Wednesday, 21 September 2016
Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing
has benefited many authors, but now many small scale authors are beginning to suffer from Amazon randomly cancelling their accounts. Amazon, instead of finding and deleting the accounts of click farm scammers, is removing the publishing accounts accounts of hundreds, maybe thousands of small self-published authors who, at one time or another, actually had a book or two bought by a scammer click-farm account.
Some people I know who have had this unfair deletion of their accounts and books by the retailer have despaired and quit writing and publishing altogether.
This causes me sincere frustration and I’ll share with you my reasons why.
Part the First:
Over the past 50 years and more, professional publishers worldwide have packaged and sold books by millions of authors in different ways, depending on where in the world the sale of the books were made. Global book sales areas and pricing were tightly controlled.
Many books available in the USA were not (and never will be) for sale in most countries around the world. Those that are, frequently sport a different title, new cover art, a different price and at times a different publishing imprint/publisher title and even a different author name.
Kindle Direct Publishing is set up to allow this custom to continue. Any author can publish as many versions of their book as they want with as many cover art designs as they want, under any pen-name they want, in any language they get translations for and they may conveniently select specific countries for these particular versions to be sold in at individually designated prices on page two of the KDP publishing page, the pricing page.
THIS is what this pricing detail for regions is all about. Hands up if you have never used this feature.
Now the fact that most self published authors fail to take advantage of this opportunity to diversify their book offerings and to focus more appropriately upon book packaging customs, marketing and memes of one country over another is their fail.
Big publishing houses do this all the time, it is standard publishing practice.
Part the Second:
The second aspect of the equation is this: KDP have cancelled your account in your author name or your publisher name forever. So you can never self-publish again, right?
If you have one or more series of books now is your opportunity to diversify your offerings and reconsider your written assets now your mind is freed from slavery to KDP.
What written assets do you have?
How might you best release them to the readers, now that you have them all available at once?
Do you have short stories that add content to a novel?
Poems and songs to add?
What about images?
What about picture books and elegant printed books to accompany the eBook?
How about mixing up the order of the series?
Republishing using themes or common character links.
What about writing one or two linking books?
Usually a writer will publish a series of books piecemeal as they get written, it’s only after the fact you can look back and say, 'Golly, I’ve got a series of five books there and the covers don’t match, and one cover is really actually crap and I never liked it, I just had to rush into print that week and didn’t get around to getting another cover made for it and it’s never sold as well as the other four….'
Now you can get a cover artist to make series covers for them all, covers that make them look like a series, covers that are beautiful. Covers that feature your new pen name and new titles for the books. The content is the same, you are re-packaging your IP, your precious content can be on sale and sold in new markets.
What new markets? You may bleat, where? KDP did everything for me, I don’t want to have to think!
Here are your opportunities to grow and spread your wings to make your books available for sale worldwide and you can even get your book back into Amazon.com.
What’s that? How? Why? Where do I sign up?
Part the Third:
There are some people with their heads out of the deep sands of KDP who are looking around at the other opportunities the digital publishing world has to offer. I have friends who have made a lot of money in the iBook store, or on Google Play, for instance. I have heard of many other opportunities for authors to sell their books. There is evidence that Kobo sales are picking up as Kobo has risen to become second largest retailer of eBooks.
So how do you get into these markets and then find your way back into the beloved folds of Amazon.com?
First of all be prepared to plan your marketing strategy the way an international publisher would.
I regard all the different eBook retailers as separate countries. This is because not many readers have more than one eBook reader or device. Most people read on their kindle or kindle app, their kobo, or kobo app; on their iPad using the iBook app or using their eBook reader app of choice for android devices.
I’m not a typical example as I have and use both a Kindle and a Kobo. I also use Calibre and the Kindle app. I use the iBook reader on my phone for epub files. I’m a reader, writer and publisher, so I think I’m a little different than most book readers.
