnails. Amazon strives to create visual interest. It’s a strong part of marketing. Your own cover thumbnail can help you with this. But so can the images that you use for blog or Facebook posts, for example.
  • If you read a long book description at Amazon, you’ll note that it often gets cut off. Customers must click a Read More link to read the rest. What Amazon is telling you is that customers have a short attention span, and won’t read too much just to decide which book to read. The Read More flag is saying, “Make sure your most important information comes before this part of your description.” (Otherwise, most people won’t see it.)
  • By organizing the bestsellers in subcategories, Amazon is the perfect repository for you to research how to write and sell a book in the genre or category of your choice. Study the covers, titles, blurbs, Look Insides, biographies, author photos, and product pages. Find those authors online and see what their author pages look like and learn their marketing strategies.

The next time you find yourself interested in a new product at Amazon, stop and think about how you got interested in that product. Is there a lesson that you can learn here? There probably is.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, 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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New Kindle Unlimited Survey for Authors (Got a Minute?)

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.

KINDLE UNLIMITED 2.0: BETTER OR WORSE?

Here a few quick questions about the new Kindle Unlimited policy.

If you’re an author, please complete this brief survey. You can view the results after you vote.

(If you’re not an author, you can still view the results without voting. Just click where it says, “View results.”)

Kindle Unlimited now pays royalties to KDP Select books based on pages read (KENP read) instead of a flat rate per borrow.

Do you like the new Kindle Unlimited policy or the old policy better?

Which of the following options best describes your reaction to the new Kindle Unlimited pages read policy?

The best way to track whether or not the total number of KDP Select books is increasing or decreasing is to periodically check the enrollment numbers at Amazon. (This way you can also check on specific categories.)

This survey will remain available. Feel free to return and check the results after more authors have taken it.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, 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.

Comments

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Kindle Unlimited 2.0—Should you stay or should you go?

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.

KINDLE UNLIMITED POLICY CHANGES

Now that Amazon pays KDP Select authors for pages read through Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime—instead of the number of borrows read to 10%—some authors are wondering:

  • Should I keep my books enrolled in KDP Select?
  • Should I opt out of KDP Select and publish elsewhere?
  • Should I unpublish at Kobo, Nook, etc. and opt into KDP Select?

There are many things to factor into this decision.

Let’s start with the math.

KENPC MATH

The Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC) is your book’s official number of pages as far as royalties for pages read through KU and KOLL borrows is concerned.

  • Your KENPC isn’t the same as what you see listed on your book’s product page, and may be significantly different.
  • Visit your Bookshelf and click the Advertise and Promote button to find out what the KENPC is for your book.

Amazon has set the KDP Select Global Fund at $11M for both July and August. Amazon also announced that 1.9B pages were read in June, 2015.

This leads to a projected royalty of $0.0058 per page read.

Multiply your book’s KENPC by $0.0058 to figure out what royalty you would earn if 100% of your book is read.

233 pages is the magic number for KENPC. If your KENPC is higher than 233 pages, your projected royalty for a book read to 100% is more than $1.35; if your KENPC is lower than 233 pages, your projected royalty for a book read to 100% is less than $1.35.

(Where did this $1.35 come from? That’s what KDP Select authors were paid for May, 2015.)

There are a couple of obvious complications:

  • We don’t know if 1.9B pages will be read in July. Therefore, the estimate of $0.0058 could be significantly off.
  • You don’t know how many of your customers read 100% of your book. If many customers don’t finish your book, your projected earnings for July are much less.

What may be more relevant is to compare your royalty for sales to your potential royalty for borrows.

  • Visit your KDP bookshelf. Click on your book. Visit page 2 of the publishing process. Check your royalty for sales in the US (and/or the UK if most of your borrows come from there).
  • Compare your royalty for sales to your projected royalty for borrows (multiply your KENPC by $0.0058).

How do these compare?

  • If your projected royalty for borrows exceeds your royalty for sales, leaving KDP Select doesn’t make much sense unless you normally don’t get many borrows compared to sales.
  • If your projected royalty is in the same ballpark as your royalty for sales, that really doesn’t change much unless you get few borrows compared to sales (or if many customers don’t read 100% of your book).
  • If your projected royalty is much less than your royalty for sales, you need a huge amount of borrows to compensate for sales that you might earn outside of Kindle.

