Kevin Muldoon

Blogger, Internet Marketer, WordPress Junkie

Why I’m Publishing My Upcoming Book Through Amazon

The development of my forthcoming book ‘The Art of Freelance Blogging’ has been stalled for close to a month now. I had been thinking of writing a book on freelancing blogging for a long time but I didn’t start working on it until late November 2012.

After writing about 13,000 words for the book, I stopped writing it in order to work on ‘The Traits & Habits of Successful Bloggers‘. There was a few good reasons for this:

  1. I needed to offer something to readers to encourage them to sign up to my newsletter.
  2. I wanted to release a book on all available online book stores so that I can track sales across them all, compare their performance and get used to how their publishing systems work.
  3. It was inevitable that I would make some mistakes along the way therefore it was best to make these mistakes with a shorter book rather than a book I had spent more time writing, developing and promoting.
  4. It would give me more time to build up a readership here.

Initially I wasn’t 100% sure whether delaying the book was a good decision as I was aware that a lot of people would be getting eBook readers for Christmas. Looking back, I think I made the right decision. The launch of my short 40 page book went smoothly though I understand the process of publishing books much better and I’ve been able to see how the book has sold.

During the last month I have read several books about publishing books online and I’ve read a countless number of articles on the subject too. This knowledge will stand me in good stead for 2013 as I plan on releasing a lot of books. In fact, I have my first dozen or so book subjects decided already (what can I say, I like to plan ahead!).

I had originally planned to release my upcoming book within the first days of January. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t possible. There were a lot of family days around Christmas that I couldn’t miss plus getting ready to travel from Colombia to Brazil was a little time consuming as we had some loose ends to tie up. Since arriving in Brazil I’ve struggled to find a reliable internet connection too. I’m hoping it will be released within the next two weeks.

Publishing Through Amazon

Amazon’s overall share of the market has decreased slightly as other online book stores have upped their game. It is still by far the biggest and best book store available online (I’m saying that as someone who buys books every week).

The decision that most new authors have to make is whether to join Amazon’s KDP Select Program. It’s been very controversial since it launched last year. Those who sign up to the program will:

  • Receive a commission of between $1 and $2 every time an Amazon prime member borrows their book.
  • Earn 70% royalties in territories such as India, Brazil and Japan (if you don’t enroll, you only get 35%).
  • Schedule a maximum of 5 FREE days within the 90 day enrolment period.

Many authors don’t agree with this program. I can understand why. As an author, you want your book to be bought and read by as many people as possible and to do that you should offer your book in as many formats as possible (EPUB,MOBI, PDF etc).

Amazon KDP Select

Unfortunately, the key restriction to enrolling in the KDP Select program is that the digital version of your book can not be sold anywhere else online, including your own website (Hardbacks and Paperbacks can still be sold wherever you want). So if one of your fans has an eReader from a company such as Sony, Kobo or Barnes & Noble, tough luck, they cannot buy your book and download it directly to their device. It isn’t good for any industry when the major player is using bullying tactics in order to force clients to use them over others. I don’t agree with it and, as you can imagine, other online book stores are not happy with Amazon’s marketing strategy.

There are some additional things to consider. Firstly, some authors are reporting more than ten times the number of book sales at Amazon compared to other book stores combined. For others the number is not so high, but all top authors sell considerably more through Amazon. So the issue of not selling elsewhere does not concern all authors.

Secondly, you only need to enroll in KDP select for 90 days. You can choose to opt-out after 90 days and then sell your books elsewhere. One thing to note is that if you are selling your book elsewhere before you enroll in KDP Select, you need to make sure the book is pulled from distribution everywhere. Some online publishers can be very slow in removing books from their library (weeks or even months). If you enrol in KDP Select and Amazon detects your book for sale elsewhere, Amazon may without your royalty payments. I’ve heard they can be quite ruthless in this regard.

If you don’t comply with these KDP Select terms and conditions, we will not owe you Royalties for that Digital Book earned through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library Program, and we may offset any of those Royalties that were previously paid against future Royalties, or require you to remit them to us. We may also withhold your Royalty payments on all your Digital Books for a period of up to 90 days while we investigate. This doesn’t limit other remedies we have, such as prohibiting your future participation in KDP Select or KDP generally.

So if you are selling your books in other book stores and want to give KDP Select a try, make sure your books have been withdrawn from all book stores before enrolling.

