Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Amazon Let's Big Publishers Shoot Themselves In Foot Set Their Own Kindle Book Pricing

Just when you thought the Big 5 Publishers couldn't be any stupider, they've gotten their way and hiked ebook pricing on Amazon. Amazon now simply notes the pricing as "Price set by the publisher" in small type... almost as an apology to their customers.
Slate.com noted this change on sales pages of many popular books appearing on Amazon.com. Their story about this new customer notice simply tells me that Amazon has given up trying to keep the Big 5 from imploding.
Kindle book readers have millions of titles to choose from. These days, many good stories are offered for free. Others can be hand for 99 cents. No, maybe not by Big Time authors. But these are good stories by good storytellers. In my humble opinion, when readers do the math (and they will), they'll find they can buy 12 of the 99 cent Kindle books instead of one book from Big5. They'll vote with their dollars. Big5 will fail. When they do, they'll blame Amazon.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Amazon Tells How EU VAT Tax Changes Affect Self-Published Authors, Indie Publishers on Amazon KDP

Key changes for EU sales went into place this month. VAT tax now applied to digital products, and now impacting sales by KDP indie publishers. The VAT varies from country to country. Below is an email received from Amazon telling how the new VAT will affect author royalties. It also tells how Amazon will convert list prices to local currencies.

European Union (EU) tax laws have changed regarding the taxation of digital products (including eBooks). Previously, Value Added Tax (VAT) was applied based on the seller’s country; now, VAT will be applied based on the buyer’s country. As a result, starting on January 1, 2015, you can set your suggested customer prices to include VAT for all of the EU marketplaces: Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.es, Amazon.it, and Amazon.nl.

Here’s a summary of changes:

List Prices: We've added applicable VAT based on the primary country of the marketplace to the VAT-exclusive list prices for all of your books on the EU marketplaces. You will see your updated list price with the applicable VAT added on your KDP pricing grid; you will also see the price without VAT which is what you can use to calculate your estimated royalties.

Minimum and Maximum List Prices: The minimum and maximum list prices for the 35% and 70% royalty plans in the EU have been updated to include VAT. Books must be priced within the new ranges. If your list price falls outside of the new range we will adjust it to meet the new minimum or maximum to ensure you remain in your chosen royalty plan. Learn more about the new minimum and maximum list prices: https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=ANRML55B0BWBK

Price Matching: As always, if you list books with a lower list price on other sites, we may price match to the lower price. We recommend you review your list prices on or after January 1st to determine if you need to make any updates.

List Prices Based on Your U.S. Price: If you select to match the EU marketplace prices automatically from the U.S. list price, we will convert the U.S. list price to local currency and that will be the list price that includes VAT, we won’t add additional VAT onto that price. Learn more about setting list prices for EU Kindle stores: https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A30464Q6OVH578

Other reminders: Detail Pages: The price on your EU detail pages will be updated to show the new VAT-inclusive list price that you see in your KDP account. These updates will start on January 1st and will continue over the next few weeks.

Royalties: Any sales that occur before your price is updated on your detail page will be adjusted so that you earn the right royalties. We will manually adjust your royalties so that they are based on the VAT-exclusive price that you provided before January 1st. Once your list price is updated on your detail page to include the applicable VAT, we will pay your royalties on the VAT-exclusive price. Learn more about how EU prices affect royalty payments: https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A30XCAGX3E5QDC

For pre-orders that were placed before January 1, 2015 on books that were set to release after January 1, 2015, we will pay your royalty as though VAT were still only 3%.

Kindle Countdown Deals: Any Kindle Countdown Deals scheduled on Amazon.co.uk on or after January 1, 2015 will run as expected, even if the list price does not fit the new requirements of being priced between £1.99 and £15.99, including the VAT.

Lastly, as of January 1, 2015, Italy has put in place a new law. Applicable VAT for eBooks sold in Italy will depend on whether the book has an ISBN. All eBooks with an ISBN will have a 4% VAT rate and eBooks without an ISBN will have a 22% VAT rate. This is the rate that is added to your price on January 1st and is the rate deducted when an Italian customer purchases your book. If you obtain an ISBN after January 1st, the 4% VAT rate will then apply for future sales but we will not adjust your list price automatically.

Amazon is not responsible for this. Amazon is merely complying with either (1) the greed of EU politicians who see a new lucrative source of tax revenue they can swipe, or (2) a way to protect the clunky traditional publishing industry throughout the EU, or (3) both. I've written earlier how I think this will derail author royalties and at the same time quell demand for digital ebook by making them more costly from the end consumer's point of view.

