Posts tagged: Amazon KDP

Plucky Grandmother Fights Amazon, Apple, and BookBaby over KDP Promotion

The subtitle to this article is: Why is The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy selling for 99 cents (or more) October 12, 13, & 14 when it’s supposed to be free? It’s because of WHAT HAPPENED.

To qualify for Amazon’s KDP program, in which Amazon allows you to give your book away five days out of the 90 day enrollment period, you have to pull distribution of your eBook from all the other distributors, giving Amazon exclusive rights to market your book.

Yes, that means yank it away from the iBookstore (Apple and the iPad, etc.), Sony, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Baker & Taylor, Copia, eBookPie, etc.  This is supremely monopolistic behavior on Amazon’s part, something that causes all economists to cringe and then foam at the mouth. I am an economist.

But I stuffed my principles to jump at the chance to give my books away. Why? Smart people have made fortunes doing it. I wanted to give it a chance. (See Cheryl K Tardif, How I Made Over $42,000 in 1 Month Selling my Kindle eBooks. Cheryl did it with the KDP program. That $42 K got my attention.)

I pulled distribution of my books from everywhere and gave exclusive rights to Amazon. I already have had two successful KDP free days with my books. The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy and Lady Grace did very well, hitting #1 and #3 in their categories. Many more copies were downloaded than my “commit seppuku on the front lawn” figure of three. That’s right, my lowered expectation was three (3) downloads or I’d off myself. There’s an article about this. A funny one, with a video of an Eddie Murphy look-alike.

Despite the grueling work of letting as many people as I could know about my giveaway, I decided to do it again. My sales did increase after the books went back up to their normal prices.

I scheduled the KDP free days. That’s when IT happened. I received the following email from Amazon:

"GET THAT BOOK DOWN, SANDY!"The email says that we’re still selling The Angel on the iBookstore and we had to get it off within ten days or the book would be tossed from the KDP program and demoted to regular status, where we could sell it for 99 cents instead of giving it away.  I didn’t know that the book was distributed by anyone but Amazon, but, clicking the link, I found out it was true.

Hmm. I have had a successful KDP promotion with this book, with Amazon happily giving it away for two days. I guess their ever-vigilant staff missed its rogue status.

When we decided to go for the KDP program early in 2012, we had BookBaby, a distributor of eBooks to all the neat places mentioned above, remove our books from their terrific distribution sites. To do this, we forfeited the $99 we paid to be part of their system.

So, the right to give my books away has already cost us $99, plus whatever we would have made selling through all those other channels.

BookBaby‘s not taking the book off of the iBookstore jeopardizes my new giveaway this weekend. I’d already told various blogs and other sites that The Angel would be free. More than that, I’m doing a humongous blog tour, and have they announced that the book would be free.

I immediately and laboriously  emailed Apple (It’s not easy to figure out how to get into the seller side of  the iBookstore.) and BookBaby, trying to get The Angel‘s sales off of the iBookstore and exclusively on Amazon. I’m currently at five emails from Apple customer service. Their response can be summarized as: ‘You have to contact BookBaby and get them to remove it.” And, “We feel your pain  . . .” No, it was: “We’re really sorry and wish we could help.” But then they didn’t help.

I moved on to the BookBaby site, determined to find some way to contact someone, since they weren’t getting back to me after my first email. I found the site extremely counter-intuitive, but I finally discovered the page I’ll attach below.

Are you relating to this, indie authors and publishers? The total opacity of the system and the impossibility of getting a real person to help you. The sense of being lost in a hostile, incomprehensible world. We indies deal with this all the time, on EVERY friggin’ thing about getting our books in print and posted somewhere where at least our MOTHERS can read them. It’s a nightmare. Write a comment if you feel my pain.

This is what happened next–I found this on BookBaby:

BookBaby Removed The Angel from the iBookstore Six Months Ago

This is taken from the secret innards of our account. It shows that BookBaby removed The Angel from all the places it sets books up back in May. April for the iBookstore. They did their job.

