A few words of questionable wisdom from author Al W Moe - you can leave questions on each blog or go to my profile for direct email.


Saturday, December 31, 2016

Updated Kindle Scout Program

So all good things must come to an end, and my Kindle Scout Campaign ended December 20th. Two days ago I got the word that my book, Dying to Get Thin was not selected for publication. Bummer. Disappointed, but I'll live.

It appears from my connection with other KS Authors, about 20% of all books sent to KS are accepted into the program, then 5.5% are selected for publication. So, about 1.1% are actually published by Kindle Scout. That's somewhere close to traditional publishing.

Overall, I'm very happy with the program, because it pointed out three very serious issue with my own entry. I've adjusted them, and am going to be self-publishing on Kindle in a day or two.

Firstly, I originally chose Dying to Be Slim for my novel, since there were no books with that title. However, when I went to submit to KS, I saw there was a book with the same title on Kindle, so I choose something similar. Mistake one.

Secondly, I really liked the cover Andy Weir used on The Martian, simple, lots of orange. I duplicated it as best I could. But it didn't convey what the book was about - and it wasn't a good cover. Same with the third issue, the title.

I know these things because the KS program gives you feedback in the way of click numbers. Direct clicks from my contacts, friends, and Social media advertising were good. God Bless my friends for supporting me. I had 2,400 total clicks on my page. And 92% of those came from my direct links.

Of course, that means only 8% come from people already surfing the KS pages. That's terrible. From that number, I know either my book blurb or my cover were bad. In my case, I say it was both! Plus the title.

To that end, I've improved my blurb, changed the title, and changed the cover from this:

To this. Yeah, that's a bit of a change. Thank you, Kindle Scout for pointing out some serious issues with my offering. Without the program, I'd have gone live December 1 with the old name and cover.

Now it's just a matter of whether the story is any good, and that's all on me. We'll see.

Thanks for reading - Al W Moe

Monday, November 21, 2016

Live, from inside the Kindle Scout Program

I'm in Hawaii, 2000 miles from book tours and signings and local bookstores. No, that's not a bad thing, but the location does have an effect on my book marketing, especially for a new title. So, I decided that in the interest of science and research, I'd join the Kindle Scout Program and see how it works.

My latest novel, "Dying To Get Thin" is a Thriller/Suspense story set in the California beach town of Santa Barbara. Most of my books have been nonfiction, so many new readers will be cut from a different cloth. That's the second scary part of marketing the book.

The final step and the scariest part is giving up the rights to the Kindle book for 45-days and perhaps 5 years.

How Kindle Scout Works

I noted the Kindle Scout Program before on this blog, and it is a unique and exciting addition to having your book published. You start here:

  1. You have to submit a completed work to Amazon. That means chaptered, edited, ready to go.
  2. You have to submit a camera ready cover.
  3. You grant Amazon the right to post your work with the first 5,000 words on the Kindle Scout website with a short author bio, a book description, and an author photo.
  4. You grant Amazon the right to "market" your book on the site for 30 days, which is how long the nomination process takes.
In my case, I was ready to submit and it took me an hour to write the book description (which I think I shorted myself on, should have done better!), upload the cover and my author photo and a few other things. That's a pretty quick process.

I was immediately notified by email that the submission process had started. The following morning I was emailed that my novel was accepted into the nomination process. That's good. Now the tough part begins.

I'm up against many, many other novels and there is no way to know how many Amazon will choose per month to publish. Bummer. Want to help me? Go to my page and nominate here.

Now, within 45-days, I'll know if enough people nominated my novel to convince Amazon it should be published. Fortunately, that choice isn't just based on nominations, but they certainly help. If the book is picked up, I get a $1,500 royalty advance. And what's the catch?

  1. Amazon pays a 50% royalty on all Kindle sales. Authors who self-publish get up to 70%.
  2. Amazon pays a 25% royalty for audio editions and 20% for translations.
  3. Amazon pays 75% of Net Revenue for sublicensed sales of foreign language editions of your Work and 50% of Net Revenue for sales of any other sublicensed formats of your Work.
  4. Amazon sets the price of your book.
The above issues all seem fair to me. Especially since Amazon markets your book at no cost to you! The better your book is, the better it will sell and the harder Amazon will market it. The last big piece:

  1. Amazon keeps the rights to your Kindle edition for a five-year period and will continue to re-up your work for subsequent five-year periods as long as your book makes you at least $25,000 in royalties. If it does not, you get your rights back. Personally, I hope they keep my book forever!
My timeline:

Book submitted to Kindle Scout on November 17, 2016
Book approved on November 18, 2016
Book listed on Kindle Scout page on November 20, 2016
My marketing to promote the nomination started on November 20, 2016.

