In Part 1 of this Amazon KDP Select article, lets look at pro’s and con’s of using free days and participating in the Prime Member Lending Library. Part 2, the next blog post will show you how to organize your free days and will give you lots of links for free advertising, plus marketing tips for your free days and beyond.
Authors are divided in praising or damning Amazon’s KDP Select Program. This book marketing opportunity may or may not work for your book. It can put your novel or non-fiction work in front of thousands of readers so, at the very least, it’s a great way to grow a readership.
The Upside: Pro’s of KDP Select
You are allowed to select five “free” promotional days within the 90-day KDP Select period into the Lending Library, where the value of each borrow is currently $1.70. Each counts as a “unit sold” and helps your paid sales rankings. You might gain more reviews. Books with a greater number of reviews have a higher probability of being featured in book blogs.
Readers who are eager to download free books choose those that have more reviews because a higher number of reviews “validates” the book and indicates it is worthy of a download. They also suggest that in the readers’ eyes, this metric is more important than the ranking (number of stars) the book has because readers understand that some people may not like a good book and leave a negative review.
Readership Explosion: With KDP Select, a new author can grow a following at an enormous rate, and will garner far more reviews than with sales that trickle in under normal circumstances through sheer visibility in the free KDP Select store. After getting downloaded thousands of times, chances are you’ll reach more readers who will love your book and recognize your name as an author.
Amazon rewards sales with visibility. They treat free downloads the same as sales – according to their number of downloads, placing the author’s book cover in places such as “customers who bought this also bought” section, below other books purchased by those who downloaded the free book, and often in the same genre. KDP Select gives you indirectly promotion not only for the free book but also for the other books written by you listed on your Amazon Author page.
Possible Downside: Con’s of KDP Select
You must commit exclusivity with Amazon for 90 days, which means that you must remove your e-book (NOT the print version!) from all other retailers and give up your e-book royalties from Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple iBook store and Sony’s Nook eBook store or wherever else you sell it. If you are earning more than 80 or 90% of your royalties from Amazon, then the decision to go exclusively with them for 90 days to enter the KDP Select program including Kindle Owners’ Lending Library is an easy one. An Amazon KDP Select Press Release explains that on average, by joining KDP Select, you can earn an additional 26% in royalties from the KDP Select fund, on top of royalties from your paid sales.
Leaving those other platforms, you are also giving up your current sales rankings on them. It could be very difficult to scale those bestselling lists again and reclaim your previous royalties from non-Amazon sources. If your royalty stream from Amazon is less than 70%, think twice if you really want to go with KDP select as you will loose significant royalties on other platforms.
You might also garner a number of negative reviews from people who would not normally buy your type of book, yet download it on free days. When they find out it is not to their taste or not what they expected, some of them seem to enjoy telling everyone why they did not like it.
What to consider?
How well are you selling on your platforms? The more you are selling, the more likely you are to be on best-selling lists at Amazon, which greatly increases your discoverability and usually translates into higher lends and “free” giveaways – and therefore greater post-“free” sales.
On the other hand, you also might be well-positioned at your other online retailers. Which weighs more heavily? Being well ranked on Amazon or non-Amazon platforms?
Your ranking on Amazon is weighted more than any other platform, as Amazon represents the lion’s share of the e-book market. If you are already on a Top 100 Amazon Bestselling list in a genre, what would the increase get you? Would this increase bounce you into the Top 50 or even Top 10? On average, increasing your best-selling Amazon ranking will increase your royalties by about 7% for each page (Top 80, 60, 40, 20). If you sell well, you will lend well, and you will “give away” well. If you are not selling well, you will not lend well, or even “give away” well.
Most successful seem to be authors with multiple books or a series of books out – they use promo days to give away the first book in a series, hoping that customers will come back and buy the other books from that series. There is no guarantee with this strategy, but if your sales at the other e-book online retailers have been stale, then taking a 90-day-gamble on KDP Select might be an interesting experiment. If you have six to ten book titles it’s easier for readers to find you. An author with so many books has probably grown his or her platform over the years anyway. But when you only have one or two titles, KDP Select is the only program which can accelerate the long, draining process of finding readers for your book.
Goodreads has Giveaway Contests too:
Amazon’s KDP Select is not the only game in town: Goodreads has ‘Giveaway’ contests which is a great way to raise awareness for your books as well as generating sales and reviews. On average, at Goodreads 45% of giveaway winners will review your book – and getting good reviews is one of the best ways to improve your book’s chance of long-term success. Goodreads website offers plenty of advice on getting the most out of your giveaway contest.
Plan your free days well ahead – at least one month!
- Get as many reviews as possible, free book listings often promote only books with a certain amount of reviews. And readers also check out the amount of reviews (not necessarily the stars), to find out if your book is worthwhile to download.
- As Amazon Prime Members tend to borrow rather $5.99 – $9.99 e-books, raise the price of you book short before you join KDP Select. To give away a $0.99 e-book for free or to offer it to borrow is a bit of a joke.
- Check out if your book is really in the right category. Compare with bestsellers in your genre.
- Updated your e-book file and include a page within the first part of the book, asking readers to leave a review for you on Amazon; include a direct link to your books’ page. Add a link to your homepage and add all of your other books as well
- Don’t use your promotional days on the weekend (especially Saturday) because people are typically away from their computers and spending time with their families on the weekend, especially holiday weekends. Weekdays are generally better and if you can have at least two days back-to-back you will have more time to build momentum for your promotion.
- Inform the free book listing sites a month in advance to have your book listed – mostly for free. Make sure you list PixelofInk, EReaderNewsToday and Digital Book Today. Read their submission rules carefully.
- Write an article in your blog about your free days, and ping / share a link to this blog post on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc. several times a day in a variety of headlines.
More promotional tips and dozens of links for free e-book promotions in Part 2 of this series.
See also a great blog article “The Secret Anatomy of KDP” by James Calbraith, where he explains “The algorithm shows your book to millions of readers; there is no ad that reaches more people, no social network campaign. However…”
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