What The Big Tech Hearings Mean For Indie Authors Amazon Publishing

The CEOs of Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple were grilled on Capitol Hill yesterday, stepping up the anti-trust chatter that has been percolating over the last few years. While some of you might be tempted to reflexively dismiss these hearings as political theater, many commentators seem to agree that this time feels different.

Political sands have shifted. Public sentiment towards tech companies has soured — companies who were once almost universally loved. Well, at least in the case of three of them; Amazon always attracted some measure of criticism, I guess, probably given the particular companies it disrupted.

Indie authors, in particular, perked up at the news of these hearings, given that three of those places are where we sell most of our books, and the fourth is what many of us predominantly use to drive sales of those books.

Whatever your feeling on these individual companies, their effects on society, or the forces driving these hearings, the mere prospect of anti-trust actions creates uncertainty in business terms, at a time when we already have a significant amount of it. Which makes this an excellent time to examine how well your author business is future-proofed, given the average indie author’s dependency on this set of companies currently in the anti-trust spotlight. Read More…

Granular Targeting Explained Marketing Resources

I’m pretty experienced with digital advertising at this point but when I got my interview for Google AdWords back in 2003 I had to… Google it to figure out what they did. And I still got it wrong!

I was quite lucky that I first interviewed with Overture (the former name of the digital advertising division of Google’s one-time rival, Yahoo) because I had absolutely no idea how these kind of ad platforms worked, let alone best practices. But I learned fast—Google’s training was excellent.

One thing that was drilled into us constantly was the importance of granular targeting. It might be a little more obvious in 2018, but back then the only really familiar advertising model was the broadcast one. Put your message in giant letters on the billboard. Flood the airwaves with ad spots. Take out full page ads in newspapers and magazines (for the kids: these are paper versions of websites that used to be popular). The basic strategy was a simple, brute force one; if the signal is strong enough, the right people will hear it. Read More…

BookBub Ads and Wide Authors Marketing Resources

BookBub Ads are especially useful for wide authors. I decided a while ago that I was going back wide with all my books. Sales were pretty anemic to begin with (readers don’t magically discover books), but then I put together a little marketing plan. I don’t want to invest too heavily in pushing my historical novels until I have a couple more books in my series out, but I was curious to experiment with a few different approaches for pushing wide books. After nabbing an International-only BookBub Featured Deal for Liberty Boy, I decided to build a little campaign around it, particularly looking at sales internationally, and off-Amazon. When you are in KU, it makes sense to concentrate sales. As detailed Read More…

The Netherlands Kindle Store Opens Amazon Publishing

Amazon launched a Netherlands Kindle Store this morning, as anticipated by The Digital Reader yesterday. Kindle devices are now on sale for prices ranging between €59 for the basic model, up to €189 for the Voyage, and the store has opened with over 3m titles. However, only 20,911 of these titles are in Dutch and only 1,221 of these e-books are by Dutch authors. That may change now that KDP has launched a local portal for Dutch writers and small presses. The opening of the Dutch Kindle Store also means the abolition of the regressive and unpopular Whispernet Surcharge in the Netherlands which added $2 onto the price of many e-books. For those already publishing via KDP, your book is on Read More…

Amazon Is Creating Competition, Not Killing It

The big topic (again) seems to be Amazon and competition – whether it is a monopoly, or is heading in that direction, and whether they should be “stopped” (although, I’m never quite sure what that entails exactly). Barry Eisler dealt with this fear, rather conclusively, back in October in a guest post on Joe Konrath’s blog. But lately, the hysteria has been ratcheted up a notch by Mike Shatzkin’s sensible prediction that Amazon will soon be responsible for 50% of most publisher’s sales (I can’t link to Mike’s original piece at the moment, there seems to be a problem with his site, but Passive Guy quotes the main points). The Author’s Guild now has Amazon firmly in their sights. An article Read More…

Amazon Faces Competition From Japan

A major deal was announced yesterday which should propel Kobo into the top tier: the Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten purchased Kobo in a straight cash deal for $315m. It sounds like Kobo will continue to be run as a standalone company – the CEO is staying in place and all the employees are keeping their jobs – only now they will have the financial backing of one of the Top 10 internet companies in the world. Make no mistake, this deal means that Kobo is now a serious player.

Apple's Lawyers Get Busy

Apple became the world’s most valuable company for a brief period yesterday, overtaking Exxon whose value had dipped on the back of the depressed oil prices. Those two should continue to duke it out as Apple posts record results, and oil prices inevitably rise. However, Apple’s celebrations may have been short-lived as Amazon came up with a clever way to circumvent their rules on in-app purchases. Today, Amazon released the Kindle Cloud Reader. Essentially, this is a snazzy version of the Kindle reading app, but the key difference is that it’s browser-based. This means that iPad owners will be able to read books, and browse for new purchases, all in the same web-based program.

Adult Fiction Print Sales Collapse: Down 25.7%

A cursory look at the Kindle Top 100 will tell you that all the action is in Adult fiction. This is especially true for self-published work, where a non-fiction or children’s/YA hit is a rare beast. This was borne out in a recently released Bowker survey covering the last quarter of 2010. That showed e-books as having captured a share of the adult fiction market that was three times larger than the respective share of the children’s/YA market and more than twice as large as that of non-fiction. That in itself poses more questions than answers, but there is an obvious conclusion: this first big wave of new e-reader owners are fiction fans. There is, of course, another side to Read More…

Market Your Story Part 1 Websites & Blogs

This is the fifth post in my continuing series INDIE PUBLISHING FOR INTERNATIONAL WRITERS, a step-by-step guide to getting your stories into (digital) print. I’ll be doing each step with you, learning as you do, because I’ve never done this before either. Step 5: Market Your Story Part 1, Websites & Blogs So you have written your story, added your cover design, had your work edited, gone through the pain of formatting for the first time, and now everything is uploaded and available on all the various sales channels. Only problem is, nobody’s buying it. Don’t worry, you haven’t told anybody about it yet. And, it takes time to build an audience. Even the runaway success stories took around six months to Read More…

Making Money From Writing, Part 3: Sales Channels

For the last two days we looked at the various markets where you can sell your short stories and novels. Yesterday we covered the reasons why you should be cautious before you self-publish your work. Today we are going to look at the various sales channels where you can sell you self-published stories: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, Apple, Diesel, and Xinxii. You should be publishing on all of them. It requires very little work once you have done your formatting, and if you don’t you are cutting your sales for no good reason.