Too Many Clicks: Driving traffic to your book’s detail page

Too Many Clicks

If you’re selling a book, you want to drive traffic to your book’s detail page. Ideally, you want traffic to get there in a single click.

Any extra stops along the way are a sales deterrent, even if they are relevant to your book.

Example:

  • Authors are tempted to drive traffic to their author pages at Author Central.
  • It’s better to drive traffic straight to your book’s detail page.

Why?

Fact: Amazon sees much more activity on a product’s detail page when traffic is driven directly to the detail page.

How do I know?

I learned this firsthand from Amazon’s marketing department. We were discussing advertisements and whether they should link directly to a book’s detail page, an author page, or some other page that highlights the series or imprint.

The author page is a valuable tool:

  • It helps to lend you credibility.
  • The author photo helps with your branding.
  • Readers can find all your books in one place.

However, you don’t want it to be the first stop for a new customer.

Why not? Because you don’t want to risk your author page being the only stop.

What you really want is for customers to make it to your book’s detail page. So send them straight there. Then they are less likely to get lost on the way.

Customers like convenience. A single click is convenient.

What’s one more click?

  • More time. Who has that?
  • More hassle. Who wants that?
  • More risk of internet issues. Everyone has that.
  • More distractions for the customer. Ooh, what a pretty flower!

This all sounds reasonable, yet that author page stills tempts you.

  • You don’t know which book the customer wants, so you want the customer to see all your books.
  • You don’t want to sell just one book. You want to make it easy for customers to find all your books.

Those are all good reasons, but the fact that you will lose customers along the way should make this decision very simple.

Your book’s detail page is a better sales tool:

  • An effective blurb will engage customers better than your biography.
  • Your blurb is more informative than a list of thumbnails.
  • Customer reviews receive consideration from shoppers.
  • You have to click to Look Inside. That’s too many clicks.

One click to your author page. Two clicks to your detail page. Three clicks to Look Inside.

Three clicks and you’re out!

Still stuck on that author page. It’s not doing anything that your detail page is doing.

  • The customer still sees your author photo and biography on your detail page.
  • Your other books will show up in the Customers Also Bought list on your detail page.

Think about the customer’s path to your book:

  • Make it easy for the customer with a direct link to your product page. One easy click.
  • Pick the most relevant book. Direct new readers to your most reviewed, bestselling book relevant for them, or to the first book of a relevant series. Direct fans to your latest book.
  • Include a link to your book at the bottom of your page. If the potential customer reaches the bottom of the page, don’t make the customer scroll back up to find the link. If it’s handy to link to your book higher up on the page, it’s okay to do it a second time at the end to provide this added convenience.
  • Are there too many links to choose from? You want the link to your book’s page to be easy to find.
  • Does the customer have to click on an image? If so, is this clear? Not everyone will think to do this.

It’s not just your book, but any website you’re driving traffic to. Ask yourself if there are too many clicks? Nothing beats one easy click.

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

Psst. You can get there with one easy click. 🙂

Connect with me through social media: Facebook page, Twitter

Check out Read Tuesday (a Black Friday event just for books): website, Facebook page, Twitter

Updating a Book at CreateSpace or Kindle Direct Publishing

Update

Today I will share my experience of updating books at Amazon. I recently updated Volume 1 of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers at CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). The paperback now includes a comprehensive 18-page index, and both the paperback and eBook include minor updates (such as mention of recent changes at CreateSpace, Amazon, and Kindle and correcting a few minor typos).

If you need to revise your interior or cover file at CreateSpace, first study your sales rank history (you want to know the time of the sales, not the time that the royalties report) to help choose the time where you’re least likely to sell books. Your book will be unavailable for sale while the new file is being reviewed, so you don’t want it to interfere with sales (unless your revision is more urgent, then you just have to do it immediately).

