Ideas for Children’s Books in Kindle Unlimited

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.

CHILDREN’S BOOKS IN KINDLE UNLIMITED

Now that Kindle Unlimited is paying KDP Select books based on the number of Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP) read, children’s books—especially illustrated kids’ books—appear to be among those most affected.

Illustrated children’s authors with books enrolled in KDP Select basically have three options:

  • Opt your illustrated children’s books out of KDP Select. (Uncheck the automatic renewal box. Wait until the 90-day period has expired. Now you can publish elsewhere. But beware that not all other e-book platforms are equally picture-friendly. You might want to do some research and formatting before you decide to make the switch.)
  • Leave your books enrolled in KDP Select, and either complain about the change or feel frustrated without complaining—or try your best to ignore it—or hope that your book will be engaging enough to help get more pages read. (You probably don’t want to complain publicly in such a way that it may hurt your brand among your potential audience. Sending a polite suggestion to Amazon KDP or organizing a petition are private ways to express your opinion and try to instigate a little change.)
  • Leave your books enrolled in KDP Select, and find ways to make the most of the new program.

For those who choose option three, I have a few ideas that may help. Maybe my suggestions will inspire yet another idea of your own.

HOW TO GET MORE USE OUT OF YOUR PICTURES

This is something I saw in some books before Kindle Unlimited changed, but the idea has even greater value now.

A couple of Kindle Unlimited books that I borrowed for my daughter found a creative way to get more mileage out of the pictures.

It has marketing potential, and also helps with the new KENP read policy.

The idea is simple: Show how the pictures were made.

It’s easy to do: When you create your images—or when your illustrator makes your images—take pictures of those images to show the stages in which they are made.

Here’s what you do with them: Add them to the end of your book, showing one step at a time how to draw the pictures. You can add a little text, too, describing the process.

It’s a win-win-win situation:

  • Kids to get read a book and learn how to draw pictures.
  • Parents get added value in that their kids practice reading and learn drawing skills.
  • Authors benefit by adding several extra pages to their Kindle e-books.

It’s not just stuffing pages at the end of the book. These pages offer valuable content—showing how to draw pictures—which potentially adds to reader engagement.

More pages read means a greater royalty earned through Kindle Unlimited.

HOW TO ADD ENGAGING CONTENT TO YOUR CHILDREN’S BOOK

Here is another way to add engaging content to your children’s book.

How do parents know if their children paid attention or understood the story?

A few multiple choice questions following each story could help parents assess reading comprehension. They can check their answers if you use a footnote or endnote for the answer key.

You can also add a vocabulary key after the story to review important terms, or test if kids can figure out the meaning from the context.

There are all kinds of ways that you can add questions or exercises to add educational value to your entertaining stories. This might help differentiate your KDP self-published book from similar traditionally published books that only have stories.

BUNDLING CHILDREN’S BOOKS TOGETHER

Bundling doesn’t help by simply adding pages. Those extra pages are more work, and only pay if the pages are read.

Furthermore, whether you write one 200-page book or eight 25-page books, either way you write 200 pages—and if a customer reads all 200 pages, you get paid the same whether they are bundled or not.

But where bundling can help is with (A) convenience and (B) perceived value.

It’s more convenient to read another story when it’s already in the same book. It’s inconvenient to have to return to the Kindle Store to buy the author’s next book.

If your stories are engaging, you’re more likely to get your next story read if the customer doesn’t have to find your other book.

Kindle Unlimited customers also see more value in downloading a collection than borrowing one short story.

The bundle may even help with sales, if there is a discount compared to buying the individual titles.

I would sell both the individual titles and the bundle. It gives you more exposure. The individual titles are more likely to be discovered in searches on Amazon, as you can customize 2 categories and 7 keywords for each individual title. Once they click on your author name, customers can then discover your bundle.

You can also mention your bundle after the story in your individual books. If they liked the story, maybe they will try your bundle.

But note this:

  • If your bundle is in KDP Select, your individual titles must be exclusive to Amazon.
  • If your individual titles are in KDP Select, the bundle must also be exclusive to Amazon.

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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Where are all the Children’s Books?

Image from ShutterStock

Image from ShutterStock

THE CHILDREN’S MARKET

There are currently 1,314,394 books listed on Amazon.com in children’s.

Over a million children’s books. At first, that sounds like a lot. But it’s really not so much.

  • There are 28,000,000 paperbacks listed on Amazon, but only 700,000 of these are children’s books. That’s a mere 2.5%.
  • There are 9,000,000 hardcover books; 300,000 are children’s books. 3.3%.
  • There are 3,300,000 e-books listed in the Kindle Store; 230,000 of these are children’s. That’s nearly 7%.
  • There are 900,000 Kindle Unlimited e-books; 89,000 of these are children’s. 10%.

Let’s look at the 230,000 Kindle children’s e-books, for example:

  • 82,000 are classified under literature and fiction. That’s about one-third. That leaves only 150,000 for the other categories.
  • 34,000 are sci-fi and fantasy.
  • 32,000 are in animals. (Most of these also appear in a second category.)
  • 32,000 relate to growing up and the facts of life.
  • 26,000 are action and adventure.
  • 14,500 are fairy tales.

