Friday, November 29, 2013

Kindle eBook Promotion Sites - Marketing Your Indie Book

If readers do not know your book exists, they can neither purchase it nor read it. Thus, marketing becomes part of the job of a self-published or indie author. Even traditionally published authors must work at marketing their books in today's publishing world.

Advertising is expensive and while it can be very effective, you need to know what you are doing in order to obtain a return on your money. It is also difficult to determine how effective your advertising dollars have been spent. Many authors who self-published have spent large sums of money to no avail.

Since most of authors who self-publish are on shoestring budgets, taking advantage of marketing tools that are free or low cost is an approach worth examining.

While KDP Select free ebook marketing is not what it used to be, it is an effective approach if readers know your book is available for free. The key is to get the word out and not just rely on readers who go to Amazon alone to search for your book.

Using your author platform tools (blog, social media or newsletter), you can make readers who are already fans aware of your promotion. 

The goal though, is to get your book in front of as many NEW readers as possible. This is where ebook promotion sites can be a big help.

There are dozens of ebook promotion sites on the internet, requiring you to be careful about which ones you select to use for spreading the word about your book promotion. Time is valuable and you will want to only use sites that can truly get the word about your book promotion in front of as many potential readers as possible.

To make sure the sites you select will do the job, use Alexa to check their traffic. Use sites that pull good numbers. It is a simple game of math. The more visitors a site has, the more likely readers will see your promotion.

If you are willing to spend money, the best pay site on the internet is BookBub. Be forewarned, this site is choosey and your book may not make the cut for one to be listed. This is a big part of why the readers who visit this site do so. The books listed are better than average, must be free or deeply discounted and the promotion must be a limited time only offer. With over 1 million subscribers, you can see the value of getting your promotion listed.

A couple of free sites worth investigating are Frugal Freebies and Pixel of Ink.  

Frugal Freebies deals with more than books but does have a good listing of free ebooks. It's broader coverage of free items increases the number of visitors to the site. 

Pixel of Ink deals with free and bargain Kindle books and allows readers to search by category or genre.

There are plenty of sites to choose from. In addition to doing an Alexa check, check the sites for their social media numbers, size of their newsletter list, etc.

One final suggestion. Make sure you check the timelines involved in dealing with each site. Some require considerable advance notice before listing your promotion. You don't want to have your promotion not listed because you did not give sufficient notice to the site.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Using BookBaby for eBook Distribution

As the adoption of digital media continues to become more widespread and common, it makes sense for authors to use as many platforms as possible to distribute their ebooks. The two earliest big players in the ebook market were, and still are, Amazon's Kindle and Barnes and Noble's Nook.

As the ebook and digital content market continues to grow, other players are beginning to emerge. With the decline in the effectiveness of the KDP Select program to promote ebooks, it now makes sense to move beyond KDP Select, which has an exclusivity clause stating the title cannot be sold on any other ebook platform.

Reports seem to indicate the iBookstore is starting to gradually increase its market share as well as several other ebook retailers. 

For self-published indie authors who wish to take advantage of these opportunities, the biggest hurdles are the time involved to upload titles and in the case of some ebook retailers, only publishing companies can list and sell titles, a practice that excludes indie and self-published authors.

Some authors have worked around these two drawbacks by using Smashwords. The issue with this was Smashword's "meatgrinder" produced files that were unattractive to read after going through the conversion process.

An alternative approach that I think might be better is to use BookBaby for ebook distribution. The basic package, priced at $99, allows me to upload my publishing-ready files to BookBaby who will then distribute my books to the following ebook retailers:
  • Amazon Kindle
  • Barnes and Noble Nook
  • Scribd.
  • Pagepusher
  • iBookstore
  • eSentral - SE Asia ebook retailer
  • eBookPie
  • Baker & Taylor
  • Kobo
  • Reader
  • Copia
For the price, increasing the distribution of one of my books to an additional nine retailers is worth experimenting with. To not have to open nine new accounts, learn to use nine new systems and to gain access to iBookstore, I think it might well be worth the $99.

The added benefit is I receive 100% of my royalties. Bookbaby allows me to set the dollar threshold for when I get paid. Once my royalties hit that threshold, I am paid the following Monday.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Ingram Spark and Barnes and Noble - A Different Perspective

As the self-publishing industry has evolved, print-on-demand, POD, what was once largely the domain of Lightning Source, LSI. Amazon moved into the POD business with its purchase of Booksurge which became CreateSpace, CS.  LSI's parent company, Ingram, is hoping to reshape the POD market to some degree with the creation of Ingram Spark (Spark).

LSI is a more difficult platform for self-publishing authors to use while CreateSpace was designed to be highly user-friendly for authors. LSI's platform was intended for publishers who desired to keep slow selling backlists in print and as a venue for small publishers to gain distribution.

CreateSpace's advantage for authors, and some small publishers, is its direct access to Amazon. Since most self-published authors realize there is little to no market for their books in traditional brick and mortar bookstores, the ability to distribute directly to Amazon was not only essential, it was a game changer as it allows authors to have access to both customers and Amazon's amazing marketing software.

So why did authors want to self-publish with LSI? Simple, the ability to control the discount of the list price. Distribution to bookstores requires a 55% discount. LSI allowed authors to decline returns and set a discount as low as 20%, increasing the profit margin for authors.

CreateSpace does not allow authors this luxury. The discount to Amazon is a pre-set 40% and the discount for expanded distribution is 60%.

While initial views of Ingram Spark by such traditional POD gurus as Aaron Shepard have not been particularly positive, largely because Ingram Spark requires the 55% discount, there is another reason to consider Spark.

If you really think your book has a chance to sell in traditional bookstores, Spark will provide that access. Additionally, if the 5% difference in discount for sales via Barnes and Noble is worth it to you, then Spark might be worth looking into, particularly if your titles sell as well, or better, than on Amazon.

Where Spark seems to miss the boat is the mandatory 40% discount required on ebooks. I am willing to experiment with my next paperback, due to come out in July or August of 2014, by using Spark instead of CS. I am not going to bother with Spark for ebook distribution when I can load my ebook versions directly to Amazon's KDP and Barnes and Nobles Nook Press directly for 70% and 65% royalties respectively.

If Ingram Books wants Spark to grow and compete with CS and even Lulu, it will have to adjust some of its policies and make certain the user interface provided for authors and small publishers is every bit as easy to use as that of its prime competitor, CS.

For authors interested in learning more about Spark, check out Spark's site, and the initial review of Spark by Aaron Shepard and Joel Friedlander, The Book Maker.