Examples:

  • List price = 99 cents, KENPC = 50 pages. Projected royalty = 50 x $0.0058 = $0.29. Royalty for sales = $0.34. Borrows pay nearly the same as sales. I’d be inclined to keep the book in KDP Select, unless it doesn’t get borrowed much.
  • List price = $2.99, KENPC = 40 pages. Projected royalty = 40 x $0.0058 = $0.23. Royalty for sales = $2.09 (could be much less if there is a significant delivery fee). Borrows pay much less than sales. I’d be inclined to opt out of KDP Select and publish elsewhere, unless the book gets borrowed frequently but rarely sells. Or if some qualitative factor makes up for the financial differential (see below).
  • List price = $2.99, KENPC = 200 pages. Projected royalty = 200 x $0.0058 = $1.16. Royalty for sales = $2.09. First, $1.16 isn’t too different than what borrows used to earn. If the book gets borrowed about as much (or more) as it sells, the sales rank boost may make it worthwhile to stay in KDP Select.
  • List price = $3.99, KENPC = 500 pages. Projected royalty = 500 x $0.0058 = $2.90. Royalty for sales = $2.79. That’s a no-brainer. You stay in KDP Select unless (A) you hardly get any borrows compared to sales or (B) most of your customers stop reading partway through (and it will take a couple of months to really know if that’s the case—don’t expect short-term results in your report to paint the complete picture).

But there is more to this decision than just math.

SALES RANK BOOST

Every borrow through Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime helps your book’s Amazon sales rank.

That’s one of the benefits of being in KDP Select. It helps with visibility.

Another thing that helps with visibility: All those borrows help you land on customers-also-bought lists and other Amazon marketing.

You not only lose the royalty from borrows, you also lose these sales rank and exposure benefits, if you opt out of KDP Select (and access to Kindle Countdown Deals and AMS advertisements).

Look at the full picture and weigh that against the benefits of selling on Nook, Kobo, etc. when deciding whether or not to enroll in KDP Select.

REAL DATA

If you can wait until August 15, you will have access to real data:

  • Your prior months’ report will show exactly how much you earned for July via KDP Select borrows.
  • You will know how much Amazon paid for KENP read (Kindle Edition Normalized Pages read) in July, 2015.
  • You will know how many KENP read you had on average in July, 2015.
  • You will have 15 days of data for KENP read in August, 2015.
  • You will know if Amazon added anything to the $11M payout for July (seems doubtful, but who knows?).
  • You can browse Amazon and see how many books there are in your subcategory (which will only make sense if you go there right now and see what the current number is). You don’t have to guess whether books are dropping out of your subcategory: You just have to look and see. (If some do drop out, maybe that helps you gain exposure. Exactly how you should interpret any change isn’t quite so obvious.)
  • It’s possible that between now and then Amazon will make an important announcement (perhaps even tweaking the program for future months). You never know.

Before then, you really don’t know how accurate the projected $0.0058 will be.

INDIE-FRIENDLY AUDIENCE

Amazon is paying $11M in combined royalties to KDP Select books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime in July and August.

They will pay out over $100M for 2015 via KDP Select royalties for borrows.

What does this mean? It’s a huge share of the e-book market.

Kindle Unlimited subscribers are unlikely to buy books that aren’t enrolled in KDP Select when they can read their choice of a million books for free.

You’re probably going to lose access to this subscriber base if you opt out of KDP Select.

And it’s a relatively indie-friendly audience.

BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

Since KDP Select only entails a 90-day commitment, some authors enroll in KDP Select initially to take advantage of the benefits for 90 days or to test it out, intending to opt out when the enrollment period ends and publish elsewhere in addition to KDP.

If so, be sure to uncheck the automatic renewal box (and double-check this shortly before renewal) to successfully opt out. (You must also wait for the renewal date to pass before publishing your e-book edition anywhere other than Kindle.)

This strategy gives you the best of both worlds (though not simultaneously), and lets you test out KDP Select before deciding whether or not to publish elsewhere too.

You could even advertise to your audience that your book will only be in Kindle Unlimited for 90 days and after that subscribers will lose their chance to get your book for free.

Look at your numbers for the first 90 days. You might see reasons to stay in KDP Select or to opt out. The data may aid you in your decision.

