I am starting the new year by breaking one of the cardinal rules of marketing (or indeed any sort of experimentation): I am changing several elements at once. You know from my previous post about my intention to be printed-on-demand by both KDP and Ingram Spark. That project is currently in abeyance while I figure out what to do about the cover concerns – whether to add more pages to my IS version, or pay to have the cover rejigged, or get the cover files from the designer and rejig them myself, or [current favourite] ignore it all and eat Jaffa Cakes.
I am also exploring the murky world of Amazon advertising, which is generating headaches of previously unimagined kinds. Whole books (literally) have been written about how to work the system, and although I have narrowed it down to a few principles, I am still uncertain. I thought I would take the plunge over the festive break – but when it came to it I couldn’t even find the right part of the Amazon empire to log into to start my life as an advertiser! I have put out a call for help to my self-publishing community, and when someone figures it out, I’ll have another go.
But in the meantime I am trying a third tack: going narrow. Yep, that’s what they call it when you limit the sales of your e-books to Amazon only. In the past I have gone wide by creating all possible e-versions of my books for distribution via iBooks, Kobo and Smashwords (which distributes e-books to all sorts of places like Barnes & Noble and Scribd). This takes time, and the rewards are slim to the point of emaciation: perhaps a dozen copies have sold across all those alternative channels. If, however, you throw in your e-lot with Amazon only, you can enrol in their “KDP Select” programme, and this brings with it a raft of possibilities, as explained on their website: “If you make your eBook exclusive to the Kindle Store, which is a requirement during your book’s enrolment in KDP Select, the book will also be included in Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. You can earn a share of the KDP Select Global Fund based on how many pages KU or KOLL customers read of your book. Enrolling in KDP Select also grants you access to a new set of promotional tools. You can schedule a Kindle Countdown Deal (limited time promotional discounting for your book) for books available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk or a Free Book Promotion (readers worldwide can get your book free for a limited time).”
Like most people I am chary of monopolies and don’t really like the idea of Amazon controlling e-books in this way. But – with my handful of sales each month – I am not really the author to take a stand on this issue and thereby make Amazon think again. That’s for the Rowlings and Pattersons of this world. And so I have taken the plunge: I have de-listed my Plank e-books from all other channels and made them exclusive to Amazon. I have enrolled them all in KDP Select – which you renew every 90 days, so I can track it and see how it goes.
And – rather daringly – I have decided to try that promotion malarkey and offer the “Fatal Forgery” e-book free for a few days. Yes: free, gratis and for nothing. I am hoping that it will prove to be the gateway drug to the Sam series, hooking people in and leading to actual sales of the other books. I have done all I can to promote the giveaway via my Facebook and Twitter presences but please, if you can, pass on the link to your friends and family – the giveaway has started today and will run until the end of Sunday 6 January 2019. To download your free “Fatal Forgery” e-book from Amazon, here’s the link (which should take you to the correct page of your local Amazon site).
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