It takes approximately 12 hours for your files to be reviewed. The biggest concern is how Murphy’s law will get you:

  • One way is for CreateSpace to make changes to your cover, even when you didn’t change the cover file and it had been perfect. The best thing to do is resubmit your files for review and hope the next reviewer doesn’t make changes to your cover. This is another 12 hours. But if you call, they put in a request to research the problem, and this can take a couple of days (and may not even resolve the problem). There is, unfortunately, a worst-case scenario where your book is offline for several days. You just have to cross your fingers and hope it doesn’t happen to you. Let me add that this rarely happens, so most likely it won’t be an issue. I didn’t mean to scare you. Just prepare for the worst, then if something does happen, you won’t be surprised by it.
  • Another way is for you to make a minor revision, which winds up causing major changes to the layout of your book. You see, revising a phrase on page 3 could cause a crazy page break on page 8. Take the time to scroll page by page through your book in the Digital Proofer to ensure that there aren’t any crazy layout problems and you might be able to avoid this problem.
  • Then there is conservation of typos, whereby you introduce a new typo in the process of correcting others.
  • Finally, there is the Doh! moment when you click Approve Proof and suddenly remember something else that you should have done.

Very often, your book is again available for sale in 12 to 24 hours after uploading the revised file.

A crazy thing is that you can actually order the paperback directly from Amazon after the revision and receive the older version. This evidently happens when they already have your older version stocked in their warehouse (e.g. if there was a returned copy to resell or if they had ordered some in advance to stock up).

What I like about KDP is that your previous edition remains available for sale while your new eBook is in the process of publishing. This way you don’t miss out on any sales in the meantime.

I put a note on the copyright page indicating when the eBook was last updated. This way, when I viewed the Look Inside at Amazon, I knew I was looking at the updated version.

I like the way the Look Inside turned out. The Look Inside when viewing on a PC is the greatest formatting challenge. I went into the HTML in my effort to perfect this. The indents look large on the PC, but that’s because I set them to a percentage instead of a value in inches. That way, the indents will look fairly reasonable from a cell phone to an iPad.

Another thing to consider is updating the description. I updated the paperback description from CreateSpace, using the basic HTML that’s allowed to create linebreaks, boldface, italics, and bullets. I used Author Central to do this for the eBook. The paperback description begins with a note about the new index that has been added.

The paperback was ranked around 14,000 on Amazon, but has now dropped down to 45,000. It’s amazing what a 16-hour window of no availability can do to sales rank. On the other hand, the eBook edition jumped up to 40,000 from the 100,000’s. I guess when the paperback wasn’t available, people decided to go with the eBook (ordinarily, I sell many paperbacks for each eBook that sells).

For those who may have purchased the original paperback without the index, there is a free index available in PDF format online: https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/index-for-a-detailed-guide/

Now I need to work on an index for Volume 2.

Volume 1 eBook: http://amzn.com/B00AA5CJ7C

Volume 1 paperback: http://amzn.com/1480250201

Volume 2 eBook: http://amzn.com/B00CSDUP66

Volume 2 paperback: http://amzn.com/1484037243

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing), Facebook page, Twitter

Check out Read Tuesday (a Black Friday event just for books): website, Facebook page, Twitter

Promote Your Kindle Countdown Deal or Select Free Promo (or Other Book Sale)

On Sale

The writer who carves a masterpiece out of words and publishes the book faces a new challenge:

  • how to help the target audience discover the book

As there are millions of books to choose from, this is no easy task.

One way to try to help stimulate sales is to put the book on a temporary sale, e.g. through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

  • Amazon has a new Countdown Deal available for books enrolled in KDP Select. This allows for a temporary reduction in price and shows customers how much they are saving and when the sale ends.
  • The older KDP Select free promo option is another alternative. (Note that you can’t mix and match Countdown Deals and free promos for the same book in a given 90-day enrollment period.)
  • Books that aren’t enrolled in KDP Select can still have a temporary price reduction by simply republishing at the new list price.

Everyone likes a sale. It’s great to save money.

But there’s a catch: The sale won’t attract buyers if customers don’t know about the sale.

You still have the problem of discovery. Just putting your book on sale through a Kindle Countdown Deal, KDP Select free promo, or other temporary price reduction isn’t enough:

  • A temporary sale, all by itself, probably won’t help much with getting your book discovered.

Nevertheless, a temporary price reduction can be effective if you succeed in spreading news about the sale:

  • Instead of just promoting your book, promoting that your book is temporarily on sale may generate more interest. That is, it can help make your marketing more effective.
  • Any promotions that you do to spread the news about your sale may be amplified by people in your target audience who become interested in your book.
  • If people develop interest in your book, the looming deadline may help to generate sales.
  • Sales that you may generate as a result of placing your book on sale can help improve your book’s visibility through sales rank, customers-also-bought associations, and customer reviews.

(Note that KDP Select free promos generate a free rank instead of a paid rank, but any subsequent sales once the free promo ends will help boost the paid rank.)