The Power of Reviews

Writing your book is only half the battle. You can write the best book that has ever been written but if you can’t get people to buy, you’re not going to make much money. That is why marketing your book is so important. If you sell your book through Smashwords you can offer discounts and gift vouchers to people. This is a fantastic way of promoting a book, particularly if you have a vehicle such as a blog to promote your book.

Amazon doesn’t let you offer gift vouchers or discounts to readers but if you enrol in KDP Select they will let you offer your book for 5 days during the 90 day enrolment period for free (consequently or separately e.g. 3 days for free and 2 the next month or 5 days free in a row – whatever you prefer). Why would you do want to do this? Well, for one very good reason: REVIEWS. Less than 1% of people who download a free book will actually go on and leave a review but if you get a few thousand downloads, you should be able to get a few reviews from readers. And even a few reviews is enough to encourage others to buy your book; and when they buy your book, your book will move up the rankings on Amazon.

Reviews are vital to success on Amazon

Reviews are at the heart of everything Amazon do. Despite only a small percentage of people leaving reviews, the reviews themselves are viewed by a large percentage of buyers and can make the difference between selling and not selling a copy of your book. This is the main reason people opt-in to KDP Select. Not every author has been successful through the program but many have found books that struggled to sell went on to become very profitable after doing a free run.

So the technique for many authors is simple: Enrol their book in Amazon KDP Select for 90 days in order to promote it and acquire reviews and increase sales. Once the 90 days have expired, they can review their sales and decide whether to enrol for another 90 days or whether to upload their book to other online book stores.

Why I’m Publishing My Upcoming Book Through Amazon

How I sell my upcoming book is something I looked into a lot. I could sell directly or via Clickbank for a fee of up to $99. If I worked with the right affiliates, I could make thousands of dollars very quickly.

Alternatively, I could sell via Amazon, other online book stores and my own website for a fee of $9.99. Selling it in multiple places would allow me to offer discounts, host competitions and free copies to readers if and when I want (note, Amazon reduce the author rate from 70% to 35% for books under $2.99 and over $9.99). For example, I could offer newsletter subscribers 50% off and give away lots of free copies in a competition too. I can’t do this through Amazon.

Restricting myself to Amazon for 90 days seems like a strange decision at first but you need to remember that Amazon is where the traffic is. It’s a huge marketplace and selling there allows me to reach an audience I wouldn’t reach solely through my blog. The key reason for joining KDP Select and selling exclusively through Amazon is because I can offer my book for free and gain reviews. I cannot offer it for free via competitions though, it has to be offered to everyone for free.

I’m sure I would get reviews there regardless but certainly not to the extent that I would get if I offered the book for free on Amazon temporarily. So here’s what I suggest:

  • I will release my book through Amazon exclusively for at least 90 days (I will review at the end of the 90 day period).
  • I will tell you all when it will be released for a day or two directly via this blog and show you how you can download it for FREE.
  • I will advise newsletter subscribers of the other days it is available for free within the 90 day period (for those that missed it the first time).

All I ask for return is an honest review of the book. This doesn’t mean it has to be positive. I just want you to give an honest opinion of what you thought of the book, pros, cons, warts and all. Don’t write the review for me, write the review for other bloggers who may be interested in reviewing the book (if possible, be constructive – ‘This book rocks’ or ‘This book sucks’ doesn’t really help anyone).

There is of course the issue of only offering my book via Amazon. I’m aware that some of you don’t own Kindle devices and don’t want you to feel that you are being excluded. This shouldn’t be a problem as there is an Amazon Kindle application available for PC, Mac, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad and iTocuh. You can even read it via your browser.

I’m sure you’ll love the book and I hope offering it for free will prove to be a success. If it generates enough reviews from the free run, I will probably offer all of my books for free this year for a brief period of time. I have dozens of great ideas for books this year so you could potentially get hundreds of dollars worth of my books for FREE. Make sure you subscribe to my newsletter in order to get the latest news about my books.

If you have any questions regarding my upcoming book, please post a question in the comment area below :)

Thanks for reading,
Kevin

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About Kevin Muldoon

My name is Kevin and this is my blog :) I am an experienced blogger who has been working online actively since 2000. Through this blog I talk about internet marketing, technology and travelling.. You can get updates to this blog by subscribing via RSS or Email. Alternatively, you can follow me on Google+, Facebook or Twitter.

