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What's your marketing strategy?

Chris Podhola

The other conversation I was involved in made me curious, so I thought I'd ask. Because we are dealing with erotica, advertising opportunities are more limited, so if you're not writing novellas, what is your strategy for drawing more readers?

Essentially, what I do is publish a novella, publish it on Amazon (KDP Select) and depending on what is going on with other works on promotions, I wait until nothing else is free and I schedule a five day free promotion.

When I first began doing this, each title would go to about top 5k overall in free and each title would climb to about the top twenty in its category. As time went on and I accumulated more readers, the results improved. Also, with each title I ran this promotion on, I would gain an average of two or three paid sales per day, for three or four of my other most recent titles (roughly ten or fifteen sales per day total).

More recently, the results are better (bear in mind that if your keywords suck, so will your results during a free promotion. If you run a free promotion and you don't get a minimum of fifty free downloads on the first day (U.S.) you need better keywords). The last five titles I've run for free promotion, have all reached number one in their category for the duration of the promotion and my paid sales commonly rank several titles at a time within the top fifty paid. In other words, as time goes on, the results are improving.

This works well for me because I can produce a novella within a weekend and my returning customers don't forget who I am before I come out with a new title. Now that I am venturing into writing full length novels, this trend helps me greatly. I still publish novellas to keep my momentum, but the novels automatically do well without free promotions and enjoy consistent results.

I can't imagine any way to gain momentum this way if I only wrote novels and I'm curious if there are strategies that I am missing.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Chris Podhola

I write mostly novels and sagas with some short stories and novellas in there as well. However, I publish on SOL, FS, Lulu, my own website (when I think to update it), ASSTR (at various times), and some on dpdotcom. I don't use Amazon except for a few I send there via Lulu because I wish to protect my copyright entitlements and not hand any of them over to Amazon, as is required by their Kindle Direct terms of use rules. By going through Lulu I lose a little in royalties but gain a lot in legal controls.

I advertise on Lulu, SOL, and FS and that's about it.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

You've mentioned a few things that sound interesting to me, but because I don't use them, I'm not sure of the benefits. For example, I have no idea what ASSTR is.

The other thing I'm unfamiliar with is advertising on Lulu (although I'm sure you have to use them before you can do that).

The most obvious question is how this is working for you. How many titles do you have so far, and if you don't mind discussing it, how many units to you average in paid sales per month. (I average 350 paid units per month and 75,000 KENP's read per month, although I have no idea how many units this is anymore because Amazon doesn't tell me. lol).

Most importantly of all, do you feel like your readership is growing by any substantial margin as time goes on?

I also understand your reservations about KDP Select. I hate the fact that I sacrifice the right to publish anywhere else, but when I saw the benefits to doing so, I became a sellout! lol

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Chris Podhola

You've mentioned a few things that sound interesting to me, but because I don't use them, I'm not sure of the benefits. For example, I have no idea what ASSTR is.

The other thing I'm unfamiliar with is advertising on Lulu (although I'm sure you have to use them before you can do that).


They're both websites, Lulu is an indi publishing site been around longer than Amazon.

http://www.asstr.org/

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/ernestbywater

60 projects at Lulu = 30 book titles (one of each in print and one of each as e-pub) and that includes about 100 titles of short stories, novellas, novels, and sagas bunched into collections and anthologies.

Total royalties since 1 Jan 2015 are $2,654.13 from 1,468 titles sold, but that includes a lot at zero royalty because I put them out as free as help books for people.

............

As to Amazon, I've no big issue with exclusivity itself, but my main issue with Amazon is their terms as quoted below:
quote

5.5 Grant of Rights.
You grant to each Amazon party, throughout the term of this Agreement, a nonexclusive, irrevocable, right and license to distribute Digital Books, directly and through third-party distributors, in all digital formats by all digital distribution means available. This right includes, without limitation, the right to: (a) reproduce, index and store Digital Books on one or more computer facilities, and reformat, convert and encode Digital Books; (b) display, market, transmit, distribute, sell and otherwise digitally make available all or any portion of Digital Books through Amazon Properties (as defined below), for customers and prospective customers to download, access, copy and paste, print, annotate and/or view online and offline, including on portable devices; ...

end quote

Those terms to give Amazon irrevocable rights to store and distribute - and should you or they cancel the agreement they no longer need to pay you anything, while they retain the right to keep selling copies forever. That's what I don't like about Amazon. That and the fact they retain the right to change the selling price whenever they want and you can't do a thing about it.

Either one of those is enough for me to step back because they're classic con job terms.

.............

The only things I've moved through Amazon are the zero charge books - and interestingly from Amazon they've ended up in websites all around the world. There are jumps in sales following the release of a new novel on SOL and FS, but that's the only trends I've noticed.

I don't take any other marketing action due to lack of funds or contacts to do so.

Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

Either one of those is enough for me to step back because they're classic con job terms.


From what I have read, the deals that most new or less well known authors get from the traditional publishing houses is even worse.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

The traditional publishing houses offer a lower percentage of the sale price as the royalty amount, but they don't seek irrevocable rights while they also pick up all the costs of publication, distribution, marketing promotions, and cover artwork with many also providing the editorial services. Whiles all Amazon offers, for only a few points difference, is placing it for view on their website. They offer no printing service or cover artwork, and make you pay for the distribution of the e-books.

The big issue with the traditional print houses is not the contract terms or the royalty rates, but getting in the doorway to have the publishing house even look at your book.

When I've been able to compare oranges to oranges (avoiding Apples here - pun intended) between Amazon and a traditional publishing house is with a few who do e-pubs as well as print. It was a few years ago and the actually money in hand to the author from the print house was a little more than from Amazon and required less work by the author after the book was picked up, but (as I said) the issue is getting them to look at your work in the first place.

Amazon don't look at your work, they never check it (unless there's a complaint), and they take more for doing nothing for you.

Chris Podhola

@Ernest Bywater

I like your cover for 'Same Sex Marriage Debacle'.

And I now know I would never make a good lawyer, because I have no idea what that quote from Amazon means in practical terms. lol

I did play around with trying to push things using Sol a bit, but quickly figured out that I was putting in more effort than it seemed to be worth. I was left with the impression that SOL readers were content with the free material they got from SOL, which was a little disappointing because before I started self publishing for money, I wrote almost exclusively for SOL and another popular adult site (not ASSTR).

All in all, it sounds like you are enjoying some success and I hope that your readership continues to grow.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Chris Podhola
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

Can you be more specific with comparison between Amazon and traditional publishers? I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at when you say that, "The traditional publishing houses offer a lower percentage of the sale price as the royalty amount." or "Whiles all Amazon offers, for only a few points difference, is placing it for view on their website."

Traditional publishing house contracts are usually 8%, 10%, 12% (commonly referred to as an 8/10/12) contract. What that means is that an author gets 8% for the first print run 10% for the second run and 12% for every run after that. If you're Stephen King or some other very well known author, you can usually get better terms than that.

Self publishing through Amazon, your royalties for printed books are based on what you decide to choose as your sell price. The higher you go above the print cost, the more you make and for digital books, you get 70% for any title above $2.99 or 35% for any title between $.99 and $2.98.

And don't give traditional publishers too much credit. I have a very close friend who is traditionally published. I make more than he does in royalties. They spend nothing to promote his work.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Crumbly Writer

@Chris Podhola

Chris, as we've discussed before, I doubt you'll ever do better than the strategy you're using now. We might disagree about releasing 'extended shorts', but as I've said, that's what succeeds on Amazon's Unlimited program.

Novels, and especially sagas, take a LOT longer to produce, and are therefore harder to build followings for. In my case, I aim for a more limited crowd. Instead of writing for popular themes (adventures, romances, etc.) I use old styles, use overly complicated plots with dozens of characters, and write using styles that were abandoned 65 years ago (simply because I preferred the old method to the new). Thus I've always known I'd have limited sales.

When I rereleased an older series I'd revised, I capitalized on the process you describe. I was releasing a new book ever 1 to 3 months, and my sales were nice, each one building on the others. At the moment, it's been close to a year since my last book (or it will be when it's released), and sales are hurting.

I'll admit, with the money you're making, it's tempting to release my 6 book series as a series of 300 'piece' stories, but I'm not sure I could remain true to the story (and most of the chapters don't end on a happy note).

However, it's probably time I took my older books, and released them on Kindle Unlimited, just to see how they do. I doubt they'd earn much (I've got 10 books published to date, and at only $1 and change per book, that won't amount to much if I only release a few a year).

For the longer sagas (200,000 plus words), I've got a particular strategy. I publish the book on Amazon and a few other sources, I talk it up in various forums, and when sales fall flat after about three months, I start offering it for free on sites like SOL and others. By shifting the release schedules, I can determine which sites offer the best sales. As you've noticed, giving books away tends to increase sales, not just of the one book, but of your whole catalog.

But then again, what we're offering our fans are Worlds apart, so I'm not sure are strategies would apply to each other.

By the way, on a separate note, traditional publishers, while carrying thousands of books, only 'promote' a few dozen. All the rest are expected to promote themselves, which usually means dragging a car trunk full of books from one book reading to the next, where they only make $1 per $20 book, or $.50 cents if it's sold online.

There's a world of difference between 'traditional publishing' and Independent publishing. However, the best route (from what I've read) is to make a killing in the ebook field, and then getting picked up by the traditional publishers, who'll then promote you.

The last figures I heard, is they (traditional publishers) won't 'pick up' anyone who makes less than $30,000 in sales, and they won't print a second book for any authors whose prior book didn't produce at least $15,000. The industry average (for Indie books), is only 50 copies.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

I guess we can go back and forth on these theories and never come to a consensus. I don't think your potential pool of readership is as limited as you believe. There are billions of people on the planet and in order for you to make a nice living, you only need a few thousand loyal fans. They are out there. You just need a good strategy to find them. If you succeed in doing that, you can make a living doing writing the things you love to write.

And you misinterpret what I'm doing, I think. I would never bust a novel into a bunch of pieces as a ploy to get more readers. I write complete, stand alone stories and publish them as individual stories. Each is a complete work and not a part of a novel. I have on several occasions considered doing sequels to a novella, but ended up choosing not to.

If you have works that you could put into the Unlimited program, I highly recommend doing so. Publish them one at a time on a schedule, run free promotion days on them (I do five consecutive days) and most importantly, spend ample time researching your keywords. As I said before, if your keywords are good, you'll have much better luck.

And the fact that you are 'niche' is a good thing when it comes to doing this (not a bad thing). The more niche you are, the easier it is to come up with keywords that work well. It doesn't take nearly as many sales to rank your title within that niche and it becomes easier for readers who enjoy that niche to find your book. Niches can be a very good things for writers. Think of it like finding a needle in a haystack. Which would you rather have your needle in? a fifty foot haystack that's a mile in diameter, or a two foot haystack that's three feet in diameter? I'd rather have my needle in the smaller haystack until I grow my needle to a monstrous size, then I'll throw it into the bigger one.

I think your figures for traditional publishers picking up authors are probably about right and I agree that most of them don't do much for the authors that they do pick up.

Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

but they don't seek irrevocable rights while


No, but they do want exclusive rights while Amazon does not.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Chris Podhola

Can you be more specific with comparison between Amazon and traditional publishers?


OK, it's hard to compare oranges to oranges between Amazon and traditional publishers because print books and e-books don't directly relate. However, some years ago I was able to get some figures for a proper comparison and found Amazon wasn't as good as many tout in regards to the money. But lets first break down a normal print book structure. I'll use some of the figures for two of my Lulu novel length books for this - Odd Man in College and Rough Diamond.

Odd Man in College
Print sale price $9.95 of that $5.95 is the printing cost and I get $3.20 as my royalty - the rest goes to Lulu. I get 32% of the retail price and the only sales avenue is Lulu., but that is also 80% of the after costs price as a royalty. Print costs are 60% of the selling price.

E-pub sale price is $5.95 and I get $4.46 as my royalty, which is 75% of the retail sale price and the only sales avenue is Lulu.

Rough Diamond
Print sale price $9.95 of that $4.51 is the printing cost and I get $4.35 as my royalty - the rest goes to Lulu. I get 44% of the retail price and the only sales avenue is Lulu., but that is also 80% of the after costs price as a royalty. Print costs are 45% of the selling price.

