As you know from previous columns, I’ve published three books in my Kate Gomolemo Mysteries series at Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) at Amazon. This is free to do except for whatever costs you might incur for editing your manuscript and hiring a book cover designer.
I decided to price my books at the lowest possible price but still be able to qualify for Amazon’s 70% royalty programme. That price is $2.99 (USD). Though I priced at $2.99, because I’m in Botswana they add $2 to the price, this applies for certain countries. It’s their rule so there is nothing you can do about it. I was disappointed because part of my marketing plan was to pick a week where I do a lot of marketing on all three books (blog visits, internet interviews, social media hyping) and during that week give the books away for free. I couldn’t do this now because even when I put the price at zero the price on Amazon was $2.
You have the option to enrol your book in the Kindle Select Programme. This is an ebook lending programme. I decided initially to only enter the first book into the programme, Murder for Profit. One thing I only realised after it was nearly over, when your books are in Kindle Select, Amazon picks six days for your book to be on promotion and on those days the book is free. This was the very thing I wanted! You can click on “manage your promotions” to pick the days you want your book to be free. I’ve now enrolled all three books in the programme. The only requirement is that while your books are in Kindle Select they cannot be sold anywhere else. Since I don’t sell them from my blog or other sites such as Smashwords, this is not a problem for me. The free days really push your books up in the Amazon rankings. After my promotion for Claws of a Killer and Anything for Money, they were ranked 28 and 30 in the category for female detectives.
My three books went up on 18 May, so far 814 have been downloaded, the bulk of these were Murder for Profit downloaded during the free period. In terms of royalties so far, I’ve made $5.57 (USD) and 1.35 British pounds. As you can see, KDP is not a place you go to make fast money, though I did hear about an author on BTV claiming that was the case; I’m sceptical. It’s a long term project that requires a lot of commitment.
Here are a few things I’ve learned during this time:
1. You can’t just put your books up and hope something will happen. You need to really work to get the word out there.
2. When your book is up, make sure it has the right meta tags. These are tags that Amazon uses to group your books with others of a similar nature. Go to your book on Amazon and scroll down to the section that says “Tags customers associate with this product”. To the far right you’ll see a link which says “See most popular tags”. Click it. Make sure you have chosen tags which are popular and associated with your book. This will help your readers find it.
3. The best place to market books is online. Build up a base by keeping a blog. Then visit other peoples’ blogs and become “friends”, you must build up relationships. Ask these bloggers if you can do a guest post, an interview or post an excerpt from the book. In these guest posts, always include links to where the readers of that blog can buy your books. It’s best to create a marketing package with all links, book covers, your photo and bio to have ready for these opportunities. This saves a lot of time.
4. Use social networks to talk about your books. The only warning is- don’t use social networks to ONLY talk about your books, no one will respond. Again, it is about relationships and networks. No one forms a relationship with a sales person.