All good things must come to an end eventually I suppose. This is the farewell post of the marketing and publishing series with Harry Steinman. I would like to personally thank him for sharing his insight, humour and overall knowledge and experience with all of us over the course of these weekly posts. Harry! You are one of my very best friends. Would be lost without you. (Enough mush.) Put your hands together for Mr. Harry Steinman. If you are all really nice we might be able to get him back for a random guest post here and there:)
How to Break Into Amazon’s “Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store”
(Advice On Staying There, Not Included)
A Farewell Post By Harry Steinman
Anyone with a damned good book, blurb, and cover can have a Kindle best-seller, if only for a few days.
Is Kindle too narrow a focus? The New York Times says that Amazon controls some 60 percent of the eBook market. http://nyti.ms/19si1uD
And thanks to free Kindle reader apps for iPad, Android tablets, desktops, and smart phones, Kindle is likely to stay in the big ring of the eBook circus.
I found two reliable approaches to cracking into the Kindle stratosphere. Each has costs and drawbacks.
Approach #1: Kindle Select membership in Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin The price you pay is exclusivity. Ix-nay to every eBook sales channel except Kindle. No Nook, iPad, or Kobo—not even your own website. Even Amazon’s own CreateSpace is verboten, since it distributes eBooks.
Approach #2 is BookBub, http://home.bookbub.com/home/ one of many daily e-mail services that highlights free or discounted books, and the only one I found that’s effective. The price? It’s expensive and excludes the use of some other advertising.
Here is some information about both approaches.
Kindle Select Enrollment is free. Just sign away your freedom to sell eBooks through any other channel, upload your book and its cover, set a price, and provide a description of your masterpiece. That’s it. You’re in.
Kindle Select has two great benefits. First, you can offer free eBook copies of your book. If your cover is good enough to catch a browser’s eye for a few seconds, and your blurb is good enough to intrigue, then your book will likely move into the “Top 100 Free” list. http://amzn.to/OkAL33 This exposure can produce a jump in your paid sales right after the freebie promotion ends. Writers with more than one book often enjoy a bump in the sales of their other books. More readers means more reviews, both positive and critical. The more reviews you have, the more likely a shopper will be to take a chance on an unknown writer.
The second benefit is that Amazon offers your book the Kindle Lending Library. http://amzn.to/y8zN3Q You earn a royalty every time an Amazon Prime member borrows your title.
Here are some tips:
1. Make certain your book is ready for prime time. Some Amazon reviewers enjoy peeing on your Wheaties. Here’s an example, a review of Little Deadly Things, “My husband, a former English teacher, could not finish this book with all the spelling & grammar errors very [sic] upsetting & hard for him to enjoy the book he said.” The reviewer never read the book she panned. Be sure to submit a well-edited book to minimize spite reviews. But recognize that you’ll get ‘em.
2. Promote the daylights out of your giveaway. Let your social media contacts know about your promo. Tweet. Post. Blog. Google the term, “free Kindle book promotion” and you’ll find dozens of sites that will mention your book’s promo for free—or highlight it for a fee. The jury’s still out for me on the question of whether paying to promote your freebie is worthwhile.
3. You get five giveaway days per quarter. A three-day block is ideal. A single day isn’t long enough for your book to gain legs. I recommend that your giveaway straddles a weekend. Go for the middle of the month, as many shoppers spend the first paycheck of the month on the bills and make discretionary purchases mid-month.
4. Do not run giveaways more than two or three times per year as the returns diminish with each promo. My first promo ran at the end of October, 2012, and readers downloaded 22,133 copies of Little Deadly Things. The book shot into the number one spot in several categories and into the top 10 in others. The momentum carried over to book sales, generating 2309 follow-on purchases, about $6000 in royalties.
I ran the promo again four weeks later. That promotion produced fewer than 9,000 downloads and about 400 follow-on sales. I chased the first-promo high and tried it again as soon as I was eligible. Downloads and sales were less than 10 percent of my first promotion.
I believe that the cover is what prompted so many readers to try LDT and put me in the Top 100. When I figure out how to stay in there, I’ll let you know.
The sheer tonnage of offers to promote your book for a fee would sink a freighter. I believe that these services have as much effect on sales as a butterfly sneeze has on a boulder…with one notable exception: BookBub. If BB accepts your book, you’ll enjoy enough success to claim best-seller status, even if the results are as ephemeral as those from a Kindle Select giveaway. You’ll also pay a pretty farthing for the listing.
BookBub quantifies its results. http://home.bookbub.com/advertise/pricing The site publishes statistics on the number of subscribers by genre and the average number of downloads its listings generate. I can’t validate their claims, but my experience exceeded my expectations.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. BookBub will promote your book when you offer it free or discount it by at least 50% off the regular price.
2. If you’ve offered a better deal on another site, BookBub will not accept your ad. This means that if you’ve offered a freebie through Kindle Direct, BookBub will accept your ad only for another freebie. Initially, I was turned down because of the freebie Kindle promotion I’d done. After some waiting and back-and-forth, BB reconsidered and accepted my ad.
3. You can promote a title every 90 days.
4. It ain’t cheap. The fee for a BookBub listing is based on genre and the discounted price of your book. For example, a listing in the Mystery category, with the book discounted to $1.99, will cost you $720. BookBub claims that there are 540,000 subscribers in the Mystery category, and that average sales are 1,360 per title. If your book is listed on Amazon and priced at $1.99, you will receive a 35% royalty, or 70 cents per sale. You will get about $952 in royalties, or just shy of a $200 profit. But your title will likely hit the Top 100 and give you a tremendous sense of satisfaction—which is just fine for many writers.
BookBub accepted Little Deadly Things as a sci-fi novel. That category has 170,000 subscribers. I priced LDT at $0.99 and paid $120 for the listing. I sold just over 700 copies which produced about $247 in royalties…and a spot in the Top 10 in my category. I believe that BookBub would have been more efficient if I’d had multiple titles.
I tried a slew of other services, running several promotions at once for a bigger effect or one at a time to isolate results. None worked. Only Kindle Select and BookBub were effective for me.
I hope y’all have enjoyed this little series of posts. If you’ve followed the series, please buy my book. http://amzn.to/RQlfzZ It’s only fair! The Kindle version is $3.99 and runs about 100,000 words. At an average reading speed of 300 words per minute, that’s 5.5 hours of reading pleasure—less than 73 cents per hour. Where can you get a better deal on entertainment?
One caveat! If you’re expecting rocket ships, ray guns, and nonstop action, you’ll be disappointed. If a story of personal transformation against the backdrop of a science crisis interests you, then read on.
So, my final advice is simple: BUY MY BOOK! http://amzn.to/RQlfzZ Pax vobiscum
A Kindle best-seller
on sale on Amazon or www.littledeadlythings.com
Every purchase supports the Young Adult Writers Program at grubstreet.org