However, it remains to be seen if the new Kindle Unlimited service which debuted at the end of 2014 will allow readers to get "all-you-can-read" ebooks without having to fork over VAT on each title borrowed, read and returned on their Kindle. Time will tell.

So far in 2015 my own digital Kindle books are moving at about the same pace as they did in 2014. I'll track sales and KU borrows over the months ahead and report trends I'm seeing and the feedback I hear from other self-pub'd writers and indie publishers who will also be affected by this new tax scheme.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Discovering Profitable Niche For Your Kindle Book Is First Step For Self-Published Authors

This guest post by Marik Singh is a great explanation of how a new author can find an audience and sell more Kindle books. Good advice you'll want to read and take notes on:

3 Simple Tips To Picking a Profitable Niche Market for Newbies
By Guest Blogger Marik Singh

For a new online entrepreneur, picking a niche can be the most intimidating part of the entire business model building process. Get this one step wrong, and you'll be setting yourself up for a disaster where you don't earn money, you don't enjoy the work, and you waste an incredible amount of time putting effort into something that won't pay off.

So it's vital that you understand the correct elements of picking a niche that pairs passion and profits. There are very few marketers who come into this business without the goal of pursuing their passion.

But you hear so much static online about money that sometimes, it seems like passion takes a backseat so that you can focus on money and take the financial pressure off.

"Someday," you think, "I'll make enough money at this that I can then do something I love."

Why wait?

You can start off on the right foot from the very beginning and not have to start from scratch one day with a new niche and a new dream.

There are 4 steps to picking a profitable niche that you're going to learn. It requires some research, but do have fun with this! Don't do it all in one sitting - let your mind take time to savor the possibilities and engulf you in daydreaming about where all you might take these options.

#1 - Start with a Simple Brain Dump

The best way to get started is to just do a quick and easy brainstorming session. Now is not the time to sort through and analyze your niches - just jot them down randomly - we'll weed out the ones that aren't a good fit shortly.

Start by looking at niches you already know you like. For instance, you might like:

  • Playing video games
  • Gardening
  • Playing golf
  • Making your own jewelry
  • Cooking
  • Playing guitar... etc.

All of those are potential niches based on what you know you already enjoy doing. Forget about whether or not you're an expert just jot down current passions.

Next, consider what you've always wanted to learn but don't know. For example:

  • You've always wanted to learn better photography
  • You've always wished you knew how to crochet
  • You find yourself drawn to the idea of living a sustainable lifestyle

All of those "I wish I knew" topics are potential niche markets for you.

Sometimes, you can build a profitable niche based off of experiences you've had in life, such as:

  • Surviving a troubled relationship
  • Enduring a major health crisis
  • Flipping a real estate property for a profit

Or, maybe you know someone else who is going through something - it doesn't have to be directly related to you. For example,

  • Maybe your neighbor is dealing with infertility
  • You have a good friend who can't figure out how to meet the right woman
  • A sibling of yours suffers from panic and anxiety attacks

There are niche markets all around you. Once you start training yourself to look for them, you start to see a world full of possibilities.

Don't worry about lacking expertise. Some of the best blogs and leaders are those who track their journey from the very beginning. Sometimes, for an audience, it can be intimidating learning from an expert.

It feels safer and more relaxed, learning from someone who knows what you're going through and who can empathize with you easily. Even if you're not going through the exact same thing, understand why there's no such thing as saturation...

People like learning from multiple sources! You have a unique style and personality from other leaders in that niche. When people learn and search for solutions, they typically look in several places, not just one.

#2 - Research Thriving Niche Markets

Another way you can come up with profitable niche markets is to see what's being talked about by the media and bought in the marketplaces. This is easy because the research is basically completed, just waiting for you to discover it.

Magazine covers at the grocery store can show you a wealth of information. So for example - if you picked up the February 24th, 2014 Woman's World (or even just glanced at the cover on the newsstand), you would see the following topics being covered:

  • Juicing for pain
  • Food for Alzheimer's prevention
  • Inflammation and weight gain
  • Diabetes
  • Allergies
  • High blood pressure
  • End cravings while dieting
  • Anti-aging tea
  • Stress relief
  • Body makeovers
  • Success tips

Those are a lot of niches that yes, are very narrow in some ways - such as food for Alzheimer's - but it's a sign that people are into the memory niche, and you can be, too. Instead of getting so specific as "juicing for pain" you could jot down "pain relief" as your niche.