POTENTIAL OUTSIDE OF KINDLE

The main reason to opt out of KDP Select is to get out of the exclusivity clause—to publish your e-book on Nook, Kobo, etc.

Many authors find that they don’t sell many e-books outside of Kindle. A few authors sell well outside of Kindle.

Note that iPad customers, for example, can read your Kindle e-book through Kindle apps, and anyone with a tablet, laptop, or PC can read your Kindle e-book with a Kindle app. That is, you don’t have to own a Kindle device to read Kindle e-books.

The real question is this: Does your unique book have potential to sell via other e-book retailers, like Nook and Kobo? Do you have specific marketing plans that may help improve your prospects of selling e-books outside of Kindle?

If you intend to opt out of KDP Select, you want answers to these questions. Visit these retailers, see what kind of e-books are selling in your genre or category. See how indie e-books are doing there. Find out how those indie authors are marketing their e-books.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, 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.

Comments

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Your WordPress Stats Are Booming: 1000 Views per Day

Blog Stats

WORDPRESS BLOG STATS ARE BOOMING

WordPress has some great messages. They are very encouraging.

My favorite is:

Your stats are booming! chrismcmullen is getting lots of traffic.

Your blog, chrismcmullen, appears to be getting more traffic than usual! 103 hourly views – 29 hourly views on average.

A spike in your stats.

It would be cool if Amazon KDP did that for self-published authors. Just imagine logging into KDP and seeing one of these messages:

  • Congratulations! You just sold your 100th book.
  • Way to go! You just received your 10th customer review.
  • That’s a new record. 1000 pages read today.

It would make self-publishing even more engaging. It would help motivate you to keep up the good work.

In an industry where negativity is difficult to avoid, it would help authors remain a little more positive.

Amazon has an opportunity here, if only they would learn from WordPress’s fine example.

I love blogging. I enjoy the positive messages that I receive from WordPress.

1000 BLOG VIEWS PER DAY

Those booming stats—100 views per hour (temporarily)—helped me reach a new milestone.

Today, for the first time, I had over 1000 views in a single day.

I’ve been averaging around 500 views per day recently. It has steadily grown and continues to steadily grow.

Blog Stats 2

My previous best had been a little under 900, and that was when I had the amazing good fortune for Amazon KDP to link to one of my posts on Twitter and Facebook. That was over 6 months ago. It’s taken half a year to equal that feat on my own.

I had been averaging around 300 views per day back then, so 900 was nearly triple the norm.

For several months prior to that, my best had been 432. Those 432 views came when WordPress selected my poem of clichés, Once Upon a Time, to be Freshly Pressed.

The great thing about my new best, exceeding 1000 views, is that this time hundreds of views didn’t come from a single source.

This marks my 7th consecutive day of at least 700 views, so it comes with some consistency, rather than one oddball day. The last two days were both very close to 900.

WHERE DOES YOUR BLOG TRAFFIC COME FROM?

Another great thing about WordPress is that you can see where your views are coming from.

Blog Stats 3

Knowledge is power, right? WordPress gives us a lot of that knowledge. I use that data to help blog more effectively.

Again, Amazon could learn something from WordPress. If Amazon KDP gave us more data regarding book traffic, conversion rates, etc. (obviously, without giving so much as to sacrifice customer privacy), we could use that information to sell more books. (I betcha Amazon would like for us to all sell more books. Whatcha think?)

The number I see here is this: 594 views came from search engines. In a typical day, 400 people discover my blog through search engines who previously didn’t know anything about me (or my books). My blog started out very slow, just like everyone else. My blog is still young, too. I meet many other WordPress bloggers whose stats are far more impressive than mine are. (And they are such good sports that they will congratulate me in the comments section when they themselves are averaging hundreds more views per day than I am. It’s an amazing community.)

Another thing I notice is that 164 views originated from Facebook, but only 1 came from Twitter. (What do all those retweets tell you?)

The person who linked to my blog from Kindle Boards: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. (While only 5 visited my blog from that link today, there were many more than that from Kindle Boards yesterday.)

Just imagine if Amazon told you that 150 of your views came from Facebook, 50 came from Twitter, and 600 came from BookBub (while you had 200 sales). We could learn so much if we didn’t sell in ignorance…

Don’t get me wrong. Amazon is amazing. I love Amazon. (Seriously, I wrote a love letter to Amazon and published it on my blog.)

Amazon has done many amazing things for authors, including indie authors.

So why not ask for a few more favors? Seems like a win-win situation…

Several views also came from my WordPress followers. Somehow I have over 6000 amazing followers.

Many of my daily views come from one very generous and courteous follower, Chris the Story Reading Ape. The Story Reading Ape is an incredible supporter of readers and authors alike. I very often get the second most referrals directly from the Story Reading Ape’s blog. Thank you very much, Chris the Story Reading Ape. 🙂

Thank you to everyone who has viewed my blog, and a double thank you to those who have ever liked, reblogged, retweeted, or otherwise shared any of my posts. I greatly appreciate it.

At WordPress, you can even see literally where you blog traffic comes from:

Blog Stats 4

WORDPRESS BLOGGING TIPS

If I can do it, so can you.

See this post for 21 blogging tips.

ONE MORE REASON I LOVE AMAZON KDP

As you may know (if you follow my blog, how can you not know it?), Amazon KDP recently changed its policy to pay KDP Select authors for Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime borrows based on the number of pages read.

This is the reason that I just had 1044 views of my blog.

The change in Kindle Unlimited policy is a new and hot topic.

I’ve been blogging about it since the change was announced.

I’ve also blogged about Kindle Unlimited and related topics several times in the past, so I already had search engine traffic under similar tags and categories.

But ultimately, content is king. Write quality content that your target audience will enjoy (and which you will enjoy writing about).

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, 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.

Comments

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Myths about the new Kindle Unlimited Pages Read Policy

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.

KINDLE UNLIMITED MYTHS

First we had the Information Age. It was quickly followed by the Misinformation Age.

Here are some common myths about the change in Kindle Unlimited policy regarding pages read.

Authors of Kindle books now earn royalties based on the number of pages read.

Read that carefully. Can you spot the mistake? There is indeed a mistake. An important one.

Yet, much of the media has made this same mistake.

What’s wrong? An important clarification.

  • Royalties for sales are completely unaffected. Authors earn their usual royalties for sales, which does not depend on how much of the book is read.
  • Only royalties for borrows through Kindle Unlimited (and Amazon Prime) are affected by the change. Therefore, this only affects authors who enroll their books in KDP Select. Only 1 million of over 3 million Kindle books are affected by this change in policy (and even then, the sales of those books are not affected at all, only borrows are).

The new Kindle Unlimited pages read model favors long books.

No it doesn’t. It favors reader engagement, regardless of how long the book is.

The new Kindle Unlimited policy doesn’t pay based on the length of the book, but on how many of the pages are actually read. Hence, it favors reader engagement.

It’s simple math. Ralph writes one 200-page book. Susan writes four 50-page books.

  • When a customer reads 100% of Ralph’s book, Ralph will earn about $1.16.
  • When a customer reads 100% of Susan’s 4 books, Susan will earn about $1.16 combined.
  • Ralph and Susan wrote the same number of pages.
  • Either way, the customer read 200 pages.

In many genres, with the new policy, Susan may actually earn more money than Ralph, not the other way around.

Why? Because customers in many genres may be more likely to:

  • take a chance on a shorter book
  • read a shorter book
  • read 100% of a shorter book
  • read the next book after reading a shorter book

But there are certainly genres and audiences who favor longer books,  so it depends.

The new Kindle Unlimited pages read policy encourages authors to pad their books.

Like what? Adding filler? Adding back matter? Adding unnecessary images? Breaking paragraphs? Using a larger font? Adding space between paragraphs? Adding more page breaks? How about putting every word on its own line?

First of all, some of these things won’t have any impact on the KENPC, the Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count. Amazon puts every book in a standard font size with standard linespacing to figure the KENPC, so writing with a larger font or adding space is foolish.

Second of all, the new program only pays for pages read. Adding pages that aren’t likely to get read is a waste of time.

Third of all, customers aren’t going to put up with nonsense. Pad your book in a way that customers don’t like and they will stop reading your book, which gives you fewer pages read, and they will post bad reviews, which gets fewer books read.

The original Kindle Unlimited policy was an invitation to abuse, hence the origin of the term ‘scamphlet.’ (I’m not referring to a quality short story as a ‘scamphlet.’ By scamphlet, I mean a short work intentionally designed to abuse the original policy.)

