Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Amazon's new policy likely to affect sales for Indies

Please note, I'm offering a FREE book at the end of this article.

Amazon has a program that most Indies take advantage of to help boost sales. If an author enrolls their book in the kdp select program, the book becomes available to prime members to borrow for free. In turn, the author will make a small amount from money Amazon has set aside. Alas, the author splits this money with all the other authors signed up and it all depends on how many books are borrowed.

But - by doing this, the author has 5 days they can use to offer their book free to the rest of the reading public. Before March 1, there were websites that listed these free books and made it easy for readers to find these new authors. I believe websites that offered this service made money when readers also bought products using product links on their sites. Offering the book for free and having it listed for folks to find really helped readers connect with an Indie or self-pubbed author. It helped get Texas Forged out there for folks to find.

However, as of March 1, Amazon no longer allows these websites to list the free books. If you do a search for "free" books through Amazon's search engine, you get the books that have never been offered at a price other than free. And there is no way to search for books by the date they were offered for free. You have to click through each page until you get to the end of 68+ pages worth of free and not all of these are free.

Granted, an author who wants to make writing a career should find creative ways to promote in order to let the reading public know the book is out there. But let's get real, there are way too many self-published authors to count. And then there are the smaller publishing houses. Most of those have been able to make their "mark" on the reading public and are in a better position to compete with what used to be known as the Big Six (though it's now twindled down to the Big Five).

So - there are two rules of thumb. Either give away work in hopes of snagging a new fan or never give away your work as it has the potential to diminish its worth. Me, I write because I have to and I publish because I might as well. I want folks to get the same enjoyment out of reading my stories as I get from writing them. With that in mind, I want my work to matter. I want it in the hands of as many readers as possible.

That said, today, tomorrow and Friday, I'm offering Eliza's Copper Penny for free through Amazon. I'm hopeful folks will be able to find it as Amazon isn't making it easy to find.

And because they have made it hard for folks to find my books, once my term is up with the select program, I won't be participating any longer in the program. On a brighter note, I'll be able to place my five self pubbed westerns at other places and that's a good thing.


Beth Trissel said...

Very good post. Yes, I will probably do the same as you plan to do after my current terms with Amazon select expire. Spread my books around. Publishing is changing so fast I can hardly keep up!

Sawyer Bennett said...

Good post Ciara: Was just curious, have then prevented these websites from doing any promotion of a free book, or only stopping them from getting an affiliate kickback? If it's the latter, is there any chance these sites are still willing to promote our free books. I'm wondering if any of these sites have made statements about this.

Ciara Gold said...

Good question Sawyer. I imagine there may be a few sites still willing to promote freebies but I haven't found them yet. I found one site but you have to have at least 10 4 - 5 star reviews and submit your book three - four weeks prior to your free offering. And then they still might not list it. With so many free books a day, I imagine it's very time consuming for the smaller sites to list them all.

I confess, I don't understand it all. I just know that Amazon loves to shake things up. Remember when they removed tags from the mix? And that was a pretty recent change as well. It's as if they are no longer willing to welcome the self pubbed author with open arms.

Frank o file said... - @kindlefreebook (twitter) I wasn't aware that Amazon had stopped websites advertising free amazon ebooks.
Thanks for the heads up I'll check this out.

Cathie Dunn said...

Very interesting post, Ciara. I'll be removing my novella from KDP after the current run. Thanks for sharing!