Category Archives: book promotion

Watch Out for This When Planning Your Amazon Promotions

By Melissa Macfie
Do you ever read the terms of service agreement before clicking “accept” when “signing” an agreement on the internet? Never did I think I would need to know those terms when signing up for a simple Amazon Promotion, but I did.
Somewhere in my upbringing the phrase “don’t sign until you read the fine print” was embedded. This made signing my first mortgage exceedingly tedious for our agent. He was patient, allowed me to read, and answered my questions—some of them repeatedly and using small words—until I was comfortable enough to sign. This penchant for reading the fine print became further rooted by various experiences where I needed to parse a single sentence to ensure a favorable outcome.
When I wrote my first book, the world of publishing was foreign to me. The little I thought I knew about publishing was invalidated almost as soon as I entered. The one thing I knew was that to survive, I had to read the fine print—starting with the publishing contract. The terms of agreement were straightforward and outlined the responsibilities of both parties. It was explained to me with patience all I would be required to do. It was reassuring.
This reassurance coupled with my confidence that I could parse a lengthy Terms of Agreement document, had me signing up for Amazon’s Kindle Direct Program with the enthusiasm and glee of a child. Reading terms of service agreements can be daunting, and even though it took me some time to understand the whole document, I had a good bead on what the contract laid out. Never would I have thought that I would have to put it to use.
To explain, the KDP enrollment period is for the span of three months, which renews automatically. During one three-month period, authors are allowed to reduce their pricing once per book. The point of this type of promotion is to make your book more attractive to new readers and quickly increase your Amazon ranking—not to mention your royalties. These .99 cent promotions work best when coupled with paid advertising with a variety of subscriptions newsletters which inform readers of .99 cent and free book promotions. I have scheduled many such reductions successfully in the past, but this time I decided to schedule the promotion on the first day of the new enrollment period.
Not expecting any difficulty, I submitted and paid for my books to be advertised on multiple promotion websites. Once confirmed with the advertisers, I went to schedule the price reduction at KDP.Amazon.com. According to the Amazon terms of agreement, 24 hours’ notice must be given in order for the price to be reduced, and having left a four day margin, I thought I was in the clear.
I was wrong.
Since it was technically in the last days of my previous KDP period, all the system would let me do was schedule up to the last day of that period. It would NOT allow me to schedule a promotion on the first day of the next period. In a panic, because, as I mentioned, I’d already spent money on advertising, I reread the terms of agreement and the FAQ page on the KDP site. In neither location was there any mention of scheduling for upcoming enrollment periods. But there was also NOTHING that said a promotion could not be run on the first day of an enrollment period. Time was running short, so I quickly sent an email to Amazon. It was answered within twelve hours. The response reiterated the end and start dates of my enrollment, that twenty-four hours was needed to schedule a price reduction, and that I would not be able to schedule for the first day of the renewed period.
This was a problem. I could not change the advertising I had already scheduled. It was paid for and it was too late to change things on the half dozen sites on which I had signed up. Looking over those Amazon terms of agreement again, nowhere did it state that I could not begin a promotion on the first day of the enrollment period. I was not going to let this go!
I followed up with another email. This one earned a phone call from an Amazon associate within two hours of my sending it. The phone call was to inform me that they verified my statement that this clause was, in fact, not in their terms, and as such, they would grant my request to schedule the price reduction on the first day of my enrollment period. I was told additionally that this would be the only time they would do so, as if I was the one who did something wrong.
My ire at this situation was substantially eased by the favorable outcome of my promotion the next week, and the knowledge that I was able to do it because of my diligence. However, just to be safe, moving forward, I will not schedule price reductions in the first week of my new enrollment period—and I suggest you do not either.
Now for the statistics: The promotion was a .99 cent promotion for Fate’s Hand, Book 1 in my Celtic Prophecy series, and free for Reliquary’s Choice, Book 2 in the series. The promotion took me to Number 2 in Free Kindle books for Reliquary’s Choice and Number 14 in Magical Realism for Fate’s Hand. Overall there were over 4,000 downloads for Reliquary and I also increased the number of reviews. There were 222 books sold at .99 cents for Fate’s Hand. Although I did give away over 4,000 copies of Reliquary’s Choice free, some of that does translate into money, through readers who use the Kindle Unlimited program which pays authors for “pages read.”
Melissa Macfie, author of Fate’s Hand and Reliquary’s Choice, is currently working on the third book in the Celtic Prophecy series, Oracle’s Curse. She also develops custom e-book marketing plans for other authors. Contact her at melissa.macfie@yahoo.com.

E-Book Sales and Amazon: The Good and the Bad

Amazon: love it or hate, if you’re an author and want to increase e-book sales, you MUST use it.  Whether you’re an author, a publisher, an agent or a book marketer, whether you are publishing an e-book or a paper book, Amazon is necessary. But, while Amazon has allowed independent authors to flourish, its success has also made it more difficult for the new independent author to make a mark in the ever-growing world of book publishing. ISBN registrations jumped 21 percent between 2014 and 2015, according to Bowker, the company that issues these numbers. Recent estimates are that over 2 million titles are published each year.

