Tag Archives: KDP Select

KDP Select Versus EReader News Today — Post by Mary C. Findley

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This is a very informal and unprofessional comparison of Amazon’s KDP Select and the bargain book placement on Ereader News Today.  

I published an ebook In October of 2012 called A Dodge, a Twist, and a Tobacconist. My first problem was how to categorize it. It is fiction, and is a decidedly Christian book. It also features characters from classic authors like Dickens, Alcott, Kipling, and others. So I call it a Literary Tribute, but it also falls into a category that is unusual for Christian books. That category is Steampunk. At the time, Amazon didn’t have a Steampunk category, so I put it down as sci fi and Christian adventure, basically. I also enrolled it in Amazon’s KDP Select program.

That means I got 5 days to promote it free, plus I also produced an illustrated version of the same book and offered that free as well. So I had 10 free days between the two books during about 105 days (I put the illustrated version out about 2 weeks after the plain version.)

On the free days, I got a total of about 1500 downloads of the book. I also now have 17 reviews. I have been told the main reason for doing free days is to get reviews but most have come quite a long time after the books were free. I know that people load free books onto their Kindles and forget about them. I do that too. But I still was a bit disappointed in the results for having the books in the KDP select program. Blame it on the genre or whatever circumstances, but I elected not to continue in Select and submitted them to Smashwords for distrbution as soon as the 90 day periods were up.

Since that experiment I have put the plain version on sale for 99 cents a couple of times, and it has sold an average of 4-5 a month. Since it is in a fairly niche category (Steampunk is now an option, and it was still under Christian Adventure, it would show up in the top 100 for its category about every other month. I thought that was pretty good, considering a lot of the time, when I tell people, “I am writing a Steampunk series,” they say, “What’s Steampunk?”

I had been hearing for some time that people were getting their books placed on Ereader News Today, or ENT. That’s a site that has a very large following of people looking for free or 99 cent books. They invite authors to submit books for possible listing. As soon as I had 10 reviews averaging 4-5 stars (that’s a requirement) I started submitting the book to the site requesting to be listed.

Author friends all around me seemed to be getting theirs listed without too much delay, and they got some great results. But three email requests and about 8 months later, I was still waiting. I had been submitting the book as SciFi, and that seemed not to be working, so I tried Christian Fiction, and that finally worked. So I had my day on the site February 11 of this year.

Just before the book went up on the site, I changed a category to try to capitalize on the book’s inspirational character. But imagine my surprise when it started to show up in the top 100 of the category Metaphysics and Visionary. Wow. Where did that come from? Here’s an image of stats fairly late in the day. I missed the one where it pushed into the top 4500 in the store.

dodge 1 1 and 4 in scifi categories

It got up to #1 in two Science Fiction rankings, and #3 in that Metaphysical category. Today, two days later, it’s still on three top 100 rankings, though it’s slipping a bit, but I’m still pleased.

Some of my author friends said when their book was on the site they got 300 or more sales, and continued in the hundreds afterward for at least a few days. Now it’s time for a reality check. My sales for the month of February for that book  total, if Amazon is up to date, 54. So it was a failure, you ask? I don’t think so. As I said, it’s a very niche genre. I’m waiting to see if there is review fallout over those odd category rankings. At one point it was about #7 in the top 100 of a nonfiction inspirational category. Oops. It’s not nonfiction. From selling at most 5 a month, I have gone to selling over 50 a month. 10 times the sales. So it seems to me that that’s at least respectable. And it’s continuing to sell, when it hadn’t been at all for the last couple of months. Visibility on the ENT site and high rankings on Amazon seem to have done it some good. This is an image from this afternoon, two days and a bit later.

dodge 2 13 2014 rankings

If your book is priced at 99 cents, Ereader News will bill you 25% of copies sold on the day it’s featured. Amazon charges you more than that just to sell it on their site anytime. When your book is free under the KDP program, you have to go around to the hundred or so sites that promote free books and notify them yourself. All Ereader News today asks is that you share and tweet their site link for your book, and that you like, and ask others to like, the post on their facebook page. It’s certainly a lot less work, and you are still getting some money for the book, rather than the nothing you get on KDP Select free days.

So how did I feel about getting to number 1 in Steampunk, and about 4500 in the whole Kindle store with a book that is about as far from Contemporary Romance (the easiest genre to get people to buy) as you can get? Giddy. Excited. Happy.

But more importantly, I hope we extended our reach. That’s what we really hope to do with all our books. More than fifty people now own one of our books who didn’t before. We even sold a couple of print copies, and we almost never sell any of those.

In the back of that book are small samples of all our books, and a link to our blog. They can read more about us, and understand our purpose, which is “speaking the truth in love.”

We want to reach more people with the message of the authority of God’s Word, and our “tough but you need it” perspectives on education, current events, and biblical teaching. We want them to know that we have books for almost everybody’s taste — historical fiction, sci-fi, homeschool curriculum, issues nonfiction, illustrated. There’s a bit of romance, a bit of mystery, and books for all ages.

I don’t feel like I did the work in this endeavor. I wrote the book, but that was a year and a half ago. I didn’t exhaust myself submitting to a ton of sites (KDP), spend a ton of money (most paid advertising), or obsessively check my sales and stats all day. (Well, maybe I did do those last two.) I was happy when I shared the stats and people said they were going to check out the book. I hope people like my book and I get good reviews.

