BY KEVIN RHOADES
A few months ago, in Outdoors Unlimited I introduced e-book file formats and how to upload your electronic book to Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and Apple’s iBookstore. Working with several authors and online booksellers during the past year has helped me determine where efforts should be focused. One online bookseller emerges as the best of three large venues to sell e-books. Amazon has a ten-to-one sales advantage over Barnes & Noble, with worse results for Apple’s iBookstore. For the typical text heavy, lightly illustrated niche outdoors title, I suggest focusing on Amazon.
Step 1: Create an Amazon Author Central account
Go to Author Central (https://authorcentral.amazon.com) and create an account. Put together a promotional page by typing in or copying your book’s marketing and author information. If you have previously published books, they probably already reside on Amazon. Find your area and add your books. Search by author name, book title or International Standard Book Number. Include your book’s description, author biography and photos, a cover photo, sample chapters and editorial reviews.
Editorial reviews are one- or two-line promotional blurbs that you place there yourself; copy author recommendations and endorsements from your book’s back cover or press release here, attributing the endorser. The more blurbs enticing prospective customers to buy your book, the better.
Step 2: Open a Kindle Direct Publishing account
Kindle Direct Publishing (http://kdp.amazon.com) is the venue where you publish e-books to the Kindle store. Sign up for an account and enter publisher, tax and payment information. Once the account is complete you’ll be able to access a new window to upload e-books and validate your MOBI files, the preferred format for Kindle. Also enter the book’s title, book genre and other required metadata. Although this data entry might seem like a repeat of the Author Central account process on Amazon — KDP is where sales data and the book’s content is housed, whereas Author Central is the place to market and link your print- and e-books, and where prospective buyers can see your books from one Web page.
Step 3: Market your book on Amazon
Keep Author Central up to date with fresh promos. Change your mug shot occasionally. Add video, blog and Twitter feeds. Email review copies to outdoor communicator friends, including bloggers, radio show hosts and everyone interested in your topic. Encourage customer reviews, ones in which customers write and place themselves, because these have the most credibility with prospective buyers. Shoot for a minimum of 10 four- to fivestar customer reviews, and keep asking. This is one of the most important things you can do to promote your book online.
Add a press room (http://boblandisbook. com/?page_id=472) to your personal website where reviewers can access prewritten promotional material, including a press release, one- and two-line blurbs, book cover, author mug shot, and author questions and answers. I was surprised when one newspaper printed an article almost verbatim from my website. Make it easy for reviewers to publicize your book.
During book promotion, always be in marketing mode: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and your email tag should advertise links to your website and to your Amazon Author Central page.
Why not sell e-books exclusively from your website, you might ask? Go for it, but don’t forget that Amazon has a few gazillion more viewers than your website. Unless you’re raking in bucks from your website, it’s foolish to overlook Amazon because you believe it’s the Evil Empire. Even if readers hear about your book from you and your personal marketing efforts, most will still buy on Amazon. Go figure.
Step 4: Consider KDP Select
Distribute your books through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. Considering what I said about disappointing results on alternative online bookstores, one might consider Amazon’s KDP Select program either from the get-go or after sales plummet. The enticement is a chance to earn cash whether or not your book sells a single copy. Amazon pledged $6 million to the program in 2012, but your share is calculated by the number of qualified borrows. The catch: exclusivity. Agree to the terms and you cannot sell your e-book on the iBookstore, B&N, your website, or anywhere else. But you’re locked in for only 90 days.
Through their lending library, Amazon Prime Customers can read your book for free while you receive dollars for each book borrowed. In May this equated to $2.08 per borrow.
Here’s a breakdown of July borrows from e-book author Paul Quinnett who is enrolled in KDP Select. Book one: A handful of sales per week to more than 200 borrows during a two-day promotion. Book two: A few books sold per week to more than 150 books borrowed. Book three: Less than 10 sales per week to more than 100 books loaned during the promotion.
If we’re interpreting KDP Select’s program correctly, this author expects to earn $2 per borrow multiplied by 450 July borrows — enough cash to purchase a decent kayak or a pretty good big-game hunting rifle.
Unless you’re a best-selling author writing mainstream material for the masses, your niche outdoors title might add up to more dollars in your wallet and less time invested by selling and loaning e-books on Amazon. ◊
Kevin Rhoades specializes in producing quality print books, e-books and websites for outdoor communicators. His first book, “Stalker of the Wild – Days in the Life of Wildlife Filmmaker Bob Landis,” was published last year as a printand e-book by www.FiveValleysPress.com and is available at www.BobLandisBook.com.
BY KEVIN RHOADES