Tag Archives: kdp select

In Search Of The Elusive Book Review

Press the magic button labelled publish in the Amazon Kindle store or other self-publishing outlet of your choice. People will purchase your book and the reviews will come flooding in, won’t they? Well unless you are incredibly fortunate the answer is no they won’t. Even if your book receives a steady stream of downloads only a small number of readers (if any) will take the time to pen a review. This is the case, in my experience even when readers enjoyed your book. To take a case in point, two friends downloaded my story, Samantha, (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Samantha-K-Morris-ebook/dp/B00BL3CNHI). Both told me how much they enjoyed reading my book and indicated they would review it without any prompting from me. Neither have done so and not wishing to nag friends I haven’t pursued the matter. So, in the case of Samantha 2 people who derived pleasure from it haven’t left a review which does, I believe prove my point regarding the difficulty of obtaining reviews which, if positive will help in selling your book. So how can the author obtain reviews?

I have obtained several reviews by offering my books free via KDP Select, (https://kdp.amazon.com/select), an Amazon programme which allows authors to promote their work free or at a reduced price for upto 5 days in any 90 day period provided the books in question are exclusive to Amazon. A number of those who downloaded my titles left reviews which shows that KDP Select can help in promoting your writing.

Another way in which to promote your books is via your own blog. Mentioning that you are running a free promotion on Amazon or other platform can encourage your followers and visitors to download and, hopefully review your books. A word of caution. Don’t fill your site with posts promoting your books as this will turn many people off. Write about topics other than your books. be generous in supporting other authors via guest posting opportunities and your site is more likely to thrive and attract followers some of whom will read and review your books.

Contacting book bloggers can also result in reviews. Read their review policy (if they have one) prior to getting in touch. If you write romantic fiction and a book blogger only reviews the crime genre there is no point in contacting the blogger (it being a waste of their time and yours).

The overwhelming majority of book bloggers will review your book free which is, in my view as it should be. Most authors would never dream of paying for a review. However, for the small number of writers who might be tempted to do so, they should consider this. If you pay for a review then the perception will exist (assuming it is positive and you are found to have paid) that the review is not honest (I.E. you paid for a good review). While there may be sites who write unbiased reviews in exchange for cash mud sticks and even if the review is 100 percent honest your reputation will be tarnished. People will question all your reviews irrespective of whether they where given freely or otherwise.

In conclusion relying on Amazon to generate reviews is the most uncertain method of gaining them. The use of your own blog or other social media to promote your books coupled with contacting book bloggers asking that they please write an honest review of your work, is the best method.

Finally a huge thank you to all of my readers who have taken the time to write a review or who have promised to do so. I very much appreciate you taking the time to read and review my books.

To Advertise Or Not, That Is The Question

As with most authors I am always on the look out for opportunities to gain more exposure for my books. I was interested therefore to read this article (https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/advertise-your-book-on-amazon-new-opportunity/) which highlights Amazon’s new programme allowing authors to advertise their books at a cost of $100.

On the one hand I am tempted to take advantage of this new opportunity. The potential benefits are obvious (increased exposure and, hopefully) sales of my books. If only a small percentage of authors take Amazon up on their new offering then they will, potentially have an advantage in terms of exposure for their works over those who do not.

On the other hand if significant numbers of authors avail themselves of Amazon’s new programme the potential book buyer will, I suspect be bombarded with advertisements so my books may become lost in a sea of virtual noise. It is hard enough to find one needle in a hay stack and if that mound of dry grass is chock full of sharp implements what are the chances of readers picking out my needle when there are so many other instruments from which to choose? I believe in my writing, however one good author among many other writers (many of whom are producing quality works), why, exactly should the book browser click on my ad in preference over that of another advertiser?