Most of all, I hope this lets us have a little bigger opportunity to reach people with a message I think is very needed. God loves the unlovely. God can save anybody. Evil doesn’t have to overcome good. People can come from all kinds of backgrounds. Orphans on the streets, servants, princes, cowgirls, merchants, jungle trackers — those are the kinds of people who came together in A Dodge, a Twist, and a Tobacconist to form the Alexander Legacy Company. And God started a great work through them to try to free slaves and overcome slavers. Here’s hoping this is also just the beginning of Findley Family Video’s work to bring a message that God frees people from sin, all kinds of people, and that we don’t have to lose the fight for our country, for our freedom, and for men’s souls.

Don’t forget, the CIA Blog Hop “Love Is … ” is still going on. You can comment and receive a copy of Hope and the Knight of the Black Lion here on our blog. Or you can win a bunch of books by good authors over there. Hop, hop, hop!

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Part Three: Your Book, Where It Should Go, How It Will Look

Our e-publishing journey now comes to the formats and how your book will look in each one. Smashwords has great information on this topic from a mechanics standpoint. As a previous post we made on the subject said, https://elkjerkyforthesoul.wordpress.com/2011/10/19/the-hows-and-whys-of-e-books/ , although almost all devices can read the pdf format, consider that people might get your books on anything from a full-screen laptop to a pretty small smart phone. A pdf will look wonderful on that laptop screen. It’ll seem a lot like a real book, except for not being able to turn the pages. But if you try to cram that pdf image into your iPhone, the latest model brags about having a 3.5″ diagonal display, and it seems unlikely that it will look just right. Even in a traditional Kindle, pdfs do not really work all that well.

It is possible to convert a pdf into a format that the smaller machines can display. Calibre is one progam that makes file conversions. It is even free. If you have an HTML version of your document, the conversion is even easier. The question is, will a reader go to the trouble of doing that? Some will, but most will want a document that they can just open up and begin reading. So it is a good idea to make your document available in multiple formats, so that all the trouble your prospective customer has to go to is to get the right one off the internet and into his device.

This is what makes Smashwords such a great e-book creation site. You upload a simple Microsoft Word document. Smashwords runs it through the Meatgrinder and produces HTML (good for computer reading), JavaScript, mobi (Kindle format) EPub, which as Smashwords says on its site, works on “Apple iPad/iBooks, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and most e-reading apps including Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, others.” The Meatgrinder also churns out RTF, PDF, LRF for older Sony readers, PDB (Palm Document files), and two versions of plain text.

Please bear in mind that although you as the author can download any format of your book for free, you cannot redistribute these files on other sites where you can upload and sell your works. Smashwords creates them, doesn’t charge you anything, puts you into premium distribution, and asks in return only that you don’t re-use the files the Meatgrinder creates. You might say, “But it’s my book.” That’s kind of like an architect making plans to build one house and someone stealing and using those plans to build a bunch more houses. And you didn’t even pay Smashwords like you paid the architect. Nope. Can’t do it. Sorry.

Smashwords also gives you coupon codes so you can give copies away for free. This is useful for reviewers and for contests or promotionals. Instead of just pricing your book at free, which you can do on Smashwords, just offer a coupon, so that you know who’s getting your book. Amazon makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to get your book priced “free,” and they don’t give any copies away otherwise. You have to buy your own book yourself if you want to be sure it was formatted correctly.

Smashwords premium distribution gets you into Barnes and Noble and the iBookstore, among others. Customers can buy the mobi format from them to read on a Kindle. Even so, Amazon clearly has the largest and most successful marketing apparatus, and your best chance to be noticed and purchased is on Amazon. Many authors have chosen to pull their books from general distribution and make them exclusive under Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Select plan. Indie authors in all the forums and discussion sites I belong to are extremely polarized about this. It is a personal decision, but the author must be sure to read and understand the agreement thoroughly. It’s not a boilerplate terms of use like we all unthinkingly agree to get on many sites to promote our books.

https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?ie=UTF8&topicId=APILE934L348N#Select

Please read the entire agreement carefully, and especially pay attention to these two points.

1 Exclusivity. When you include a Digital Book in KDP Select, you give us the exclusive right to sell and distribute your Digital Book in digital format while your book is in KDP Select. During this period of exclusivity, you cannot sell or distribute, or give anyone else the right to sell or distribute, your Digital Book (or content that is reasonably likely to compete commercially with your Digital Book, diminish its value, or be confused with it), in digital format in any territory where you have rights.

 

5 Your Commitment. Your commitment to these terms and conditions is important, and the benefits we provide to you as part of this option are conditioned on your following through on your commitments. If you un-publish your Digital Book, we will remove it from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, but you must continue to comply with these commitments, including exclusivity, through the remainder of the Digital Book’s then-current 90-day period of participation in KDP Select. 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.

Remember, all you’re getting is inclusion in the lending program for Amazon Prime Members. In return, it seems to me that you’re giving up a lot, and taking a big risk that Amazon can deny you royalties and revenue if you don’t do exactly what they say.

But there’s nothing wrong with having your books in the KDP program generally. In fact, the Kindle is a great reader, and your books will look fantastic on it. We have both the Kindle Keyboard model and the Kindle Fire. Both are great readers and both are easy to use and look wonderful. I prefer the Kindle Fire display because it allows the full screen illustrations we have created for our two illustrated books to show in full color and full size. And the ease of buying (or getting free) the bunches and bunches of books Amazon has for Kindle is hard to beat.

http://reviews.cnet.com/2300-3126_7-10010211.html

Here is a link to CNET’s Kindle Fire review and the screenshots they show. It really does look that good. Fun to read in bed, and, though the battery only lasts about 4 hours, compared to the keyboard model’s lifespan of a month or more, it’s the perfect in-bed reader.

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