Publetariat Dispatch: Marketing Direct To Kindle Readers. On Advertising And KDP Select.

May 29, 2012
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Publetariat: For People Who Publish!

In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, author and publishing consultant Joanna Penn talks direct marketing and KDP Select.

If you want to sell books, you need to find readers.  Although there are a lot of ebook vendors out there, Amazon is  currently the dominant player and there are a lot of readers who own  Amazon Kindles/Fires and who shop on the Amazon store. I am one of them.

There are a few things you can do to market direct to these people,  and you don’t need an existing platform to do it. You don’t need a blog  or a twitter presence and you can still get thousands of sales or  downloads of your book.

Direct Advertising

I believe you need a budget for your business as an independent author.

You need to use some of this budget for professional editing and  cover design, and some of it can be used for promotional activity. There  are a number of sites that specialize in promoting books to avid Kindle  readers. These sites have lists with tens of thousands of readers on  them so they can be a powerful way to boost sales and get your book  moving on the Amazon charts.

In 2010, I used Kindle Nation Daily to promote Pentecost  and it shot me up the charts. Pentecost reached #1 on Movers &  Shakers, #4 in Religious Fiction and #93 in Thrillers. This year I  decided to use PixelofInk.com as KND had increased in price and also had little availability for the time period I wanted.

Direct Advertising Results

The promo is a 1 day event with lots of other books also promoted  that day. I paid US$250 for the promo of Pentecost, again counting on  the first in the series dragging Prophecy up with it.

Copies of Pentecost sold: 800 @35c = US$280

Copies of Prophecy sold: 57 @$2 = US$114

Total income: US$394.

Given the cost was US$250, financially, this was worth the promotion.

But the impact on the Rankings was also fantastic.  Pentecost reached #5 in the Action Adventure charts and Prophecy reached  #88, so both books were ranking together, and Prophecy debuted in the  charts above Lee Child. Awesome! Pentecost also reached #82 in the  entire Amazon.com Kindle store. We still don’t know how the Amazon algorithm works but rankings, sales and reviews definitely play a part.

Will I do it again? Absolutely. (But remember,  every book is different so don’t assume that what works for me will also  work for your book. It’s all experimentation!)

My tips for getting the most out of the experience:

  • Have a great cover and back blurb
  • Have 10+ reviews of 4 stars or more on the sales page already – this social proof will help people to buy
  • Use great pricing. 99c will get you into the bargain area which will  elicit more sales, although clearly higher pricing will result in more  revenue for less sales.
  • You can find out more in the Author’s Corner on PixelofInk

KDP Select

If you’re not aware yet, KDP Select is  an Amazon Kindle opportunity that allows you to put your book into the  Amazon Prime lending program and receive a percentage of lending income  from a fixed monthly pot. It also allows authors 5 days in a 3 month  period where they can price the book for free. Previously, the only way  to do this was to ‘game’ Amazon by setting the price to zero on  Smashwords and waiting for their algorithm to pick it up. But now there  is control over the period of time so you can coordinate your  promotional period.

Free is basically a marketing activity. The aim is  to get eyeballs on your book and to pick up data from the Amazon  algorithm that may help your book when it goes back to paid. Most  authors have experimented with some form of free but it works best when  you have multiple books. Here’s NY Times bestselling author CJ Lyons on how free worked for her, and this was before KDP Select.

In order to be in the program, you have to put your book exclusively with Amazon for that 3 month period. You can then choose to renew or opt out again.

There have been some prominent indies in both the For and Against  camps for KDP Select but I wanted to try it for myself in order to give a  more informed opinion. Obviously the results will be different for  every book so this is hardly the last word on the subject, but it is my  experience.

How I used KDP Select

As part of the launch for Prophecy which is $2.99, I included Pentecost  in KDP Select, hoping that people would get the first in the series for  free and then buy the 2nd since the price is also pretty good for that.  Given that Pentecost had already sold over 17,000 copies prior to this  promotion, I figured I would get new readers.

I initially set the promo for 3 days but increased it to 5 once I got  to the top of the Action Adventure charts in order to maximize the  impact and downloads. I shared the fact it was free on Twitter and  Facebook but that was about it. I know there are a number of sites that  promote books as being free and also people who watch the lists, so no  extra promo was really needed.

I did have to remove Pentecost from Smashwords in order to do this  which meant the book wasn’t available on the other ebook stores.

Results from KDP Select

I  started the promo on Sat 5 Feb and very quickly I was on the top free  listing for Action Adventure. On Mon 6th Feb Pentecost reached #1 on  Free for Action Adventure on Amazon.com and #2 in the UK. It stayed  there until the promo finished.

Total downloads of Pentecost over the 5 days: 10,836

Total sales of Prophecy over the 5 days: 294

Was it worth it?

For me, I don’t think so. The uptick in Prophecy sales was quite  small and I think a lot of people who get free books just get a lot of  free books. They don’t necessarily need to buy books anymore as so many  are free. How many of those 10,000 new readers will convert to fans of  my fiction? It will certainly be a small percentage but perhaps the same  number who would have bought the book over that period anyway, as I  have quite consistent sales every month.

On the lending aspect, only 20 copies of my books  have been lent in the last month. That’s not significant data at all but  it does show that lending doesn’t work for all books as an income or  promotional activity.

I also had to remove my books from the other platforms. I now have to  republish them so I may have missed out on sales during that period as  well. As much as I personally love Amazon as a reader and an author, I  actually don’t like being exclusive to their store. Even though I buy  there exclusively, it doesn’t mean other people do and I want to be  available everywhere.

Will I do it again? Probably not, for fiction  anyway. I might experiment with non-fiction. That doesn’t mean it’s not  good for your book/s, but it’s my own experience. I have a guest post  coming soon from an author who totally loves KDP Select, so we all have  different experiences.

Have you tried direct advertising or KDP Select? How has it worked for you?

Want more tips on how to sell more fiction?

I  have now been selling my fiction for over a year and I’ve experimented  with a lot of different strategies and tactics. I have also changed my  mind on a lot of things and believe that selling fiction is quite  different to selling non-fiction.

I share my findings in this recent webinar recording: How to promote your novel: 21 ways to sell more books online. It’s just US$21 and has some rave reviews. Click here to read more about it.

This is a reprint from Joanna Penn‘s The Creative Penn.

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