Prior to parting with one’s hard earned cash it is useful to pause and consider the many free alternatives to paid advertising. KDP Select (https://kdp.amazon.com/select) allows authors to promote their books free of charge for upto 5 days in any 90 day period or, alternatively to offer them in a Kindle Countdown Deal. Most of my books are enrolled in KDP Select and in my experience the programme does increase the exposure of an author’s work for, human nature being what it is most people jump at the opportunity of obtaining “something for nothing”. Many who download books advertised via KDP Select will not leave a review, however some will and good reviews possess the potential to increase the exposure of one’s books thereby (hopefully) enhancing sales.

The downside to KDP Select is that in return for enrolment the author must keep those works enrolled exclusive to Amazon for 90 days, (I.E. the books concerned may not be sold anywhere other than Amazon during that time frame). Another disadvantage is that while newly enrolled works will be downloaded (in my experience) relatively rapidly, once a book has been in the programme for some time it will, when on promotion receive fewer downloads than freshly enrolled titles, so the longer a publication is offered via the scheme the fewer downloads it is likely to receive.

Another way to gain free publicity for one’s books is by contacting fellow bloggers who advertise as offering guest posting opportunities and requesting that they provide you with a guest slot. (If a blogger is kind enough to let you guest post it is only polite to offer them the same opportunity on your own site). You can find a useful list of book bloggers here (http://bookbloggerlist.com/). The Story Reading Ape’s Blog also offers a wealth of useful material for authors and readers alike and can be found here, (http://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/).

In conclusion I won’t be signing up for Amazon’s advertising opportunity at present. I will, however watch with interest how it develops and, in particular what those who use it have to say. At this juncture my view remains that free opportunities abound so why spend money on advertising when it could be spent on book covers, editing etc.

Fun With Amazon’s Author Central

I have never had a problem with Amazon until today. I had experienced difficulties in adding my collection of poetry and prose, “Dalliance” (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QQVJC7E) to my Amazon author page (http://www.amazon.com/K.-Morris/e/B00CEECWHY/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0). I contacted Amazon asking that they please add Dalliance to my existing author page and, low and behold they created an entirely new page showing only “Dalliance” (all 6 of my previously published titles remaining on the correct author’s page).

I contacted Amazon this morning and they advise that “Dalliance” has now been added to my existing Author’s page. However, on last checking it does not seem to be there.

Every organisation does, of course make mistakes. Companies are, after all composed of fallible human beings. The above incident does, however underline the importance of checking that your Author page (if you have one) accurately reflects all of your works together with any other information provided by you to Amazon.

KDP Select – An Evaluation

The results thus far of the free promotion, using Amazon’s KDP Select programme (https://kdp.amazon.com/select), of my story, Samantha have been disappointing. For anyone unfamiliar with the programme, KDP Select allows authors with books enrolled in it to offer their titles free for 5 days in any 90 day period. As an alternative writers may sell titles at a reduced price (known as a Kindle Countdown Deal) for up to 5 days in any 90 day period. To qualify for KDP Select books must be exclusive to Amazon.

The free promotion of Samantha began on 19 November and ends on 23 November. Despite the book being free in the Kindle store and the kindness of other bloggers in publicising this fact, Samantha has, at the time of writing been downloaded 5 times from amazon.com and 3 times from amazon.co.uk. Both sites show that my book has sold 4 copies of Samantha (2 on both sites) in November.

The results thus far are causing me to evaluate the effectiveness of KDP Select. Samantha has a total of 6 reviews (counting both amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. Just over half of these have been generated by fellow bloggers while the remainder have eminated from people who, to the best of my knowledge have come across my book as a consequence of previous free promotions of Samantha. The position is roughly similar with my other titles (approximately half of reviews coming from bloggers and the remainder from readers who have, I assume come across my titles via KDP Select promotions).

The results of the current free promotion of Samantha are, as I say above disappointing. Where I to take a decision to remove Samantha and my other books from KDP Select the incentive to do so is compelling in terms of the current promotion. However, standing back and surveying the bigger picture, reviews have been forthcoming as a result of previous promotions, consequently I am not inclined to dismiss KDP Select out of hand. I will monitor how the remaining days of the free promotion of Samantha pan out and look at the results of the forthcoming free promotions of An Act Of Mercy and Street Walker to ascertain number of downloads together with any reviews generated. On the basis of these results I will take a decision regarding whether to keep my books enrolled in KDP Select. The evidence thus far seems to indicate (despite the current slow downloads of Samantha) that the use of both KDP Select free promotions and social media help in obtaining downloads and reviews.