The new Kindle Unlimited policy is sustainable because it’s harder to abuse. And while it’s possible to think of a few ways to try to abuse the system, these would be easy to catch, and Amazon has publicly announced that a monitoring system is in place to catch potential abuse.

Paying $0.0059 per page is highway robbery.

Suppose you self-publish a 400-page novel and price it at $2.99. Your royalty will be $2.09 (maybe less because of delivery charges).

You would earn $0.0052 per page for sales. You would actually earn more per page for borrows, if the $0.0059 figure turns out to apply.

Suppose you traditionally publish a 400-page novel and the publisher prices it at $14.99. You earn a 10% royalty (or maybe it’s 8%).

You would earn $0.0037 per page for sales. The projection of $0.0059 per page for Kindle Unlimited borrows looks good in comparison.

Actually, when people project $0.0059 per page, it’s based on the KENPC (Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count). Authors are paid based on KENP Read (Kindle Edition Normalized Pages Read).

The KENPC provides a generous page count. Many books are nearly twice as long according to the KENPC as they are in print. For example, a 200-page printed novel may have a KENPC of 350 to 400 pages.

So when you factor in the KENPC and the fact that Kindle Unlimited royalties are now paid based on KENP Read, the figure of $0.0059 for KENP Read may actually translate to more than a penny per real page. It’s better than it seems.

Amazon is paying per page so that they can pay out less money.

That is patently not true right now.

The KDP Select Global Fund is set at $11M for both July and August, 2015.

That’s a record high. Amazon is paying more than ever for the first two months of the program.

Now maybe the payout will reduce in the future. Sure, that’s possible. But you can’t accuse Amazon of reducing the payout unless and until they actually do so. It hasn’t happened yet.

If you want to say that Amazon changed the program so that they can pay less, don’t make your argument while Amazon is paying more.

At least wait for it to happen first.

To be fair, all authors enrolled in KDP Select or considering signing up should be prepared for the possibility of a lower payout in the future. Preparation is wise.

The pages read model is bad for all authors.

How so?

Amazon is paying $11M for Kindle Unlimited (and Amazon Prime) borrows in July and August.

That’s the same as for June, slightly more than May, and significantly more than previous months.

What the change in policy does is redistribute the way that $11M is allocated to authors.

It isn’t changing the total payout. (At least not at this time. If it reduces in the future, then at that point in time you might have a case. But it hasn’t happened yet. Again, prepare for the possibility, but don’t make accusations until you have data to support them.)

About 50% of the books enrolled in KDP Select will benefit from the change in policy (some slightly, some substantially), while about 50% will earn lower royalties than before.

It’s certainly not bad for all authors.

Amazon is only committing $3 million to the KDP Select Global Fund.

Amazon committed $11M to the KDP Select Global Fund for July and August.

If you want to make this statement, make it about the old program, or make a prediction that it will happen again in the future, but don’t make it about the current program when the current data says otherwise.

The pages read model may be more sustainable as there is an upper limit to how many pages customers can read, whereas there was significant risk with the original program of customers blitzing through dozens of short books.

Therefore, it’s conceivable that the initial monthly commitment will go way up from the $3M of the past.

Sure, it could drop back down to $3M. But again, why not wait until it actually happens (if it does) before claiming that’s the way it is? Or at least phrase it as a prediction rather than a statement.

Books are dropping out of KDP Select like flies.

This hasn’t happened yet.

Look, you don’t have to guess about it. Just visit Amazon and check the enrollment numbers yourself and track them over time.

I’ve tracked this data, and I’ve seen very little movement overall.

The children’s category actually increased by 700 books since July 1, which surprised me. (Though a few of the subcategories have dropped a little, while others have increased. Still, I don’t see anything major yet.)

Romance dropped a little, one category in particular, but a little drop in any category isn’t a call for alarm. Authors like to write romance and the number will likely grow again once things settle down.

Maybe more books will drop out once authors have more data. It’s possible.

But there is no sign of a mas exodus from Kindle Unlimited at this point. The numbers are fairly stable.

At least wait for the data to support a significant dropout rate before claiming that there is one.

Enrolling in KDP Select ties you to one company.

It’s just a 90-day period. You’re not stuck with it forever. You aren’t marrying Amazon. (If only. Amazon, I do, I do, I do. Why won’t you propose?)

If something comes up and you want out, at worst you have to wait 90 days to get out. (Probably less unless you have really bad luck.)