It all comes down to getting your book’s sale discovered by your target audience.

The usual marketing strategies—blogging, Twitter, Facebook, press release, building buzz, interacting with your target audience, readings, guest blogs, etc.—can help with discoverability. Instead of just promoting your book, you’ll be promoting the temporary sale of your book, which may help to generate more interest than your usual marketing.

Also, if you’ve been branding an image, prospective buyers who may have been considering your book might be sold when they see that your book is now on sale.

However, you probably want to use this golden opportunity to try and go beyond your usual marketing reach. For example, you might want to consider if a low-cost advertisement may be cost-effective.

Don’t focus solely on projections for how many people may view your advertisement. It’s also important to consider:

  • What fraction of the people who view your advertisement are in your specific target audience? They are more likely to make the purchase, appreciate your book, and leave a review.
  • How marketable is your book? Will the cover and blurb make the genre clear and appeal to your specific target audience?

If you have a highly marketable book in terms of both packaging and content—i.e. it will both attract and please a significant target audience—then it may be worth advertising at a site that can show your advertisement to your specific target audience.

One popular site is BookBub, but there are other options, like Ereader News Today, Kindle Books & Tips, Book Gorilla, Book Blast, and Pixel of Ink. You want to learn about stats to help you with your decision. For example, the BookBub pricing page provides data for subscribers by genre, average downloads, and average sales. There are also sites to help you promote seasonal events. For example, check out Read Tuesday, designed to help stimulate holiday sales.

With a Kindle Countdown Deal or temporary price reduction, you earn royalties during the sale. Your hope is that these immediate sales and a possible increase in sales following the sale will recover your investment and then some, but as with any investment, there is always a risk.

In contrast, a KDP Select free promo doesn’t yield any royalties during the sale. Here, the hope is that if you succeed in creating interest for your book during the promo, then enough people will read the book (only a percentage who download it for free will eventually read it, and some will be from outside your target audience) and recommend it to others. That’s a big IF, and it doesn’t always work out that way. A successful free promo can lead to a significant improvement in sales, but not necessarily (it was more common in the early days of KDP Select, but still happens now; a highly marketable book and an effective promotion improve your chances).

A nice feature of the new Kindle Countdown deal is that any sales made during your promotion improve your paid sales rank, whereas your sales rank slides during a KDP Select free promo.

Publishing Resources

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles on publishing and marketing by clicking one of the following links:

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.

 

CreateSpace Expanded Distribution is FREE now

Free

When I opened my Member Dashboard at CreateSpace today, I saw a note in yellow at the top of the page telling me that the Expanded Distribution channel is now free.

I called CreateSpace to speak with a representative, who confirmed that it is now free.

So if you had been thinking about trying it out, but didn’t want to invest $25, now you can test it out for free. The advantages and disadvantages remain the same. What’s changed is that you don’t have to invest in this distribution channel.

If you recently added the expanded distribution, you might be a little bummed. I inquired about this.

Any expanded distribution purchases made since September 24, 2013 (if I was informed correctly) will be automatically refunded.

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)

When Amazon Buys Heaven

Heaven Pic

 

There you stand before the Pearly Gates,

Waiting in line, realizing where you are,

Trying to figure out how you got there.

 

When your turn comes, you’re amazed:

No St. Peter, not even a clerk to greet you;

Nothing but a touch-screen monitor.

 

You must search through millions of obituaries,

Looking for yours on Amazon’s new obit site.

After hours of searching, you finally find yourself.

 

Your obit page has a head shot of you,

A blurb about your life, even product info,

Like gender, height, eye color, and age.

 

A yellow button catches your eye: Apply now.

You click it. It takes you to a form to complete.

Apply to Heaven. Estimated delivery time: two weeks.

 

The fine print tells you it’s based on customer reviews.

Friend and family reviews don’t count.

You can’t beg for reviews; they must be volunteered.

 

In the meantime, you’re encouraged to leave reviews.

Will you stick it to people who rubbed you the wrong way?

What will be your basis for judgment?

 

So you browse through the obits looking for others.

You note glowing five-star reviews of obvious sinners,

And one-star complaints against peace activists and volunteers.

 

Celebrities have thousands of reviews, more good than bad.

Some of your acquaintances have no reviews at all.

You do them a favor, and hope someone reviews you.