News sites also provide a wonderful account of what's being followed in the real world. Let's take four of the top news and information sites and look at what we can find on there.

On FoxNews.com, in the health section, you discover topics like marriage quality influencing heart disease, obesity and exercise. Under the lifestyle section, you learn about hidden costs when buying a home, the key to online successful dating, and favorite vegetarian meals for celebrities.

On CNN.com, you learn about bitcoin as a currency, comfort food weight loss, and diabetes and dental health. You can separate these combined topics or keep them combined if you want.

On DrudgeReport.com, you might see a news story about riots or bioterror and start thinking about the "prepper" niche. There's a story about electronics like tablets selling more than toys for kids. You also see a story about the price of electricity rising, so a niche about saving money or becoming self sufficient might be an idea.

On HuffingtonPost.com, you see stories about retiring abroad, the key to creativity, in-office workouts, remembering dreams, habits of mentally healthy people, etc.

Online marketplaces can give you some insight into what sells well with consumers. You can look at top sellers at ClickBank.com, JVZoo.com, and Amazon.com to pinpoint some possible niches.

Let's look at them one by one.

ClickBank's marketplace shows some of the top niches as:

  • Fat loss
  • Woodworking
  • Men's dating
  • Make money online
  • Potty training
  • Numerology

JVZoo.com's marketplace shows some of the following topics selling well:

  • Social media mastery
  • Kindle publishing

Amazon.com is a great place to research both tangible and digital niche markets. You can go to http://www.amazon.com/bestsellers and look through each category to see what's selling.

You can also look at hot new releases, top rated, movers and shakers and most wished for. These lists are updated hourly, so they're as current as you can get, which will serve you well.

Click on a category and you can drill down further. Click on Books, for example and you can look in self-help. You can see that people want to know about:

  • Being an introvert
  • Marriage help
  • Success tips
  • Nutrition
  • Spirituality

After you do a quick brainstorm and some fundamental research, you might have a very healthy, long list or a short one of about 5 niche markets you could possibly get into.

Next, it's time to cut more from your list. Don't be hesitant about cutting niches. They're always there if you ever want to branch out and add another income stream, but you have to start somewhere with one niche, so avoid combining them just because you don't want to give one up - keep in mind that it's only temporary.

#3 - Weed Out the Wrong Niches

Picking a good niche isn't something you do in 10 minutes in a flash. It's a process that you give time to if you're serious about building a highly profitable business because it's going to require dedication by you.

Let's look at some reasons who you would want to weed out a niche. Go through each niche idea you have and see if any of these reasons exist.

You can't commit to writing, talking and leading the niche day after day. Many newbies hear instructions about keyword volume and price points of available products to promote, so they pick a random niche they personally have zero interest in.

Imagine you're a man who loves golfing, but you pick the crochet niche because some guru pointed out something about keyword volume and product availability. It happens - and the poor golf lover not only doesn't know about crocheting, but he can't imagine writing about it every day. This is a recipe for failure.

Another reason is that there's not enough monetization opportunity. You want to investigate this. Ideally, you'll pick a niche that provides both tangible and digital items you can promote (or create).

Examples of this are:

  • Weight loss - not only can you promote diet and exercise digital plans, but also food and weight scales, workout equipment, supplements and more.
  • Stress relief - not only can you promote digital eBooks on how to combat stress, but you can sell products like aromatherapy machines and home spa products.

One more reason why you may want to cut a niche is if it's overly trendy. Sometimes something is such a fad that it's a waste of time trying to build an entire business around it.

It's much better to have an evergreen topic, like stress, than it is to build a whole site around a trend, like rubber band bracelets. That doesn't mean you can't create a page somewhere online to profit from trendy topics - like on "Squidoo" - but reserve your major efforts for topics that are going to last.

If it's too broad, you can either eliminate it or narrow it down and see what all you can come up with for it. For example, just tackling the "diet niche" can be overwhelming.

But you might want to build a site about:

  • Dieting over 40
  • Dieting post pregnancy
  • Dieting for diabetics... etc.

Once you whittle down the niches and feel confident that you could write about or lead in this topic for the long-term and that it can easily be monetized with products, you'll need to make a firm commitment to one (if you're left with more than one).

