The New Kindle Fire for Self Publishing Authors

In two days the new Amazon Kindle Fire will be released on September 14, 2012, just a day before Amazon starts collecting sales tax from California residents (perfect timing!)

This handheld device will change the way people read and the way authors publish books. Here are a few of the details:

• 40% faster performance, twice the memory, longer battery life
• Perfect portability – thin, light, and durable
• Over 22 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, books, audiobooks, and popular apps and games
• Ultra-fast web browsing over built-in Wi-Fi
• Free unlimited cloud storage for all your Amazon content
• Kindle FreeTime – a personalized tablet experience just for kids. Set daily screen limits, and give access to appropriate content for each child. Free on every Kindle Fire.
• Kindle Owners’ Lending Library – Kindle owners can choose from more than 180,000 books to borrow for free with no due dates, including over 100 current and former New York Times best sellers and all seven Harry Potter books.
• No Set-up Required
• Read-to-Me — With Text-to-Speech, Kindle Fire can read English-language content out loud to you, when available from the publisher.
• 1-Click Shopping

Readers are sure to love the convenience and upgraded technology offered by the Kindle Fire. Thanks to Kindle FreeTime, even children will be able to enjoy the new device. E-readers are already changing the way consumers buy and read books, and they are becoming increasingly popular. It is important that self-publishing authors offer a Kindle version of their books to meet the needs of readers who prefer using e-readers. By offering both a print and electronic version of your book, you can target a larger market and reach more customers. This will ultimately lead to more sales.


Amazon publishing

To continue the post from yesterday, we’re looking at this Amazon screen shot of the 7,302 books Outskirts Press currently has published and listed available for sale on Amazon for our authors:

We discussed the New Releases and Department sections yesterday. That brings us to Format, where you can see Paperback books are far and away the favorite, although Kindle Editions are catching up fast, considering the Paperback count starts in the year 2002 and the Kindle editions began in 2010 with the release of our Amazon Kindle Edition.

Since we also provide the Kindle Edition service for authors with books from other publishers, our Kindle numbers are actually much higher, but we often perform that service for authors “behind the scenes.”

We do a lot of these because authors from many of our competitors would rather pay us a small one-time fee to perform this service independently so they keep 100% of their profits as opposed to letting their current publisher do it and take up to 50% of their Kindle profits.  Hmm, you’d think that same reasoning would translate to moving their books to Outskirts Press where we pay 100% profits on paperbacks and hardbacks, too.  And you know what? It often does.

But I digress.  “Binding” comes next and seems to be fairly redundant.  Then comes mentions of specific authors and then Series, followed by “Shipping Option” and “Promotion.”

The “Average Customer Review” is interesting though, and I’ll cover that next time…

Amazon search results and cover colors

 Now let’s discuss the color of the covers in this screen shot below:

 This exemplifies the importance of cover design, and specifically, the importance of planning ahead when designing your cover, or working with a cover designer.  You want your book to STAND OUT on search results pages like this, which means you want to avoid having a white cover.   After all, let’s look closely at the screen shot above. The only cover that is harder to see and pay attention to than the 6th cover is the 8th one, and that’s because the 8th cover is missing!

Does this mean you should never design a white book cover?  Well…. maybe.  I would challenge book cover designers to rise to the occasion in the “Amazon world” and create covers that are specifically designed to be seen on visual search results pages like the one above.  That means, no white covers.  But, even if the book cover for the physical book itself is white, that doesn’t mean your Amazon cover has to be.

Gasp! Change the cover image just for Amazon?  Yes – and in past posts I’ve given specific examples of how I’ve personally done that with my Sell Your Book on Amazon listing.  The actual cover is 2/3 orange and 1/3 white. That’s too much white for me, so for the Amazon cover image, I replaced the white with an obnoxious bright yellow.  You know what? It works.   In fact, if you look at the screen shot above, there’s a chance the most noticeable book cover among ALL the books on that page is that big bright yellow cover along the left, which, not coincidentally is for SELL YOUR BOOK ON AMAZON.  I say “not coincidentally” because that is actually the result of quite a bit of planning and effort on my part, but as you can see on this Amazon search page, it pays off.

And we can talk about that more in the future, along with why you would want to create a cover image specifically for Amazon (and how you do that).

The Amazon Kindle and Search Results

In the last posting I began analyzing this screen shot, which is the first page of the Amazon search results for a particular phrase. 

