In our continuing SkipJack experiment in indie publishing, we try to keep you up to date on what’s working and what’s not. Here’s what we learned in 2013:
1. BookBub Works Best, Some Others Work Well, and Most Don’t Work at All
Want to read the skinny on BookBub? Check out the details here. In a nutshell, BookBub is THE way to move discounted ebooks, across many different sales platforms, with (if you write a quality book) lasting impact. They’re pricey and selective (you need sales, reviews, ratings, and awards help too), but worth it. Biggest surprise from them? The sales traction they’ve given my follow-up novel on Barnes and Noble Nook and Apple iTunes.
Declining impact for me lately: Digital Books Today, Kindle Nation Daily (except for Kindle Daily Deal), and everybody else.
What’s working and not working for you?
2. 99 Cents Was the New Free
In 2012, indie authors had great success with KDP Select free days. Amazon has changed its algorithms up and it just doesn’t pop like it used to. In 2013, 99 cent promotions worked better than free, especially when paired with BookBub. However, traditional publishers have had success with this strategy too which may mean more competition for indies in this space, and potential price decreases in traditionally-published ebooks.
What do you think will work in 2014?
3. Don’t Bother With Barnes and Noble
I did 60 book signings at Barnes and Nobles in 2013, as well as 40 other events (yes, I’m tired). My resolution for 2014? No more B&Ns. With some lovely exceptions, most of their stores’ managers make it far too hard for indies to hold events, and at the corporate level, the effort required to get indie books on B&N shelves eats up most of the possibility for a return on investment. The downside of sales outside the chains is that they rarely get logged so they don’t impact your Nielsen Bookscan numbers, but if you’re looking for readers and long term sales instead of just a potential future publishing deal, who the heck cares?
4. Consolidate with Facebook and Goodreads
Promotion will take up 50% of your “book time,” so consolidate your efforts in the two places most online buyers go to source their next book: Facebook and Goodreads. Use autodelivery tools to feed your blog posts to these sites and others. Don’t forget to let readers connect with the real you, and don’t (just) be a shill: spice up your feed with real life and with promotion of others. AND NEVER ARGUE WITH PEOPLE ABOUT THEIR PERCEPTION OF THE QUALITY OF YOUR BOOKS!!!
What have I left out here?
5. KDP Select for Debut Only, Then Widen Your Availability
KDP Select works fabulously for debut books. Really, it does, especially with Kindle Matchbook. But there are other sales platforms out there with significant market segment whose devotees don’t care if they can put a Kindle App on their phone or iPad: they want to shop on Nook or iTunes. Go broad, and don’t leave out these options: audio through ACX and Smashwords to plug you into some harder to crack platforms, like Kobo, Sony, and the all you can eat services like Oyster and Scribd. Then use BookBub to launch you outside Amazon.
Do you have great results with any other sales sites?
Here’s to a happy new year full of success for you!
Pamela Fagan Hutchins is an employment attorney and workplace investigator by day who writes award-winning and bestselling mysterious women’s fiction (Saving Grace) and humorous nonfiction (How to Screw Up Your Kids) by night. She is passionate about great writing and smart author-preneurship. She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound, if she gets a good running start.