An event to help authors discover and/or improve their careers in the book publishing world was held yesterday at the International Conference Centre in Edinburgh. The first half of the morning was applied to the projection of KDP images on to a screen for the benefit for those who may not be familiar with the process involved. A very surprising, but delicious, complimentary buffet lunch followed, including the chance to network. The second half of the morning included a panel of KDP authors offering advice and tips on how to make a success of their self-published books.
Tips included the many ways an author could promote their newly published book that can tend to initially sink into a deep well. Amazon’s KDP platform has in place a certain number of promotional tools at the author’s disposal, however some authors found that this was not really enough. The problem many authors find is the one of being ‘seen’ and ‘found’ amongst a huge database of books.
One of the reasons for this is that the e-book market has become heavily saturated. I stress that Amazon is primarily a ‘retail store’ not a ‘publisher,’ where the latter works to provide individually targeted marketing to its authors. Having said that, once a book has proved it’s metal in the marketplace Amazon begin to advertise it more often to readers that have read and enjoyed books within a similar genre.
My novel “The Last Gift” picked up tremendously in sales once it had received enough five star reviews for Amazon to deem it good enough to promote further. How that algorithm works exactly – who knows! But Prime readers can now, for instance, see my novel suggested to them via their kindle applications and Amazon’s own email marketing directives. A consistently poorly reviewed book would not (of course) be in Amazon’s interest to try and promote. Why would they? So the onus is down to us. Quality work needs to be produced for others to have faith in it.
I personally think it is fair that authors promote their titles via the various (and many) channels available today. Marketing/advertising, blogging, social media posts etc are all easily tapped into. KDP charge no set up fee for an author to be able to use their tools to upload and sell books and they also offer two options within their percentage royalty scheme. The newly introduced KENP is another good way for an author to amalgamate additional earnings. I see the spike on my KENP graph can be as little as two pages to a 1000 read pages in one day. It is a random figure but you can earn a nominal amount for every SINGLE PAGE that is read on a reader’s kindle application if your book is purchased by a reader through the Kindle Library Lending Scheme. The amount is then paid back as royalty payments.
With regard to success and the build-up of sales, if your book sells well you will see a “boost” in rank, though you will receive MANY more sales than reviews. Statistics vary but a few online sources that I have found quote that less than 1% of purchasers actually leave a review of the product. So you may need to sell 1000 copies of your kindle book to see just 10 reviews. Sadly, getting feedback is extremely hard for authors that are self-published or otherwise. (Readers please take note) but it is essentially this which helps your book along, as well as your overall drive and determination.
As mentioned at the event too – books are being churned out for just 99 pence, even more books in the thousands are available for free, It is not an investment in money we are asking from the reader today, we are asking the reader to make an investment in TIME. A reader would never be able to read as many books that are available on the market now in an entire lifetime. Even if they read 1 book per DAY! Therefore readers have the liberty to be extremely picky and fussy with their choices.
Unless authors are published by major publishing houses independent authors need to build up a following of readers that are loyal to their work. This takes time, effort, practice, trials that go beyond the pain of physical torture (hell, it feels like it sometimes) to eventually cashing in from your days and months of hard work. As little as twenty years ago having an option to write/publish/sell without any main publisher involvement, or a huge investment, was completely unheard of. For the majority of independent authors it takes a long time, and many more will quit at the running post, but for some very lucky, driven and smart authors – real success is out there.
My view is that KDP is a good and trustworthy independent publishing platform, but you must be prepared to establish your own personal goals and these must be realistic and reasonable. Don’t jump into bad choices and always look to improve your craft. No book is perfect. No author is perfect – but no-one can stop you improving if you want to. As an indie author you make decisions for yourself, being the editor, cover designer, marketing manager, accountant and advertising expert in all things. Research your market! Know your target audience and only hire vetted and reputable services to help.
Lastly, whatever your personal choice is, do not skimp out on quality. If you get it wrong, don’t quit. Try again. This is the biggest mistake an indie author often makes from the outset. Quality shines, and quality work takes time.
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