Maybe it’s more instructive to look at what’s missing:

  • Just 1167 are categorized as humor. It seems like there should be more competition here.
  • Just 7788 are under science and nature, which covers many subcategories.
  • Just 7265 fall under education and reference, and 3000 of those are foreign language. A mere 587 of these are math books.
  • Just 3460 are classified as early learning, like basic concepts and beginning readers.
  • Just 3285 cover history.

If you try searching for keywords on Amazon, the holes are even more apparent. The following searches were done under children’s books in the Kindle Store.

  • 524 matches show up for Common Core, the new national curriculum (adopted by most states). This curriculum teaches skills differently than the current generation of parents learned the material. Thus, many parents are looking for resources to help. But there are few books on it. Many of the top matches don’t seem like they would help directly with it. There are only 61 results for Common Core math, and that 61 gets divided into a host of different topics within math.
  • 26 matches show up for homophones, and many of those aren’t focused on this topic.
  • 57 matches show up for writing prompts. None of the covers on page 1 seems geared toward kids. (To be fair, there are some better matches in paperbacks. Basically, the same book could be published in both print and Kindle, just including blank lines for composition in the print edition.)
  • 150 matches show up for recycling. Isn’t green the big thing? Where are the books?
  • If you publish poetry for kids, you get lost in a sea of 4500 other children’s poetry books. But if you write one of every kind of poem you can think of to introduce kids to the different kinds of poems, and present this as a form of learning or teaching poetry, you suddenly narrowed your market tremendously. Only 66 are listed under teaching poetry.
  • Similarly, there are 11,000 matches for short stories, but only 190 matches for reading comprehension. If you take your children’s short story collection and add multiple choice (for example) questions after each story, with an answer key in the back, suddenly your collection becomes dual purpose, with possibly better exposure in the second niche market.

CRACKING THE CHILDREN’S MARKET

My daughter often demands a certain kind of book, and when I search for it, there are very few matches. This happens quite frequently.

And when I try to narrow the results by clicking on the Kindle Unlimited filter, there are sometimes just a few to choose from.

Part of the children’s market is saturated, but there are also many opportunities.

The trick is to search for books within the children’s market to find popular search results and popular topics for which there aren’t many search results, or, as is often the case, where most of the top matches don’t seem too relevant to the search. Don’t just look at how many books are in the category, but also look at sales ranks of the top matches and how many books show up under particular keyword combinations.

The children’s market isn’t easy to crack, but there is much long-term potential for those who break through.

Although there are many challenges, there are ways to help overcome them:

  • There are some highly popular brands like Dr. Seuss, Disney, and Scholastic, and popular characters like Dora, Spongebob, and Barbie. But many of these get filtered out customers search specifically for Kindle Unlimited books (and there is a filter, i.e. a simple link that you can press, when shopping to see just Kindle Unlimited results). And as you publish more books, you begin to develop your own brand. Not everyone prefers the most popular brands.
  • Many parents prefer print books and many children’s authors find the most success with print. But there is still a significant number of parents who let their kids spend some time on Kindle, and there is much less competition in Kindle, and even less in Kindle Unlimited. The wise course is to publish both print and e-book editions to help reach both markets.
  • Editing is arguably more important in the children’s market as parents and teachers are the ones buying the books. Since children are learning to read, or learning to read at a higher level, naturally parents and teachers want to ensure that children are learning to read well, which means that the book must be virtually free of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. On the other hand, children’s books are often shorter and easier to read, which makes the editing easier to manage.
  • Your newly published book won’t show up at the top of search results, but if you first research the children’s market well, you can publish in a niche that is both in demand and has limited competition, and a wise choice of keywords will help with exposure. For example, there are nearly 14,000 children’s books in romance and 2900 in vampires, but only 393 in vampire romance. (I’m not saying this is a wise topic for children’s books; I’m just illustrating how to choose keywords wisely.) You want keywords specific to your book (usually, consisting of 2 or more words between commas, as single-word keywords tend to pull up way too many results; but you will want a couple of highly relevant single-word keywords in the mix, too), which are popular searches on Amazon. Just visit Amazon, browse children’s books, and start typing keywords to gauge which ones are popular enough to be searched for. You can always change your keywords at any time.
  • The real keys are writing several similar books, publishing quality content that parents will want their kids to read, and learning effective marketing strategies. Involve parents and educators in the developmental stages, running ideas by teachers at various stages and recruiting parents as beta readers. This will not only better help you understand your audience’s specific and possibly diverse needs, but it will also help you with word-of-mouth marketing when you involve people personally and take some of their advice. Personal interactions can have a powerful influence: You want to meet parents, librarians, and educators in person and let them discover your book and your passion for it.

Amazon KDP has a new free tool to help with formatting children’s books for Kindle:

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/how-to-use-the-new-kindle-kids-book-creator-tutorial

SURVEY

If you haven’t already done so, please participate in a survey on how people read books. The more participation we get, the more meaningful the results will be.

Here is one question, for your convenience. (If you’ve already answered this before, please don’t answer it a second time.)

You can find more questions here:

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/surveys

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

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

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