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:
- I needed to offer something to readers to encourage them to sign up to my newsletter.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
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 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,