Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Kindle Price Increases? POD Sales versus Kindle Sales - Something to Think About

Things change and with technology they seem to change faster and faster. When I published my first book print-on-demand (POD) was the way to go as a self-publishing author. POD using either Lightning Source or CreateSpace, combined with Amazon allowed an author to enter the world of self-publishing and not have to break the family bank to do so.

eBooks has produced more change and the ebook revolution is picking up more steam. Amazon's Kindle leads the way with B and N's Nook trailing along. If you are going to self-publish, you need to get on the ebook express or get left behind.

Amazon's Kindle is changing the publishing world quickly and to a lesser extent so is the B and N Nook. Kindle sales are climbing, already surpassing hardback sales at Amazon and if Kindle sales have not already done so, they will soon surpass paperback sales as well.

Amazon's fantastic 70% royalty for authors is great (if you follow the required Amazon pricing guidelines). Where else can you find that kind of a deal for a self-published author?

But what happens when your individual Kindle sales surpass your POD sales? This is a problem few have addressed in terms of profitability for the self-publishing author. Some have argued Kindle sales are sales an author would not have made otherwise. In my case that was certainly true a few months ago. It isn't now.

My total sales in terms of copies sold for Kindle this past month was nearly three times that of my more profitable POD sales, yet I made only 2/3s as much money on the Kindle sales.

Clearly, I need to change my pricing structure for my Kindle titles. But how much do I raise the price? One of the most attractive considerations for purchasing a Kindle book is the price. It is significantly less than the cost of purchasing a paperback. Yet, if I raise the price too high, might Kindle users balk at the price increase, even though the Kindle version is still much cheaper than its print counterpart?

I write non-fiction and am hardly a household name who can command higher prices. Raising my prices might result in lower sales in terms of volume which will have a negative impact on the Amazon long tail effect. 

Or will higher Kindle prices impact my total sales volume negatively? Why worry at all? My total combined sales is vastly higher than one year ago and so are my profits. The issue is as more and more customers purchase Kindle books and fewer and fewer purchase paper, over time my profits could decrease.

Fighting the ebook trend is pointless. All of my future books will appear sooner or later in both versions. The question is how do I make up the shortfall of anywhere from 2 to 6 dollars a copy difference between a Kindle edition and a POD edition?

It is one thing to deliberately price a Kindle version at a super low introductory price once both the POD and Kindle version are linked to drive the title up the Amazon search results quicker. It is another to leave the price too low and lose money over time. It is also an issue of "losing money" as more and more customers purchase the Kindle edition and POD sales decline.

Greater volume might well be the answer for a fiction author, but a niche market non-fiction author only has so many potential readers. This is an issue I believe many authors will face in the hurriedly approaching future. How do your optimally price a non-fiction ebook in the face of declining POD sales as your ebook sales increase?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Experiment in Self-Producing eBook Files for Kindle and ePub

One of the recurring bits of advice I have picked up time after time from successful fiction authors who have made the decision to self-publish is the importance of having more than one book in print. If readers buy one of your books and like it, they will want to buy another. Having multiple titles available fills the reader's desire to purchase more of your work. It is an important step in the path to profitability for an author.

I write non-fiction and while I have many ideas for full length books of over 150 pages, it takes a good bit of effort mentally to crank one of those out. I have even more ideas for short books. Many of these ideas for "books" will contain information of value to the readers who buy my books but will not contain enough content to create a book worth printing due to the short length.

These "books" are good candidates for short ebooks though. Inexpensive, short but with information of value. Of course, even paying the $39 for the CreateSpace Pro Plan and the $69 Kindle conversion fee, it takes quite a few sales at .99 a copy to break even. Then there is the fact the conversion is for a Kindle version only and not ePub, limiting sales to just the Amazon Kindle and not including sales for the Barnes and Noble Nook.

While my Kindle sales have been good, I have sold a grand total of 8 Nook books at the time of the writing of this post. Still, every little bit counts and it all adds up over time.

Some of my Kindle books have sold hundreds of copies and long ago paid back the cost of the conversion of the files. Other titles are still slowly working towards earning back the limited investment in the conversion process.

So, once again I am reconsidering converting these short titles myself. I plunked down a grand $2.99 for a Kindle book titled Stand Out! How to Create Professional ePub and Kindle 30 minutes or less! by e.e. pub. 

