Should I Enroll My Book in Kindle Select?

 

EbookSometimes I worry about Amazon taking over the world. It’s not a good thing for any one company to have too much control over any kind of market, but you can’t argue with results. For the moment, Amazon pretty much rules the world of self-publishing.

I published my first book, QUEEN HENRY, on Amazon Kindle, Createspace (Amazon’s paperback book service), Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. The book sold far more copies with Amazon than the other venues by a wide margin. I found Smashwords difficult to use and their customer “support” snarky and rude. I don’t plan on ever using them again. Barnes and Noble (Nook Press) was easy to use and their customer support was first rate, but I didn’t sell many copies. (Two. I sold two, so it wasn’t worth the thirty dollars I spent on the special formatting).

I sold a fair amount of paperbacks through Amazon Createspace – more than I expected – and I have been asked to give several talks about my book and have sold some books in person that way. Overall, I’ve sold the most books – by far – on Amazon Kindle. That’s why I decided to publish my upcoming book via Kindle Direct (different than Kindle Select) Publishing, meaning Amazon has the exclusive rights to the book for a set period of time. You can always remove your book from the Direct program after that time period and publish it anywhere you like, so it seems to be worth a try.

Publishing with Kindle Direct means the following:

  • You may only sell the digital version of your book through Amazon during the period of exclusivity. You can’t sell your eBook anywhere else, including on your own website.
  • Your book is automatically enrolled in Kindle Unlimited – the program where subscribers can read as many books as they like by paying a monthly fee. It is possible you will lose some money on this deal, though it can increase your exposure.
  • Your book is automatically enrolled in the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, where users may be able to borrow your book. See earlier comment about money and exposure.
  • You will be permitted to give your book away for free for up to five days during each 90-day period of enrollment. You can do one day at a time, all five at once, or anything in between.

After having QUEEN HENRY available on Barnes and Noble and Smashwords for about six months or so, I yanked it from those outlets and enrolled the book in Kindle Direct to see what would happen. The first month or so, two people downloaded the book under the Kindle Lending Library program. As I see it, that’s two more people I’ve reached that I wouldn’t have found otherwise.

I then tried the free giveaway thing for two days. I got 200 downloads and reached as high as #9 in Free Kindle Gay Fiction, which was pretty cool. As a self-publisher, especially a relatively new one, I’m concerned as much with reaching new readers as I am with making money. Therefore, I consider 200 downloads in two days a great success. However, be advised that the free downloads have little to no effect on your paid sales ranking with Amazon. They used to, but the algorithms have changed.

An important caveat – if you’ve had success on B & N, Smashwords, and so forth, and plan on pulling your book in order to try Kindle Direct, you will lose your rankings on those sites. If you decide to put your books back later, you’ll have to start over from scratch. If possible, it may be best to try Kindle Direct first, then you can add the other sites when you’ve done the exclusive Amazon run.

Whatever you choose, remember that it’s only a 90-day commitment, not a billion-year contract. The worst case scenario is that it doesn’t work well for you, and you simply move on to other avenues when the time is up.

Keep in mind that you don’t ever want to rely exclusively on any third party venue, whether it be a distributor like Amazon or a social media outlet like Twitter. If you haven’t already, launch your own email list where you can always keep in touch with the most important people in your writing life – your readers.

As with all self-publishing advice, (which can be overwhelming), there’s no one right way to do anything. If you’re interested in Kindle Direct, or any other business strategy for that matter, weigh the consequences and make an educated decision about what to do.

Try stuff.

Make mistakes.

Learn.

Do it again.

Happy Publishing!

– Linda Fausnet

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Can You Pursue Traditional Publishing AND Self-Publishing?

 

Novelists

The short answer is, “Sure, why the hell not?”

There are a number of pros and cons for each type of publishing, and there really is no right or wrong choice. You just have to determine what your goals are and what works for you. Do you crave the prestige and validation that comes from traditional publishing? Is it important to you that you see your book on library and bookstore shelves?  Do you have a niche type of book that might not have huge audience appeal, thus is better suited to self-publishing? Do you just want the freedom to write whatever you damn well please without “the man” telling you what to do?

If you’re at all interested in getting traditionally published, I would advise trying that route first before publishing your work yourself. The alternative is to publish your book yourself and hope your sales are impressive enough to get the attention of an agent or publisher. Then again, if your self-published sales are unusually high, are you sure that you want to fork over a large percentage of your royalties to third parties? If your self-published book takes off, you might find yourself less interested in a traditional deal after all.

Overall, it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to self-publish, then query. An agent will represent you based on how well she thinks your book will sell in the future. If you’ve already self-published and sales are less than spectacular, that doesn’t look too great to agents. Also, it’s usually recommended that you don’t mention the fact that you’re self-published in a query letter to an agent or publisher, unless your sales are really off the charts.

If you’re interested in getting traditionally published, then write a kickass query and send it out to all the literary agents who are open to new submissions and who are interested in your book genre. Then, if everybody turns your book down, you can still go on and self-publish it. If it turns into a runaway bestseller and an agent or publisher comes knocking, great!