 

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)

Testing out Amazon’s new Kindle Countdown Deal

Cover Pages

I’m trying out Amazon’s new Kindle Countdown Deal for a couple of my lesser-known books. I’ll save the great deals for Read Tuesday. 🙂

The ‘proper’ way to do this would be to plan it much further in advance, build buzz for your promotion, promote it actively the day of (and maybe the day before, too), and recruit help promoting your discount (this is why you need to plan far in advance) from bloggers, websites, and any of your contacts willing to help you spread the word among your target audience. You might even consider investing in an advertisement that would get you plenty of exposure among your target audience.

However, the tool is also new, so although the books that are taking advantage of the countdown deal already haven’t had time to plan for the promotion, they may be getting a lot of initial traffic from the many people who are checking it out. Once this effect wears off, you’ll definitely need to plan ahead and promote effectively to get the most out of this.

I chose a couple of my lesser-known books that don’t tend to sell well for my experiment. Partly, I wanted to save my more popular books to help, in a tiny way, entice a little Read Tuesday traffic. Also, sometimes an experiment on a book that ordinarily doesn’t sell well on its own can provide a revealing marketing outcome.

One of the two books I chooe had been in free promos in years past, so I’ll be able to compare those results to the results of the Countdown.

Who else is testing out this Countdown Deal in the near future? (Not everyone is eligible. First, you need to be enrolled in KDP Select. If you’re just joining or rejoining KDP Select, you must wait 30 days. Even if you’re already in KDP Select, if you changed your list price in the last 30 days, you must wait, too. If your enrollment is expiring or renewing soon, that may also affect when you’ll next be eligible. Your list price must be between $2.99 and $24.99 in the US, for example, in order to be eligible.)

If you’re testing it out this week, I’d like to hear about it. Maybe I can find an excuse to mention it in a relevant post. And the combination of my data with your experience might be relevant for a future post. So if you’d like me to possibly discuss your promotion and your experience with it, please let me know.

The two books I’m trying out are:

(1) Formatting Pages for Publishing on Amazon with CreateSpace, Chris McMullen, B00BGPK70G, February, 2013. This book is geared specifically toward using Microsoft Word 2010 to format a paperback book for publishing with CreateSpace. It’s a short, concise book (104 pages in print, but the paperback version is 5″ x 8″ and divided into several chapters and includes figures, so the written content is much less). One reason that it doesn’t sell well is that my Detailed Guide is a better value, being much more detailed. Also, I don’t market the Formatting Pages book. I’m curious to see if the Countdown tool has any impact on a book that ordinarily doesn’t sell much.

(2) Far Out Multiplication Flash Cards 1-12 (Decorated with Solar System Photos), Chris McMullen and Carolyn Kivett, January, 2012. This flash card set is a book, not a game. The first half of the book consists of 1 x 1 thru 12 x 12 in order with the answer immediately following the question. The first half is designed for kids to practice and memorize. The second half has the cards shuffled, still with the answer following the question. Here, kids test their memory by checking the answer on the next page. The cards are visually decorated with solar system photos. There are two reasons that this book doesn’t sell much. First, I have another multiplication flash card book that has 11 reviews, while this one has none, so naturally people tend to buy the one that has all the reviews. Second, this book used to be more expensive than my other multiplication book, so the other multiplication book has a history of more sales (the other book is also part of a complete set). They are now the same regular price, so this book is actually the better value because it goes up to 12 x 12 instead of 10 x 10.

In the past, this flashcard book always did well with the free promo (over a thousand books in the good old days when KDP Select was new, and hundreds in later months), so I have something to compare it with. The free promo generally resulted in a boost of sales afterward. So I’ll be able to compare the overall effect on royalties, too.

Both of these books are presently $2.99 in the US and will be 99 cents during the Countdown promotion. The Countdown will be all day on Tuesday, November 5, Pacific Daylight Time (PDT).

In the UK, the price will be 0.99 pounds (I actually had to raise the price of one book slightly to make it eligible).

Both books have pictures, so the delivery fee is 50 to 60 cents on each book. This is important because my royalty during the promotion would actually be higher at 35% than at 70%. KDP doesn’t show you what your royalty would be during the promotion. So it’s worth checking your delivery fee and doing the math first. You’d hate to learn later that you were making one penny per sale!

So I first changed the royalty rate to 35% and republished. You can add the Countdown Deal while it’s republishing (check the box and select the Actions button on your Bookshelf). Note that you must change your royalty option at least 24 hours before your promotion begins.

Here is what you should do:

  • First try to create a Countdown Deal to see what dates you’re allowed to choose. This way you won’t waste your time for a promotion that you’re not allowed to schedule.
  • Next, check your delivery fee.
  • Now calculate your royalty at the promotional price. Subtract the delivery fee and then multiply by 0.7, like ($0.99 – $0.60) x 0.7 = $0.27. (If you don’t normally earn 70%, skip this step and the next step.)
  • Compare this with what you would make at 35%. If 35% gives you a higher royalty, you must change your royalty rate at least 24 hours prior to the start of your promotion.
  • Finally, schedule your promotion. Be sure to choose the start and end times in addition to the dates. See how many hours your promotion will last before you confirm. It would be very easy to accidentally make your promotion last just one hour without even realizing it!

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)

Planet Flash Cards Multiplication Cover Thumbnail

Kindle Countdown Deals—Better than the Original KDP Select?

Countdown

Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) sent out an email announcement today about the new Kindle Countdown Deals—a new promotional tool for KDP Select users.

This looks very promising. It will entice some authors who’ve left to switch back to KDP Select; and any who have been contemplating leaving KDP Select may be swayed to stay.

The drawbacks to the KDP free promo are well-known:

  • You don’t earn any royalties for your promotion.
  • The freebies affect your free rank, but not your paid rank. So your sales rank goes up while your book is free.
  • Changes in Amazon Associates’ policies have greatly discouraged sites from promoting the freebies.
  • People who loathe the KDP Select freebies can take out their frustrations by leaving one-star reviews, and they don’t even have to buy or read the book to do this and get it to show as an Amazon Verified Purchase.
  • Many customers from outside your target audience are attracted to the free price; since they aren’t familiar with your genre, they’re less likely to leave a favorable review.
  • When the book is free, many shoppers won’t bother to read the description and check out the free sample, so they are more likely to be disappointed with your book.
  • An abundance of freebies and 99-cent books makes it difficult to create the perception of value.

The new Kindle Countdown Deals solves these problems:

  • Your book won’t be free—but it will be at least $1.00 less than the list price. So you don’t have to worry about not earning royalties during your promotion.
  • You can even earn 70% if your sale price is lower than $2.99, but you do have to contend with the usual delivery fee. Your book must have the 70% option to begin with, of course, for this to apply.
  • Websites can promote your discounted book through Amazon Associates without having to worry about the penalty for linking to freebies.
  • You will have paid sales during the promotion, so this should affect your sales rank, unlike free promotions.
  • If anyone wants to slam your book, at least they’ll have to pay for it if they want it to show as an Amazon Verified Purchase.
  • Shoppers are more likely to read your description and check out the Look Inside, so they are less likely to be frustrated with a book that’s really not for them (provided that your packaging is clear).
  • Customers are more likely to be in your target audience since they actually have to pay for your book.
  • There won’t be as many free books because many authors who ordinarily use the free promotion tool will be using the countdown tool instead (you must choose one or the other for any 90-day period). Similarly, many of the books that are always 99 cents will now be $2.99 or higher for 83 out of every 90 days. Amazon has given everyone an incentive to choose a higher list price.

Here are some more notes about the new countdown tool:

  • You can use the tool for up to 7 out of every 90 days, with as many as 5 price increments.
  • You can only schedule one Countdown Deal per 90-day enrollment period. (You can schedule one in the US and another in the UK). Unlike the free promo, you can’t run two or more separate sales. The only way to use all 7 days is to use them all at once. See https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/kindle-countdown-deal-limit-one-per-90-days/
  • The regular list price must be between $2.99 to $24.99 (or 1.99 to 14.99 pounds).
  • The promotion can be as short as one hour or as long as one week.
  • You must wait 30 days after joining KDP Select and since you last changed your regular list price.
  • It looks like you can schedule the promotion without having to republish (like you do for ordinary price changes).

Some people are infamous for complaining about too many free and 99-cent books. Some of these people are already talking about how the new countdown program will drive even more books to the bottom. But that’s crazy!

The new countdown program encourages the books at the bottom price point to move up!

The minimum regular list price must be $2.99 in order to be eligible. The books that participate in the countdown won’t be free. The books that are 99 cents through the countdown program will only be 99 cents for 7 out of every 90 days. Right now they are 99 cents for 90 out of 90 days.

