Thursday, May 3, 2018

Amazon By Invitation Programs

One benefit of Great On Kindle is Amazon will promote your books
and offer special deals. In this case, they are offering 25 percent off
any other Great On Kindle book when you buy Shot All to Hell. It is
an added incentive for buyers on the hook.
You can bust your ass forever trying to turn your book into a bestseller, but the simplest and quickest way to hit a home run is to wait for Amazon to come knocking.

I have been self-publishing books on Amazon for just over five years now. I have picked up well over $100,000 dollars in royalty payouts. Several of my books have climbed into the top one-thousand books on Amazon, but after my promotions ended they took the inevitable plunge into oblivion.

In November of 2017, I received a quality control notice from Amazon. They had found some issues with my bestselling book, Shot All to Hell. It was an invitation to work with them to make my book the best book it could be. There was no pressure to make changes, just an offer to help.

What the hell! I jumped onboard. They suggested some simple edits and asked me to set up the X-ray feature. After a few weeks of work and some back and forth emails, I resubmitted the book.

Several weeks later, I received an invitation to enroll my book in the Prime Reading program. They offered me five-hundred dollars to give my book away to Amazon Prime members for ninety-days. My book was already enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, so why not offer it to Prime members as well?

A week later my book rocketed up the charts from a 97,000 ranking to the top eight-hundred books on Kindle. I moved from a zero ranking in history writers to as high as number thirty-one. Almost immediately, I noticed a bump in my paperback sales, and my page reads jumped from a few thousand to nearly fifty-thousand per month. My guess is I made another $500 per month from the visibility boost I received from being enrolled in Prime Reading. The only surprise was audiobooks. Sales remained flat during my entire Prime enrollment period.

Over the previous eighteen months, I had spent well over $1500 promoting this book. It sold well and made money while I was promoting it, but no matter what I did, sales eventually slowed.

That was not a problem while Amazon promoted my book. Sales remained consistent for the entire period my book was enrolled in Prime Reading, and the rank remained between 800 and 2500. 

Three months later, I received a notice from Amazon that the promotional period was up, and my book would be removed from Prime Reading. I would receive the agreed upon payment with my next royalty payout. At that point, my book ranking started to fall but it was okay. It was a fun ride, and I got to outsell many of my favorite authors.

My thought was that was the end of the story. Little did I know, Amazon had other plans. They sent me a notice saying, “we’re excited to tell you that your book, Shot All to Hell, has been enrolled in a new Amazon beta program called Great On Kindle – a program for high-quality nonfiction eBooks that make them easier for customers to discover.”

Pretty cool, right? It was nice to know Amazon was not going to desert me just because my Prime Reading gig was up.

After that, they explained the Great On Kindle Program in more detail. “As part of Great On Kindle, we plan to experiment with things like a detail page message that helps readers discover high-quality books, Amazon funded-promotions for customers, and nominations for merchandising opportunities.” It also talked about special price promotions available to program members.

A few days later I received another invitation from Amazon to participate in special price promotion opportunities. Under this program, Amazon reserves the right to promote your book in various programs over a six-month period. The promotional price could be anywhere between 99 cents up to the retail price of your book. Whatever price they set for the promotion, you receive your standard royalty rate of 35% or 70%. They also opened a new royalty rate for books enrolled in the program.

Authors can now choose a 50% royalty rate. I know what you are asking yourself. Why should I settle for a smaller royalty payout? I asked myself the same question.

Here’s the deal.

If you take the 50% royalty rate you can price your book between 99 cents and $20.00 and receive the 50% royalty split. If you are selling your book for 99 cents, it gives you an extra 16 cents in royalties per copy sold. If you want to price your book higher than $9.99, you can boost your royalty payout a few bucks instead of taking the 35% payout.

Another way you can benefit from the 50% royalty rate is if you have a graphics intensive book. Amazon does not charge file delivery surcharges, so it should give your royalty payout a boost.

So, when Amazon comes a knocking make sure you answer. They can market your book better than any promotion you can dream up.

FYI: If you are interested in another take on Amazon Prime Reading for authors, Steve Scott and Barrie Davenport created a podcast that detailed Steve’s experience with Prime Reading. Even though Steve acknowledges a nice bump in his rankings and royalty payouts, he does have reservations on whether he would enroll another book in Prime Reading. Listen to the podcast to find out why.

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