New Author Tools Available for Amazon Authors!

A quick look at Amazon’s author tools, and whether or not you should go with KDP Select.

By Daniel Ottalini

Hi everyone, today I’ll be talking a bit about some new author tools available for Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (Also called Amazon KDP). First, let me introduce to you….

Kindle Countdown Deals! – Essentially an easier way to manage a sale of your novel, at the cost of being able to only publish the novel on Amazon. This is a big cornerstone of their new push to make authors exclusive on their platform. What do I think? Great idea! (If only they could allow it while being on other platforms.) I think they would make more sales IF you would see that they have it cheaper on Amazon as opposed to elsewhere, rather than just being a lower price on Amazon and not shown anywhere else.

Kindle Lending Library– Want to earn free money for letting people borrow your book? This is the way to go! Alternatively, you could encourage people to buy your book, but hey, some people would rather save precious MBs on their kindle Fires I suppose. You earn a changing fee every month based on the total number of lends/borrows and the total number for the planet out of a set amount of millions of dollars. In essence, you earn a fraction of what the entire world is given, but it can end up being more than the price of the book. Good for those novellas or side novels you’re willing to sell for 99 cents, because you could end up making $2 or more off each borrow.

Free Book Promotion Tool – So, want to offer a great big promotional ‘free day’ without the hassle of having to change the price on multiple sites? Amazon’s got the tool for you. Tell them when you want it free, send people the links, and there ya go! You only get five days of this, so use them wisely!

Overall Thoughts – Amazon’s got some great tools. I read somewhere that they are willing to sell Kindle Fires and E-Readers at a loss to gather market share, and these are definite supporters of that plan. KDP Select is a great tool, but it may not be the best for you. With only one publishing platform, you limit yourself and your slice of the market.

Yes, most to many people use Amazon’s services, but not all. Barnes and Noble & the i-Store for apple may be the strongest competitors, but neither have similar promotional tools. Barnes and Noble matches the ease for uploading that Amazon has, but I have yet to figure out how to upload stuff to the iStore. (Even with directions). That being said, I encourage you to use all the platforms available. Amazon has shown a willingness to ‘change the rules’ before, and thus we should not be surprised if they do it again. If allowed to completely dominate the market, authors will be getting the shaft at the end as Amazon will be allowed to control all aspects of the payment and royalties without our ability to say no.

What do you think? Should authors go with KDP Select, or should they diversify?

Self-Publishing – Pricing an ebook

A brief look at how to effectively price your ebook, in both the short and long term.

Hi all,

In Today’s posting, I wanted to talk about pricing your ebook. I know that many self-published authors are engaged in a ‘race to the bottom’ of sorts in an effort to eek out as much money from a book as possible. Someone once told me that I should always price my first book at 99 cents because “why would anyone spend more on a more expensive book when there are 99 cent ones out there?”
Good question. But I would like to say that there are not many other books out there just like my book. To be sure, there are a lot of quality 99 cent books out there. There are even many quality free books out there too. But for me, I know what my own book is worth, which is my first point.

1.) Price your book for what you think people will really pay for it. Everyone wants to get the most bang for their buck, and people are always looking for deals. But at the same time, don’t forget that you get what you pay for. If you purchase a 99 cent book, you’re expecting to read a 99 cent book. I don’t expect it to be great, just average. But if I see someone charging a bit more for their book – and it has good reviews with a good amount of traffic (I like to check the ranking numbers) then I’ll check it out.
2.) You will make more money by selling fewer higher cost books than you will selling more lower price books. Amazon, in particular, gives authors 70% of the profits if their book is priced between $2.99 and $9.99. So I make roughly $2.74 off each book I sell at the 70% rate. Contrast this to the paltry 30% offered to those who sell their book at 99 cents – a meager 30 cents (roughly) per book. So a person with a 99 cent book would have to sell nine books to make almost what I make in one book. One sell is a lot easier than nine.