Many authors are already doing special short-term promotions. Now there is a tool for this, they can earn 70% instead of 35% royalties during their promotions, and all customers will see the discount at Amazon, even if they hadn’t heard about the author’s promotion.

If you have several pictures and your book is on the 70% option, the delivery fee may be significant. What you want to determine is whether your royalty would be greater at 70% or 35% for the discounted price (because of the delivery fee, if the file size is large, it may actually be greater at 35%). Note that you can’t change the royalty plan during the promotion or for fewer than 24 hours prior to the promotion. So you must change this, if needed, 24 hours before the promotion (and then change it back afterward, if desired). This would be the case if you normally earn a greater royalty at 70%, but would earn a better royalty at 35% during the promotion. If you have several pictures, you should check into this.

You still need to promote your sale if you want the promotional tool to be effective. Just dropping the price won’t have nearly the impact as effectively marketing the promotion.

This also looks like a great tool for Read Tuesday—a Black Friday type of event just for books.

Click the following link to learn more about the new countdown tool:

https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=201298260&ref_=pe_445910_34749920

Publishing Resources

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles on publishing and marketing by clicking one of the following links:

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

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

Kindle MatchBook has Launched at Amazon (Updated)

Just Launched

Update: It looks like Amazon has updated Kindle MatchBook to display an advertisement about Kindle MatchBook on the top of the page for print books, where there is a corresponding Kindle edition enrolled in the MatchBook program.

Today Amazon launched the new Kindle MatchBook program. There is an advertisement for it on Amazon’s homepage, presently, and a very brief email was sent out to authors who had already signed up for it.

The idea behind the MatchBook program is to allow customers who purchase a print edition of the book to receive a significant discount off the Kindle edition of the same book (it may even be free).

MatchBook only applies to books where the same edition is available both in Kindle and in print (i.e. paperback or hardcover).

Not all books are in the MatchBook program. The publisher (or author, if self-published) must manually enroll the book in the program. Some publishers may opt not to do this. The discount is also at the publisher’s discretion, provided that it is a minimum of 50% off the Kindle edition’s list price (and must be free, 99 cents, $1.99, or $2.99).

You can learn more about the new Kindle MatchBook program by clicking the following link, which goes to a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) page:

https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=AVJCUBZXDNUM4

If the Kindle edition offers MatchBook, you’ll see one of three things near the top of the Kindle edition page:

  • Nothing at all if you already own the Kindle edition. Why frustrate you by showing you that you could have bought it for less by waiting for MatchBook to come out? If you want to see the MatchBook offer, log out of Amazon first.
  • An offer to buy the Kindle edition at the discounted MatchBook price if you already own the print edition of the same book.
  • A note that you could buy the Kindle edition at the discounted MatchBook price if you also purchase the print edition if you don’t already own the print edition.

There are a few important things to note here:

  • If you try to give the book as a gift, you must pay the full list price. Apparently, the MatchBook price doesn’t apply to gifting. That’s too bad, as it would be a nice incentive for someone to buy the print edition to keep and the Kindle edition to gift. However, you can keep the Kindle edition and give the print edition away as a gift (or try to resell it used, perhaps).
  • It looks like you can only buy one Kindle edition at the MatchBook price. This may help to prevent possible abuse.
  • The print edition page now includes an advertisement about the MatchBook program at the top of the page if the Kindle edition of the same book is enrolled in the MatchBook program.

A cool thing about MatchBook for authors is that if you ordinarily earn the 70% royalty rate on a sale, you still earn 70% if the MatchBook price is below $2.99.

Note that if you make the MatchBook price free, MatchBook sales won’t affect your book’s paid sales rank. Instead, they will affect your book’s free rank. This is what KDP told me after a week of research. If you discover otherwise, please share the news. 🙂 (It will be interesting if your book toggles between free and paid sales ranks with a free MatchBook price, since some customers will still be buying the book at the list price because they don’t own the print edition.)

It doesn’t look like the month-to-date sales report will help you see how many MatchBook sales you have, but you should be able to see it in the six-week report. Unfortunately, it will be a while before any MatchBook sales appear in a six-week report since the program started today.

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)

Gifting ebooks outside the US: Any Problems?

Present

We received a new comment on Misha’s article about how and why to gift an e-book today. It relates to gifting ebooks at Amazon outside the US.

