Posts Tagged ‘Kindle’

Very interesting play here.  Microsoft is going to invest $300 million in Barnes and Noble’s Nook.  Microsoft has a history of running other company’s products into the ground, so I wonder if this will be any different.  If successful, however, this could change the landscape of ereaders a bit.  Here’s the article:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/47228151

Is there a more prominent question to be asked and resolved right now for indie authors?  There certainly isn’t a more pressing time, as many of us are coming up on our first renewal window.  And, as that window approaches, I’m seeing more and more authors take a stance on this issue.  Question is, what areyou going to do?

In case you’re new to the game, or you’ve lived under a rock for the last three months, Kindle Direct Publishing is the means by which you can publish your ebook on Amazon.  About three months ago, KDP announced the select program, whereby an author could take advantage of a huge promotional tool in exchange for your ebook being listed exclusively on Amazon.  The huge promotional tool is the ability to list your book for free for five (5) days during your three month KDPS agreement with Amazon.  Going free, in and of itself, is just the first of a one-two punch.  The second punch is that your free downloads “transfer” over to your paid ranking when you come off of free.  Thus, you do not get any royalty credit for the free downloads (obviously), but you do get credit in terms of where you rank when your free period is over.  To be clear, this can be HUGE (which is why I put it in caps, okay?)

PROVEN RESULTS

Let’s start with this–I have experienced and witnessed some amazing results in the KDPS program.  First, as to my own book Enemy in Blue, I have gone from being in the 20,000-30,000 ranking range to the 1,000-2,500 range.  That’s going from maybe a couple books sold a day to around 50.  Second, I was part of an Indie Book Collective event where one of the authors (Nina Bruhns, Catch Me If You Can) experienced an almost unimaginable jump.  Her book reached the top 10 in all free books, came out onto free and reached the top 30 in all of paid, and her backlog of books is now completely kicking ass.  She is selling tons of books.  Would that have happened without KDPS?  Maybe, but it certainly didn’t happen before KDPS.

If the results were a one-off, I’d let you know that and probably counsel against KDPS.  However, the results are not anomalies, which leads me to my conclusion that KDPS is the most significant marketing tool that we indie authors have at the moment.

CHANGING LANDSCAPE?

I ended the last second with the caveat “at the moment” because things can change on a moment’s notice with Amazon.  From my own personal experience, I seemed to get a bigger “transfer” based upon the number of downloads in my first free giveaway than my second.  There are rumblings that Amazon is not giving as much credit for free downloads in KDPS now as they were at the beginning of the program.  Essentially, they are making it more difficult to climb the rankings based solely upon your downloads. This could make the value of the primary benefit of KDPS less attractive.

Adding to the changing landscape is saturation in our target markets.  This is purely speculation, but I think there’s an upper limit to what people are willing to throw onto their devices.  If they have 50 books that they have downloaded for free, are they really going to add the 51st, 52nd, etc.?  Even if they do, will they ever read them?  This also begs the question, are people going to become accustomed to getting books for free?  Will they still pay $2.99 for a book when they know that it may go free in the next several months?  Is that the world we (as indie authors) want to create…and do we have any say in it to begin with?

I think a very interesting indicator of where readers are headed is the report generated by Kindle Nation Daily with respect to the successes of their sponsors.  Here’s the link to the results: https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0AlfzLsx6vYzodHZaUWJ6QS0tdC1Rb1pFay1sNW5pSHc&gid=18  If you take the time to analyze the results over the last few months compared to the last year, for instance, you’ll see two things.  First, many more authors listing their books for free and paying for advertising space to do so.  Second, the numerical jump in ranking for books that are free versus those that are paid is significantly different.  To me, this means that readers are becoming accustomed to free rather than paid.  (Now, this may largely be a result of the shift in who advertises on Kindle Nation Daily, i.e. more free books, but it is the only empirical data we have as to results from advertising).