38 Replies

  1. Hi Kevin,
    I think you have got the right idea regarding your upcoming book launch with Amazon. As you say Amazon is a huge sales platform and because of that your book will reach a much wider audience.
    The plan for ‘free’ days is very good too, as you have to have the reviews in order to make more sales. Your other incentives are great too because it’s all part of the bigger picture. The more people that read your book the more reviews you get. The more reviews you get the more sales you make…and the circle goes on. Great post.

    1. Hi Darren,

      Yes I agree. At the end of the day, my newsletter subscribers are not really who I am targeting books to. Yes I am writing books on topics they are interested in but I am primarily writing books for people with eReaders.

      I want to build up a good relationship with newsletter subscribers too so it’s win win – I get reviews and they get word of when my latest books are free.

      Glad you liked the post :)

      Kevin

  2. I heard that the electronic publishers do not allow you to supply your own cover, yet the cover of your e-book appears to be highly customized. Would you please address the rumor?

    1. Hi Scott,

      Most online book stores require you to add a book cover of your own. I believe some may let you upload a book without a cover but if you do that, they will attach a poorly created generic cover to your book….so you’ll get very few sales. For example, Amazon will create a placeholder cover image if you don’t upload a custom one.

  3. Kevin, I agree with the post by Darren Boulter above, about the cycle facing your pending book, finding your response very informative. This morning I have been reading “The Traits and Habbits of Successful Bloggers…”, purchased recently on Amazon (Kindle Edition). Interestingly I am reading it on my laptop, so I fit the model you describe.

    Reading “The Traits and Habbits of Successful Bloggers What Seperates the Best From the Rest”, this morning, I have expierienced numerous ‘Eureka!’ moments, that have been both entertaining and most importantly, informative.

    I anxiously await your next effort, Thank You

    1. Glad you liked the book.

      I am going to make ‘The Traits and Habbits of Successful Bloggers’ free. Probably permanently but at least for a while. The book was written primarily to get my name out etc.

      I’m hoping that the book will be finished within the next two weeks. I’m not sure. I may hire an editor to improve the formatting of the book so I’m not sure how long that takes. I thought the book may be around 150 pages but it wouldn’t surprise me if the book ends up being 300 pages at the end.

      I don’t want the book to leave out anything important relating to freelancing. What I may do is ask a few subscribers to read a beta copy of the book to give me some feedback on the book i.e. what can be changed, what could be added etc.

      Kevin

      1. Kevin, finding out from your audience with direct input of a beta is a super idea.
        Feedback is essential, to any undertaking such as a book. Sampling your target audience is the best way to know what and how to tweak your offering, because you will have a real handle on what is working, and what is not.

        1. Agreed. I’ll do that then. I’m keen to get it released but there’s no point rushing it out. The book could sell well for many years so it’s important that I can many aspects of it right from the very beginning.

          If I can get some subscribers to read the book and provide feedback within a few days, it wouldn’t delay the launch much anyway.

          Kevin

      2. Kevin, if you need help reviewing a beta copy, let me know. I may have time to help.

        1. Thanks Scott. Much appreciated. I’ll follow this up when the first draft of the book is complete :)

  4. Looking forward to another great book, in the meantime I’m reading through your first one :)

  5. Thanks for the transparency on what you are up to. So if what I read is correct you can break up your 5 days of free at different times, right? That could work well because you get a chance of getting different people at different times, kind of like putting one blog post out at multiple times on Twitter. There is more of a chance you catch people because not everyone is paying attention at the same time. I have been trying to put together some book discussions on Google Hangouts. After I get your book it would be great to discuss. Let me know if you are interested.

    1. Hi Wyatt,

      I haven’t done a free run using KDP Select but I’ve annoyed a huge number of members over on the KindleBoards to know what strategy everyone uses ;)

      The key thing is to get a lot of downloads and try and rank your book as high as possible in the free download rankings so that once the free run ends, your performance in the paid rankings will be better (possibly due to rankings, possibly in some small part to the number of free downloads).

      If you use your 5 days up consecutively (which a lot of authors do), you stand a better chance of getting your book higher in the free rankings. I’ve read a lot of authors saying that in the last few days the number of downloads they received dropped a little. For others it increased.

