I’ve been lax. I haven’t lit up the blogosphere with any inspirational witticisms or photos over the past few weeks, or written anything for my Publishing on Amazon series. I’ve been working on The Tattooed Angel and Lord knows I can’t do more than one thing at a time (like talk and drive or walk and chew gum) so I took a break from blogging.

This is me. Really. Seriously. Okay. It isn’t.

But I thought I should take a few minutes and give you an update on what I’ve learned over the past few weeks.

 1) After questioning whether or not I was wise to continue with KDP Select (it’s an exclusive contract that runs for 3 months) I decided to look into Barnes and Noble’s Pubit. The royalties are a little higher and I thought there might be less competition. After reading through the information I found online I still had questions, so I e-mailed them. They got back to me 3 weeks later and referred me back to the info I had already read. Scratch that idea.

2) My last free download promotion of The Devil’s Own Luck did okay. I had a little over 3000 free downloads (I’d hoped for more) followed by 98 books sold and 28 borrowed.  Not great, not terrible, but I’ve put embarrassingly minimal effort into it.

3) I used these Twitter sites to help promote the free downloads and they all came through.  (@BookYrNextRead) (@magazinetwit)   @eBookDiscovery) @kindle_promo)

4) This one shocked me. Amazon called me and wanted to know what they could do to make improvements to the KDP experience. I spoke for almost an hour and a  half with a writer who works for Amazon (I’m not mentioning his name because I don’t know if he wants it mentioned) and though some of what I learned, I already suspected, it was nice to have it confirmed. Here goes:  a) It’s still the Wild, Wild West out there for indie-authors. There’s no set marketing plan to follow, no single person or company who has all the answers.  b) If someone tells you they have all the answers and will market your book, but a hefty fee is involved, don’t do it. Keep in mind that what works for one author might not work for another and sometimes it’s just a matter of luck.  c) Amazon uses algorithms to decide where to place your books in their vast network of titles. The number of clicks you get (it won’t count if you keep clicking on yourself) will push you forward. This helps explain why the free downloads boost sales, though it’s a temporary advantage. Sales will dramatically push you forward, so your exposure is even greater. Sales =more sales.  g) Algorithms don’t always get it  right (if you’ve had a review pulled, you already know this) and Algorithm Nazi’s (my words, not his) do exist. I meant to, but didn’t ask if reviews still carried the same weight in the land of algorithms that they used to. I’ll see if I can find out. d) Short stories are big. They increase an author’s exposure to potential readers and can create further interest in a series when used to develop back stories for characters that are already familiar. e) Short stories shouldn’t be too short or cost over 99c or readers will feel like they’ve been short-changed. f) Most readers who use electronic readers, read at over twice the speed of those who prefer print books. I didn’t know that, but I’m not surprised.  g) Book covers with people on them (even those without their heads) tend to sell better than those who don’t, so I may have to rethink my covers. h) Sales in countries without Kindle Stores earn 30% rather than 70%.  i) Authors who join online communities with other authors who write similar genres or have common goals generally experience more success.  j) Having a print book as well as an e-book adds credibility.

My suggestions for improvements were pretty straightforward.  a) Simplify the sales reports. b) Simplify the publishing process by making it more Word-friendly. c) Offer more sub-categories in the various genres, particularly in the literary category.

It was nice to get that phone call and hear a human voice, rather than communicate through an email. I learned a few things and was able to put a couple of  suggestions in the electronic suggestion box.  Is this a new and friendlier Amazon? My only real beef with them has been the pulled reviews and I wasn’t as irate as some.  I’ve never felt manipulated or taken advantage of but I’m still new at this, so we’ll have to wait and see.

In the meantime, have a great week!

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About Diana Douglas

Diana Douglas, author. Coorganizer of the Arizona Novel Writers Workshop. Member Arizona Historical Novel Society, Member BooksGoSocial Authors, Transplanted Texan.!/themodernscribe
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  1. liz marshall says:

    Excellent, excellent info – thanks, Diana.

  2. LaDonna Ockinga says:

    Very interesting. LaDonna

    >________________________________ >From: Diana Douglas >To: >Sent: Friday, February 1, 2013 4:58 PM >Subject: [New post] 1985 > >Diana Douglas posted: “I’ve been lax. I haven’t lit up the blogospherewithanyinspirational witticisms or photos over the past few weeks,orwritten anythingfor myPublishing on Amazon series. I’ve been workingon The Tattooed Angel and Lord knows I can’t do more than one th” >

  3. Fantastic article, really useful. Thanks 🙂

  4. You’re very welcome!

  5. Marcia says:

    I’m glad to hear Amazon say that short stories are hot. I keep hearing the opposite but then see Sandra Brown’s anthologies out there doing really well.
    Good to hear their take on book covers, too. Though I’m sure, like all trends, that will swing in another direction eventually.
    I would have been tongue-tied if Amazon had called me! thank goodness you weren’t and could make such great suggestions! Thanks for sharing this, Diana!

    • I had warning before he called because he emailed me first to find out if it was okay and what time would be convenient. It’s great to know that they want suggestions, but we’ll have to wait and see if they put them into use…

  6. Thanks for this information Diana! Very helpful.:)

  7. Catie Rhodes says:

    I’m surprised to hear shorts are hot. The one person I know who has one available (set in the world of her debut novel) has had little success with it. Of course, the short is only 20 pages. It could be that readers want the shorts to be longish.

  8. Even though I asked about short stories, I think what we ended up talking about was closer to a novella. Maybe 50 to 70 pages.

    • Catie Rhodes says:

      I gotcha Diana. That is encouraging (for me). I am writing a follow up short story to my debut novel. The “short” is going to run around 20,000 words, which is pretty long. Knowing that I might be able to do move it on Amazon is encouraging.

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