A is for Amazon (2015 A-Z Blogging Challenge)

A quick note on what the A-Z Blogging Challenge is. During the month of April, bloggers, of a variety of topics, all participate in a challenge to write a blog a day for an entire month (excluding Sundays). Each day is a different letter of the alphabet. You can find a complete list of participating blogs here so take a few minutes and peek in on them. You never know what brilliance you might add to your day.

Disclaimer: It won’t be found here

So, today’s blog is brought to you by the letter A. I decided to write about one thing I have gotten a little experience with, now, so that I don’t both completely bore you AND ramble on about a subject I know absolutely nothing about. That will come later.

As a bright-eyed newbie writer, with a finished manuscript in hand, I would like to say that I thoroughly researched all of my options and carefully combed through each one to find the pros and cons. I would also like so say that I have made the right decisions as far as self-publishing. Too bad for me, I can’t say that. I mean I could, but then I would just be lying to your face. Or screen. You get the point.

Truth is, I did a little bit of research but, with a finished book burning a hole in my hard drive, the very first platform that sounded promising was the one I jumped on. Now, I’m not going to say it was the wrong choice. In fact, it was an alright gig. I published my book, had quite a bit of control over how I sold it, and even sold a copy. (A. Copy.) However, after a year of pretty dismal exposure (not the platform’s fault but thanks to my lack of motivation and abundance of procrastination when it comes to marketing) I started to wonder why I didn’t go with Amazon. I mean, Amazon is the big name in eBook retail, isn’t it?

The platform I had been using, I noticed, seemed to harbor some ill-feelings towards the brand, often comparing them to David and Goliath and treating them as the “evil” corporation. At first, I agreed with a lot of what they preached but, after a while, their opinions seemed, to me (a noob in the business), to become more and more vicious and fear-mongering. So, being the rebel that I am, I decided to find out for myself.

Testing the Waters

I uploaded my book onto Amazon’s KDP back in November. There were no lightening strikes, no earth quakes, no mobs of angry indie-authors beating at my door for feeding the corporate monster… It was just my book. My book on a well-known, easy to search, brand that a lot of people are starting to equate eBooks with. What could be so bad about that? I want people to see my book, don’t I? I remember the looks of confusion when I would tell people where they could find my book and they had no clue what site I was talking about. If you weren’t an indie-author, you’ve probably never heard of it. So this was a welcome change. I was still published with the other platform, but this gave me a little more reach that I was craving.

The only thing that irked me was that I could not make my book free for any promotions. I had to buy my OWN property and gift it if I wanted to submit my book for a review? Doesn’t that seem a bit counterproductive? And then I saw something about free promotional days with KDP SELECT.

Jumping in with both feet

So, after a little light reading….

hermione-s-light-reading-o

… I decided What the Hell? The terms weren’t terrifying. I am one of the stingiest people on earth when it comes to giving someone the rights to my work but three months is practically nothing. In the last three months on the old platform I hadn’t sold a thing. I literally had NOTHING to lose.

Points of Interest with KDP Select

  • You must pull your eBook from ALL other retail sites. If you published with Smashwords this could mean contacting all of the various distributors they send your book to and informing them of your revocation of rights.
  • They have exclusive eBook rights to your work for THREE MONTHS. You are still allowed to publish in print/audio with whoever you wish during this time.
  • They also AUTO-RENEW your KDP Select enrollment so keep an eye on that if you don’t wish to re-enroll after three months.
  • You can select one of two promotions (Countdown Deals, Kindle Free Promotion Days) but not both.

So, the biggest reason I chose to go to Select was to allow my book to be free for promotional things. Now, I’ve perused the community forums for an idea of other people’s experiences with the program and there was quite a steep variance between opinions. Either they did exceptionally well… or they saw diddly. Those that saw diddly were very wordy with their experiences and, often, hostile. I decided to let my own experience speak for itself.

One my first free promotion I had 80 downloads. Now, it’s not a lot, I know, but hey that is 80 new people that might be reading MY book. If I had been trying to make money, I’d have been a doctor. Or gone into pharmaceuticals. Do people that work for pharmaceutical companies get discounts on their crazy pills? *ponders* With the 80 downloads, I received one review. Not exactly the best result but hey it’s a review! The rest of my free days vary, though none have yet to reach or surpass those 80 downloads. Again, I mostly contribute it to deplorable marketing skills on my end.