(The 4 sales refered to above entail people purchasing Samantha, while free downloads are, as the name suggests just that – readers downloading Samantha at no cost).

A Thank You

My collection of short stories, Street Walker And Other Stories was free, in the Kindle Store from 25 February until 1 March. During the free promotion Street Walker was downloaded a total of 84 times (well give or take a download either way as I find it difficult to read the sales reports in KDP Select. Am I the only one who has this difficulty)! Irrespective of whether the number of downloads was 84, 83 or 85, many thanks to everyone who downloaded Street Walker. I hope you enjoyed reading my book and I would love to hear what you thought of it. Thank you also to all who reblogged the free promotion bringing it to the attention of a wider audience. The mutual assistance of bloggers is one of the great things about social media!

You can find Street Walker And Other Stories here, http://www.amazon.com/Street-Walker-other-stories-Morris-ebook/dp/B00HLRNDP4

Kindle Discount Deals – Do They Work?

Amazon’s KDP Select programme, https://kdp.amazon.com/select, offers authors the ability to promote their books free for upto 5 days in any 90 day period. Free promotions do, in my experience work. As a consequence of the free promotion of my story Samantha it received a respectable number of downloads together with 4 4 star reviews. Encouraged by the success of Samantha I determined to try out Amazon’s recently launched Kindle Discount Deals which, as the name suggests allows authors to offer their work at a reduced price. I offered my collection of short stories, An Act Of Mercy And Other Stories at the reduced price of 99 cents on amazon.com from 18-24 December. However, to my disappointment not a single copy of An Act Of Mercy did I sell.

What lessons (if any) do I draw from the above? Readers are more likely to download books which are free than those which are discounted unless you happen to be a household name or your book has attracted a number of 4 or 5 star reviews. I will consider using Kindle Discount Deals again. I will, however enrol Samantha or Sting In The Tail as both have attracted 4 star reviews.

I don’t claim to be an expert on the workings of KDP Select and other authors will, I am sure have different stories to tell (no pun intended)! As regards Kindle Discount Deals and other aspects of the KDP Select programme. As always I would be interested to hear the experiences of others.

For my Amazon Author’s Page please visit http://www.amazon.co.uk/K.-Morris/e/B00CEECWHY/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Terms and Conditions Again!

I recently blogged about how I had, totally accidentally breeched KDP’s terms and conditions by my collection of short stories, The First Time, being available from an outlet other than the Amazon Kindle store (see http://newauthoronline.com/2013/10/20/terms-and-conditions/). One of the commenters on my post said that he had heard of other people experiencing this problem and that authors should be wary of publishing their work on a variety of platforms if they intended to make it exclusive to Kindle at a later date. I am inclined to agree with him given my recent experience! If you want to make your books exclusive to Amazon in order to benefit from the promotion features of KDP Select then I would, personally not publish your work elsewhere. Having said that my long short story, Samantha appeared on my blog prior to being made exclusive on Amazon. However I, naturally have control over my blog and was, as a consequence able to remove Samantha prior to making it exclusive to Kindle. Never again will I make the mistake of making my books available in a variety of stores when my intention is, at some point to make them exclusive to Amazon Kindle. It is, quite frankly not worth the hassle.

Terms and Conditions!

Yesterday I received an e-mail from Kindle Support informing me that my collection of short stories, The First Time did not comply with KDP Select’s terms and conditions. What on earth had I done to receive this missive? Had I slandered a prominent personage who was, even now instructing lawyers to sue me for every penny I haven’t got?! Maybe I had copied huge chunks of a fellow author’s work and he was out for my blood?! I am pleased to report that none of these breeches apply. It turns out that Amazon had found The First Time for sale from an outlet other than the Kindle store. In order to enrol one’s books in KDP Select you must ensure that they are exclusive to Amazon which, in this instance The First Time was not.

