January 16 2014 Editor Assistance Newsletter
It’s well worth it to examine how your type of book might do on other systems vs the boost with exclusivity on Kindle via the KDP Select option.
I’ll say first that while I’ll provide my experience, I think results vary quite a bit depending on the enthusiasm with which you market, the specific topic area you’re in, when you first had your books go live, and other factors. A book launching new today will have different experiences than one which has been in a system for two years and built up traction. A book in one topic area could do very differently than one in another topic area. So my experiences will give a window into one set of experiences, but I highly recommend you test and practice with your own books to see what happens.
For my low carb book series, I have those on all platforms. These have been live in all platforms for years – my first went live in 2004. My latest went live yesterday :). In the past two weeks on Kindle I’ve sold 133 copies of carb charts, 46 copies of quick no-cook recipes, 25 copies of microwave recipes, and so on. I’m selling steadily on Lulu (itunes/nook) as well - their reports are harder to break out but so far in January I’ve sold 46 copies total, about half carb charts, half quick-no-cook. About half are iTunes and half are Nook (with a handful of Lulu). So fewer copies but still steady. I’ve sold a handful on Kobo and one on SmashWords but those are brand new listings so they’ll take a while to build traction. Still, with this series I wouldn’t go Kindle alone. I already am being found on Amazon by everyone searching on this topic area – I’m the top result for “low carb charts”. By having my books everywhere I’m reaching people in a variety of locations. Those iTunes / Nook people wouldn’t have found me if I wasn’t in their “world”.
My low carb site gets substantial traffic and I push all of these sales channels heavily. For example, all my no-cook recipes link, at the bottom of the recipe, to my full page on my no-cook cookbook. That page describes the book and links to the book in all sales channels. So there’s a link to the iTunes version, Kindle version, paperback version, and so on. I actively drive people to buy however works best for them. That marketing effort by me translates into steady sales.
On my medieval novels, I have 12 novels and six of them are Kindle exclusive. That way I can be found in all systems and I can also do occasional promotions in Amazon. The top seller on Amazon is one that’s not currently Kindle exclusive – A Sense of Duty. But it was originally exclusive, and I did a big giveaway with it (nearly 3,000 copies) which boosted it so that lots of other people saw and bought it. It also meant lots of those people who read that free copy then liked my style and read my other novels. Looking at Lulu, I sell maybe two copies a month on average across all my medieval novels. So that is TINY. And while my low carb books are selling on Kobo even though I just listed them there a short while ago, my medieval novels aren’t. At all.
In terms of marketing, I do the same active promotion of my medieval books. I have multiple pages set up for each book on my LisaShea site to draw in interested buyers. The pages talk about the location, the plot, the background, and so on. The person is then presented with the list of everywhere they can buy the book with direct links. They can buy it at Kindle, Nook, Kobo, etc.
So one could say I’m doing the same thing in both areas and getting different results. But, again, I don’t think any book series can ever be compared with another apples to apples. There are always differences. In this case, people are out there on the web actively searching for low carb recipes. They find me, they see my book, and they buy. It’s a perfect, sensical progression. It’s what they were looking for. It’s what they were interested in getting.
With the medieval romance. I don’t think people are out on the web looking for chapters of medieval romance, which is what the analogy would be. Instead, if they want a new book to read, they go right to Amazon directly and they poke around in there. The book has to be a high result in Amazon in the first place, have a great cover for them to then click on, and then have a stunning blurb and appealing first chapter. That will then get them to buy to read the rest.
A second path for fiction would be if a friend they trusted talked about a book they should read. This is where the social networking comes in. You want their friend to post on your thread, because their friend’s post shows up in their own stream and they see it. They then might grab a copy too. Also, if you’re lucky enough to hook them on one novel, you can then encourage them to read your other novels. That becomes a much easier sell because now they know and trust you. You’ve already gotten over that immense hurdle of “getting the drip flowing” to their addiction.
Once you get them hooked, the rest is far easier. The huge challenge is getting them hooked in the first place. Getting that first connection made where you go from “unknown stranger” to “trusted supplier”.
So if I were to generalize, it would be this. For fiction novels, being “perfect” in Amazon is key. You need a perfect cover so people browsing click on your entry amongst all the other competitors. You need a perfect blurb and perfect first chapter that sucks them into the story. This is how people will get to you. You need an active social networking campaign too, to get those friends-of-readers connections. People don’t tend to search the web for a new book to read. They tend to go to a virtual bookstore to browse, or they get intrigued by what a friend is reading.
For non-fiction works, I think people absolutely do google for results first. They have an issue – like a problem with their rose plant or an issue with finding a job or so on – and they go googling for help. Their first thought isn't buying a book - it's finding an answer. They poke through the answers they find. If they adore an answer, and see that person has a whole book exactly about their issue, they’re very likely to click to buy. The link has to be right there. You can’t make them take additional steps to track down the book. They need to read the answer, love it, see a link for a book on that exact topic, and click to buy in the format they can use. If at the bottom of my Quick-No-Cook-Tuna-Tartare recipe I said something like “I also have a cookbook on this, you can find it on Amazon” few people would bother to hunt it down manually. But if I say “click this link to buy -->” then they will click. They already like the one recipe in front of them, this is something they actively want, and here I am giving it to them. They are happy with me for making their life easier.
My pen-name Ophelia Sikes books are available on all platforms, and they’re only being bought on Kindle. People aren't buying on the other platforms. So with Book 1 of the new Bermuda Nights series, which I just launched today –
I am doing this book Kindle exclusive for now. I'm curious to see how that impacts it. Again, it'll be impossible to really know. It could be this does better because I have built up a fan base with the first series. It could be it does worse because it's January and people aren't buying as many books right now. It could be it has a worse cover, or better cover, or who knows :). I caution strongly against ever making too strongly a comparison just because you change something. It could easily be that the "world changed around you" and something else is what made a change. Still, it's good to tweak, and do your best, and see what happens. In any case, I'll let you know what seems to happen.
A final note. Your chance for KDP is never gone. You can always simply delist your book on the other platforms and turn on KDP. Amazon always wants you to join :).
I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts!
Lisa Shea, owner
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