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I did my research. I knew that the title and a professional cover were two of the most important features for selling a book. I put a lot of effort into both, as well as sweating the small stuff with the content. But beyond that, you need reviews to help encourage people who visit your book page to click that buy now button. Below are three valuable lessons I learned while trying to market the launch on my new book.

 

Is KDP Select worth it? Possibly not.

The first mistake I made, not being based in the US or UK, was to sign up the e-book version of Polished Steel: Lessons from the Dojo to KDP. Select  When you do this, you agree not to list your e-book on other e-book sites for the three months you’re enrolled with KDP. Select Not too big a deal.

Part of the attraction of KDP Select was my naive belief that I could use a price promotion to help sell my book – and that I could use that cheapest period to buy and gift a copy of the e-book to various people, either in appreciation or in the hope of a review.

It was only once the price promotion was running that I discovered that the promotion was not only limited to the US and UK stores, but only visible on those stores if you had a registered local US or UK address. I was perfectly able to buy e-books from amazon.com in the US, but not able to access my own price special. Frustrating to say the least.

The KDP helpdesk told me that this was unfortunate, but there was no way around it. There is. I was annoyed enough to change the registered address for my account to a US address of a friend, and I was eventually able to buy a few copies as gifts. But by the time I’d jumped through those hoops and different time zones I’d missed the lowest price break in my promotion, but at least I caught it at a reduced priced.

Sadly most of my advertising prior to the price promotion had been to people who would also be outside the US and UK store’s reach – so all up… KDP Select and its price promotions were not the right decision for me. If you’re not in the US or the UK, it possibly isn’t the right decision for you either – at least until price promotions are extended to other stores.

 

Amazon reviews can be harder to get than you might anticipate

It has been just over two weeks since I pressed the go live button. I’ve sold about 30-odd copies across the print and digital versions thanks to friends and a kind promotional review, but I’m still battling to get reviews on Amazon.

If your prospective reviewer is not a regular customer on Amazon they could run into the problem that many of my potential reviewers encountered.  They have an account. They are willing to write the review but, when they try, they get a message saying they have not “spent enough” to leave a review. I’m not sure what the spend threshold is, but quite a few people have encountered this issue and been unable to leave a review.

There’s also the problem of needing reviews on each of the Amazon sites. The UK reviews, for example, do not readily cross-populate to the US site and vice versa, so you really need to work strategically with your giveaways to get the maximum impact from reviews – or to concentrate on one region at a time. One hindsight revelation is that it might be a good idea to release to each area in stages.

 

Beware of free giveaways

One of my clever ideas was to run a free book giveaway, in return for a review on Amazon, from Polished Steel’s Facebook page. It seemed like the ideal way to kill two birds with one promotion and attract page likes as well as pull in those online reviews. People had to like the page and comment to enter, and the winners were selected by a random lucky draw.

Most of the winners were not local. Two were in the UK and not known to me. I duly signed up for a (temporary) free trial of Amazon Prime in the UK store and sent them two print copies (at my cost, paying full price – hey, at least I will get the royalty back at some stage). The books arrived within two days.

I’m still waiting for those reviews. The recipients are suddenly very quiet and Facebook, and to my utter surprise a UK secondhand bookseller already has an as new copy of the book available online for sale.

If you’re going to give free books away for review I suggest you stick to a closed group of people you know, or only offer it for e-books, to avoid being duped like I was and have a print copy sold for cash and no review.

Ah well, live and learn…


If you’ve had any revelations or lessons of your own based on marketing your books, please leave a comment below.