At times I am probably one of the people P.T. Barnum referred to when he said "there's a sucker born every minute." Still, I read the short book in about 30 minutes. For once, I actually understood what the author was talking about. If this process actually works, I will have not one, but two files. One for the Nook and one for the Kindle. Even better, the only investment I will have in each book is my time.

If the little short ebook sells well, great! If it doesn't sell well, the only investment lost is my time. Hopefully the few dollars I spent on yet another do-it-yourself ebook conversion book was worth the money.

I have a short book I can probably finish in a week or so. It has no photographs or diagrams like many of my longer books. Just text. 

If the finished product looks fine on my Kindle, I will be happy to let the readers of this blog know the procedures described in Stand Out! How to Create Professional ePub and Kindle 30 minutes or less! are as easy to follow as the author claims.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Amazon Kindle Busy - New Kindle Indie Bookstore and Other Features Launched

Amazon has been busy. If you don't receive the Kindle Newsletter you should sign up for it. Amazon has announced several new features for Kindle books as well as the Amazon Indie Kindle bookstore.  The software guys at Amazon have worked overtime it would seem and enabled the search inside feature for Kindle books. 

From the actual newsletter, "KDP titles are automatically enrolled in the Search Inside program for the Kindle Store. You should find the Search Inside feature enabled one week after your book is made available to readers for purchase. Search Inside the Book is a program that lets you search and browse millions of books across With Search Inside, Amazon search results include matches based on every word inside a book, not just results that match the title or author of the book. It's like browsing a gigantic bookstore with millions of searchable pages at your fingertips."

Amazon has also announced its new Kindle Cloud Reader. The new reader "enables customers to read Kindle books instantly using only their web browser - online or offline - with no downloading or installation required. As with all Kindle apps, Kindle Cloud Reader automatically synchronizes your Kindle library, as well as your last page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights for all of your Kindle books, no matter how you choose to read them."

Amazon has launched a bookstore dedicated to Indie titles published for the Amazon Kindle. For a quick visit to the new Kindle Indie bookstore click on 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Aiming at Barnes & Noble? Making Money Selling Self-Published Books at B&N

Anyone new to self-publishing who has not already purchased a copy of Aaron Shepard's Aiming at Amazon needs to do so immediately and read it several times. While some of the concepts have changed slightly as a result of the current apparent dust-up between Amazon/CreateSpace and Lightning Source, the basic business model is still the best way for a self-publishing author to make money.

To sum up the book's idea in as few words as possible, Shepard presents a business model based on the idea of pointing all sales to Amazon and allowing the long tail effect of Amazon's computers do the work of marketing and selling the book. The more the book sells on Amazon, the more the long tail of Amazon works to sell the book.

It is a business model that works well for self-published authors and I have watched my own sale grow as a result of this approach. In fact, even with a dismal month of June 2011, I have already sold more books and earned more revenue during 2011 than in all of 2010. It is neat to watch this effect help your own self-publishing business grow.

But what about customers who simply prefer to shop at Barnes and Noble? If you use Lightning Source as your POD provider, the book will be available on B and N due to LSI's relationship with Ingram. If you use Amazon's CreateSpace as your POD provider, if you select the Expanded Distribution Channel your book will be made available on B and N, albeit at a lower profit margin than on Amazon.

Why make the book available on B and N if the business model employed is to aim as many sales as possible at Amazon? Because no matter what you do, there will be customers who are only going to shop and buy at B and N. By not making your book available at B and N, you have lost sales you would have made. You have also lost some word of mouth advertising as well.

It is a good business move to make your book available at B and N as well as Amazon. You don't have to steer your sales to B and N, simply make the book available.

B and N is working harder to attract self-published authors than in the past. You may now join the B and N Author's Affiliate Program and earn 6% of the sale of each of your books. To do so you must open an account with LinkShare and then apply for your website to be approved by B and N. It takes a bit of time for the approval process to take place.

In working my way through the process B and N has posted several notices if you look for them stating the program is just getting up and running and they are working hard to get websites approved and features operating for customers.

As soon as my website is approved I will briefly describe the process of getting links, etc. to sell your book through B and N on this blog. 

Competition is good for Amazon. Anything B and N can do to help authors who self-publish make more money by selling books via B and N should, in time, get Amazon's attention.

For those of us who want to offer our readers choices where they purchase our books, this is a nice development and a way for us to earn a little more for our work.