A fishy tale. Or, How to survive in the vast ocean known as, Amazon.
Last time I was invited to stop by for coffee and a chat with Soooz, I mused aloud on the whole kooky business of preparing to sell your masterpiece, your book, your imaginary house. This time I thought I’d look at the next step -The actual selling.
So, your book is out there. You’re a bona fide published author. In e-book - naturally, paperback - probably, hardback...hmm...I’ll get back to you. You’ve had your virtual launch party – a Face book must, and perhaps a real launch party with nibbles and wine and lots friends and family who of course will support you by buying said book. Now, you’re in that post-coital period and sod it, you don’t even smoke!
Your book, your baby, your life’s work has, rather strangely, failed to shoot straight to number one on Amazon, (which is obviously an error on Amazon’s part, miscalculated sales figures, holiday weekend blah blah) and additionally, you’ve not been nominated for a prestigious award nor invited to appear live on Richard and Judy...What on earth is going on? Surely not another insidious, sock puppet, debacle?
Fear not, as your book is set adrift in the vast ocean that is Amazon, there is something that can be done, that might just save it from sinking without trace... A flotation device, if you like, provided by none other than those lovely folks at Amazon (yes I know they were the ones who did all the miscalculating, but that was then and this is now.)
Let’s get down to it. Kindle Direct Promotion (KDP) is a tool to assist when teaching your book to swim. And currently there is a difference of opinion on whether it really is the life saver that it professes to be. Basically you sign your book exclusively to Amazon for 90 days and during that time you can offer your book free for up to 5 days. Your book can also be loaned out to Prime members, for which you receive a small fee.
Now then, why would anyone choose to give their book away for free? How bizarre and reckless, I hear you trill, but hang on, let’s go back to the beginning. Remember, your book is frantically treading water along with a zillion other books. It’s an awfully long way from the beach and that’s where all the buyers are fishing for a bargain, a good read and a good deal. They might do some beach casting with a long line, or if they’re really keen they might even get in a boat and go looking for that elusive shoal, but by far the majority, won’t even get their feet wet. They’ll just stay right there at the high watermark and comb the beach. If you want your book to be the one that they find amongst the seaweed and driftwood, then you’re going to need a pretty big wave to take you there.
And that takes us back to KDP free promos. The idea is, the more free downloads you get, the more visible you become as you climb the Amazon ranks and get closer to the beach. What you hope for is a tsunami like surge, that will carry you right up the beach and land you stranded slap bang in the path of the beachcomber, when the tide retreats and the free promo ends. The longer you’re on the beach, the more visible you are and the more paid sales you make....See...simple!
But does it work?
Well, folk are pretty much divided, more than likely dependant, on how far up the beach they got and how long they stayed there. Some folk have an aversion to giving their fish away for free and some folk are more than happy to wait for a deep sea trawler to come find them.
But if you want to try for a stint on the beach, what can you do?
Shouting about the free promo far and wide is about all you can do, the rest is down to the tide. So as you can see, it’s not for the faint hearted.
Personally I like KDP. I have no aversion to giving my work away free. I would much prefer my work to be read, although it has to be said, downloading (free or paid) does not necessarily mean your book will be read. I have had three dabbles so far, in this great fishing malarkey and from experience I’d say 2 days promo is the most effective...I mean, hey, you don’t want to give them all away for free! So my scores on the doors are as follows:
Dabble one, 5 days – a full net, pretty damned good.
Dabble two, 1 day – a few bites on the line, not bad.
Dabble three, 2 days – filled the hold, amazing.
Dabble four - is occurring as I write and the thing with dabbling, fishing, and KDPing is that it’s essentially a game and there are no guarantees. You take a chance and sometimes it pays off. Success in one promotion does not guarantee success in the next, just as failure is not a given.
So what’s the alternative? I’d say the alternative is to learn to swim pretty damn fast and hope for an ocean going yacht and a calm sea.
Of course I may change my mind after the results of dabble four are in.J
B A Morton Nov 2012