Don't beat yourself up if you don't pick the right niche the very first time. Even with the best research and intentions, sometimes we get into a niche and just don't feel it's right for us.

If this starts happening, make a decision to cut your losses and try again. Remember what it was that you didn't like about that niche and look for the opposite in your next one.

You have to maintain a fine balance between abandoning niches at the drop of a hat just because you're not making instant riches overnight, and wasting too much time chained to a niche that just isn't going to work for you.

Your next step is to build a blog. As a newbie, this is one of the easiest platforms to create and rank in search engines, and it's the perfect place to let your target audience get to know you as their new niche leader.

Do you want to know more about Internet Marketing? Check out http://EmailGlory.com today for helpful information

Article courtesy of Marik Singh

Monday, January 5, 2015

E-book Sales Surge Post-Holidays. The way forward looks promising. Stay tuned.

I've noticed a spike in my digital e-book sales. The spike began Christmas Day, Dec. 25th, 2014 -- likely as Kindle e-reader gifts were unwrapped by happy readers. These sales are actual "sales" -- not Kindle Unlimited borrows. KU borrows have drifted lower over the past 2 months, although it is nice to earn a few dollars allowing someone to read your book for free (note: traditional publishers would love to get even a few pennies each time a book was borrowed from public and private libraries).

But back to sales: I raised my Kindle book prices back up to $3.99, and I'm earning about $2.74 per sale. 100 sales = $274.00. 200 sales... well, you can do the math.

The neat thing to me is that this net revenue could very well continue on forever. As in the rest of my life. Yes, I may need to tweak my non-fiction books to keep them updated with current business conditions. But compared to other authors who lose shelf space in bricks-and-mortar bookstores after their initial sales fizzle, e-book revenue seems like it runs on auto-pilot.

I have 15 book projects lined up for 2015. 15 more in 2016. And 15 more in 2017. In 2018, my goal is to retire. For good. To live simply on book royalties plus my other retirement accounts. I will be 60 years old and able to wake up when I want to, do what I want to, and be who I want to!

Others may warn not to count my chickens before they hatch. But I'm convinced that we are entering a new age for writers, when authors and indie publishers will be able to sell directly to readers and profit from their own labors and keep the bulk of the money to boot.

No more dealing with gatekeepers, with agents, with archaic publisher reports sent out twice a year.

Authorpreneurs will rule. Writers will need to become businessmen and businesswomen who take control of their future. It will seem foolish to let go of the copyright to your intellectual property in years to come, just as it seems foolish to let go of your personal property now. Like your home, your savings, your investments and such, you as a writer will guard and protect the ideas that flow out of your brain via your fingertips just the same way as you now rent a secure storage unit to stand watch over your furniture, boxes of junk, and paper receipts you are afraid to get rid of now.

This year I will publish 15 non-fiction e-books and update/promote the 10 titles I've already published myself. Further, I have fiction ideas that I plan to get out of my mind and past my fingertips to publish online this year as well. Lots of projects. Lots of opportunities. Lots of challenges that will keep presenting themselves to test me and make me stronger.

Here is to a great year ahead in 2015, and a wish for you to make this your year of successful indie publishing as well!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Guest Post: How To Use Your Blog To Promote Your Book

Want to sell more of your books? This guest post by Nina Amir hits the nail right on the head when it comes to promoting your self-published books online: old-school blogs (like mine!) can help you create awareness and interest in your books, and do indeed help your books get noticed online. This is good, simple advice any indie self-published author can follow right away.

20 Things an Author Can Blog About
By Nina Amir


Authors constantly ask me what they can blog about. They have a book-fiction or non-fiction-and they want to know how to use their blog to promote it. However, they have to keep blogging on a daily or weekly basis. They need content regularly, and they don't know what to write about.

Blogs provide a great way to promote both fiction and nonfiction books. If they are hosted on your blog--not a free blog--they drive traffic to your website. This means more people may purchase your book.

Also, frequent blog posts increase your "findability" by search engines like Google. This means your search engine ranking increases, which makes it easier for people searching for the topic of your book on the Internet to find you. The more you post on your topic, the higher up your website or blog will go on the search pages; instead of being buried on page 20, you eventually will come up in the top 10, which means anyone looking for information on your topic can find your blog, your website and your book.

