Friday, September 21, 2012

The Pros and Cons of Amazon and KDP

Amazon

When I started this project I was looking at publishing through both Amazon and Smashwords as I wanted my book to be available from various outlets. There are a few reasons why I’m currently solely selling through Amazon. Being a fan of the Kindle Fire did sway my decision some. I guess you could say that I’m somewhat partial to Amazon already as they’re the site I prefer to shop from. (Read Why I Love my Kindle Fire)
In the end, however, it was more than favoritism. Amazon’s KDP program offers some wonderful promotion tools in exchange for being exclusive to Amazon, and I felt like I had the best tools at my disposal by working with them. I talk more specifically about KDP in the second half of this article.

Some may say that signing with the KDP select program limits you as you are not able to have your book available in any other format other than Kindle. However anyone can download a Kindle app on their laptop, smartphone, and even Ipad. So, really the only device that using KDP select excludes is Nook. And, as the Nook is useless outside US boarders, I decided that this wasn’t as large enough of a group to be concerned about. Also, after reading about other author’s experiences I concluded that sales for most authors tended to be highest on Amazon as well.

So far I have been very happy at Amazon. The only thing I dislike about them is their 7 day return policy. I am perfectly fine allowing 7 days to return a paperback. However, the majority of my sales have been e-book copies. Since e-books arrive immediately after purchase, and with the ability to read the first few chapters of my book for free before even purchasing it, it’s more than plausible that someone could finish my 72,000 word novel within this week and return it after they’ve finished reading it. I’ve finished longer books in less time. This bothers me. It’s like buying a dress at the mall, leaving the tag on to wear it to dinner, then returning it the next day. And, this is the very reason why so many stores have a “no returns” policy.
I feel like customers shouldn’t need more than 24 hours to return a book, as I feel the only reason to return a book should be that you accidentally bought the wrong one. With the first few chapters of a book free to read, and reviews to help your purchasing decision, you have more than enough information to decide if you’d like to buy that book.
 
KDP Free Days
I want to give some honest advice about the KDP Free days. I do recommend going exclusive with Amazon to use the KDP Free days, I do feel like they have been beneficial to my sales. However, they didn’t quite meet up to my expectations.
I’ve read stories on the web of people talking about how KDP skyrocketed their book into the top 100, and how after their KDP promotion ended their book sales dramatically increased and then stayed steady from there on out. This isn’t in opposition to what I experienced with KDP, but it is more exaggerated from what I dealt with.

I feel like no one wants to admit exactly how many books they’re selling on a regular basis as they all wish they were selling more, but if we don’t share then we’ll never understand what’s “average” or what to expect. So, I’m going to share with you my numbers.
The very first day my book went live I had a sale, and a 5 Star review that promptly followed. I don’t think this is common, but it was wonderful for my self-esteem. I also know that this first sale was a direct result of my blogging as I recognized the username of the reviewer as one of my blog followers.

The first week, sales were a little slow, some days I had no sales, others I’d sell one or two books. It wasn’t until I ran a 99cent sale that they went up to two or three sales a day. This lasted through my 99cent sale and for a day after. Then sales slowed back down to 0-1 sales a day. I think my initial sales may have been higher had I sought out reviews prior to my book going “live”. I waited until after I published to find bloggers and reviewers and I think for this reason the launch of my book wasn’t as big as it could have been.
After the first week I focused on getting reviews for a short time and found I’d gain maybe one sale per review I acquired. Whether this is just correlative or connected I cannot say. Then after a Goodreads giveaway I decided to use my KDP Free days, and began to promote them through my blog, Goodreads, Shelfari, ect…

 The first free day I ran my “sales” picked up immediately. I did skyrocket up on the charts breaking through the top 1,000 Free quickly. I had over a thousand “sales” and by the second day my book had made it into the top 10 Free under Suspense/Thriller. I think I made it as high as #4 before it started to fall again. I also nearly made it into the top overall 100 Free, but I never saw it actually break 100 myself; which was disappointing. I think the closest I saw was 110.

By the third free day my sales did nothing but drop, as did my rating, which left me wishing I had done my Free days for only 2 days. In the end I had 3000+ “sales” mostly in the US, but also a good number in the UK.
The first day my book was back to paid I sold nothing. My rating had dropped to the 400,000 Paid and it seemed that my free days had been for nothing. However, within a few days I had a few more reviews, and then my sales picked up. For about a week after my KDP Free days my sales ranged between 3-5 books a day, then they dropped off and I’ve been selling a steady book a day since, and I’ve been gaining reviews steadily as well. Also my rating has stayed between 30,000 and 100,000 which I’ve been happy with for the most part.

So, in conclusion, KDP helped me reach thousands of readers for free. My book is now out there for 3,000 more people to read and suggest to their friends, and loan. That’s 3,000 more people who now may write reviews, and through nothing more than word of mouth may promote my book for me. Did it increase my sales, yes. Was it the key to success in self-publishing, well that’s yet to be seen; but, I do still recommend it and hope this article helps other self-published authors know what to expect.