OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
Stephen Windwalker's Kindle Nation Daily blog connects authors to readers and is an invaluable resource for the indie community. I used the sponsorship for Pentecost in early Feb and made it to #4 in Religious Fiction, #1 on movers and shakers, #93 in thrillers
Stephen Windwalker is the author of 27 fiction and non-fiction books as well as running the Kindle Nation Daily blog and he's an expert in all things Kindle related.
- How Stephen's career progressed from being an undergraduate with Vonnegut, to community organization and then running a bookstore for a long time. Then into running the book, video and software for Inc Magazine which got taken over by Random House, so he ran a small publishing imprint for a large media organisation. He self-published some of his own books with Harvard Perspectives Press. Stephen saw Jeff Bezos on the TV in 2007 when the Kindle was launched and he realized that it had the potential to remove the intermediaries in the process. It would empower readers and authors. Immediately, he wrote a book on how to use the Kindle for the Kindle and it remained #1 on the Kindle store for along time. After selling the book so well, Stephen realized he had a platform. So it became a mailing list, then a newsletter, then a blog – which has turned into Kindle Nation Daily blog.
- Stephen saw the Kindle coming and embraced it on launch, unlike many in the publishing industry. He talks about how the last 6 months have been very exciting with the huge sales some authors have made. But many others are making a living, they may not be spectacular sales or press-worthy but authors are doing well with this. Authors can connect with more readers and sell more books for lower prices and still make more money than they did with traditional publishing. The stars in the firmament are currently reorganizing, the industry is changing and the relationships between them all are changing. The most important thing is that readers are empowered – they can decide what price they want to pay, they can demand an ebook and not buy hardback so the publishers are being affected by this change in behavior.
- On ebook pricing and the 99c discussion. Stephen has been proven wrong as he had previously said that with the 70% royalties at $2.99 and above, no one would go any lower. But clearly authors are making money at 99c and selling at least 6x as many books at the lower price. Authors who have changed their price to 99c have leaped up the charts, so it's hard to decide. The people who are doing the best are authors who have a brand and a lot of books to sell, many at different price points. The first in the series at 99cents hooks people in for the rest of the books which can be priced at $2.99 or more. On “the race to the bottom” – pricing a book at 99c and making thousands of dollars on it is not a race to the bottom. The price is NOT 99c – it's 99c x the number of books you sell.
- In the Kindle world, there is no scarcity in terms of books or readers. The market is growing. You won't over-penetrate the market.
- There's a mindset for authors which is understandable when you work on a book for a long time. You want a publishing contract, you want it to be sold for a decent price. You don't want to be diminished in value. But the importance of something and it's value is Price x No. of people who buy it. What will validate authors is connecting with as many readers as possible. If they can sell 10 x the amount at 99c as they can at $2.99, then why not?
- Reviews are important so the quality of the book is critical – the wisdom of the crowd. But also important is a high impact cover, good quality formatting, linked table of contents and a good title. Genre is also important. Some are clearly more saleable and some genres are easier to stand out in (enough vampires already!)
- Kindle Nation Daily is available for authors to connect with readers. There are posts about books, bargain books, free excerpts etc as well as posts on how to use the Kindle. Authors can use one of the several sponsorship models available. (I used it for Pentecost and was really happy with the results!)
- We talk about where else readers hang out and Stephen recommends BookLending.com