Amazon and E-Books
While Amazon is often cited having a 65 percent share of all U.S. e-book sales, according to the website AuthorEarnings.com, 74 percent is a more correct approximation, when indie books without ISBN’s are included. (Amazon allows authors to publish e-books using only an ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number). The majority of that final 26 percent of sales is shared by Apple’s iBookstore, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo US bookstore and GooglePlay Books. Also according to AuthorEarnings.com, these four sites “take in 32% of all author income generated by ebook sales.”

Amazon has stacked the deck in its favor by offering the KDP Select program (Kindle Direct Publishing) which increases an author’s percentage of royalties from 30 to 70 percent if the author publishes only on Amazon.com.

According to Mark Coker, founder of e-book distributor Smashwords, who was quoted in The BookLife Report, “Amazon has not made anything easier for indie authors’ bottom lines with KDP Select, which requires participating authors to publish e-books exclusively with Amazon and allows titles to be eligible for Kindle Unlimited—a program that provides unlimited books for readers who pay a monthly subscription fee.” Coker is also critical of Amazon’s shift to paying authors for number of pages ready rather than numbers of books sold.

Working the System
I like to root for the underdog, and Amazon certainly is not the underdog in the publishing world. I also agree that Amazon’s methods of payment are Byzantine and are weighted to pay authors the least amount possible. But reality is that if a reader wants to buy an e-book, almost three quarters of the time she is going to buy it on Amazon. I’m rooting for the true underdog in the publishing world: the author. Right now, an independent author’s best shot at cracking the code and gaining recognition and sales is to use Amazon. That means authors should:
1. Sign up for KDP Select
2. Learn how to use the Amazon categories and ranking systems to increase visibility
3. Take advantage of the many e-newsletters out there promoting e-book deals
4. Keep a close eye on e-book sales trends and changes in Amazon’s program

Right now, KDP Select is still one of the best ways for authors to earn money on e-book sales. But that may not always be the case. To learn more about Amazon and e-book marketing, come to the Fifth Annual Winter Writers’ Weekend, March 3-5 in New Hope, PA. Author Melissa Macfie will hold a workshop on “E-book Promotions: Improve Your Rank and Your Sales.”

Six Tips to Market Your E-book

The writing world is never short on advice for how to turn your passion into 25,000 words that will become the next great bestseller. But what do you do once you’ve written that book? No matter how great it is, marketing to your family and friends will only take you so far. You’ve uploaded your book to several online sites, but what’s the next step? Get a Facebook page? Start Tweeting?
Yes, you should. But if that’s all you do, you’ll have a nice piece of virtual real estate and a few virtual friends, and not much else. You don’t want to just write a book (if you did, you’d call it your diary and hide it under the bed). You want to sell your book.
To do that you must start by putting yourself and your work out there. There are many techniques for selling books. Some of them are the same whether you are selling an e-book or a paper book, and some are different. We’ll start today with five tips to increase your e-book sales.
1. Use Kindle Select. This program requires you to upload your book ONLY to Amazon. If your e-book is already available in other markets, take it down. This may sound count-intuitive, but there are a lot of good reasons why you should focus your e-book sales on Amazon. A few of them are increased royalties and increased marketing opportunities.
2. Check the Price. Your e-book should be listed at $2.99. Yes, there are e-books out there that are selling for more, but if you are an unknown author, or have only a small following, price your book to attract new readers. If you’re Nora Roberts or James Patterson you can sell your e-books for $12.99, but even these well-known authors reduce the price on their older editions.
3. Check Your Categories. Is your book listed in the best categories? Do some market research. Look at other authors who write similar books. What categories do they use? How large are those categories? Try to find a sub-category that has fewer titles. It will be easier to climb the rankings in their. For instance, if you’re a mystery writer, “crime” is a very large category. But “women sleuths” is a smaller category with less competition. Obviously, you’ll look for the categories that best suit your book.
4. Lower Your Price. Now that you’ve set your price at $2.99 I want you to lower it. Yes, that’s right, I want you to offer your book for .99 cents in special promotions several times a year. Using the Kindle Countdown Deal program, you can offer your book for .99 every 90 days. This will increase your sales ranking, giving you more visibility.
5. Now Give it Away. Yes, you heard me. Now that you have lowered your price to a ridiculously uncomfortable level, I want you to give it away! Not all the time. Just for a week. This sales technique works particularly well if you have two or more books published. Offering the first book in a series free will bring you new readers who will want to know the rest of the story—and will pay to read it.
6. Advertise Your Giveaways. If no one knows you’re having a sale, how can they buy? Make sure you let potential readers know your book is on sale. There are dozens of book promotion sites that send emails with alerts to books on special. The best-known, and most expensive is BookBub, but don’t stop there. There are lots of others.
Need Help jump-starting your e-book marketing campaign? Contact Open Door Publications for custom marketing campaigns.