I’m using my latest book as an example to demonstrate the actual positive effects of completing some basic Amazon promotion tactics.  Let’s specifically look at three elements of this screen shot:

  •  there are two of the same graphics in the top 10 (thank you Kindle edition)- repetition matters
  • the cover graphic isn’t white – see how book #1 and #6 get completely lost?
  •  the cover graphic is significantly bigger than all the other covers on the page

Let’s discuss the duplication effect, seeing two covers of the same book.  Relatively easily, my book is garnering twice the exposure and therefore, hopefully, receiving twice the attention from Amazon shoppers browsing this list.  In other words, my book has twice as much potential to be “clicked on” because the cover is appearing twice.   Getting two cover images of your book to appear on an applicable search term phrase on Amazon is as easy as adding an Amazon Kindle edition of your book (the money you make from sales of your Kindle Edition may even be more icing on the cake — in fact, it may even start to be the cake itself. Three of our top 5 selling books in any given month are often the Kindle editions, and they’re all fiction.) Any fiction author looking for a way to level the book marketing playing field shouldn’t do anything before adding a Kindle edition to his book.

We’ll talk about the other two points from this screen shot next…

Kindle and Amazon Search Results

Over the next few postings I’m going to examine the following screen shot that I took on Amazon when I entered the phrase “successful authors self publishing” into the Amazon search box on August 11.  Sorry the graphic is so small; I had to make sure it could fit in this narrow column on this blog template.  Basically, this is showing the first nine results of the search phrase.   The 8th book is missing its cover image. There is an advertisement in the lower left-hand corner. And directly above the advertisement is an Amazon “promotion” for listmania lists.

Since we’re currently on the topic of the Highly Effective Kindle edition, I first want to draw your attention to the double exposure my book, The Highly Effective Habits of 5 Successful Authors, is receiving on the first page of this search results screen.  I mentioned in a previous post that the $0.35 I make every time the Kindle edition sells is merely icing on the cake, and not particularly important to me.  What is important is that when applicable search terms are typed into the Amazon search engine, my book cover appears TWICE.  This, I feel, is one of the true benefits of the Kindle edition and is a concept I discuss to some degree in my book Sell Your Book on Amazon.

Getting a book to place on Page One of any Amazon search is an art onto itself, and there are many techniques and tactics an author can employ to reach such objectives.  The value, therefore, of having a similarly-titled Kindle edition is that once you reach that objective on the search page, you are receiving “two bangs for your buck” through the visual repetition of your book cover and book title.

It’s hard to say whether The Highly Effective Habits of 5 Successful Authors is the very FIRST thing your eye gravitates to on the screen shot above.  After all, it’s fighting for attention from the red ad in the bottom left corner, which has the advantage of being the single largest graphic image on the page.  It’s also fighting for attention from those two obnoxiously bright yellow cover images along the left-hand side (and more on that in a future post).   But among the actual results themselves, it might be fair to say my book attracts the most attention.  Certainly it’s competing with the bright red Self-Publishing Confidential cover (which is an effective color AND an effective title); but my book has three things going for it that my “competitors” don’t – and by competitors, I mean the other books listed in this particular search, all of which are vying equally for the customer’s attention and dollars. Those 3 advantages are:

  •  there are two of the same graphics in the top 10 (thank you Kindle edition)- repetition matters
  • the cover graphic isn’t white – see how book #1 and #6 get completely lost?
  •  the cover graphic is significantly bigger than all the other covers on the page

So we’ll discuss each of these elements of this screen shot in future posts…

The Highly Ineffective Habits of Barnes & Noble

I like Barnes & Noble. In fact, as a writer myself, it probably doesn’t come as a shock to learn that I love all bookstores. But times haven’t been kind to the traditional bookstore since about 1995 or so. That is when came into existence and slowly (quickly) began changing book buying habits. Now, the physical locations of Barnes & Noble bookstores are becoming more of a liability than an advantage; and much like Blockbuster was forced to examine its business model in the wake of NetFlix, so too is Barnes & Noble starting to recognize the forward-thinking of Amazon from behind the 8-ball.   In fact, at the beginning of August, Barnes & Noble announced that it was “on the block” and looking for a buyer. Read the interesting article in Fast Company here.

Interestingly, even such news comes with a silver lining. Barnes & Noble’s digital business (its website at and its Nook) continues to grow and, along with’s growing market share, further supports the notion that distribution-on-demand with self-publishing companies like Outskirts Press is not only a viable solution but is on its way toward becoming the de facto standard for how books are distributed and sold.  And with both Nook and Kindle versions of e-books up sharply, authors are well advised to offer not only paperback/hardback editions of every book they publish, but electronic versions as well.  

