My Self Publishing Journey: Potholes Ahead

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image8529767One of the risks of working with vendors who are the sole proprietors of their businesses is that when they have Life Events, those bumps in the road affect me, too. The editor who was working on BLAZING A TRAIL: YOUR SELF PUBLISHING JOURNEY had such a Life Event, and that delayed her work (quite justifiably) on my book, putting me about a week behind schedule.

It was a blessing in disguise. Just as I was finishing the recommended edits, I learned from Ed Robertson’s post  that Amazon has contacted its affiliates and made some adjustments to the agreement with them, effective March 1st. The delay gave me the opportunity to revise the chapter on being exclusive to Amazon to reflect the potential consequences of this action. Amazon told its affiliates:

“In addition, notwithstanding the advertising fee rates described on this page or anything to the contrary contained in this Operating Agreement, if we determine you are primarily promoting free Kindle eBooks (i.e., eBooks for which the customer purchase price is $0.00), YOU WILL NOT BE ELIGIBLE TO EARN ANY ADVERTISING FEES DURING ANY MONTH IN WHICH YOU MEET THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS:

(a) 20,000 or more free Kindle eBooks are ordered and downloaded during Sessions attributed to your Special Links; and
(b) At least 80% of all Kindle eBooks ordered and downloaded during Sessions attributed to your Special Links are free Kindle eBooks.”

These changes will probably cause the sites that Kindle Select members use to announce their free promotions to drastically reduce the number of free books they feature. Bargain book sites will have to filter the submissions somehow, probably by ramping up the filters they already use, like the number of reader reviews a book has,the star rating, and early submission (1st come, first listed).  The most popular sites, such as Ereader News Today, have already been doing so.

This doesn’t mean that Kindle Select is completely gutted. Even if your book isn’t listed on one of the big sites, a free promotion will still result in more exposure, just a lot less. Your book’s post promo bump in sales will be much smaller, probably, and the reader reviews it gains will be fewer. With the utility of Kindle Select compromised, fewer authors will be interested in being exclusive to Amazon.

I’m speculating, but I think the net effect of this will be the resurrection of 99 cents as a promotional price. If a bargain site can’t get paid as an affiliate for promoting free books, then it will promote cheap books. And readers who had begun to shun .99 as a sign of inferior quality will start to see it as a deal again. The problem for Amazon is, if it want’s to keep Kindle Select alive, is that authors don’t need to be exclusive to Amazon to price their  books at .99.

Of course, this may not be a problem for Amazon. If a book is sold for .99, Amazon gets 64 cents. If a book is downloaded for free, Amazon gets nothing, and if the free book was found through an affiliate link, it had to pay for the privilege, too.

So, if you’ve been relying the free promotions Kindle Select made so easy to promote your books, keep your eyes on the road ahead. You may want to take a different route.

6 Comments

Filed under Publishing

6 responses to “My Self Publishing Journey: Potholes Ahead

  1. Interesting, Frankie. It makes sense that if Amazon has been losing money on free books, as seems likely given your description, that they would act to discourage their affiliates from engaging in too many give-aways. Still, I see this as unfortunate for writers trying to get the word out about their works, since many readers may not be willing to spend even $0.99 for works by new or unfamiliar authors.

  2. The only thing that has helped me sell any of my “Immortal Relations” series of novels (two are on Amazon & Kindle and the third is in work) has been to do a book signing at our local Hastings Bookstore (the only major bookstore that handles “Local Authors”). Blogs and Amazon-Kindle “Free book days” haven’t done a thing (eventhough I’ve had a wonderful comment that my first book was a reader’s “…holy grail of vampire novels.) The comments have been few but all five stars, yet nothing has worked on the “big stage”.

  3. booklaurie

    Frankie, talk about up-to-the-minute information — is this the kind of thing you’ll discuss in your WriterUniv.com class? (I just signed up; looking forward to it!)

  4. Frankie, sounds like the delay was a good think after all. As someone who elected to not use Select, I’m not unhappy about Amazon’s decision. But I’m new to indie publishing, so what do I know? We shall see in time, I suppose. Makes it hard on the affiliate sites though. Hard to plan ahead.

    • Love your icon, Lyndy!

      Yes, self-publishers and the affiliated businesses live in a dynamic environment. We all have to stay on our toes. I think that this change won’t affect established authors as much as it will authors new to the field. Nevertheless, new talent always finds a way to make itself heard.

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