06-18 Sarah Raplee – WHY PSYCHIC AGENTS?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Indie Publishing via Amazon: Bits, Bytes and Bucks

by Madelle Morgan

I learned a few promotion-related tidbits important to indie romance authors (and readers) at the Romance Writers of America conference in San Antonio, Texas last month.

When I wasn't having fun with a couple of cowboys, that is...

At a two hour workshop, Amazon representatives described how Amazon continues to evolve its services to support indie authors. Why? Simply put, self-publishing is profitable. Latest figures available show that a third of the top 100 e-books on Amazon.com were indie-published. One hundred fifty (150) authors publishing via Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) sold over $100,000 worth of books in 2013 on Amazon. That's not the total. That's the amount each author earned.

Other pluses for KDP authors are global distribution and sales data. Amazon distributes to 246 countries. KDP offers real time sales reports. Bookscan data is available describing where, geographically, books are selling for a specific period. This provides valuable, timely feedback on the impact of specific marketing initiatives. On the print side, CreateSpace is going to be offering professional services for editing, cover design and marketing indie-published print books.

Amazon's Discovery Options for Readers & Authors

KDP Select
When an author puts an e-book into the KDP Select program, the book is sold exclusively on Amazon for up to 90 days. While the author's book is in that program, the author can make it free for up to five days within that 90 day period. When not free, that book can be discounted via the Kindle Countdown Deals for up to seven days. You are probably familiar with Kindle Daily Deals. As well, a KDP Select e-book is automatically enrolled in the new Kindle Unlimited "loan" program. See below.

Stay Up To Date
This feature on the right menu on an Amazon Author Page allows readers to subscribe to an automatic email when the author has a new release. I'm absolutely loving this alert option, because when the next books in my favorite series are published I'm automatically notified.

Series Promotion
A new feature (or at least new to me) allows an author to set up a Series Landing Page - a list of all the books in a series. When a reader searches for an author and gets the list of all the author's works, she'll see a link that takes her to a page with a list of all the books in the series, in order, as well as any connected works such as box sets and short stories. If the author sets up a page for each series, that is!

Here's Marie Force's Amazon page for her series "The McCarthys of Gansett Island."

Hot New Releases
To my surprise, the books on this coveted list are chosen by the Amazon merchandizing team! It's a curated list. The books on it are not selected because of some mysterious algorithm magic.

Amazon is Enabling Readers to Read a Lot of Books Cheaply

Kindle Lending Library
This is available exclusively to Prime members. Readers have to read at least 10% of the book before the author receives any money (currently approx $2 per book loaned).

Kindle Unlimited - NEW
This service for U.S.-based subscribers has just launched. They pay $9.99 per month for unlimited reading and listening on any device. Books in KDP Select are automatically added to the Kindle Unlimited library of over 600,000 works for the duration of the time the book is in the KDP Select program. This is a wonderful way for readers to discover new authors without a financial commitment. Readers, as I understand it, please note that the book will disappear from your device the moment the audio or e-book is no longer in the KDP Select program.

Kindle Daily Deals
This has to be one of your go-to pages on Amazon.

Match Book - NEW
Purchasers of a print copy can buy the digital version for a discounted price.

Please note Kobo offers promo support such as pricing strategies along with its self-publishing platform Kobo Writing Life. Unfortunately I couldn't attend the Kobo workshop due to a conflict, but will listen to the audiotape. With promo strategies offered by innovative distributors like Amazon and Kobo, indie authors are sitting pretty, darlin'!

Any factual errors in the above descriptions are my own, not Amazon's. Blame it on these frosty delights I enjoyed while relaxing beside the beautiful Riverwalk canal.

And Finally, the RITA Goes To...

The annual Romance Writers of America RITA Awards recognize outstanding published romance novels and novellas. At this year's gala ceremony it became crystal chandelier clear to me that indie publishing has reached a tipping point. A self-published novel won the RITA in the Romantic Suspense category! Several other indie novels were nominated.

