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is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date.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
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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
You can find Stephen at KindleNationDaily.com and on Facebook/KindleNationDaily where there are lots of promotions.
Tony Eldridge says
Joanna and Steven, thanks for this podcast. I am a new fan of Steven and Joanna is someone I respect immensely. As I re-evaluate my Kindle marketing plan, you both have given me some great nuggets to consider. I have a new novel coming out in a few weeks and I will implement much of the advice you talk about in this interview. Thanks for sharing.
Elle B | Later Bloomer says
I love the idea of Kindle as a “no scarcity” model and completely agree! Thanks for introducing me to Kindle Nation Daily.
As a Kindle user I always like seeing blogs that understand that the Kindle is not The End of The World. I hear that so often and sometimes people try to make you feel guilty for using a Kindle.
I’m at the point where I refuse to buy a book if it’s not an e-book. That may sound ludicrous but I lack storage. Publishers need to quit shuffling their feet and get books onto kindle ASAP. I’m willing to wait a little bit after hardcover (not preferable, but I live). A book that I really enjoyed, Princess for Hire, that I got from the library just came out on Kindle for the first time at ALMOST the same time the sequel came out. That’s ridiculous. And who knows when they’ll get around to putting the second book on the Kindle. (This is no offense to Lindsey who is AWESOME & her books are awesome. I’m just sad that I cannot give her my money already)
The resistance around the Kindle really irritates me at times. I have money and I’m wanting to spend it.
I’ll go check out the website!
Mary Tod says
The phrase that grabbed my attention is “[w]hat will validate authors is connecting with as many readers as possible”. A sudden eureka for me, at least, in the ongoing muddle of traditional versus self-publishing. And it’s consistent with models like the long tail (Chris Anderson) and the notion of widening the funnel between writers and readers. Thanks Steven and Joanna. And now I’m off to check out Kindle Nation Daily!
Thanks Joanna for introducing me to Steven and Kindle Nation Daily. I definitely hope to do a sponsorhip on Kindle Nation Daily to get some exposure for my upcoming book.
I totally agree with Cassi’s comment that it would be great if all publishers offered a kindle version ebook (and at an economic price). I am a minimalist at heart and would love to simplify my home decor by keeping only ebooks and not have to haul my paper-books around when I move from one place to another. Although my collection of paper books is not that huge, it would make it much easier for me to give them away if I had the peace of knowing that I still have an ebook if I ever felt the need to read them again.
I had a slight dilemma on pricing my non-fiction e-book. Initially I thought that pricing the book too low may devalue the book in the eyes of the reader. But after reading this article and a few others, looks like the best price for a first book is still 99c to attract maximum readership. So I think I will start with 99c and see how it goes, and perhaps experiment with the prices later. (Although it may still be too low for a non-fiction?)
Good luck with the move to your new place in England! Are you pretty much wrapped up from Australia for good then? You must be exhausted, so take rest.
Lindsay B. says
Good interview and lots of useful information. I ran a couple of KND sponsorships and never made back the cost of the ad, despite having books with good reviews and low prices. I don’t regret buying the sponsorships, but I probably won’t again, just because it’s such a general audience. Unfortunately, if you’re selling something niche like high fantasy or science fiction, you need to find out where those specific audiences hang out.
My best promotional tactic was giving away a free ebook and getting it into Barnes & Noble (through Smashwords). I’m crossing my fingers that I can get one in Amazon eventually!
Anyway, wandered off on a tangent there. 🙂