And two times, Amazon has offered authors the chance to opt out without waiting. When Amazon has introduced major changes to KDP Select, Amazon has provided authors the chance to opt out immediately by email.

What if the worst happens and Amazon goes under? Well then that agreement will be meaningless and you can instantly publish elsewhere. You won’t be losing anything because you had a 90-day contract with Amazon.

It’s not like when you traditionally publish. Then, depending on the terms, you might be tied to one company for years, and might find it difficult to get the rights reverted to you later, and might find it difficult to retrieve the actual published files.

Amazon makes opting out easy. 90 days is nothing compared to what opting out usually entails in the publishing industry.

The Amazon apocalypse has finally come.

Okay, maybe this myth is true.

Run for the hills, everybody!

Maybe Jeff Bezos has made a billion clones of himself and they all turned into zombies.

The zombies are trained to only eat the flesh of people who aren’t enrolled in Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime.

At least, write a book about this. You might become a bestselling author…

(Though you might want to seek the advice of an attorney before you publish a book about Jeff Bezos or Amazon.)

Look, the bottom line is that the new Kindle Unlimited policy encourages authors to write engaging books and rewards reader engagement. Gosh, that’s such a bad thing, isn’t it?

Some truth about Kindle Unlimited.

I’m not saying that the new Kindle Unlimited policy is the best thing since the invention of the wheel.

What I am saying is that a lot of information out there just isn’t true.

To help present a fairer picture, here are some things that aren’t myths:

  • Authors of shorter books stand to earn much less for Kindle Unlimited borrows than what they have earned in the past. The cutoff is about 230 pages of KENPC. (But that’s only when you compare the past to the present. When you forget the past, the present doesn’t favor longer books. It favors reader engagement.)
  • You must agree to make the e-book edition exclusive to Amazon if you enroll in KDP Select. You must weigh the possible benefits of enrolling in KDP Select against the possible benefits of publishing with Nook, Kobo, etc. Authors can’t have it both ways (at least not at the same time: you can enjoy the benefits of Select for 90 days, opt out after 90 days, and then publish elsewhere).
  • Illustrated children’s books, photography books, and other picture-heavy books are impacted by the change. The images do count toward the page count, but the KENPC isn’t as generous with fixed layout books. For an author who invested heavily (time or money) on illustrations and can sell a short picture book for $2.99 or higher, earning around 20 to 40 cents for a borrow doesn’t make much sense compared to earning $2 or more for a sale. Perhaps Amazon will find a way to address this in the future, but illustrated authors are concerned about the change.
  • Some nonfiction books may be impacted by the change. Customers sometimes read just one or two chapters of a nonfiction book. I’m not saying Amazon has to address this. (I’m a nonfiction author, and I’m content.) But it’s something for nonfiction authors to consider.
  • Amazon sales rank favors books in Kindle Unlimited. It doesn’t necessarily give KDP Select books a direct boost, but every Kindle Unlimited borrow helps sales rank, so books not enrolled in KDP Select miss out on this potential sales rank boost, which also helps provide exposure on Amazon (for example, those borrows can help get onto customers-also-bought lists).

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, 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’s AMS Advertising now offers Subcategories… Finally

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.

ADVERTISING IMPROVEMENT WITH AMS AT KDP

Kindle books enrolled in KDP Select can be advertised on Amazon via AMS through KDP.

There have always been two targeting choices:

  • product targeting. Select specific products to target.
  • interest targeting. Select a category to target.

Until now, the category choices for interest targeting were very broad.

But now, after you select a category, you can select a subcategory.

Some of the subcategories are still themselves quite broad.

  • For example, for a math or science book, I must choose the category called Other.
  • Then the appropriate subcategory is Math and Science. But that includes very many different subjects.
  • It would be better if the subcategories were further divided. For example, I might choose astronomy, if available.

However, it is an improvement. Interest targeting is better now. It’s a nice step in the right direction.

If you want more precise targeting, the obvious solution is to choose product targeting instead.