I see from the site that the most important thing is getting your book into the Hot and Trending group at the top of the page. Whether that is fair or not, it's what's in use, and every visitor to the page see's the top 20 nominated books scrolling by.

Marketing in use:

  1. Facebook personal account notice listed November 20
  2. Facebook author account notice listed November 21
  3. Twitter @AlWMoe account notice listed November 21
  4. Email to friends and family on November 21
  5. Notice on a few chat boards I frequent November 21
Now keeping my fingers crossed. Will post results later.

Thanks for reading - Al W Moe

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

How Many Book Sales to Make The New York Times Best Seller List?

There are a number of Best Seller lists, like USA Today, Wall Street Week and Barnes and Noble, but the one most everyone knows about is the New York Times Best Sellers list. To somehow crack the code to the list is a once-in-a-lifetime dream for most authors. For Savant types like John Grisham, Stephen King and Nicholas Sparks, the code seems to work for all their books. 
Today, making the New York Times Best Sellers list is easier than ever, with a total of 40 categories a book can land in from Hard Cover fiction and nonfiction to Paperback, E-books, Graphic, Children’s books and Young Adult. In addition, there are 22 monthly lists with sub-categories like Games, Family, Sports and Travel

Since each category has 10 to 15 books, there might be 800 different books listed at one time and the majority of the authors are represented by main-stream publishers. To sell the minimum of about 5,000 copies per week to make the lists, the books must be in retail outlets. What’s the methodology used? According to the New York Times:

Rankings reflect sales reported by vendors offering a wide range of general interest titles. The sales venues for print books include independent book retailers; national, regional and local chains; online and multimedia entertainment retailers; supermarkets, university, gift and discount department stores; and newsstands. E-book rankings reflect sales from leading online vendors of e-books in a variety of popular e-reader formats.”

How Many Books to Make the List?
The number of book sales to make any list varies greatly by time of year and by category. The 5,000 copy per week is a relative number that easily represents all major categories for the weekly lists. Even a book listed at #15 on the Hard Cover Fiction list is likely to be a major author whose books are found in book stores, gift shops, Walmart, Costco and the ever-popular airport lounge. If you want to be impressed by a book's sales, look at the number of weeks it has been on the list. A one-week blip is just that, one big week of sales. A book that hangs in the top ten for 20-weeks is a new life-style with all the perks...............

However, small categories in the monthly listings might surprise you. For instance, Tracey Stewarts Do Unto Animals is listed at number 10 in the monthly listing for Animals. It’s a very good book and congratulations to the author for making the New York Times Best Seller list. However, this was probably a labor of love, and a good one, but currently it wouldn’t make any other list or category.

It did make the Amazon Best Seller list by being #1 in the Animal Husbandry category. Again, well done. The book is currently listed as #3733 in paperback books and is #71,100 in the paid Kindle store. The author is selling lots of books, but not a clip that self-published authors can’t also shoot for with their Kindle books.

For lack of a better way of putting it, the New York Times Bes Sellers list is the Major Leagues. Amazon’s #1 Best Seller ranking is the minor leagues. Sure, if you get that ranking in “Fiction” you will be very, very rich. But Amazon has a whole lot more than 62 total categories.

The #3733 in paperback ranking is quite good; selling perhaps 20 to 30 copies per day just on Amazon. With bookstores and other outlets considered, that could be more than 100 copies per day. The Kindle numbers are a bit different.

In fact, for Kindle sales, the ranking of #71,131 is fairly mediocre. The book is number 4 in Animal Husbandry and number 51 in Animals, but sales-wise that’s only about 1 book sale per day. Everyone has a chance to do that if they produce a decent read for Kindle buyers.

Those numbers do point-out that you should also have your book listed with Create Space, especially since your income might be much more per copy for a paperback copy. And, a book like Animal Husbandry is more likely to sell in paperback, for a long time!

For instance, a Kindle book selling for $3.79 (yes, that’s what Vegas and the Mob sells for) brings in $2.65 per sale. At the same time, a Create Space (Amazon paperback copy) book listed at $12.95 nets $4.16 for the author.

If you want to be in the Top 10 of a common category on Amazon Kindle, choose a more obscure one than “crime” or “romance.” Obviously if you choose correctly, you can make a list with fewer sales. For instance, the #1 book under “blackjack” is currently selling at #37,656 which is probably 2 books per day!

Thanks for reading - Al W Moe