Pssst…. by the way…. Deny the Moon is having its LAST free days today and tomorrow! Pop on over before you miss out!

Look! I marketed!

Another nice little perk with Select is being a part of the lending library. Yes, you actually get paid (a percentage from a payout pool) when people lend their copy of your eBook to someone else. It’s pretty nifty, actually. Not a giant perk for a newborn author, but cool nonetheless.

As my enrollment draws closer to its end, I have had much to mull over in the area of decision-making. Do I renew another three months? Or should I let it go and return to my roots. Well, if anyone knows me they know I am greedy and like to have the best of all worlds. While the Select option may be beneficial to many authors, I believe that someone with only one single title to offer benefits very little from the free days. I theorize that, had I had even just one other title listed with Amazon, then I might have seen a boost in sales from those that had read my free promotion books and wanted to check out the second. As it is, the disadvantages of the exclusivity far outweighs the perks offered at this time in my writing career. That’s not to say that, later, the scales might tip the other way. Until I stop letting myself get distracted and finish my second installment (or first of one of my OTHER two works-in-progress >.> ) I won’t really know. But what I CAN say is this:

  • KDP Select delivers on what it promises. It’s up to YOU to make the most of it to get the rewards.
  • Amazon has proved to be better as far as reach/exposure because it is a highly-recognized brand.
  • While I am not re-enrolling in Select, I will be keeping y title listed on regular Amazon KDP. If I am hard-set for free days, then I can achieve this by returning to my original platform where I can set the price however I wish. (Newly acquired information: If you set your price to FREE on another platform, Amazon has to automatically price-match your title. So there is a small loophole here. The downside is it might take a little longer for them to return to your original price after you raise it back up.)
  • I will take other platforms’ hostile accounts of Amazon with a grain of salt. The bottom line is, I want people to find my book. If Amazon can deliver that better than the rest, well… good for them. I admire smaller companies for creating platforms where writers have more control but refuse to allow them to make me feel guilty for “contributing to the monopoly.” If you wish to stick it to the man, I wish you all the best. For me, the “man” delivers what I want. Why would I fight against that?

All in all, I feel that my experience with Amazon, while not a great love affair for the ages, was exactly what it should have been. They provided what they promised, I saw a reach the other places couldn’t quit get me to, and I’ve had nothing but good dealings with them. I will continue to use them to distribute my eBook until a time that its no longer beneficial. That’s all we can ask for in this biz after all, isn’t it?

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6 comments on “A is for Amazon (2015 A-Z Blogging Challenge)

  1. Amazon overall has been good for me. Low maintenance is important to me. So I see real value there. And thanks for participating A to Z.

    • I agree, it really is fairly low maintenance and easy to find information or help. Which is incredibly important for first-time authors who are already overwhelmed with getting their work published in one form or another. My relationship with Amazon will very likely remain strong, even if I decide to stay clear of Select.

  2. Hi there, stopped by on the A-Z train… lol Amazon have been reasonable to me too. Am currently in Select but think I’ll pull back out again after the 90 days is up, just because I really prefer not to be exclusive to just one distributor (not because I made any money worth talking about at other distributors! lol). I like the freedom of being able to try things out and experiment and tweak that comes with being your own publisher. Good luck with the rest of your journey, looking forward to reading future posts!

  3. I have a friend in my writing group that went with Amazon Select and says she would go no other way, but then she pumps other a novel a month just about. I’m going to teat the waters of indie publishing (once I get my novel edited) and as yet I have not made up my mind as to which platform to use. I’m lucky in that I have a lot of indie published friends and can ask questions to help me decide. Thanks for a great post.

    • I fully believe that there are plenty of writers that benefit greatly from Select. Topping this list are those that are able to churn out multiple titles because one free book can lead to the purchases of others in your shelf. I may diddle around with it once more when I publish my other upcoming novels and see what experience I have with it then.

      Also, if you haven’t already and are looking for a great community of suppport, you should check out the 10 minute Novelists on facebook. They are fantastic!

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