One 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.