I can hear shouts of “you brought it on yourself. Why are you belly aching. It’s a fair cop guv. You should stop waffling on about the situation and remove The First Time from all outlets other than Amazon forthwith”. Would where it that simple! The First Time was published using the services of a self-publishing company who as part of their service enrolled my book with a variety of e-book distributors. However due to no sales resulting I asked the company to remove The First Time from all outlets other than Amazon. Once I received confirmation that this had been done I enrolled my book in KDP Select assuming that it was now exclusive to Amazon. As you know from the above dear reader this is not the case! I have written to the self-publishing company asking that they ensure The First Time is removed from the outlet which Amazon drew to my attention. I live in hope that it will be removed from sale ASAP thereby ensuring that The First Time remains enrolled in KDP Select.

The lesson I draw from the above is the importance of ensuring that authors keep control over their works. I am listed as the author of The First Time but not the publisher. In my case it is only the publisher who is able to remove books which has led to the problems outlined above. Dear fellow authors please, please read the small print prior to signing contracts.

Getting Started In The World Of Self-Publishing

While browsing the web earlier today I came across the below article on how to get started in the world of self-publishing, http://www.publishlawyer.com/carousel7.htm. The article dates back to 2002. it is, none the less a useful source of material for those just starting out in the field of self-publishing. The main criticism I have of the piece is it’s concentration on traditional print books (the world of e-books receives only a fleeting reference). However given the vintage of the article one can, I think forgive it’s concentration on the printed word.

For those with limited financial means or budding authors who wish to start out by producing an e-book only rather than a print book, I recommend taking a look at Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing which allows authors to market their e-books free of charge. For KDP Select please visit http://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/KDPSelect

The Great Leviathan AKA Amazon and how to sell your books

Amazon is frequently portrayed as the great Leviathan, a monster who devours independent publishers and authors without mercy. Amazon may well have grown to big for it’s boots, the company is, however a great way for authors to promote their work.

Last year I self-published my collection of short stories, “The First Time” using authorsonline.co.uk, a self-publishing company. Initially “The First Time” appeared on a multiplicity of sites including Smashwords, Google Books and the great Leviathan itself! Months past and not having sold a single copy (actually I tell a lie as one book was downloaded by myself in order to check how it read on my Kindle)! I determined to make “The First Time” exclusive to Amazon and enrol it in Amazon’s KDP Select Programme which allows authors to promote their books free for upto 5 days in any 90 day period. I had already enrolled my other books (“Samantha”, “Sting In The Tail” and “An Act Of Mercy”) in the Programme and had an idea of what to expect. Enrolment of “Samantha” led to two 4 star reviews while “Sting In The Tail” has, thus far received one 4 star review. As at the time of writing “The First Time” has been downloaded 47 times as a consequence of it’s participation in KDP Select (the book is on free promotion from 4-8 October).

I believe in my books. When “The First Time” first appeared in serialised form back in 2012 it received a large number of likes and encouraging comments. However despite these encouraging signs “The First Time” languished on virtual book shelves until it’s enrolment in the KDP Select Programme.

The lesson I have learned is that however good one’s book is it is extremely difficult to get noticed unless you are lucky enough to be an established author. I have done all the things recommended by social media experts (E.G. use of Twitter and Facebook) to promote my books, however I’ve found that the use of KDP Select is the most effective way of bringing my books to the attention of a wider audience. Blogging and other social media are a great way of letting people know that you are out there and interacting with readers and I derive enormous pleasure from such interaction, however when push comes to shove it has in my experience been Amazon which has moved books from their virtual shelves into the hands (do I mean virtual hands?) of my readers. I’d certainly recommend blogging and the use of other tools but you should, in my opinion give serious consideration to the KDP Programme.

“The First Time” is free to download in the Kindle store until 8 October, http://newauthoronline.com/2013/10/04/free-book-promotion/