I walked onto the plane at the San Antonio airport after a great conference convinced that it's a no-brainer for an author to try self-publishing.

Enjoy the rest of the summer!




Sarah Raplee said...

Madelle, Thank you for the detailed report on Amazon programs available to Indie authors!

I agree that it's a great time to be an Indie author! Thank you for making it a little less confusing.

Judith Ashley said...

Hi Madelle! I whooped with delight when I saw how well represented indie authors were and we are creeping up in the numbers on the best seller lists also. Fantastic news!!!

Thanks for showing the various options through Amazon. Since you are a Canadian author, do you see Amazon's KDP Select program a better choice for you than launching on Kobo and B&N too?

Madelle Morgan said...

Hi Judith,

Chapters-Indigo (Canada's national bookstore chain) and other retailers in Canada sell Kobos. Kindles are only available via Amazon on-line purchases. If a Canadian walks into a store to physically buy a dedicated e-reader (as opposed to an iPad or phone), they have to buy one of the Kobo versions.

I don't know the relative stats of Kobo e-reader sales vs Kindle sales in Canada, but my money is on Kobo.

Therefore to answer your question, if an author wants to sell e-books to Canadians, the author should really make her books available on Kobo.com after the KDP Select 90 days runs out.

Plus Kobo distributes in over 180 countries. I have no clue about B&N's distribution outside the US or Nook penetration vs Kindle in the US. I can say that most non-authors I know in Canada own a Kobo, not a Kindle, or read on an Apple product or on their smartphones.

What e-readers do UK and Aussie readers own, I wonder?

Pippa Jay said...

Madelle, I'm in the UK, and we own two Kindles and a Kobo. I have a Kindle app on my phone. Most of my friends here have Kindles or read on an iPad, but actually most of them still prefer print books. So I can't give you a terribly accurate overview.
I didn't know about the series landing page, which is enormously helpful to me to know, thank you! And did everyone get the email about KDP titles now being able to go on pre-order?

Pippa Jay said...

Oh, and UK authors couldn't upload to B&N except through Smashwords - I believe that's changed now but I'll probably keep on doing it via Smashwords.

spajonas said...

I see Marie Force's series page but I don't see any information on HOW you set one up.

Madelle Morgan said...

To have a Series Landing Page you have to first enter the info in each Book Detail Page.

Go to your Author Central profile. When you add a book to your bibliography, you type in the title, ISBN, etc. as well as (new) Book 1 of __ or similar. Then Amazon automatically compiles the Series Landing Page.

I'm not sure how to modify book detail pages of books that are already on the site, though.

J. Jade Jordan said...

Hi Madelle, Thanks for the report on Indie Publishing on Amazon. I am presently in the process of having my book formatted for POD availability on Createspace, after having published it last month on KDP. Did you learn anything about KDP's "expanded distribution" at the conference? I was seriously considering joining it until I saw how much I would have to sell my print book just to cover my costs!
At $15.00 CAD, I barely break even!

Another thorny issue I wonder if they touched on is DRM. There are sites that won't buy or review an author's book unless it is DRM-free. Unfortunately, I discovered this little hitch after I automatically followed KDP's suggested click to enable the DRM. Once enabled it is impossible to revoke it during the 90 days. A lesson learned after the fact!

I am pleased, however, at how well my book is doing despite zero PR. I didn't even tell my family. So all my sales are from strangers! I am surprised, not to say stunned.
Indie publishing is the way to go!

Madelle Morgan said...

Hi Jade,

Congrats on your release!

As I learned at RWA2014, CreateSpace books now get into Ingram - the distribution hub where many (most?) libraries and bookstores order their PRINT stock - via Expanded Distribution BUT at a 40% royalty. If the POD is only available via Amazon, the royalty is higher at 60% minus the manufacturing fee.

Lightning Source is the other POD option.

Thanks for the DRM tip!