KINDLE ADVERTISING TIPS

  • I used to recommend product targeting. I still favor that, but I just tested out the refined interest targeting so that I can compare. It has some merit.
  • Set the end date as far in advance as possible. It lets you go about six months ahead.
  • Choose to display your ad as quickly as possible. Generally, it’s not easy to make impressions unless you overbid. This option helps if you bid reasonably.
  • Make a catchy headline that’s likely to help create interest in your book, and which is quite relevant for your content.
  • Bid low to begin with. It’s okay to underbid.
  • Wait 3 days before raising your bid. Sometimes reporting is significantly delayed. See how it’s going before you ‘fix’ it.
  • Try expanding your targeting before raising your bid to see if that helps make more impressions.
  • If you do raise your bid, just raise it a little. And wait 3 more days before raising it again.
  • You’re not obligated to invest the whole $100. You can pause or terminate your ad at any time.

With my strategy, I have several affordable bids. Sometimes, I’m able to generate 100,000 to 400,000 impressions in one month with less than $10 spent. I have multiple ads where I spent about $12 to generate $24 in sales (at 70% royalty).

I observe some nice indirect effects on similar books and on my print books. (I tend to sell more print books to begin with, so that makes sense for my books.)

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, 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.

Comments

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New Opportunities with Kindle Unlimited?

Images from ShutterStock.

Images from ShutterStock.

KINDLE UNLIMITED OPPORTUNITIES

Now that Kindle Unlimited pays a royalty based on the number of pages read instead of the number of books borrowed and read to 10%:

  • Some KDP Select authors of longer books who see customers reading 100% of their books are jumping up and down with joy.
  • Some KDP Select authors of shorter books who are accustomed to seeing $1.35 per borrow are complaining of their frustrations.
  • (There are more than just two camps, of course.)

Complaining and feeling frustrated isn’t a strategy for publishing success. (Turning that frustration into motivation to unite others who feel the same toward positive action, that’s different.)

What seems disappointing and frustrating to some may serve as an opportunity for others.

Suppose that you had a series of 30-page stories, where the Kindle Edition Normalize Page Count (KENPC) is 50 pages. (This is just an example.)

In this case, based on the projected $0.0058 per page, these stories would earn 29 cents per borrow if read to 100%.

Naturally, you would look at the prospective 29-cent royalty for prospective borrows and complain that you were losing 80% of your royalties. But remember, that complaint isn’t a strategy toward publishing success.

(You wouldn’t? Really? You might be right. I’ve heard several authors step up and say something like, “I stand to lose 50% with the new Kindle Unlimited policy, but I agree that it’s more equitable.”

If you said something like that, stand up and take a bow. You’re my hero! You deserve a round of applause. Applaud, everyone. The world needs more positive attitudes in the face of adversity. And fewer people who want to take advantage of that positive outlook, or who want to try to change that positive outlook.)

I hear authors complaining—now think about this—of only seeing 1000, 5000, 10,000, or 20,000 pages read in their reports. Per day.

I really don’t mean this in a condescending way, like, “Oh, poor dears.” I just want to look at this same statement from two different perspectives.

On the one hand, an author might have 10,000 pages read per day, but the author is still earning 50 cents or less per book. This author is complaining because he or she is used to earning $1.35 per book, and 50 cents or less is a huge change, especially when 100+ customers are reading your books every day.

I agree, it’s a sudden change, it’s a big loss, you deserve to feel frustrated.

(Maybe one could have seen this coming. Maybe they shouldn’t have been making $1.35 for short works all along. Let’s not open that can of worms, too. It is what it is. You can’t change what it is or how it happened.)

But there is another perspective. Imagine that you (A) are just entering the publishing scene or (B) you have some publishing experience and have been thinking about writing shorter works.

  • You see people talking about 10,000 pages per day as if it were a bad thing.
  • You get out your calculator and realize that comes to $60 per day, or nearly $2000 per month. (Because when you’re wishful, you round up.)
  • You remember hearing that most authors never sell 100 books.
  • You start to think that 10,00 pages per day with 29-cent royalties per book don’t sound so bad.
  • You hear this author talk about leaving Kindle Unlimited.
  • You hear other authors in the same genre talk about leaving Kindle Unlimited.

So what do you do? You start to view this as an opportunity. $60 per day sounds pretty enticing to you.

(Note that I’m speaking of short books with text. Illustrated short books are a separate issue.)

The new Kindle Unlimited policy favors reader engagement. It doesn’t favor longer books.

It pays per page read.

Whether you write 200,000 pages in one book, 5 books, or 10 books, you’ve still written the same number of pages, and you still earn the same amount if customers read 100% of what you wrote.

