Why I Went All-In With Amazon

eLuna_screenshotThe ebooks of Baby Grand and Baby Bailino are now part of Amazon’s KDP Select program.

For those who don’t know about the program, when you sign on to KDP Select, you agree to sell your eBook only in the Kindle format (you can continue selling your paperbacks anywhere you wish). In exchange for this exclusivity, you are given some perks.

When I first published Baby Grand back in May 2012, I joined KDP Select and left after the first three-month period was over. Why did I leave? I thought it was a successful run, but I wasn’t really interested in offering my book for free (a big perk of KDP Select) and I had friends who were diehard Nook readers who wanted access to the book. So I went wide, as they say, and uploaded it to Kobo, iTunes, Nook, and other resellers. (For more details on why I left KDP Select, I blogged about it here.)

Four years later, things are a bit different. How:

  1. I have a four-year track record with Amazon. And, BY FAR, I have sold more Kindle versions of Baby Grand than I have any other outlet or edition. Amazon SELLS books.
  2. I have found — despite many opinions to the contrary — Amazon to be good to readers AND authors, offering low pricing and high royalties, respectively. And for such a mega-company, the customer service support is efficient and prompt.
  3. The introduction of Kindle Unlimited, which offers more than a million titles and thousands of audiobooks to subscribers. Books that are enrolled in KDP Select are also enrolled into Kindle Unlimited. This helps to increase the discoverability of the Baby Grand Series. Very important. After just a few days in the program, nearly 1,000 pages have already been read by subscribers. (Kindle Unlimited is populated mostly with books written by indie authors, like me. I like the idea of all of us getting the chance to find new readers.)

All this was enough to make me reconsider my participation in the program. It seemed like a good deal. And the right time, particularly with the sequel to Baby Grand on its way. So I decided to pull all the ebooks from Smashwords, the Self-e program (I was sad to leave this one), and others. At least for now. In three months’, six months’, nine months’ time, I can look at my sales and reevaluate. If something doesn’t seem to be working, I can always mix it up again.That’s the great thing about being an indie author. The decisions — writing, editing, publishing, marketing — are mine.

 

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Book Trailer #2

When I woke up this morning, a second book trailer was the furthest thing from my mind, but I had some free time and — like the first book trailer — was able to put this together really quickly, in less than a half hour (with a little help from my tech guru, my oldest son). As I often discuss in this blog and in my classes, indie authors need to take advantage of whatever tools they have at their disposal to market their books. A little creativity goes a long way in social media circles. So put on your thinking caps! This video was put together using Microsoft PowerPoint and YouTube and cost me nothing but a few minutes of time. Would love to hear your thoughts!

Baby Bailino: Promo Video

This 15-second video was a cinch to put together. All I needed was my book cover, some type, and some fade-in animation, and the quick PowerPoint was complete. Converting the PowerPoint to video took some time, only because my particular version of PowerPoint didn’t have that easy “Create a Video” button that the newer versions have. Luckily, my college-age son had the most recent edition, so I emailed him the PPT and he created the MP4 in, literally, minutes. Then he zapped it back, and I uploaded the file to YouTube, added the music (free, courtesy of YouTube, which asks that you credit the music authors in your description), and voila! A cute little promo video. Then, using a YouTube Downloader app, I downloaded the video, so I am able to use it in other forms of marketing, like here. :) Such a great time to be an indie author!

Marketing Tip #4

Create an email mailing list. I have been thinking about creating a mailing list for eons. And then I would think, But I already have a subscriber list for my blog — isn’t that enough? No, it’s really not — mostly for the reasons outlined here.

For me, this blog is not about publicity; it’s about offering helpful and interesting information to writers as I wind my way through publishing. An email list, on the other hand, is for people who want to be kept up-to-date on the latest Baby Grand news or want to be the first to know about my new fiction and nonfiction titles. So yesterday I went ahead and (finally!) created an email mailing list through Constant Contact, a company I’m familiar with having used it for email marketing for both WHY magazine and my local PTA.

So if you’d like to be one of the first to join my official mailing list, fill out this form (I promise not to bombard you with lots of promotional material — if I send more than one email per month I’ll be surprised), and I look forward to sharing all the exciting news for 2013 and beyond.

Marketing Tips #2 & #3

Promote your author events on social media. Very important. Which leads me to today’s companion tip:

Don’t over-promote your author events on social media. Equally as important.

Today’s marketing tips go hand-in-hand. Those of us who do most of our book promotion online, particularly through social media, know the fine line there is between promoting and over-promoting our work. I’ll bet many of us can point to Tweeters or Facebookers who bombard our home or newsfeeds with nonstop ads for themselves. As supportive as the publishing industry is — and it is! — it can get pretty annoying after a while.

Give and take is what social media is about — and, actually, more giving than taking. The general ratio I strive for — and this differs, depending upon what website you consult — is 7:1. In other words, for every seven tweets or Facebook posts I do, I will do one promotional post, which may mention a new 5-star review Baby Grand has gotten or a contest I’ve entered (did you know that I was nominated for Best Long Island Author?) or a guest post I’ve done. I strive for the vast majority of my posts to be informational (the sharing of interesting blog posts or articles I’ve stumbled across, as well as my own experiences and lessons) and supportive (retweeting good news for fellow authors).

Last Monday, I had my first book signing for Baby Grand — an event I promoted heavily, mostly on Facebook and Twitter. Again, I tried to straddle that fine line between promoting enough and promoting too much. In the end, the event was successful; more than 100 people attended, and I sold a ton of books.

I’ll tell you now… I don’t think anyone would have showed, other than my husband, mom and kids, if I hadn’t promoted this thing for months (periodic reminders, I’ve learned, are good). But I also feel that no one might have showed if I totally alienated all my friends and colleagues with a constant bombardment of promotional posts.

We want people to be happy to see our tweets and posts and blogs. The last thing we want is for people to roll their eyes or, worse, to unfollow or unfriend us because they’re fed up. Although there are those who think that any publicity is good publicity, my feeling is that too much promotion can be worse than none at all.

No Social Media Zone

I don’t know about you, but I’m a Social Media junkie. I Facebook, I tweet and I LinkIn (haven’t gotten quite as into Google+ yet), and that can keep me entertained for hours.

I’ve heard lots of my colleagues often talk about the perils of social media, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I realized how much of a time suck they really are. Yesterday, I had a busy day ahead of me, and I sat down at my computer at 9 a.m., after plopping my fourth grader on the school bus. I clicked on Facebook, like so many of us do, just for a quick look-see. When I looked up at the clock again, it was 11:30 a.m.

What?!

That’s just crazy. So I’ve decided I needed to create what I’m calling a daily No Social Media Zone — a block of two hours where I will not go anywhere near a tweet or a poke or a post. There’s no way I can go cold turkey, but I see how much social networking — Facebook, in particular — really is starting to hamper my writing time.

Some writers unplug altogether while they’re writing. That’s not for me. I like having access to the internet for one thing or another and somehow manage not to get sucked into any black holes while I do some quick research. Social media is another story, so I am limiting my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. access to 22 hours a day, instead of 24 hours. The hours of 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. will be social media free. This way, I can check in in the morning, write a few posts, tweet a few interesting things, and then do the same in the evenings and late nights and just about every other time of the day.

Twenty-two hours of access instead of 24. That should be more than enough. Don’t you think?