A few or more years back I traded the ever expanding bookshelves for a kindle (first edition). I immediately fell in love with the convenience of the innovative digital device. It’s smooth lines, and black and white “feel” of reading a “real” book. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I’m pretty much a geeky gadget goddess. So honestly, the new technology alone had me hooked from the get go.
I’ve always been an instant gratification kinda girl. If I want something, I want it now! This makes Amazon’s instant Whispersync and one-click-purchase a dream come true.
I am not the only one.
Book sales are shifting from the old standby of “Barnes and Noble” and their aisles of gloriously organized printed books to a more digital way of viewing/reading at an alarming rate.
Back in August 2012, Amazon revealed that for every 100 hardbacks and paperbacks sold through their site, customers were downloading 114 ebooks. That was just two years after the introduction of the first Kindle. What are their numbers now?
Good question, Amazon keeps that data extremely guarded and private. At most, they comment on the extreme outliers, which is about as useful as sharing yesterday’s lottery numbers. A few individual authors have made their personal sales public knowledge, but this isn’t nearly enough for us to paint an accurate picture.
The growth of the eBook
Gone are the days of the word “eBook” being looked upon as a nasty derogatory word for some sort of “make money in your underwear” magic potion being sold in digital format.
We all remember those times when eBooks were predominantly associated with Clickbank sales letters and products of the lowest calibre. If you had a secret, or a magic formula for “success” it belonged in an eBook.
Most well-known authors didn’t dare touch the format for fear of cheapening their art, but us internet marketers? HA – We love it!
Simple – Before selling eBooks became socially and artistically acceptable and before Amazon made it so darned easy to access an eBook – it was all about making money.
The introduction of the Kindle, iPad, along with countless other types of tablets, has seen a revolution in how we consume the written word. This doesn’t stop at a the more traditional novel but carries on to newspapers, magazines, even University textbooks.
The eBook is no longer a dirty slimy vehicle for magic potions or novelty products. In fact is the ONLY format that makes your writing available all over this big wide world in the click of a button. Think about it. That is powerful on many levels.
What does this all mean though for marketers and writers alike? It’s great news! It means that the publishing industry is now fair game for even the little man. Once protected by agents and publishers, anybody who can slap their keyboards for long enough can now come away with a best selling hit.
Writers and Marketers + Kindle
I bet one of the top questions going through your mind as you read this article are “How do they do it? What makes Amazon such a lucrative spot for writers and marketers?”
Let’s start with the fact that they have a built in audience.
Unlike, the guy that scored a sweet publishing deal and had his thoughts, stories, etc bound in a nice little book. But then went on to have his prized masterpiece hidden behind stacks and stacks of the latest Twighlight saga, selling on Amazon is more of an even playing field. Not only can you optimize your book to leap to the front of the line, but you can get that work in the hands of millions of customers who traditionally never would have found it.
As a marketing platform, Kindle represents a totally unique opportunity to grow an audience while simultaneously funneling traffic to your website. One of the most interesting tools afforded to Amazon sellers is it’s KDP Select program. KD-What? you ask.
This is what Amazon KDP Select is in a nutshell:
In exchange for giving Amazon exclusive use of a piece of digital content for 90 days, you receive five days (any five you choose) to make your digital content available for free, and you also get paid for any of your e-books that are lent through the Amazon Prime library.
Let’s break it down.
90 days exclusivity required
Exclusive to Amazon only. Meaning that you are unable to sell this book anywhere else, including your own site. Depending on your audience, this could very well be a deal breaker. Or it could be a fantastic opportunity.
Established authors with several titles might rotate content through the KDP program if they get a significant number of paid “borrows” and new readers from the program. They could also use KDP to launch a new project, in which they receive feedback and reviews via Amazon before attempting to distribute it elsewhere. In short – a testing or sounding board right at your fingertips.
Newer authors with limited followers probably have nothing to lose but everything to gain. KDP becomes a tool to build a presence on the bestseller lists, reviews, and solid sales figures.
