So it’s been approximately one month since I started selling my two ebooks on Amazon – 1,699 Nonfiction Writing Prompts and How to Write Blog Posts that Sell eBooks. I didn’t quite hit the 3 figure sales mark. I was pretty darn close, but not quite there. This means I sold somewhere in the neighborhood of 40-something ebooks on Amazon last month.
It’s not great, but it ain’t bad either. In my last post, you’ll recall that I led you to the Reddit thread where an anonymous author spilled his Amazon sales secrets. Coincidentally, he didn’t break the three figure sales mark until his second month either. When he was in his eighth month he did over $20K. In other words, don’t let the first month become a marker for your potential.
From this first month I discovered one very essential point worth mentioning. Marketing really and truly DOES make a difference. How do I know? Because when I was actively marketing my ebooks, I generated way more sales than when I wasn’t doing any marketing. It was as obvious as the nose on my face!
Case in point, over the past couple of weeks I had been working on some new ebooks. When I’m deeply entrenched in writers mode, I tend to do less marketing.
This is especially true because I’ve been writing fiction, which is a major switch up from my typical nonfiction fare. It definitely was a week or starts and stops while I got my Stephen King mind lathered up. I’m still carefully taking each step, though as I progress through the story I’m feeling my confidence rise.
In any case, with more fiction writing and less nonfiction marketing, I did see my Amazon sales suffer.
This tells me that if you’re not going to publish a large body of ebooks on Amazon, you definitely need to have a marketing plan in place. You need to be soliciting reviews and writing articles and whatnot.
That’s not to say that you won’t get sales without marketing. Yes… I did generate some sales without doing any promotional work those last two weeks of May. But the difference between the marketing intense weeks and non-marketing intense weeks was extraordinarily noticeable.
A word about the KDP Select Program
When you upload your ebook to Amazon, they offer you the opportunity to enroll in the KDP Select Program. KDP Select enables customers enrolled in the Amazon Prime program (which I believe is only available in the US), to borrow an ebook once a month with no due date.
If a customer opts to borrow your ebook you get a percentage of a the Lending Library Fund.
According to the KDP Select Frequently Asked Questions:
“Your share of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library Fund is calculated based on a share of the total number of qualified borrows of all participating KDP titles. For example, if the monthly fund amount is $500,000, the total qualified borrows of all participating KDP titles is 100,000, and your book was borrowed 1,500 times, you will earn 1.5% (1,500/100,000 = 1.5%), or $7,500 for that month.”
In addition to the Lending Library perk, you also receive up to five days to do a freebie promotion. This means you can give your ebook away for five days (non consecutively or consecutively, whatever you wish).
This giveaway strategy doesn’t seem to work for people who have only one ebook.
The supposed power behind it is if you have several ebooks, like a mystery series, then you give away the first one in hopes that people will purchase the other titles in your series.
Initially I did enroll in KDP Select. When you do Amazon gives you the option to back out of the program within a few days, provided you don’t use any of your giveaway days. In the end, I un-enrolled my titles.
Why I did NOT take the KDP Select bait
- Well the most obvious reason is that I didn’t have enough titles within a series to make it worth my while. If I gave away one, it was a crap shoot whether someone would have purchased the other.
- Many authors say they enroll in KDP Select to get reviews, but that’s not a guarantee either. I’ve seen plenty of authors give away thousands of copies of their ebooks and not get a single review from the deal. At the end of the day, that’s a bitter pill to swallow.
- Although there was the possibility of getting a piece of the Lending Library pie, there’s no guarantee you’ll earn anything from that one either.
- Plus – and this is one of the biggest reasons why I didn’t stay enrolled in KDP Select – you must remain in the program for three months. Within that time you cannot sell your ebook anywhere else except Amazon.
That’s a problem for me. What if you get into KDP Select and realize your ebook just doesn’t sell on Amazon. Now you have to wait three months to get out of the contract. Sure, at that point you can sell your ebook elsewhere. But you also have to take into consideration that it takes two months to get paid from these other ebook stores.
That means it could be FIVE months (ouch!) before you really start seeing any type of real profits from an ebook. Those odds just aren’t strong enough for me to take the bait just yet.
I’m not saying that I’ll never enroll an ebook into KDP Select. I just won’t do it right now. I won’t even consider it until I have a series of titles to speak of. I’d rather take my chances being able to sell on multiple sites.
What I’ve planned for June
More marketing. Lots more marketing. (See my eBook Marketing Journal blog for those updates.)
Plus I’ll be putting at least two fiction stories up for sale. Not full fledged novels, but short stories.
Someone asked me if if customers get pissed paying for short stories. Actually no, they don’t.
I read both novels and short stories, but I prefer short stories. I hear short stories are popular with commuters. I hear people like to read them during their lunch breaks. I read short stories while I’m doing the laundry.
Amazon has a category for short stories. Plus, you can mention in your book description that your title is a short story. I strongly recommend you do just that to appeal to people looking specifically for shorter tomes.
If you haven’t gotten into your ebook writing groove, now’s the time to get going. This isn’t a guarantee of a million dollars overnight, but it is a simple way to build up a business that will continue to support for years to come. Don’t wait. Just get started. Now.