Separate access and aggregated access to these different markets is available and as you will see, Kindle is only one retail country. It is a retail country which does not sell to all nations in the world and sells only to people who have credit cards: The fact is, that alone severely limits the numbers of customers KDP can provide to you. Amazon’s service areas and terms (Credit Card only) limits the number of people who can see and buy your book.
The book retail countries:
In each of the following you can publish with a different pen name, different book titles, new beautiful covers and different key words in your metadata. This is not illegal, you own the rights to your book, it is absolutely normal in the publishing world to repackage books in this way for different markets. If you search for classic novels like Pride and Prejudice for sale you will find dozens of editions simultaneously for sale from dozens of publishing imprints, some owned by the same publisher.
1. Streetlib.com Based in Italy, this book aggregator distributes your books into Amazon KDP, Google Play, the iBookstore and Kobo. Also into foreign language library and ebook sales services like Tolino. Their interface is a bit clunky but is improving all the time. They may be all you need to rescue your future as a writer from the trash can. Streetlib.com
NB: it's probably a good idea not to distribute books with the same author and title or publisher name as the account which KDP just deleted… just saying… but you may not be noticed, so test the water.
4. Google Play
5. Smashwords.com (distributes to the iBookstore and others) If you are using a book template, all Smashwords needs you to do differently is bookmark your chapter headings instead of style theme chapter headings.
6. Draft2digital.com also distributes to the iBookstore and other systems.
7. http://hummingbirddm.com/ Join this new start-up to set up your own international bookstore with your own books and audio books for sale as well as hundreds of thousands of big publishing house's publications for sale alongside yours.
Earn income from the books you sell which you get to choose what features in your bookstore. Then you can link to the bookstore on your website, your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, your YouTube channel and so on. The bookstore comes with it's own audio book playing and book reading mobile app. It's pretty cool.
Here's a link to My Bookstore so you can see what one of the hummingbird book stores is like.
The latest audio and video market which pays well, (perhaps better than ACX (Amazon) or iTunes does and it wouldn’t be hard to do that) is YouTube. Since Google has started paying content providers, all you have to do is get your views and subscribers above a certain level and you will receive payment for your customers listening for free to your full length audio book. As an example the rather good full length audio book of The Martian is on YouTube. Anyone can listen for free and the content provider gets paid while you watch the ads.
Part the Fourth:
Money: I recommend Payoneer as a great way to get paid from these markets. The service provided by Payoneer gives you a US bank account number (or European account number) and payments made appear on a personalised Mastercard which you can use at home to pay for any services you would normally use an EFTPOS or credit card for. Costs $29 U$/year and you get $25 bonus cash the minute your balance goes over $100. This is my Payoneer affiliate link: sign up using this and we both earn $.
Part the Fifth:
“Because my KDP retail links are cancelled all my existing FB pages/tweets/tumblr/Instagram/ Google+/blog posts/blog links – waah everything is useless that I set up for my marketing!”
Yes, that’s true. Be a phoenix and rise from the ashes as a bird better equipped to fly. Unpublish/hide your blog posts until you can update them, ask bloggers who are hosting guest blogs to unpublish them for the moment and once you have your new published book links, simply re-write all these promotional materials with the new sales links in them.
Discoverability: by Kris K Rusch Discoverability Marketing series by a Mistress of writing and great information about being a professional author.
This series is well worth you perusing for gems: Just realise that Ms Rush is not likely to have her KDP account summarily cancelled, so she is writing mainly for people who are aiming to market in the US KDP market. Although I believe she does sell her books wide. You will need to extrapolate her very valuable ideas to include the rest of the world in your packaging and book marketing planning.
Remember that while this is a lot of work, it is work that you have done before. Plus it is getting your books in front of new readers who have never found you before and who will eagerly read you.
Amazon have done you a favour, this time you have a chance to start over new and fresh and not mess up your book release timing. This time you can set up your marketing well, find new beautiful covers, write new professional blurbs and have fun with your book release program.
Go forth into the world: have an exciting time and make money selling your books.