What matters are:

  • Getting more customers to try your book. Some shorter books have an advantage here.
  • Getting more customers to read 100% of your book. Some shorter books have an advantage here, too.
  • Getting more customers to read your other books.

Authors who are used to getting $1.35 per borrow feel that the new Kindle Unlimited policy disfavors short books.

But if you’re thinking, “What should I write now?”  Well, Kindle Unlimited may actually favor shorter books in many genres by favoring reader engagement.

Basing what you should write solely on how Kindle Unlimited has changed my not be wise.

Kindle Unlimited may very well change again.

You should consider the whole market, and how it might change, when you come up with your writing and publishing strategy.

You should also consider such things as:

  • What genres are you familiar with?
  • What kind of writing are you a good fit for?
  • How long of a story can you tell well?

Writing short romance novels, erotica, etc. isn’t easy.

Just because you see a few authors leaving (or saying that they will, or might, leave), doesn’t mean it will be easy to jump over and fill those holes.

If they were getting 10,000 pages read per day and walk away from KDP Select, just because you jump in with similar works doesn’t mean you’ll get any pages read.

Publishing is a tough market to crack. First, you have to read and understand the genre and what the audience expects. You need to be able to tell the story well. You need to be able to tell a shorter story well if you’re aiming for shorter books, and that’s not easy.

You need to write several books to have a chance of breaking through, and there are no guarantees, even when you feel that you’ve done everything right.

And, as always, you need to market your books.

And you need to be passionate about what you’re writing.

It won’t be easy. It wasn’t easy for the authors who have been successful with those kinds of books. But they learned the genre, and others can, too.

While it won’t be easy, there is potential.

A lower royalty with the new Kindle Unlimited doesn’t mean that opting out of KDP Select is the best decision.

It’s easy to walk away out of anger or frustration, or to try to make a statement (more of a whisper if only a few walk away, but an exclamation mark if a huge percentage do—in most categories, I haven’t observed much movement).

But if your main goal is to earn the most royalties (or to reach the most readers), walking away isn’t necessarily the best choice.

You have to weigh the benefits of staying against the benefits of leaving.

Here are some of the benefits of remaining KDP Select:

  • Sales rank. Every Kindle Unlimited borrow helps sales rank. If you take away a large number of borrows, that will hurt your sales rank, which in turn may limit your exposure on Amazon.
  • Borrows. Even though the new Kindle Unlimited royalty may be less than authors of shorter books are used to, it’s still a royalty. You lose the borrows when you opt out of KDP Select.
  • Indie-friendly audience. Amazon is paying $11,000,000 per month presently (over $100 million per year) for Kindle Unlimited borrows. That’s a huge market, and it’s a fairly indie-friendly audience. Kindle Unlimited customers are unlikely to buy books outside of the program when they can borrow for free.
  • Countdown Deals (and freebies). Some authors don’t use these tools effectively. In that case, they don’t matter much. But for those who have used them effectively through external promotions, these are tools that you lose when you walk away.

There are also benefits of leaving KDP Select:

  • New markets. You can potentially reach customers at Nook, Kobo, and other e-book retailers. These are not necessarily easy markets to crack, and they may not be as indie-friendly.
  • Less competition. At other e-book retailers, there is less competition, since 1,000,000 e-books are exclusive to Kindle. However, through a potentially lower Amazon sales rank as a result of giving up exclusivity, you might have to exchange lower visibility on the #1 e-book retailer to gain visibility elsewhere.
  • Wider exposure. You spread your brand wider by selling at multiple platforms.

Which set of benefits outweighs the other? That’s a tough question, and it varies from one book to another.

The problem with testing it out is that your Amazon sales rank is apt to slide considerably while you’re testing the waters elsewhere.

Another factor is marketing. Do you have ideas or strategies for marketing at other e-book retailers?

It’s not bad for everyone!

On average, about half the books will earn more money for borrows through Kindle Unlimited.

Shorter books will earn lower per-book royalties.

However, many shorter books have an edge when it comes to reader engagement.

Many authors are benefiting from the new Kindle Unlimited policy.

It is the way it is. How do you make the most of it?

Whether you have a short book or long book…

Whether you are experienced, starting out, or switching genres…

Regardless of your genre or category…

You should be asking how to make the most of it, how to find a proactive solution, how to find a strategy for success.

That’s the way forward.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, 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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