I can certainly understand the lure of traditional publishing. Believe me, I was in the “Never shall I self-publish, evah!” camp for a long time. It was a lot of wasted time, if you ask my opinion about it now. The fact is that getting traditionally published really is a crapshoot, a lottery. Luck seems to matter as much as hard work and talent. You have the catch the right agent at the right time on the right day. It’s all incredibly subjective, and agents have to turn down an awful lot of good books.

Remember that when you start the querying process.

If you’re getting a lot of rejections, you’re in good company and it doesn’t necessarily reflect the quality of your writing. If you’re not getting *any* responses, form letters or otherwise, check your query and make sure it is professional and error-free. Also be sure to carefully follow the agent’s submission guidelines. Don’t waste their time  – and yours – querying with your horror book if they’re looking for romance (books, that is…).

Thus far, I’ve self-published one book and I have two others that are ready to be self-published in the near future. All three of these books had been turned down by the traditional world. I’m currently writing a paranormal romance, and I’ve been debating whether or not to try the traditional route at all. I’m really loving the freedom that self-publishing has provided. I’m not a runaway success, but I do have readers, which is more than I ever got from the query-rejection-query-again route. It takes time to build up a readership, and I’m more than willing to do that work over the long haul.

I’m at the point where I’m writing books much faster than I can afford to publish them. Finances are really bad at the moment, and that’s primarily the reason that I’ve only published one book so far. For that first book, I’m donating all the proceeds to the Harvey Milk Foundation, so there’s no income there to help pay for editing, formatting, and so forth for the next book.

So, with my current novel, I’ve decided to send out some queries just for something to do while I scrape together the cash to publish it, while somehow keeping the lights on and food on the table. It would be funny if, this time around, I actually got an agent when I’m at the point where I don’t care as much.

Believe me, there’s something to be said for not caring. I’m sure the rejections will still hurt, but for the first time in my life, they aren’t the end of the road. I used to query extensively, get rejected, then sadly shelve my book and then go write another one.

Not anymore.

If everybody says, no, fine. I’ll publish the book myself, and it will be exciting and wonderful. I don’t have to say goodbye to my characters anymore. The best part about the way publishing is nowadays, agents and publishers no longer have the final word.

You don’t have to take NO as the final answer anymore.

I sure as hell don’t.

  • Linda Fausnet

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How to Organize a Blog Tour for Your Self-Published Work

Today, Wannabe Pride welcomes Guest Blogger, Kendall  Bailey!

I Am A Writer

Blog tours are a common way for self-published authors to get word out about their work to a broader audience. There are people you can pay to organize a blog tour for you. If you go this route, instead of organizing your own, make sure you use someone reputable. Anyone can call themselves an expert or a professional, so ask for a couple of references.

I organized my blog tour on my own. This post is geared toward the other do-it-yourselfers out there.

The Process

Find 8-10 bloggers, more if you want to do a longer tour, fewer if you want a short tour.

Each of these bloggers will construct a post about whatever you are promoting, I’m going to use the example of a novel. The post may be an excerpt, a review, and interview with you, a character interview (you answer questions as a character from your novel), an original piece by the blogger, pretty much whatever you can conjure up.

Most blog tours have one stop per day for however long you want the tour to be. A blog tour stop is what we call the post the blogger does about you. When I did my blog tour, I spaced the stops every other day. I did this for two reasons. One, I only had 5 stops and wanted to drag it out a little. Plus, I could give each blog I stopped at two days of promotion instead of just one. Two, I started the blog tour the day the Iditarod started (The story I was promoting was called Sled Dogs) and was hoping the race would end the same day as my blog tour. It didn’t.

That’s it. Blog tours are a simple thing… to an observer.

What You Need To Know 

Choose the bloggers you work with carefully. Ideally, you want a blogger who is into promoting their site. Some write a post, publish it on the blog, and expect people to come to them. Unless you’re seriously famous, that isn’t going to happen. You need to go out and get the readers to come to your blog. I schedule multiple tweets for my blog almost every day. I also put new posts on Facebook. Full disclosure, I’ve neglected my Facebook page in recent months and my numbers show it.

Speaking of numbers, I don’t think it’s rude to ask the bloggers you plan to work with how many hits their blog usually gets on a day when a new post is published. When I am not being lazy, Uncommon Sense pulls around 200 hits each time I publish something new. Keep in mind that a “hit” could be something as simple as a person who refreshed their web browser while looking at the page. (That would actually be 2 hits. 1 when they first navigated to the page and another when they refreshed.) I have had a lot of trouble finding what a normal number of daily hits is for the average blog. If you know where or how to find that information, please let me know!

Get creative with the timing of your tour. I did my blog tour for Sled Dogs during the Iditarod because the two were clearly related. Have you written a supernatural novel? Start or end the blog tour on the next full moon. And make sure people know this was intentional! I think most people enjoy little fun facts like those.

Get creative with the posts you ask the other bloggers do for you. I am lucky to know some very creative and accommodating people. For my five-stop tour I received an excerpt with a piece about strong female lead characters, an original piece by Linda Fausnet from Wannabe Pride about using short fiction as a form of promotion, an interview, a video review, and a short story inspired by Sled Dogs.

And that’s blog tours!

– Kendall Bailey

Sled Dogs on Amazon:

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