Yet, the challenge to come up with content related to your book remains. Here's a list of 20 blog post idea for both fiction and nonfiction writers. It should give you plenty of ideas:

If you write fiction, you can blog about:

  • How you decided on your characters.
  • How you decided on your setting.
  • If you book contains any personal elements.
  • Your writing practice-how you write.
  • Recipes related to the place where your book takes place (ex. Italian foods).
  • Information on the location where you book takes place (ex. France in the 18th century).
  • Issues related to those in your book or with which your characters are concerned (ex. divorce, suicide, sex, suicide).
  • The benefits your book offers readers (ex. If your book illustrates that parents don't have to be perfect, discuss what it means to be a perfect parent or offer tips and tools).
  • Certain passages in the book.
  • The publishing process.

If you write nonfiction, you can blog about:

  • Tips related to your topic.
  • News related to your topic.
  • Trends related to your topic.
  • New research related to your topic.
  • Your writing practice-how you write.
  • The publishing process.
  • The benefits your book offers readers.
  • Your personal experience with this topic.
  • Elaborations on sections, quotes or parts of your book.
  • New personal teachings, insights or exercises related to your topic.

By using these 20 ideas for blog posts, you'll have lots to write about. Hopefully they'll inspire other ideas fo rmore posts as well.

Nina Amir, Your Inspiration-to-Creation Coach, inspires writers to create the results they desire-published products and careers as writers and authors. Find out about her blog coaching here: Write a Better Blog Post. Get a free report, What's an Author's Platform & How do I Build One? here.
Article post courtesy of: Nina Amir

Thursday, December 11, 2014

KBoards Contributor Serves Up Links To Help Indie Publishers Create, Edit, Format & Market Books

On a recent tour of KBoards.com, I noticed a very helpful post by contributor Christiana Miller on the boards which provides a plethora of links to websites ready to assist the indie publisher and self-published author sell more Kindle Books. Great list that you should bookmark and re-visit often. You can check out that list here:
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,149935.0.html

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Crafting Non-Fiction E-Books Is Simple When You Develop Your Own Personal System

Writing self-help non-fiction ebooks is a process. Writing how-to non-fiction ebooks is a process. Unlike fiction, short non-fiction Kindle Books requires you to take what you know, mash it into a format that readers can follow, and deliver information in bite-size chunks that helps any reader accomplish what they want to do.

Fiction depends on a whole host of elements -- dialogue, plot twists, characterization, pacing -- that non-fiction chucks overboard in favor of delivering simple instructions.

It's important to create your own system when you start creating ebooks for sale online. You have to develop a road map for yourself so you know where you're starting and know when your arrive so you'll know when to stop writing. The road map tells you when you're lost. It should help you get back on track.
I still use an old-school system that includes notes on white index cards taped to the credenza of my writing desk, manila file folders to gather up scraps of notepapers and copies of articles, magazine clippings, jotted down title ideas, even notebooks full of lists.

Your systems should be... whatever works for you.

You can try out other systems other writes have used, systems that successful indie publishers have found successful. But in the end, the system you adopt, the system you rely on, needs to be one that works for you. A system that supports you.

If you prefer to staying completely digital and never writing down an idea or an outline or a 'To Do' list on paper, good for you; do that. Do that and keep doing that. It keeps all your notes in easy format to copy and paste into your final product, whereas I need to re-type and revise my original work.
But, see, that's what works for me.

The downside of my system, though, is that I can squirrel-away ideas and projects into those manila file folders and get sidetracked by another hot project without taking the time or applying the discipline to finish that first project. I see those file folders lined up on my desk right now as I type this. They are staring at me, wondering when they get their turn to be finished. I feel like draping a cloth over them to hide their sad faces from me.

So, as you can see, my system is not perfect. But for the most part, it works for me to write, edit and publish my own series of ebooks in the Kindle Store.

Yes, I said "write." Instead, my feeling is that Kindle Books are actually "crafted" these days. And that's not a slam against the process; that a fact. You need to be able to take an idea, test it to see if it will have legs and will have a market, then dig down deep for the information.

You need to collect that information, arrange it into a cogent whole. You need to whittle it down or expand it, depending on what you need the final product to look like. Whittling is a craft. Often it's a hobby that takes up time to keep you busy. That is not what "crafting" ebooks should be. You indie publishing efforts should be a labor of love that allows you to make money doing what you love.

Are you fine with the system you are using today? If not, change it. If you don't know which new one to adopt, get busy finding one. Read. Research. Ask. Try out new systems and keep the parts that help you, throw away the parts that don't. Stay focused on finding the path that leads you where you want to go. And then follow that path.