My First Two Months Of Selling eBooks On Amazon

It’s been just over two months since I began selling ebooks and paperbacks on Amazon. This post is about that experience.

One book is still in the KDP Select program and one just fell out. I’m not planning to renew.

I published my first two books as Kindle versions on Amazon the beginning of October 2013. After uploading both books through Kindle Direct Publishing, I began work on the paperbacks.

Within a few days, both paperbacks were uploaded to CreateSpace and available for sale.

 

Responsive Web Design Overview For Beginners KDP Promo

I ran a three day KDP promo for ‘Responsive Web Design Overview For Beginners’ [RWDO]. You’re given a total of five promo days during each 90 day period. I wanted to save the last two days for a later run.

KDP is Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service. KDP allows you to upload and sell your Kindle book through Amazon.com.

During the three day promotion, I didn’t break 500 downloads. RWDO is a very niche area and I didn’t have a list to market to.

Responsive Web Design Overview For Beginners
Original Publication Date: 10/3/2013
Print Length: 66 pages

You might be wondering why I wrote a book if I didn’t have any one to market to. Actually, the book is related to my course on Udemy, Practical Responsive Web Design, but I was waiting until after the promo ended before marketing to my customers on Udemy.

I knew KDP Select had lost a lot of its firepower post 2012. After my promo ended, there wasn’t any spike in sales.

A KDP Promo is part of the KDP Select program, which allows you five days to promote your book for free. The trade off is you can’t distribute your book anywhere else for 90 days.

Even though there was no spike in sales, I still received consistent sales from RWDO.

Career Forward KDP Promo

It was time to do a promo for Career Forward. I did another three day run. Downloads were even more dismal. As for sales, well, you can probably imagine. Sales for Career Forward have only been a trickle.

If you are wondering what happened with Career Forward, here it is: I started on Career Forward in November 2012. The book is heavily research based. I worked on it in my spare time.

Career Forward: Do You Need An MBA To Succeed?
Original Publication Date: 10/10/2013
Print Length: 103 pages

I wanted to shed light on the topic of choosing the right MBA or if an MBA is even right for you. People who buy the book find it very valuable, but there isn’t any market for it. Had I known then what I know now about marketing Kindle books, I would have contemplated more before writing Career Forward.

Kindle Sales

I believe my initial Kindle sales were helped greatly by all of the high rating reviews. This lent much needed social proof.

Below are two graphs. Blue bars represent RWDO. Green is Career Forward. They are scaled the same for comparison.

I have every country selected that Amazon makes available. My books have sold in the US, UK, Germany, France, and Italy.

In the graphs, the UK equals GBP and Germany, France and Italy equals EUR.

You can see in the right graph that US sales were higher in November than in October. I believe this is mainly due to the books not being available until October 3rd and 10th. Also, the KDP free promo days both occurred in October.

Paperback Sales

The graph below is sales for the paperbacks. These graphs are set to the same scale as the Kindle graphs for comparison.

As you can see, the paperbacks aren’t any competition for the Kindle sales, but it is interesting to note that Career Forward outsold RWDO in the US during October. Then in November, Career Forward didn’t make any sales (although both books currently have the same December sales, which aren’t shown).

I do believe paperbacks are worth creating. They add the potential for additional distribution channels. Especially now that it doesn’t cost anything to use expanded distribution through CreateSpace.

Done properly, the Kindle format can easily carry over to the paperback, saving you a ton of time and effort. At that point, deciding to sell the paperback is an easy decision and easy revenue.

Also, you need paperbacks to do promotions on GoodReads and some people simply prefer paperbacks over Kindle versions. You also have something to hand out at any type of related event.

After KDP

I don’t have any plans to continue with KDP Select for RWDO and Career Forward. RWDO fell out of the KDP program on January 1st. Career Forward will fall out on January 7th.

I plan to expand distribution into iTunes (iBook Store) and outlets available through Smashwords. I’ve started the iTunes application for iBooks, even though I already have a similar application for iOS apps.

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I won’t be using Smashwords for iBooks since I want direct access to reports and ability to update books. Going this route, I’ll also be getting direct payment from Apple.

I will be using KDP Select for any new books. It will only be for the initial 90 days again. Then I’ll follow the same distribution plan.

 

Thoughts On Amazon And Marketing

I see many authors struggling with to get sales on Amazon. Many still believe in the KDP promo sales boost.

Amazon is a market place. Like any market place, it’s a distribution for your product, but it isn’t a gold mine for authors.

While there is a great advantage to listing your book in a market place such as Amazon, you still need to have a marketing plan. You’ll still need to work hard to get sales.

Amazon is only a overall piece of your book’s sales process. Don’t mistake it as the end all, one stop shop for racking up sales. That piece lays squarely with you.

It is true that some authors hit it big on Amazon with little or no marketing, but depending on that type of success isn’t a viable business model and will only lead to disappointment.

Developing a marketing plan before uploading your book to Amazon will help increase your chances of success and set expectations.

With more books, comes more practice and with more practice comes the opportunity to improve your sales process and ultimately make more sales.