3.) The flip side is also true. Nine cheap sells are a lot easier than one tough(er) sell. But this is where being smart ties in. Right now I have just one book. So I’ve priced it a bit high, with the idea that eventually I can lower the price. But how can you have your book, your work of blood-sweat-tears that took you a year to write actually have a helpful price while also keeping excited readers? Create a loss leader! Make a short story or two (ten thousand words or so) and price them at 99 cents or free. You don’t need an incredible amount of editing, just some basic formatting work and cover art. People will buy the cheap one, and be drawn into your story, then purchase your more expensive novel. By the way, Lindsey Buroker is an expert on this, check out her multiple 99 cent short stories that helped her get started in the world of self-publishing.

4.) Using a loss leader – This can be especially easy if you have a series. A loss leader is simply when you offer something at free or reduced prices to get someone interested in a product. You see this all the time when credit card companies give you a baseball hat or t-shirt when you sign up for a card. They lose a (small) amount of money on the shirt, but expect to gain more when you rack up big debts on your account.

So you set up your first novel as a cheaper or free introduction to your story, and hope the reader enjoys the story enough to purchase the next installments. Bingo, the ‘free’ book leads to two or three other purchases perhaps? Maybe more if you have multiple series.

What do you guys think about price setting? Is it better to start high then go low or simply stay low? Thoughts?


Is Amazon Select Right for You?

I return to take a closer look at Amazon’s KDP Select service and discuss whether or not you think it’s right for you.

Hi all,
Sorry for the long absence, but my life has been absolutely crazy the last couple of weeks. Moving houses, preparing for school, doing grad school work, setting up new house, first week of school, etc. Anyways, I back with my hopefully-weekly-blog-posting. This week I’d like to talk about Amazon Select. For those of you who don’t know, Amazon Select is a service run through Amazon’s KDP Digital publishing platform. Essentially, the gist is that if you sign up for this service, you have the ability to offer your novel(s) at no cost for five days. It also places your book in a ‘lending library’ where people can borrow your novel and read it. The more people who borrow your novels, the more money you get. Amazon has established a fund this month of $600,000 to pay KDP Select members.

Sounds pretty good, right? I mean people pay to borrow your book. There’s some math involved (See below) but the gist is that the more borrows your book gets, the more money you make.

For example, if the monthly fund amount is $500,000, the total qualified borrows of all participating KDP titles is 100,000, and your book was borrowed 1,500 times, you will earn 1.5% (1,500/100,000 = 1.5%), or $7,500 for that month.

So what’s the catch? Several in fact. First, your novel must be exclusive on Amazon KDP for 90 days. Three months of not being able to sell it digitally on any other site. Now you’re still free to sell it physically – i.e. paperback wise – through other sites, but lets be real here. If you write eBooks and you are not a multi-thousand copy seller, you probably aren’t selling more than perhaps a dozen hardcovers a month, give or take. You’re limited by the five free days, and with Amazon adjusting their rankings to eliminate free ‘purchases’ so that they won’t count towards the sales ranking, I’m not sure how effective this is. Sure, your book is free, but it isn’t boosting your ratings and isn’t really getting you much. If you’re using it as a loss-leader for a series, it would make more sense, but perhaps not so for a person like myself with just one book.

Of course, I’m not exactly selling tons of novels through Barnes and Noble or Smashwords and sell the majority if my books through Amazon. So I could try it out, and may be tempted to if I ever write a short story companion to Brass Legionnaire. That could be a great way to bring in new readers with the style of short fiction that is so popular right now.

So to sum up, Select is something that I’m not considering using now. I may consider doing it down the road with a companion novel to drive up interest in my Steam Empire Chronicles, but until then, I’ll stick to the sidelines. I’d be interested to see if B&N rolls out something similar to compete, perhaps offering a more impressive rate amount or additional free days.

That’s all folks, time to get back to writing Copper Centurion. I leave you with a lovely quote by your favorite rabble-rousing assassin, spy, and rebel, Corbus.

“Have it your way, Brittenburgian,” Julius’ eyebrows rose. “Ah yes, see I placed your accent. I have a special place in my heart for that corrupt, disgusting, pestilent city.” Corbus sneered wickedly. He socked the legionnaire again, and the man collapsed back to the ground.

“Send a message to the Duke, we’ve got a prisoner.”


%d bloggers like this: