Monday, February 18, 2013

Week 1: Self-Publishing With KDP

In my last post I talked about going undercover into the self-publishing world and I cited Create Space as my platform. This isn't technically right, I found out later…much later. So, without further ado, here is my undercover report of self-publishing week one.

Create Space VS. Kindle Direct Publishing

While Create Space and KDP are affiliated they offer two separate things. Create Space offers physical copies of your book with the option to link your eBook whereas KDP is solely eBooks  When I first looked into self-publishing Amazon directed me to Create Space. I got all the way to launch day, prepping like a mad lady, only to find out a lot of my work wasn't necessary. For example, I purchased an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) that I didn't really need because Amazon provides an identification number for you. You can have an ISBN, but it’s not necessary.  I also made a full cover (front, back, and spine) which also wasn't needed, but still super rad.

Kindle Select or Free Agent

KDP offers the Kindle Select program where you allow your eBook to be exclusive to Amazon for 90 days. In exchange, they offer 5 days where you may list your title for free and you also get a form of royalties when people borrow your work. It doesn't seem like a great deal until you realize you can’t set the price of your book at zero. The lowest your book can sell for is .99 through Kindle Select and 2.99 without KS. You may only list your book for free if you are using a promotional free day through KS. If you opt to free agent and not use KS the only way to get your book for free through Amazon is to have it listed as free on other publishing sites like Smashwords, and customers will have to request a price match. Not fun. Considering that this was my first self-published title and I’m new to this whole rodeo, I opted to do the select program.

Royalties – But I want 70%!

Oh, Amazon and their tricky royalties. When you get to that option, you may want to brace yourself. Any rational person would look at 35% vs. 70% and think I want to get paid more. But it’s a slippery slope. If you choose 35% that’s it, you’re done. You agree to a flat 35%. If you choose 70% then you get that, but several things will erode your margin. Choosing 70% royalties means you agree to pay a transfer charge for Amazon to transmit your book and that cost varies based on size. This would be a great option for serial novels or novellas since they're so small but if you choose the 70% royalty your book can’t list for less than $2.99 which may be too high of a price point for the amount of content. In this instance, my work is a serial novel with the first installment being about 10,000 words. I don’t want to gauge the readers I’m trying to win over so I selected the 35% royalty and set my book price at .99¢ translating to a .35¢ profit. My book was priced at .99¢ for the majority of the first week, but I've since moved it to $1.99 (.70¢ profit). My rationale for this was based on several things: 1) Amazon's algorithms place greater emphasis on higher priced items. They want to make more money too, and 2) there were many items similar to mine, often with less words and poor writing selling for $2.99. Ironically, they are still ranking higher. Go figure.

Crap, this is HARD!

Hard is truly an understatement and I have a new found respect for indie publishers, agents, and the industry alike. It’s only been a week, but already my sleeping has become irregular, I’m anxious, and my day has become 90% consumed with this book (my boyfriend nods his head as I read this aloud). There will be more to come with my next post so to wrap this up I’ll give you some stats:
  • My work went live around 4 PM EST on Friday, February 8th.
  • Copies sold by day – 2/8: 3, 2/9: 13, 2/10: 2, 2/11: 5, 2/12: 16, 2/13: 11 2/14: 1, 2/15: 11, 2/16: 41
  • That’s right, in a little over a week I sold over 100 copies. That deserves its own bullet point, even if it seems like a small amount :P It was hard to say what made my sales surge or fall but I speculate a few things:
  • Valentine’s Day there were a lot of free promos. I decided not to run one and I think that may have hurt me. I’ll chalk that up as a missed opportunity.
  • I ran a giveaway on a Facebook fan site. The 3 days it was live I saw about 1 sale every hour. That was pretty neat.
  • The day that I sold 40 copies I made it into the top 100 hot new releases for my genre, starting in #99 and climbing up to the mid 50s. I truly feel if I maintain rank on this list I will have profound news by the next two weeks.

I’m curious to see what will transpire over the next two weeks and I’m excited to keep sharing my findings

Thoughts? Opinions? I’d love to hear them!

1 comment:

  1. When looking at Kindle Direct Publishing's advertised 70 percent royalty rate, one would assume that 30 percent of each sale would go to Amazon with the rest going to the author. The service's pricing page specifies that Amazon's percentage does not take into consideration delivery costs but, since it's digital, the added fees should (at least theoretically) be minimal. On the contrary, Hyde calculated that Amazon was charging an average of $2.58 in delivery costs for every sale of his $9.99 book. Add that amount to the 30 percent already owed to the online retailer and the author's cut drops below half of the product's sale price. Hyde now advises potential customers to purchase This Book is About Travel as a PDF file through Gumroad — where he gets $9.25 for each sale — but only time will tell if losing Amazon's popular storefront will be benifical in the long run.

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