So why isn’t it removed? I asked Apple that and have not heard back from them. I also  added the following, “You say you care, so do something.” Maybe I said a bit more politely.

Then I responded to Amazon, sending them the above screen shot and an email explaining that I’ve done everything I can. I’m an individual caught in the middle of three corporations: Apple, Amazon, and BookBaby. I’ve acted in good faith. The outcome is out of my control. Could they cut me some slack and at least let me do the KDP promotion this weekend?

I haven’t heard from Amazon, either.

Did you ever think it would be so hard to give your books away?

If you find a listing of free books this weekend and The Angel is on it, and you find its not free when you go to the book’s Kindle page, I’m sorry. I’ll get it marked down to 99 cents if I can.

Why go through all this? I contemplate this all the time. Is it worth it? Should I grant Amazon exclusive rights to distribute my work? Is the frustration worth the payoff?

One reason that I didn’t balk at giving Amazon distribution rights is on the table above. Our Total lifetime sales through BookBaby is $13.09. It’s not hard to walk away from that.

The reason that Amazon can demand monopolistic tariffs and conditions from sellers is that it is a monopoly. It has the books, and it has the customers, too. You’ll make a zillion times more on Amazon than anywhere else, at least in my experience. Plus, it’s easier to deal with one giant corporation with its rules and ways than a dozen.

Who knows? Maybe in the next five days one of the giants will get back to me and this will get handled. Or maybe not. Now to contact all those blogs and tell them that The Angel will be free this weekend. Or not.

Sandy Nathan, Award-winning Author

Sandy Nathan is the winner of twenty-two national awards for her writing. She’s won in categories from memoir, to visionary fiction, to children’s nonfiction. And more.

Sandy’s  books are: (Click link to the left for more information on each book. All links below go to Kindle sale pages.)
Sam & Emily: A Love Story from the Underground (paperback. Kindle coming)
Lady Grace: A Thrilling Adventure Wrapped in the Embrace of Epic Love (paperback. Kindle coming)
The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy
Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could

Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice

 

 

I Survived Amazon’s KDP Free Day Program and Am Even Doing It Again

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy

When I wrote my last post on Your Shelf Life, I was preparing to launch my first “free day” campaign with Amazon’s KDP program. Since my track record on such promotions has been miserable (check out this article in which I explain how my Amazon bestseller day yielded sales of thirteen books), I was concerned about how the days would go.

I wasn’t worried about the book, my The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy,  a sci-fi thriller with a dystopian, though romantic, twist. The Angel won four national awards, including a Gold Medal at the IPPYs, and has stellar reviews. The Angel wasn’t the problem, my ability to get it in front of people was.

I leaned on my friend Cheryl Kaye Tardif’s eBook How I Made Over $42,000 in One Month Selling my Kindle eBooks (known at $42K hereafter). Making $42K in a month is good enough for me. This is a really good guidebook outlining what Cheryl did to make a small fortune doing exactly what I’m going to be doing. It’s all there, step by step.

The major, major leaning I gleaned from $42K, is that while Cheryl is a marketing whiz and really loves doing it, I am not. I am a writer. I love to write and produce highly imaginative fantasy, sci-fi, visionary fiction, and even nonfiction about horses and spirituality. I’m not a marketer.

What happened when I applied Cheryl’s techniques in $42K to my ineptitude?

Holy macaroni! The Angel SOARED. Let’s see if I can find some screen shots. (Always take screen shots. My book Numenon once was #1 in 3 categories of mysticism and flew at about the 1,000 in paid sales level on Amazon for, oh, a year or so. I didn’t realize that this was good. Didn’t think it would ever change, either. I didn’t take any screen shots. Now all I have is a memory.)

Here we go. I began the promotion with many trepidations, vastly lowered expectations, and a promise of hari kari if I did not achieve my goal number of downloads, which was three (3). Yes, I promised publicly to off myself if  The Angel did not have three (3) downloads.