STILL THE BEST GAME IN TOWN

Things can change on a dime.  Just look at what KDPS did to our world.  As things currently stand, it is a must to use the KDPS system as an indie author.  Nowhere else are you going to get 5,000, 10,000, or 20,000 downloads of your book.  Even if 1-2% of those people actually read the book, you’re still better off.  Further, no other distribution system (i.e. Apple, B&N, Smashwords) provides usany marketing tools of anysignificance.  Will all your ebook eggs be in one basket for 3 month periods?  Yes.  But, is there really only one basket that’s going to lift you to success as an indie author?  Eh, kinda.  At least right now.  I don’t see many authors gloating about how they sold 1,000,000 books on Smashwords or B&N.

In sum, I simply don’t think there’s a better way to expose your book right now, and I don’t think there’s a better way to climb the bestselling ranks.  Could that change in a year?  Sure.  Could that change in a month?  Absolutely.  Until it does, I’ve got to stick with KDPS.

Amazon is reporting sales of at least 1 million Kindles per week.  Where are you at to get your book on those new devices?  CNET article here: http://m.cnet.com/Article.rbml?nid=57349658&cid=null&bcid=&bid=-266

This one’ll be short and sweet.  Sales of tablets and e-readers are through the roof this year, and with the release of the Kindle Fire, that is only expected to continue into the holiday season and beyond.  Amazon has, for all intents and purposes, given readers and authors a mechanism to gift on the cheap.  How?  Gifting a person’s favorite ebooks.

Now, for some of the major published authors, their ebooks may not be much less than their traditional paperbacks.  This is a quasi-travesty, since the cost of putting together an ebook is much less (i.e. nearly no cost, other than upfront formatting costs) than doing the same with a paperback.  Indie authors have capitalized on the inability of traditionally published authors to set reasonable prices by doing just that–setting reasonable prices.  You can literally find, and gift, books by indie authors for $0.99-$3.99.  Or, if you’re a numbers/figures guy or gal, for about 60-90% less than traditionally published authors.

How do you make sure you aren’t gifting crap?  First, there are a lot of traditionally published books that are crap.  Just harken back to high school and college, where you were forced to read a  bunch of ‘em.  Second, rely on reviews.  Once you get 15, 20, 50, 100 people saying a book is good–that’s a fairly reliable indicator.

Finally, on to the actual gifting process.  It’s easy as 1, 2, 3:

(1) On Amazon, when you search for a book and then click on the ebook version, you will see a button on the top right called “Give as a gift.”

(2) For the technology impaired, click on that button.

(3) You will be directed to a screen where all you have to do is enter the email address of the person to send the gift to.  Boom, you’re done, and you did it for cheap.

A couple more awesome perks.  You can do all your ebook shopping now, and set your delivery date for whenever you want, such as 12/25/2011.  Your loved one will get a host of books to fill his/her new reader on the day they get the reader.  What’s cooler than that?  You can add a personalized message to your gift.  Finally, you’re doing the environment a favor by not having a book printed, boxed up, and then shipped on some gas guzzling vehicle.

*IMPORTANT NOTE* Okay, this has all been important, but this is super important.  The recipient of your gift does not have to have a Kindle to get the ebook.  Amazon has a Kindle app that can be used on basically any platform, as far as I know.  So, even if the person has a Droid phone, for instance, all they have to do is download the Kindle app, and voila, their gift will be readable.

This is a frontier of book consumption.  If you’re a reader, I can’t imagine a better way to gift this holiday season.  If you’re an author, well, you better start spreading the word about this!

Finally, a shameless plug for my books , Enemy in Blue  and Allegiance, which fit the bill as great gifts.  Over 100 great combined reviews, and under $5 for both.

Some great tips from an author that is finding success on Amazon, and helpful resources for marketing at a low (or no) cost:

http://www.bookbuzzr.com/blog/author-interviews/how-to-become-a-top-ranked-book-on-amazon%E2%80%99s-kindle-store/