E-pub sale price is $5.95 and I get $4.46 as my royalty, which is 75% of the retail sale price and the only sales avenue is Lulu.

This book is also sold via the Market Channel that includes Amazon and the prices and royalties via that vary because of the rules. First Amazon and Apple automatically cut the price to set price points they have, thus the price I set as $5.95 is cut by them to $4.99 without my approval, and what I get from the other is as follows; Apple $3.14, B&N $2.25, Kobo $2.01, Amazon $1.92.

In each case I did all the writing, editing, preparing the files, and the cover artwork while the sellers only ever list the book on their websites.

....................

Now a few things to remember, the royalty is always calculated as a percentage of the retail price, with a traditional print book about 30% or more of the retail price is the take of the final retail seller and the printer pays the cost of the printing, the freight to the retail seller, cover artwork, etc. So let's apply a few percentage to the above and take a retail book price of $10.00 to sort of compare with my prices above. Of that print house gets $7.00 from which they take the print costs (let's say 50% for easy figures) $3.50 and another $1.00 for freight, marketing, artwork, and other overheads etc. Thus we're now down to $2.50 to pay for the royalty, taxes, and profits. Of the $10.00 the author gets $0.80 or 8%, which is really 32% of the post cost figures. (The reality is the amounts would vary, but that final percentage would be close.)

Now, with Lulu and Amazon the only real costs of the print books is the print cost because the buyer pays the freight and there is no retail seller or middleman cut to take out. Thus my Lulu royalties are 80% after costs. However, the e-book selling process is very different to the print book process, and that makes a direct comparison harder. I was able to get some figures from a regular publisher who also did e-books a few years back but no longer have the info to ask them current percentage (lost the contact details). But we can look at how the channel members do in the prices above.

I get the exact same level of support from all the members of the Market Channel when I sell Rough Diamond as an e-pub. Yet the amount or Royalty varies a lot due to how much each channel wants to rip me off. The lowest is Amazon. Now, another interesting thing is if I signed up direct with Amazon and didn't give them exclusive use of the book in all formats the best I can get (according to their pricing page) is 30% less download costs - which at $4.99 is $1.50, yet via Lulu and the Channel Amazon pay me 38% after download costs.

BTW According to the Amazon terms of service any story you have up at SOL means they can cut the price to zero to price match what SOL charges, even if it is a different format.

.......

Yes, at one time in life I did cost accounting and working out wholesale and retail price lists for a living. Which is why I know how a lot of this crap works - very varied work career.

............

With my pricing structure at Lulu I made a choice as to what I felt were the best prices to sell at for both print and e-pub, and generally stick to the $9.95 and $5.95, even when it means I have to take a lower royalty due to higher print costs. That's not always possible with the sagas and the anthologies, but it's the basic aim. I hate the prices that end in 99..

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son


No, but they do want exclusive rights while Amazon does not.


A regular printing house contract gives them exclusive rights for a set period written into the contract, this is so they don't lose out by you selling through a competitor at the same time. In some contracts it's exclusive rights for a particular market only. At the end of the contract you can go somewhere else.

Amazon will pay you a higher percentage for some market areas if you give them exclusive rights - and that means no story at SOL or FS or your own website, but you also have to give them the right to sell your story for eternity, something no print house demands.

Chris Podhola
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

Well, I won't knock any of what you just said. It sounds like you've put a lot of time and thought into your decision. It sounds like it was the right one for you.

My reasons for going with Amazon and opting into the Unlimited program were because it helps to market my work and I want to make a living. It's working and I'm happy. Every month is a little better than the month before and that puts a big smile on my face.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

According to the Amazon terms of service any story you have up at SOL means they can cut the price to zero to price match what SOL charges, even if it is a different format.

Ernest, that's not correct. The 'exclusive price' is based on the book, not on the story. What's more, SOL is considered a 'private site' as it requires a log-in to access.

An example of Amazon's price is that it doesn't apply to other versions of the story (i.e. print copies or revisions). You can offer the print book on lulu for free, and Amazon wouldn't cut the book price of $9.99 (well, they would, but only because they always do).