I felt pretty safe. I was actually safe by about 470%. How did it go? Here is a pictorial story. Click each image to enlarge it so you can read the tables:

INITIAL SUCKY RANKING OF 388,885 in the PAID KINDLE RANKINGS

I told you I wasn’t a marketing whiz. This, for a book with four national awards and a 4.6 star rating on 22 awards. A book about which bona fide reviewers said things like:  “5 Stars! Blends the paranormal, science fiction, and Armageddon styles well for a riveting read.  Midwest Book Review” We won’t get into that.

RISING IN RANKINGS

Things are moving. By 7:29 AM its first free day,  The Angel has climbed to the 4,573 level and is #80 in Science Fiction > Adventure. (They don’t say Free here, but they do later.)

# 1 SCI-FI ADVENTURE; #199 OVERALL FREE

Oh happy day, and getting happier! #199 in the overall free store and # 1 Sci-fi > Adventure Free.

THE ANGEL IS UP THERE WITH GEORGE R.R. MARTIN

Here The Angel is, flying high next to Ol’ George R.R. Martin. Only difference is, he got paid.

KINDLE-AUTHOR BOOK OF THE DAY

I took out one ad for my “day,” for David Wisehart’s Kindle-Author.com. Isn’t this a pretty presentation? David was kind enough to name The Angel Book of the Day, so it was beautifully featured. I wish space permitted me showing everything the ad contained. Synopsis, reviews, a letter from my mom. It was great.

* * *

What happened after the free promotion? I did not make $42K on my books. Sales of The Angel have stayed pretty high, certainly way higher than the book’s original sucky 388,885 ranking. Sales of Lady Grace, The Angel’s sequel have increased.

Basically, you gotta keep pushing. At least I’m off the chewing-gum-mottled basement floor in sales. I noticed something funny on a Tweet Team I’m on. Cheryl Tardif was tweeting her books WHILE SHE WAS ON VACATION. That’s how dedicated you’ve got to be to rake in the big bucks.

I haven’t pushed The Angel since the big free days, because I’ve been tooling up for my NEXT free days.

Lady Grace: Sequel to The Angel and one enthralling book.

YES! You will be able to download The Angel’s sequel, Lady Grace: A Thrilling Adventure Wrapped in the Embrace of Epic Love, FREE! FREE! FREE! on August 5th and 6th, this very upcoming Sunday and Monday. I really think you should download it, because August 7th is my birthday and it would make me very happy. Downloading her book is a good way to say Happy Birthday to an author. In this case, you’ll get really terrific book for nothing. (Alternatively, you can wait until my birthday on August 7th, when the book won’t be free. That would make me even happier. But suit yourself.)

Lady Grace is better than The Angel. It’s the kind of book that causes top reviewers to say things like:

FIVE STARS! A MODERN SCI-FI MASTERPIECE!
Lady Grace was first-rate science fiction and one of the most absorbing page-turners of that genre that I’ve read in years. Author Sandy Nathan exhibits the imagination of Ray Bradbury combined with the whimsicalness of Douglas Adams. That’s high praise, but it’s warranted. The story includes so much action; tense, suspenseful drama; and two charming love stories that it’s irresistible.” J. Chambers, Amazon Top 50 Reviewer (#46 at this writing)

Two weeks ago, I gave away an Angel. This week, I’m giving away Grace.  The mystical kind of grace is the bestowal of unmerited favor. That grace is free all the time.

The Grace I’m talking about is a Lady.  She’s irresistible. And will be free August 5 & 6!

Sandy Nathan

Sandy Nathan, Award-winning Author

Sandy Nathan is the winner of twenty-two national awards for her writing. She’s won in categories from memoir, to visionary fiction, to children’s nonfiction. And more.

Sandy’s  books are: (Click link to the left for more information on each book. All links below go to Kindle sale pages.)
Sam & Emily: A Love Story from the Underground (paperback & Kindle available)
Lady Grace: A Thrilling Adventure Wrapped in the Embrace of Epic Love (paperback & Kindle available)
The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy
Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could

Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice


How to Survive Amazon’s KDP Free Book Program

Signing up for Amazon’s KDP program gives you the privilege of having Amazon will sell your book for nothing. The big ‘Zon will do this for five days during the 90 day slot you’re required to enroll.

