Without a doubt, Amazon is the number one retailer of books, but what about the other retailers who have billions in annual sells? How are your sells going for you on Barnes & Noble and in the iStore? Are your sells so great on Amazon that you don’t care about other online retailers? You don’t care about expanding your audience?
Understanding what Amazon has done above and beyond other retailers to capture the overwhelming share of book sells is important. You have to think the same way about your business. What are you doing above and beyond to capture market share.
- eBlast – My experience as a reader and author has shown me that Amazon is the best game in town when it comes to selling and buying books. As a reader, they send me alerts to books I may be interested in that actually interest me, and I can change my preferences at any time. As an author, they give effective free advertising, showcasing my books to people who may actually want to purchase it.
- When you are promoting your title, be sure to ask readers to “Like” your product and author pages. In my opinion, this is more important than reviews because the algorithm Amazon uses to send out email blast to readers for books they might be interested in use those “Likes” and the majority of readers I’ve asked say that reviews factor little to not at all if they will be purchasing a book.
- KDP Select – In this program, you give Amazon exclusive rights to sell your eBook for three months. You can’t even give your ebook away free. In exchange for exclusivity, Amazon adds your title to their Prime Library and when members check out your title, you are paid a certain amount that is determined quarterly. This program has pros and cons. There are tons of blog post out there revealing authors’ experiences so I won’t debate that here.
- If you do the KDP Select program, I highly suggest you do not use it for your new title. Instead, release your title on ALL of the platforms available to you and give ALL of the readers a chance to purchase your book, then once sells slow, do KDP Select.
- I do not suggest you permanently keep your titles on KDP Select. Why would you keep all of your eggs in the Amazon basket? That’s not good business. You want to expand your readership to as many platforms as possible.
- KindleBoards – Amazon has done an excellent job of creating a Kindle user community of readers and authors. Consider becoming a part of the community, without becoming a walking billboard.
With the ease of selling and buying on Amazon, I understand why many authors don’t sell their titles on other platforms, I just don’t agree with them. Publishing is a business. As a self-published author, you are the CEO, CFO, and every other O of your company, and you have to look at more than short term gains. You have to plan for the long term success and expansion of your company.
A few paragraphs ago, I said you shouldn’t only use the KDP Select program to sell your eTitles. Let’s examine Amazon’s motivation behind the KDP Select program. Amazon works to dry up the self-publishing market from other eBook retailers so Amazon will be the only game in town. Amazon is a business and thus doing what is best for its interest. Is that good for your business as an author? Someone who sells eBooks using Amazon’s distribution? No. Amazon has already started testing out only allowing publishers to receive the 70% royalty if they have their titles in the KDP Select program in certain markets of the world. How much more market share do you think Amazon needs to capture in the U.S. before they start that here? Am I saying you shouldn’t use the KDP Select program or Amazon to distribute your eBooks? Heck no. I’m saying don’t ONLY use Amazon and the KDP Select program. Build your audience on other platforms also.
I can hear it now. I have “tried” to sell on other platforms, but I get nothing! Granted, Amazon sells the most, but from what I’ve seen time and time again from authors is them promoting their Amazon product page instead of maintaining a website (not Facebook wall) and having ALL of their purchase links for various vendors of their titles so readers can easily select their print or eReader preferences in purchasing. I see authors nurturing their relationships with Amazon customers, yet promoting to other retailers as an afterthought. Newsflash, your promos should be about your book, not Amazon. Authors give Amazon way more free advertisement than Amazon is giving them by sending out the occasional eBlast.
So what do you do? Upload your book to as many “legitimate” retailers and possible. If you don’t have a website, get one. You are in BUSINESS and should have a professional website that showcases your work. Create a separate page for each of your titles and ensure you have the purchase links on it. Then when you promote your title, send readers to that page instead of to Amazon.
So now that you’ve decided that it’s best to sell your titles on more than one platform and promote your website for purchasing links instead of sending customers to Amazon, let’s talk social media.
Facebook, like Amazon is by far the fastest way to reach a large audience. Facebook has created communities of authors and readers and has given authors a way to build their own following! Great stuff, huh? I can’t tell you how many authors have put all of their eggs into the Facebook basket when it comes to communicating with their readership. Now they have thousands of “Friends” who follow them. Who hooo!
Except, they seemed to forget that Facebook is a business and of course going to do what will make Facebook the most money. I’m not mad at them. My publishing company is also a business, and I do the same thing.
So let’s get back to your thousands of followers on Facebook. Let’s say you are not one of those authors who “friend” everyone and ask everyone to join your group. You are focused on quality instead of quantity. Quality being people who would actually be interested in purchasing your titles. It may have taken you a year or two to grow thousands of quality followers. Guess what happened a few months ago. Facebook changed their policy so posts from fan pages only show on 10% of your followers’ walls. If you want it to show on more of your followers walls, you have to pay a fee.
Oh, and let’s not forget, everyone is getting more followers (even the average person), yet many people, like me, do not scroll down to the bottom of their newsfeed to see what posts they have missed, so the chances of someone seeing your post have gotten much slimmer.
You’re not worried, because instead of creating a fan page, you have the regular user page that limits you to 5000 friends, but it’s all good. You tell people to “Subscribe” instead of befriend, and since subscribers don’t count, you’ll never reach 5000. You’ll just promote on your wall. HOLD UP! Facebook is starting to warn authors and delete accounts of those who fill up their walls with promos. That’s what fan pages are for.
Now what do you do?
Never, ever, ever have all of your eggs in one basket. Especially a basket someone else owns. Just as I said you should have purchase links on your website, you should also have an opt-in mailing list sign-up on your website. You should be building your opt-in mailing list so that when you need to reach your fan base, you can actually reach them.
Am I saying you should skip Amazon and Facebook or other social media? Of course not. But you need to maintain as much control over your product and contact with your customer base as you can. Now get out there and take over YOUR business.
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