Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thanks, Amazon, for Promoting My Books for Free!

Jodie's backyard today.
by Jodie Renner, editor & author

Follow Jodie on Twitter.

I can’t afford a publicist, and I'm too busy to do a lot of marketing and promoting of my two books, so I’m really glad I self-published on Amazon, as they’re doing a great job of promoting my books for free.

Amazon, today's leader in book publishing and sales, has a few policies that can be annoying for authors. For example, their policy of highlighting negative reviews drives me up the wall. But overall, my book sales have benefitted far more from some of the other features Amazon provides for their authors & publishers. When it comes to marketing and promoting - and selling - books, they definitely know what they’re doing (far more than I do), so I feel like I have a savvy publicist looking out for me and helping me sell my books.

First, for you newbie authors considering self-publishing your first book, here’s a quick run-down:

- It’s free and easy to publish your e-book on Amazon – and fast (12 hours). But get it edited or at least proofread first, and if you don’t know much about formatting, get it formatted, too. And hire a professional to design your cover.

- If you price your e-book between $2.99 and $9.99, you get 70% royalties on every sale. If you price it above $9.99 or below $2.99, you get 35%. You can change the price any time you like, to offer discounts to boost sales.

For more detailed info on publishing your book on Amazon, see my article, “Pros, Cons, & Steps for Publishing Your Book on Amazon.”

Why I stay with Kindle Direct Publishing:

Earlier on, as an experiment, I made one of my books available on Smashwords and elsewhere, which meant I couldn’t enroll that book in KDP Select, so I lost the benefits of that. Unfortunately, I made very few sales through Smashwords, so it wasn't worth it. If your books are selling well through these other channels, then go for it. Since mine wasn’t, I went back to exclusivity with Amazon and Kindle (KDP Select), and am glad I did.

Here are some of the benefits of KDP Select:

- Lending program. Readers can “borrow” my books from the Kindle Owners Lending Library (KOLL), and I get around $2 for each borrow (fluctuates).

- Free Promos: I can offer the book for free, for up to 5 days for every 90 days.

- Kindle Countdown Deals. I can take advantage of the excellent Kindle Countdown Deals, where the e-book goes on sale for varying prices (chosen by me) for a specific period of time, decided by me, and Kindle shows readers the normal price and how many hours are left at each sale price. I decided to start my Style That Sizzles & Pacing for Power, with a regular price of $3.99, at .99 for 2 days, then $1.99 for 2 days, then $2.99 for 2 days, then back to the normal price. My sales rose significantly as a result of this countdown deal, as did my ranking on Amazon, for that period and a few days after it. And we get to maintain the 70% royalty during this promotion, even when the price goes below $2.99, which is great! And we can monitor sales in real time, to see how the book is selling at each price point.

And readers can check out the Kindle Countdown Deals website regularly, to see a categorized list of books that are discounted.

- Amazon’s Kindle Matchbook Program. If you purchase the print version, or have bought it at any time in the past, you can buy the e-book for a reduced price or even free.

- Amazon’s free promotions. Amazon promotes my book with various features, appearing under other similar books, such as “Customers who bought this item also bought,” “More items to consider,” and “Customers with Similar Searches Purchased” features, and also by their email promos of books, tailored to the kinds of books each customer has ordered in the past. Your book may also appear in Shopping Cart Recommendations, “Frequently Bought Together,” and many other places on the Amazon website.

- Audiobooks through ACX. Amazon has introduced some discounts for readers who purchase both the book and the audiobook. For more on this, see some recent posts here on CFC: "A Movie in My Head: The Fast-Growing World of Audiobooks" by Basil Sands, "Audiobooks Are Here to Stay (At Least for A While)," By Teresa Burrell, and "Listening vs. Reading" by Jenny Hilborne.

Kindle’s “WhisperSync for Voice and Immersion Reading” feature:

You can use ACX to produce a digital audiobook version of your book, and to enable your book for the new Whispersync for Voice functionality, which allows customers to switch seamlessly between reading the Kindle book and listening to the professionally-narrated audiobook across devices without losing their place. And customers with Kindle Fire HD devices can listen to the professional narration as the words of the e-book are highlighted on the screen. Both excellent features!

Also, when customers buy your Kindle book, they can purchase your audiobook at a discounted price.

And you can earn royalties of up to 90% on your audiobook when it’s created and distributed using ACX.

Overall, I'm so glad Amazon-Kindle is doing most of the heavy lifting for me, when it comes to marketing and promoting my books!

Writers and readers: Have I missed some features or programs provided by Amazon or Kindle?

Authors: Have you found it more advantageous to publish across several platforms, not just Amazon-Kindle? Or, how has Amazon helped your book sales? How about other initiatives that have boosted your sales? Share your success stories with us!

Related articles:

Basic Formatting of Your Manuscript

Pros, Cons, & Steps for Publishing Your Book on Amazon 

Jodie has published two books to date in her series, An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: Writing a Killer Thriller and Fire up Your Fiction (Style That Sizzles & Pacing for Power), which has won two book awards so far. Look for the third book in the series, out soon. For more info, please visit Jodie’s author website or editor website, her other blogs, Resources for Writers and The Kill Zone, or find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. And sign up for her newsletter.  


  1. Great post, Jodie.

    Earlier in the year I would have agreed with AM's trepidation at joining or staying in KDP Select. With free having lost most of its power to boost sales post-promo it seemed that KDP Select had little to offer besides vague notions that perhaps Amazon promoted enrolled titles more than others. But that seems to be more urban legend than anything else.

    Over the summer I decided to have a go at the other platforms through Smashwords and my experiences mirror your own. In the end, the income from Prime users borrowing my titles through KDP Select is far more than the income generated through the other platforms.

    Now with the advent of Kindle Matchbook and Countdown Deals, KDP Select is the safest bet an independent author can get for the forseeable future, so I'm back in with all three titles ready to roll for some good holiday promos.

    - Ian

    1. Thanks for dropping by and commenting, Ian! Judging by my own book sales, I have to agree with you on all counts! The time when my one book was enrolled in Smashwords, so off KDP Select, was the period of lowest sales for that book...

  2. Having just taken advantage of Kindle Countdown and Free promos, I'm looking forward to seeing how they translate into sales. Because my first and my current books are the only ones to which I own the electronic rights, it will be a while before I know whether there's a boost. Still, I'm grateful to Amazon for allowing me to get Poison Pen in front of about 13,000 more people via free downloads than otherwise would have seen it.

  3. I've been known to tease an author friend or two about their need to be in control. And yet, that's exactly what Amazon has given me. I've been thrilled with their efforts to grow good Indie authors, primarily through KDPS. They recognize a win-win situation when the see it, and have the marketing arm to make it even better. I love the steadily growing monthly deposits I'm seeing and, since I sucked it up and published a little more than 1 1/2 years ago, I haven't had one (strong) desire to check out my options.

    1. Yes, can't beat those royalties that keep coming in every month, right, Peg! Now I just need to get busy and finish book 3 and get it out!

  4. As an indie writer I was Initially out on every market I could find. The reality of the industry though is that Amazon amounted to more than 90% of my sales. With B&N and Smashwords I was not averaging more than 2 or 3 books a month at each site, while Amazon was going gang busters. Once they opened KDP and 70% royalties I could not see any reason not to join.

    Did I mention I like Amazon KDP?

    Yes... I have consumed the Amazon Kool is gooooood!

  5. My experience with Smashword echoes yours, Jodie. And i think this an excellent summary of the advantages of publishing with Amazon.


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