Yes, they’ll sell your book for nothing, allowing you to do all sorts of marketing shenanigans, like this. What is the cost of the program? Nothing. That’s right, they’ll give your book away gratis and not charge you a dime.

Sounds like a whole lot of nothing going on. I’ll find out.

Tomorrow, July 21, is my first FREE DAY for my book The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy with Kindle’s KDP free book program. The day after that, Sunday, July 22, the second FREE DAY with the same book. I’m using my friend Cheryl Kaye Tardif’s How I Made Over $42,000 in One Month Selling my Kindle eBooks (known at $42K hereafter). This is a really good guidebook outlining what Cheryl did to make a small fortune doing exactly what I’m going to be doing. It’s all there, step by step.

The first thing I learned as I began implementing Cheryl’s plan was: allow more than 2 days to set the thing up. For some reason, I thought it would be quick and easy. But then, I’m the woman who almost killed herself doing an Amazon Bestseller Day Launch and sold 13 books. Click the link and read about it in agonizing detail.

I have already demonstrated a colossal inability to pull off net-based marketing schemes. I will tell you what I did in the two days I allotted to Operation Get ‘em to Download in a moment. I want to tell you the most important insight I’ve gotten from $42K first. Here goes:

In $42K, Cheryl Tardif talks about how she loves to do marketing and is really good at it. She loves being creative and trying new methods of getting her work out to readers. Not only does she know she’s good at it, so does the author community on-line. And her  millions of readers. Whey you read $42K, you’ll know what a good marketer Cheryl is, too. And she’s making all that money.

I am not a marketing person. That was my flaming insight. Whereas some people’s campaigns go fizzle-pop, straight to the top, mine do not. Or at least they haven’t so far.

What I am is an extremely good story-teller and writer. Extremely. I also create beautiful books of superior quality. (Tell it, Sandy! Tell it like it is!) That’s why I got my 22 (count ‘em) national awards and why my reviews are so high. I’m a writer and author, not a social media guru. If you want to read a good book, read this one: The Angel. It’s free on July 21 & 22, 2012.

The other thing about my writing is that it’s for people who think. You don’t have to be a genius to be  concerned about the future of our planet, but you do have to think.  If we don’t get it together and stop calling each other names, will we blow up Earth? That’s what The Angel   is about.

So, if you expect me to be all over Facebook on Monday crowing about, “My fans downloaded 100,000 eBooks this weekend,” think again. (Click the Facebook link. That’s my page. You can Like me. :-)   PM me and I’ll reciprocate. Also––tell me if my Like button works. I’ve heard it doesn’t, and also that it doesn’t exist, which is proof of what I’m saying. Whose FB Like button doesn’t work?)  Don’t expect big brags from me when this thing shakes down. Or any brags.

I’m entering a time of lowered expectations. Remember the famous Saturday Night Live riffs by the same name? Or was it Mad TV? To stimulate your memory, here’s an example. (I am not responsible for the  language or level of vulgarity in this video. I just laugh.)

Now that we’ve gotten that straight, here’s my lowered expectations  forecast of the number of eBooks I’ll download over the weekend. Ready? Here it comes:   3.

That’s right, 3 eBooks.

Any less than 3 and it’s seppuku time for Sandy. So download one of those puppies and save a lot of mess in the Nathan household. The Angel

HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR KDP FREE DAY:

Buy Cheryl Tardif’s book and do what she says She’s done it. $42K,

So, you missed that one and you’ve got two days to establish a social presence and notify the universe about what’s coming its way. THIS IS WHAT I DID:

My free days were Saturday and Sunday. On Tuesday of that week, I thought, I better get going. I pulled together $42K, the various lists and articles and all kinda stuff that tell you what you should do and went, “Uh-oh.”