Chris Podhola
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

Either way, I always take my works out of the Select program before I post them anywhere else and return them to the program after they are removed from a site (if I'm trying to promote using another site with an existing work). I do this, because Amazon can take you out of the Unlimited program entirely (and sometimes do if you violate) for a year. (That's why I said that it wasn't worth the effort to promote here. I lost more revenues by removing works from the select program than I generated from promoting this way).

Chris Podhola

And how do you get those quote boxes?

Replies:   Dominions Son
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

CW,

The Amazon Price Matching policy clearly gives them the right to drop the price to whatever they find is the price of that story on another site. They may not do it yet in regards to print books, but they demand and take the right to do so and can do so.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Chris Podhola

And how do you get those quote boxes?


Have text selected in the post you are replying to when you hit the reply button, If you already hit reply without selecting any text you can select text and click it again and it will refresh your comment text box with the selected text as a quote.

You can also do this manually by having a line with "quote" enclosed in curly brackets before the quoted text and a line with "/quote in curly brackets after the quoted text.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola

@Dominions Son

You can also do this manually by having a line with "quote" enclosed in curly brackets before the quoted text and a line with "/quote in curly brackets after the quoted text.


Ah, thanks!

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

The Amazon Price Matching policy clearly gives them the right to drop the price to whatever they find is the price of that story on another site. They may not do it yet in regards to print books, but they demand and take the right to do so and can do so.

Ernest, the day they drop my prices to zero is the day I remove every single book from Amazon, never to return. I seriously doubt they'd try to do that with the millions of Indie authors they serve. Those authors talk to each other, and word would quickly spread if they tried that kind of crap (I'd be spreading it myself).

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

CW,

They may not have done that yet, but they demand the right to do it and they're the sole arbitrator of when it can be done. Like their right to pull a book back off you after they sold it to you. People swore it'd never happen, then it happened, note once, but twice. The lawyers don't put those sort of things in unless they intend to use them at some point.

Ernest

Replies:   Lumpy
Lumpy

@Ernest Bywater

Actually, most lawyers put everything they can possibly think might ever be a possibility, no matter how remote. Just in case. Indent rarely goes into the process of making these things.

I have heard many a lawyer say "Better to put it in the contract now and not use it, then need it and it isn't there."

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
richardshagrin

I want to add something to the discussion but I know almost nothing about being an author. I know a little bit about tactics and strategy. You run a campaign on strategy, you run battles on tactics. Perhaps how you market a particular book is tactics, how you manage your portfolio is strategy. Authors with one book the strategy and the tactics are pretty much the same. If you give one book away, if only for a short time, that's a tactic. Deciding which markets to use, one, a few or all of them is strategy. Enough tactical decisions may determine your strategy. The thing to remember is that if one tactic doesn't work, you can use others for the next battle or several battles. The decision to put all your stories on SOL may be a strategy. Also selling them somewhere can be part of your strategy, but might be a short term tactic. Are you running a battalion and setting tactics or are you an army group commander running a theatre and setting strategy. Back home the top political and military leaders are doing "grand strategy" deciding whether to concentrate on Europe or the Pacific, or invade Italy or France to beat the Germans. Make sure your tactics are going to support your strategy.

It looks like Amazon is set up to limit your available tactics with regard to pricing and where you sell your stories. Be sure you can live with those limitations on your strategy. Again, individual book marketing is tactics. What you do for all your books, or a significant percentage of them of a certain genre or type is a strategy.

I hope you win all your battles, and include SOL in your strategy, somehow.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Ernest Bywater

@Lumpy

I have heard many a lawyer say "Better to put it in the contract now and not use it, then need it and it isn't there."


Is said in relationship to something that is is likely to come about in the normal conduct of business, not exotic wish list items.

And any lawyer worth his salt will tell you, "Never sign a contract that has the word irrevocable in it, unless it's in your favour, because you're giving them a permanent control that part of your life."

Some thing should never be in a legitimate contract because they're aimed at allowing one party to rob the other party. A lot of what Amazon includes comes under the heading of "we want to rob you." The things Amazon insists on are not in the contracts the traditional publishers offer, so why do Amazon insist on them? They'll never give you an answer on that one.