What kind of numbers are we talking about?
Average amount per person who borrows is about $2. Which in the scheme of things might be more than you could make on an actual sale if you price your books below $2.99. Amazon uses a tiered royalty system. Ebooks priced below $2.99 earn a 35% royalty, while those priced over receive 70%. A book priced $0.99 will net you a $0.35 royalty, while a book priced $2.99 will get you $2.09.
Here are some hard numbers from Karol from Truth. No Consequences in which he put one of his works, Luxury of Less, up on a KDP trial for 3 days:
237 sales, 11 refunds, 235 borrows.
All told, $871.75 profit from Amazon US for December 2012. (Plus another ~$50 from all the other Amazon stores combined.) Granted ~$900 isn’t a King’s ransom, but it was the best month Luxury of Less had ever had on Amazon. The only month that topped this was when I launched Luxury of Less on October 4, 2010 and generated $45k (revenue, not profit), but that story’s been told (and they were direct non-Amazon sales).
The free promotion bounce-back (meaning, increased sales) I’d heard others mention was legit. I was on track to barely pull in $200 from the book in December, but pulled in nearly $900 instead due to the extra visibility of the free promo days.
So, marketers, let’s say you have a website selling a weight loss regime. You intend to promote the course that goes with it by using a mailing list to drive sales. (pretty normal)
Where do you start though?
One option is to invest a small fortune into paid advertising campaigns. Notably the quickest way to gain traction, but usually the most expensive. Or you could whittle away at your own sanity by trying to crack Google for top ranking weight loss terms.
A third option would have you condensing some of the key points behind the course and repackaging it into an eBook specific for Amazon and then … yes you guessed it… give it away for free! You can use your eBook to deliver value to the consumer, plus sliding in a subtle sales pitch for your bigger products.
Many titles are more than capable of reaching thousands of free downloads in their promotion days (up to 5 in a 90 day period). Of course this is music to the ears of any marketer. You don’t have to burn your list, pull your hair out figuring out Google, or empty your wallet in order to get your message out there. The audience will devour it willingly, without you having to force feed it to them.
How to get published on Amazon
It’s pretty darned easy to get published on Amazon. You will first need to sign up on the Direct Publishing platform.
Once you have your account, you are free to load up your bookshelf with as many titles as you like. After adding the book, you will be asked to provide the title, a description (remember your keywords), the categories, and some keywords to target.
The title – Self explanatory. It needs to be eye candy for the consumer. Something grab worthy.
The description – Your description is designed to read like a good blurb. It should draw the reader into what your book is really about without giving away too much of the secret sauce. The description is also a great place to air testimonials and social proofing. For a new writer with a >$0.99 price point, these are deal clinchers.
Categories – You can only choose two, so choose wisely. Spend a little time researching similar books on Amazon to figure out where your book belongs.
Keywords – This should come naturally to SEOs. If a potential buyer were searching for information that can be found in your book, what terms would they use to find it?
After all the above details, you will be asked to submit a cover art. What? Graphic Art? But I’m a writer!
Cover art can make you or break you. Nobody is going to read something that has a cover art that looks like their 3 year old colored while eating strawberries and cheerios.
I’ve heard horror stories from other marketers that a good cover art can cost hundreds of dollars. Not sure if they are just unsavy or if they have money to burn. However, there are several good resources for obtaining a good well thought out cover art for minimal costs. Fiverr, Etsy, and Craigslist are just a few.
You might not get a Mona Lisa but you will do better than your 3 year old!
Upload your art and set your price .. that’s it you’re done!
The surge in eBook sales is not going to slow down anytime soon. This trend is booming and it is there for the taking.
By using the Amazon marketplace, you can potentially leverage a huge audience that has scaling potential coming out of the ears.
What will your first move in Amazon marketplace digital publishing be? Have you already made it a part of your marketing strategy?