To support this changing landscape, Outskirts Press recently introduced its Amazon Kindle edition on an a la carte basis to authors seeking this electronic solution regardless of where they published their hardcopy book.  And in the coming months, Nook and iPad services should follow suit.   I could take a moment here to vent about Apple and its monopolistic aggregation agreement briefly (not to mention their cencorship habits) but …. I think I’ll wait until a different post to open that can of worms.  After all, I’m still in the middle of discussing the Highly Effective Kindle edition, and will continue with that topic in more logistic detail next time…

The Highly Effective Kindle Edition

How clever. The title of this blog posting has a double meaning. For one, I’m announcing the Amazon Kindle edition of our new Outskirts Press book The Highly Effective Habits of 5 Successful Authors.  And two, the Kindle Edition IS a highly effective tool for book marketing, and I’ll discuss why and how in the next post.

But first thing’s first.  Within 72 hours of ordering our own Amazon Kindle Edition option from our Outskirts Press website, my Kindle edition was up on Amazon and available for purchase on all the Amazon Kindle devices worldwide.  Not bad for $99.  And I had the option of earning either 30% of the retail price, or 70% of the retail price, as defined by Amazon.  

The benefit of ordering this service through Outskirts Press rather than… say… any other publisher… is that Outskirts Press does not take ANY of the split.  Amazon pays you directly, so you are getting whatever Amazon sends to your bank without any skimming from us. You see (and this is one of the secrets to our publishing success) we pay 100% author royalties, and in the case of e-books, there isn’t a production cost. So Amazon takes their share and the author takes the rest.   No wonder so many authors, regardless of where they published, are using our new a la carte Amazon Kindle Edition service from the new Outskirts Press store. Click here for more details.

Since I wanted as many readers as possible to read this latest book, I set my Kindle retail price at the minimum of $0.99 and as a result, the 30% royalty option was selected for me.  You see, Amazon requires a retail price between $2.99 – $9.99 to receive a 70% royalty. In most cases, I would encourage authors to set their Kindle price at $2.99 and receive 70% (roughly $2 for every sale).   At 30% of $0.99 I’m receiving a whopping thirty-five cents with every sale, but in my opinion, Kindle sales are currently just icing on the cake.  The real motivation is to drive Paperback sales, and I’ll talk about that in a future post.  

Heck, for a limited time, for my blog readers, I’ll GIVE the e-book of The Highly Effective Habits of 5 Successful Authors away.  Click here to read the e-book for free  (and in a way cooler method than on the Kindle, too!).   Or if you prefer the Kindle edition, click here to get it from Amazon for $0.99. In return, just do me a small favor and compose a positive review for it on Amazon.    See, soliciting reviews is an important component of any book marketing strategies and often times you may find that you have to “give the book away” to get reviews.  That’s the beauty of e-books – they’re inexpensive to give away and yet they still (hopefully) prompt participation in the review department.

There is more to discuss about the Highly Effective Kindle edition, and I’ll cover more next time…

Self Publishing Simplified – Kindle Edition

We are relaunching our Kindle Edition option this month. Actually, we are “relaunching” a number of our author services options this month, because we’ve added more benefits to each of them while retaining the same retail price.  The CD Media Kit and Enhanced Audio Excerpt each come with an included 30 minute phone consultation with a Marketing Assistant, while the relaunched Book Video Trailers are now cooler than ever, and feature improved social distribution, including links on twitter and Facebook.

One of these relaunched options is the Kindle, and this is a perfect time to announce it, with the release of the new Amazon Kindle app version 1.3  for the Iphone and Ipod Touch.  This new app makes all Kindle books available for download and reading on the iPhone! This is big news for self-publishing authors, so while we announce this new benefit (and incentive to create a Kindle edition) we will also emphasize our improvements in formatting Kindle editions that actually look — you know — good.  Forums and blogs are filled to the brim with this topic — the complexity and “pain” associated with converting a heavily formatted document — particularly one designed in inDesign, as nearly all Outskirts Press books are– into a Kindle edition that is aesthetically pleasing.

And to kick it all off, the Kindle edition of Self-Publishing Simplified was made available this week, at the lowest price I could set it, 99 cents.   The whole point of this book (both the paperback and now the Kindle) is to demonstrate the pricing flexibility available to Outskirts Press authors.  I would have sold the paperback edition on Amazon for less than $5.95 if I could, but that price represents not only the true power of the pricing we offer — where else can you find a 108 page paperback on Amazon, new, for $5.95?– but also an accurate representation of what IS possible. There’s no wizard behind the curtain — that price IS the price listed on Amazon for a 108 page book.   Our authors have the exact same pricing flexibility I do. Granted, I’m only making 7 cents each time it sells, but that’s not the point. My goal was to demonstrate that POD books don’t have to have astronomical retail prices — at least, not if you publish with us. <smile>

The 99 cent Kindle edition doesn’t exhibit that pricing flexibility to the same degree, because it appears that Amazon allows authors to set a 99 cent price whenever they want. I couldn’t set a price lower than 99 cents, though — I tried to make it free, but Amazon wouldn’t let me.