Two biggest lawyer lies:

It's a standard contract clause, and

Don't worry about that, they'll never enforce it.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Ernest Bywater

There are three lies. One of them for authors is "I'm from Amazon, I am here to help you."

Chris Podhola

@richardshagrin

I want to add something to the discussion but I know almost nothing about being an author. I know a little bit about tactics and strategy. You run a campaign on strategy, you run battles on tactics. Perhaps how you market a particular book is tactics, how you manage your portfolio is strategy. Authors with one book the strategy and the tactics are pretty much the same. If you give one book away, if only for a short time, that's a tactic. Deciding which markets to use, one, a few or all of them is strategy. Enough tactical decisions may determine your strategy. The thing to remember is that if one tactic doesn't work, you can use others for the next battle or several battles. The decision to put all your stories on SOL may be a strategy. Also selling them somewhere can be part of your strategy, but might be a short term tactic. Are you running a battalion and setting tactics or are you an army group commander running a theatre and setting strategy. Back home the top political and military leaders are doing "grand strategy" deciding whether to concentrate on Europe or the Pacific, or invade Italy or France to beat the Germans. Make sure your tactics are going to support your strategy.


Huh???

I got lost about halfway through that. lol

Amazon doesn't limit your tactics or strategies. From my experience, it is the other platforms that don't offer useful strategies or tactics (I still don't know what is what in that regard based on the what I quoted). As a matter of fact, using the strategy/tactics that Amazon does offer me as an author, are what are leading to my successes as an author. As I've described before, many of my books are marketed on an 'autopilot' system and even though Ernest and I have a similarly sized portfolio, my sales triple his (with all due respect to Ernest. His stories look very good). The differences in sales are due to the marketing I'm afforded, all of which, cost me nothing.

Replies:   Lumpy  Ernest Bywater
Lumpy

@Chris Podhola

Chris,

So you are just using the built in tools from amazon....changing pricing and what not. That's it, right?

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola

@Lumpy

No. I don't limit my submissions to novels alone. I make sure that I constantly have new materials offered for my readers enjoyment. I typically publish at least one new piece every week. Sometimes I run a new piece on free promotion for five days immediately and sometimes I wait for the initial burst of sales I normally get to subside and then run it on free promotion. During the five days that a new story is running free, it typically is downloaded by 100 customers per day. Some of these customers then go on to purchase other stories that I offer.

Replies:   Lumpy
Lumpy

@Chris Podhola

How do you have so much material to push out a new piece every week?

At the rate I am going, It will be 1 new thing every six months.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola

@Lumpy

How do you have so much material to push out a new piece every week?

At the rate I am going, It will be 1 new thing every six months.


I am very lucky. This is all I do for a living and I average 7,500 words per day. Many of the things I publish are novellas averaging 10k to 20k, so those stories don't take me more than two or three days to write the rough drafts. Even though write 7,500 words in a day, I still spend another three or four hours per day editing.

Replies:   Lumpy
Lumpy

@Chris Podhola

Is everything you write erotica like you find here, or do you cover different genre's. Which seems to sell the best for you?

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola

@Lumpy

I wish I could say that the other genres sold better, but erotica is by far the best selling category I have. I hope that will change at some point.

Typically, I think what you'll find is that erotica has a higher floor, but it also has a lower ceiling (Minus Fifty Shades of Grey. E. L. James gives God his allowance). What I mean by that, is that it is much easier to break a pen name into that market than it is any other market. Erotica readers are voracious readers, so if you are any good at all, you can gain loyal fans fairly easily. On top of that, finding keywords that work well is pretty easy (horny hotwife thriller).

Writing for other genres and succeeding is much more difficult. Getting your story noticed and over that first hump is a massive challenge, but once you succeed, the ceiling is higher and if you can break a book out, it can have a lot more staying power and pay you dividends that are higher (the audience tends to be much larger). It is more difficult, however, because there are more books competing for attention.

Ernest Bywater

@Chris Podhola

The differences in sales are due to the marketing I'm afforded, all of which, cost me nothing.