Moving at warp speed, I went over all Amazon the sale pages of all my books, listed here, My Amazon Page, to make sure that they made sense and were properly spelled and punctuated.  This was on the odd chance that someone might go to The Angel and get interested in me and more of my books. (I’ve got six!) I also updated My Amazon Page to announce that The Angel was going to be free.

Then I wrote three blog articles about the free days: Your Shelf Life (The link may not work. My own blogs are giving me Bad Request messages. This is how it is for me.), and Sandy Nathan’s Personal Blog and finally The Official Tales From Earth’s End Blog.

My fanny was dragging at this point and I hadn’t contacted any reader-centric blogs to list my book. Good thing, too, because when I started doing it, they all said, “Allow 2 weeks for us to process your request.” Well, I submitted anyway. I don’t really know where or what. I was moving too fast.

What next? TWITTER! Everybody scores with TWITTER! John Locke sold a million eBooks through Twitter.  This is an area with potential. I have 9,574 followers. (You can follow me, too! My Twitter name is @sandyonathan)

The thing is, I neglect them. I don’t really like social media (though I like you a great deal). I resist sitting in front of a screen for hours every day, feeling my derriere spread and my body sag into a pear shape. I resist it, but it’s happened anyway.

Shouldn’t have resisted though, Might need those friendships one day. Today, for instance. Nevertheless, I thought I’d try Cheryl’s advice and bombard my Twitter followers with clever 140 character epithets about the Angel being free. (Angels are always free, aren’t they?)

That required having a way to preload my tweets so I wouldn’t have to sit by my computer hand-loading them all day. Cheryl  suggests Hootsuite for setting up tweets in advance. I had some other software for organizing tweets installed. PeepDip? It has a black background and flashes and peeps every time anyone in the universe tweets.  You can’t shut it up. Irritates the hell out of me. Also, I didn’t know how to load a batch of tweets with it.

Downloaded Hootsuite. Found where you load bulk tweets. You can’t just copy and paste, though. You have to use an Excel sheet. I can do that. I followed their instructions to the letter, and quotation mark, using their downloadable template as a guide. Composing about 48 (1 per hour of The Angel’s “free” time), clever and non-repetitive tweets loaded with #s (which took forever), I uploaded my Excel table into the designated slot. Yay!!!!

No yay. Hootsuite gave me a message saying, “There’s only 1 error in your document. To fix it, go to: a bunch of forums.” I scanned those, almost hysterical by that time. Then I noted that the example of the properly formatted tweet shown on the site was NOT the same as the downloaded example. NOT, NOT.

So I redid my ten million tweets and thought about my dear friend Mara Purl, who reached the #1 in Amazon (All of Amazon!) slot with her free days.

Suicide was beginning to look good. Anything but being an independent publisher. I got paid good money for my work with every other job I’ve done . . . It was not a good night.

Since we had to catch an early morning flight (I told you we were going on vacation, didn’t I?), I called it a day.

Hours later, my husband and I were in Santa Fe NM, romance capital of the universe. Problems fly away here. I think it’s the altitude. The lack of air causes brain damage. For whole periods at a time, I did not give a flying anything about the coming weekend or results or anything but blue skies and bliss.

Didn’t last though, So here I sit, pecking on a keyboard in the middle of the night with lightning flashing in the distance and  beautiful Santa Fe all around me.

But that’s enough for one day. I will turn this around, if only in my head. We’re here (on the planet) to live in bliss and love, not drudgery like the above. I write spiritually informed, visionary fiction. Time to live it.

Nighty nite! Sweet dreams! And remember to down load The Angel.  How often are Angels free?

Sandy Nathan

Sandy Nathan, Award-winning Author

Sandy Nathan is the winner of twenty-two national awards for her writing. She’s won in categories from memoir, to visionary fiction, to children’s nonfiction. And more.

Sandy’s  books are: (Click link to the left for more information on each book. All links below go to Kindle sale pages.)
Sam & Emily: A Love Story from the Underground (paperback & Kindle available)
Lady Grace: A Thrilling Adventure Wrapped in the Embrace of Epic Love (paperback & Kindle available)
The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy
Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could

Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice

 

 

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