      There certainly isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ strategy for promoting a free run. Some good books have did really well using KDP Select whilst others have struggled to get any sales afterwards. I imagine a small element of luck is involved but if you have a good book and you can promote your book heavily yourself (which is what I hope to do via this blog) then you will do better than those that just throw their book up and leave it.

      There’s a lot of websites that announce free book runs but they tend to be geared more towards fiction books rather than non-fiction.

      I’d be happy to share my results of the free download run once it has finished. I think I’ll do two separate runs. A 2 or 3 day run first and then the remaining days a month later.

      Kevin

  6. Rebecca

    Hi Kevin

    I didn’t finish reading to acticle but what i read was very interesting.:-)

    1. You’re the most eager commenter I’ve ever had :)

  7. Excellent article Kevin. I appreciate your full disclosure of your process as I am going through the same process. The only thing I’d add is to share your writing development here on your blog, to gain pre-interest in the book. ie; submit some parts and ask for feedback, maybe submit two possible version of sections to see which one grabs people the most.
    BTW You are a refreshing Internet Marketer in that you are personal and approachable. I’ve about had it with Internet Marketing Gurus that only contact me to sell the same thing they’re all selling.
    Thanks for being real!

    1. Thanks for the kind words Stephanie.

      Well I will promote products from time to time but it will always be products and services I use personally (or have used).

      I’m not sure about publicly putting parts of the book out there. I’d rather do it privately with a select fee for feedback etc. I’d be happy to cover more writing related topics here if readers are interested in that.

      :)

      Kevin

  8. K.K.

    Thank you for the very informative article.

    I think using Amazon’s KDP Select is a great way to launch a new book. After the 90 days, you can then take back control of your book if you desire, but with (hopefully) it then having a lot more reviews, exposure, and so forth.

    Despite Amazon’s tactics, there is no doubt that having your book on Amazon is the best, fastest way these days to get it out there to a huge audience.

    Once you do have control back, there are tons of ways to promote the book yourself, as you and others here have noted. For example, you could offer a free chapter, or other excerpts as ways of promoting the book on your blog, and elsewhere.

    As for an editor, definitely find one. No matter how well one writes, an editor is essential. An editor provides a fresh set of eyes, an impartial look at the writing, and so much more.

    I’m in agreement with you about taking your time. It’s your name on the book, so make sure you have it just as you want it.

    By the way, like others here, I am also reading ‘The Traits & Habits of Successful Bloggers’, for which I thank you.

    If you are still looking for beta testers, I would be glad to read your new book.

    In any event, I wish you best of luck with your new book, and with all of your endeavors.

    1. Thanks K. Yeah I think doing a run on Amazon first seems like the right idea. I can then upload it to other book stores after 3 months.

      I’m keen to show the book to a few people for proof reading before it’s published. I’ll keep you in mind. I could perhaps start a beta testing group that will help me review my books. Once I am happy with it, I can then send it to an editor to have it tided it up.

      I’m unsure as to what I should do with the layout etc. I could pay for the design to be improved. Basic layouts are better for ereaders but a lot of people will be reading the book on tablets and paperbacks so an improved design could be worthwhile. I’ll need to look into the issue.

      Appreciate the kind words. You’re right. I should take my time with it and make sure the book is the best it can be.

      Kevin

      1. K.K.

        Hi Kevin,

        Are you talking about formats that are specific to Kindle, and/or other eBooks, or layouts that one would get from a typesetter?

        Forgive my ultra basic understanding, but does Kindle eBook formatting translate to other eBook sellers/users such as via Barnes & Noble, Nook, etc., or would you have to do the whole thing again after that 90 days?

        Even without answers to the above, it seems a simple format, and simple layout would be most manageable here, especially given what you project is the final page count. Also, if you must reformat it, or redo the layout for other purposes, simple seems best.

        Here is a link to “Building Your Book for Kindle,” and more, if it’s any help:

        https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A2MB3WT2D0PTNK

        K.

        1. I would have to change some things. For example, Amazon allows you to generate the table of contents automatically via Word but most other online book stores require you to do this manually via bookmarks.

          Simple formatting does work best for reading. The price of the book may be closer to $9.99 so I want the book to have a professional look to match…though I’m not sure if it’s necessary.

          Kevin

  9. Butch

    Agree with your logic with using Amazon, though I am a bit worried that they may become too restrictive. Competition is key to keeping people and corporations honest.

    Appreciate your open approach and best of luck on the book. Will watch your project with interest.