Chris, over the years we've had many discussion about Amazon and how big they are and how they operate. I know I should be able to get higher sales through Amazon, but the book I have at Amazon where I get a royalty from them has only sold 1 copy in over a year, while the same book at Lulu has sold over 20 copies (too lazy to check all the records for an exact figure), thus, there is no evidence I'd do better at Amazon at all. It's very likely your involvement in the Kindle Library program does help your sales, but there are legal reason I can't go that route.

Also, I refuse to do business with crooks, which is what the Amazon top management have proven themselves to be. They sell you a book, then steal it back, and refuse to refund the cash - only offer a store credit to allow you to spend it with them. If a brick and mortar store tried that they'd be in court so fast they'd collapse from loss of blood.

As to Amazon marketing costing you nothing, it costs you various rights and controls of your work.

BTW I recently found a worse set of crooks to Amazon, so you can expect to see this business model turning up on Amazon as soon as they can work out how to use it. Read these links:

https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-scares-university-researchers-away-from-sharing-their-findings-150920/

https://torrentfreak.com/science-pirate-attacks-elseviers-copyright-monopoly-in-court-150916/

Sign over irrevocable rights to get it published - where have I seen something like that before?

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola

@Ernest Bywater

Chris, over the years we've had many discussion about Amazon and how big they are and how they operate. I know I should be able to get higher sales through Amazon, but the book I have at Amazon where I get a royalty from them has only sold 1 copy in over a year, while the same book at Lulu has sold over 20 copies (too lazy to check all the records for an exact figure), thus, there is no evidence I'd do better at Amazon at all. It's very likely your involvement in the Kindle Library program does help your sales, but there are legal reason I can't go that route.


Please don't take me wrong. I respect your reasons for not going with Amazon. You won't hear me argue with them at all. I also dislike the things you refer to. Unfortunately, I depend on my royalties to eat and I don't have the luxury of sacrificing sales based on principal, but I do respect your decision to do so.

As far as whether or not you would experience higher sales if you were in KDP Select, my answer to that is yes, you would.

The reason I say that is because prior to having my titles enrolled in Select, I was distributing through Smashwords. As an experiment, I submitted a novella exclusively to Amazon, enrolled it into the Select program and immediately set it up for a free promotion. Boom. That simple. My sales went from a drip to a trickle, which for me (at the time) was astounding. I began switching more titles over to Amazon Select (withdrawing them from the other platforms) and I experienced even more increases in sales.

I will look over the links you've provided, but I doubt it will change my mind. I already don't like being limited to Amazon, but I cannot afford to sacrifice sales based on principal. I have no other source of income.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Chris Podhola

I cannot afford to sacrifice sales based on principal. I have no other source of income.


I can well understand and respect your position as stated, that doesn't mean I have to like the way Amazon has gone about putting you in that position when they could just as easily behaved in an honest and fair manner. But like John Wayne was fond of saying, "A man's got to do what a man's got to do."

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola

I read the articles and didn't see the relevance, but then again, as I've said before, I'm no lawyer.

Chris Podhola

@Ernest Bywater

that doesn't mean I have to like the way Amazon has gone about putting you in that position


I second this. lol

The bastards have a good program, but the fact that they make you go 'exclusive' sucks.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Chris Podhola

Oh, I don't mind the exclusive bit for a reasonable period, it's the other legal matters that get me angry.

The first e-publisher I had was dpdotcom and I still use them. I have a contract with them where I can't sell a book I first put out through them as the same type of e-book they sell it as, and if I sell it as another format I can't undercut their prices. It includes a limited exclusivity period as well. The exclusivity period is up on everything and I sell everything I have there through Lulu as print books and e-pubs (they have PDF formats). The newer stuff I put at SOL and Lulu first and let them have it as well, the contract terms (other than pricing) only covers material they are first to handle.

With dpdotcom If I choose to pull a story it gets pulled and they no longer sell it or make it available. That's not the case with Amazon, they still have advertised for sale through them books I never authorised them to have, but they put them up several years ago when they first got them via other sources. The fact Amazon shows them as unavailable makes me wonder if that adversely affects the sales via other outlets. It matters not how often I ask Amazon to pull the listing, they refuse to do so.

Dpdotcom are an Irish mob, so they get the European market.

Chris Podhola

Well, until someone comes up with an option that is truly better, I am stuck doing business with the devil. lol

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