Does anyone know if this is a problem? For example, suppose you live in the UK and wish to gift a Kindle ebook to a friend who also lives in the UK. What’s the best solution?

Sample Detail Page Recommended by Amazon Rep

I received an email from Amazon’s marketing department from an inquiry I sent. The representative sent me a link to this sample detail page:

http://amzn.com/0385347316

The way it was worded, the link was just to show what an example of a book’s detail page looks like at Amazon, but it was in the context of selling an advertising campaign to direct traffic toward a book’s product page. (This was not what I inquired about, but obviously if you contact a marketing department for a huge company like Amazon, if they respond, they will probably try to sell you one of their services. They are probably pretty good at this, if they work for Amazon.)

I think this product page is interesting, especially in the context in which I encountered it. Can we learn anything from it? That’s the purpose with which I write this post—to see if there is anything that we can learn from it in the way of marketability and marketing. (The rep didn’t specifically say that their campaign had been applied to this book, but maybe there is an inference to draw here.)

  • The cover didn’t impress me. Simplicity of design can be effective, and with nonfiction the cover doesn’t need to be so eye-popping, but there seems to be room for improvement. (The copyright page even notes a special jacket art designer.) There is a lot of text, although this is often done in nonfiction. At least, the title is easy to read in a thumbnail and the cover concept gets through. What I was thinking was, WHY did Amazon’s marketing rep pick THIS cover? (Are they trying to show that their marketing services can help a book sell even if the cover isn’t hot?)
  • Check out the sales rank. When I looked, it was #63 in books, and 1 and 2 in various categories. The author rank also shows right on the author page, varying from 11 to 81 in several categories. The publication date is October 8, 2013, which is just 6 days ago. Keep in mind that we’re looking at the hardcover edition. There were 16 reviews, mostly 5 stars, including a top 500 reviewer (Vine Voice).
  • The main thing that impressed me on the product page and Look Inside is the encyclopedic list of praising quotes for the book. I guess if that many qualified people say a book is good, it has to be.
  • On the Look Inside, the first page that mentions the title has only that, and the second one is fairly plain, too. Most of the interior is fairly plain. The main exception is the use of the HEAL acronym, using a letter from this word sort of as (but not quite) a bullet, and this is content-oriented as each letter has a specific meaning. The title page does have a publisher logo and another design mark between the title and author.
  • If you look at the author page, you see a resume that nonfiction publisher’s are looking for. There are also five author videos there.
  • From the author page, you can click on a link to the author’s blog to see his website. At the top is the option to subscribe to a newsletter—that’s one marketing tactic. Now look at the bottom of the website to find another. You’ll see an offer for a bonus gift, advertised as a $49 value, for free with purchase. The same thing is actually advertised at the top of the page, but in different wording (and it was so large I missed it the first time). One thing I notice about the cover now is that the color scheme seems to fit with the website—not my favorite, but a consistent color scheme for the book, blog, and beyond can help with branding.
  • The content is a hot commodity. Who doesn’t want happiness? And the author’s qualifications fit well with the content.

Of course, if you have mega qualifications and a big publisher picks you up, you have a big advantage. Still, to be successful, buyers still have to choose your book. So what is selling this book?

  • I don’t think it’s the thumbnail image that’s wowing buyers. It’s still getting a lot of attention. At least, the cover doesn’t seem to be deterring sales.
  • The author had a large fan base to begin with, which is clear if you look at his prior publications. Having an existing fan base is a great help when you release a new book that fits the same audience.
  • There is a top 500 reviewer and there are several initial reviews. The publisher and/or author probably made use of advance review copies. Building buzz for a book helps.
  • With nonfiction, qualifications can be highly important, and this author has a relevant resume posted on his author page. This helps a great deal.
  • Since Amazon’s marketing rep pointed me to this page, I’m wondering if their marketing services helped improve this book’s visibility. I’m not suggesting that you should spend big $$$ to advertise your book. The more you spend on advertising, the more books you have to sell just to break even, and there is a greater risk that you won’t even do that. There are many effective free and low-cost marketing ideas that all authors can use. If the book is highly marketable, free and low-cost will likely be effective; and if it’s not so marketable, paid advertising will have a tough time overcoming that.

If you’re hoping to improve your sales, it can be very helpful to research other books’ product pages (and their authors’ websites). You may get useful packaging or marketing ideas that way.

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)