    BTW, How’s Colombia. Spent several years there way back when.

    Butch in Palos Verdes, Ca.

    1. Thanks Butch. I’ll be sure you keep you all updated.

      We’re actually in Brazil at the moment. We’ll be heading back to Colombia within the next few months. Not sure when, depends on whether we can find a good apartment with internet access in Paraguay. Failing that, we might head back earlier as we’ve struggled to find affordable places to stay with good internet connections.

      Kevin

  10. I would be most interested in what you find in Paraguay, are you blogging about your adventures and discoveries there?

    1. It’s funny, Jean Galea asked the same thing. I travel all the time but I’ve never really posted about the issue because (a) people who are looking for blogging/marketing related solutions aren’t looking for travel stories, (b) people who are looking for travel articles are not interested in marketing topics.

  11. Butch

    Im’ interested in both your travel stories & IM. There are a few of us. I’ve spent 30 years traveling and living abroad & love blogging. I would be extremely interested in your wanderlust ‘search’ stories. Amazing how much we learn about ourselves the more remote we are from home. Butch

    1. OK. I’ll try and do some more travel posts soon (doesn’t take much to twist my arm does it!).

      If I was back in the UK I’d probably post here every day. I’ll struggle to keep up that post frequency at the moment due to me travelling and writing books etc. I’ll do my best though :)

      Kevin

  12. Dennis

    I’ve admired your work since Blogging Tips Kevin, so I’d be interested in proof reading and providing feedback on your upcoming book.

    I guess I’ll sign up to your list in order to get the latest info on your progress. Keep up your great work!

    1. Thanks Dennis. I will be referring back to the comments here to check who was interested. I need to look into the best way to do this. I can do it directly via email or via something like Google+. It could even be worth me doing it via Aweber so that I can email everyone at the same time easily. :)

  13. Dennis

    Maybe set up a sub-domain like bookfeedback.kevinmuldoon.com. Install WordPress there and collect email addresses through Aweber like you mentioned.

    Release the first chapter to those people with a deadline for providing feedback. Those people that send back constructive feedback, keep on the list and release the rest of the book to them. Have them provide further feedback on the rest of your draft copy.

    Those that didn’t respond delete from the list since you may not be able to depend on them. You’ve operated multi-author blogs previously so I’m sure you’ll figure out the logistics for this.

    1. Hi Dennis,

      I don’t think I’d need to go through the hassle of setting up another WordPress installation in a sub domain. I can just set up a sign up page for it on the main domain somewhere and direct those that are interested in signing up to there.

      I don’t want to be overwhelmed with feedback. Getting feedback from dozens of people would be too time consuming. I think 5 would be more than enough, particularly if all 5 produced productive feedback.

      I appreciate the suggestions :

      Kevin

  14. Kevin, this comment section is like a pizza oven, producing delicious ideas and commentary, that have application, or not presently depending on the reader, but certainly valuable in the long run. Keep up the good work, I am ‘hungry’ for your new book.

    I feel blessed to have had the good fortune to find your blog, and book, as I am at the beginning of my own creative process, and everything I have read both in your book and here, has incredible value. For that I thank all of the contributors, I appreciate each comment because it causes me to think in new directions, each allowing me to grow.

    1. haha. That comment was hilarious. I’m tempted to rename the comment section ‘The Pizza Oven’.

      If you are unsure about any element of publishing a book, please let me know. I should be able to help you with most questions you have, either via email or via a blog post. It’s not a difficult process though you do need to know all the steps you need to take.

      :)

      Kevin

  15. Hi Kev. Just finished the article and your ebook on successful bloggers. It is important and great that you got the KDP deal, as it helps you to more well known, as well as a source of revenue. Treat it as one of the multiple stream / channel of income/marketing, and I am sure it will work well. To your success :)

    1. Thanks. Yeah income diversification is very important. You don’t want all your eggs in one basket.

      Kevin

  16. I’ve enjoyed publishing on Amazon – it’s gaining me new followers I wouldn’t have reached elsewhere. I think KDP would be great if you were hardcore publishing with the full onslaught of promo potential and giveaway days, but I’m not there yet. I did it the first month then slacked off, so I’m not sure if I’ll go KDP anymore.

    1. Some people have had mixed success with it. I think a lot of factors need to be considered however I think the main thing is to maximise exposure of your book during its free run.

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