Saturday, April 6, 2013

KDP Select, BookBub & New Developments

My first paid writing gig was at an ad agency. I started at $13,000 per year. I was elated. I got my own office, an IBM Selectric typewriter and free beer on Friday afternoons. To earn my keep all I had to do was fire up my imagination, synch it to my vocabulary and crank out copy for print ads, radio commercials and TV spots.

I had a series of wonderful creative partners, art directors, with whom I could have great conversations, bounce ideas off of, share a lot of laughs with and of course get the work done.

Once the work was done, we "creative" people had a whole network of support staff. There were illustrators, photographers, producers, directors, acting talent, voice talent, and all sorts of other people. Even a few account executives — suits — who knew what they were doing. Then there were media people who made sure the finished creative product was seen by the right audience, i.e. people who were interested in buying the goods and services we were pitching.

Flash forward to the present. Now, I'm a novelist with twenty titles for sale online. I'm also half of a Mom and Pop publishing company: Stray Dog Press, Inc. I have my own (home) office, an iMac and I can drink beer any time I want, but I have to pay for it. Mom, aka my wife, Catherine, is a wonderful creative partner. We bounce ideas off each other, laugh and have great conversations. Catherine also has an amazing number of talents and skills we put to use in our business.

But both of us know roughly zilch when it comes to doing what every successful business has to do: find its target market. Oh, we know who they are: people who like to read mysteries, thrillers and comic novels. But where do they live? What's the best way to reach them? How do we do that with far less money to spend than it costs for one second of a Super Bowl TV spot?

Here's where I do my testimonial: We heard of a potent combination from the apostle of indie publishing, Joe Konrath. He said to the multitudes: Go forth and sign up for Kindle Select. Use the five-day free promotion the Select are offered. Multiply your loaves and fishes — i.e. opportunities — with an ad on BookBub. com.

So that's what we did. We took our novel, Nailed, off all the other distributors, PubIt, iTunes, et. al., and enrolled it in Amazon Select. We scheduled a free promotion from Amazon for the period 3/28 - 4/1/13 and backed it up with a BookBub ad at a cost of $230.

Remember what I said about finding our target audience? BookBub did that for us. It sent our email ad to 360,000 mystery and thriller fans. Of that number, we downloaded 57,189 copies. Better than a 15% response. If you ask people who know about this kind of thing, they'll tell you that's a fantastic number. Here's another one. Nailed went to No.1 on the Amazon Top 100 for mysteries and thrillers. In the first five days of April, Nailed has made more money for us than all twenty of our titles did in the entire month of March.

So, it probably won't come as a big surprise that were thinking of enrolling all our books in KDP Select and planning BookBub promotions for more than a few of them. This means we'll have to take our books down from the other distributors. Fans who don't have Kindles won't be left out in the cold because there are free Kindle apps available for every device short of a cuckoo clock, and that will likely be available soon.

Now, Nailed had thirty-four reader reviews with a 4.5-star average before we enrolled it in KDP Select.   So we had reason to believe it was a good book. Not every book will do as well as Nailed. But if you're an indie writer with a book you really believe in, and can spare the money for a BookBub ad — the mystery and thriller category is the most expensive because it reaches the most readers — you might do well to look into the KDP Select/BookBub combination.

If you're a reader/fan without a Kindle, please consider getting one or at least a free app. I think a lot of your favorite writers will be taking the same path we've taken. The other distributors just aren't trying as hard as Amazon to make indie writing and publishing a paying proposition.

Of necessity, writers have to do what Willie Sutton said bank robbers do: Go where the money is.

Last but not least, Jim McGill #5 will be out within a month — God and Catherine willing.


  1. Will a Jim McGill 9 come to market and, if so, any idea when?