Author Topic: ways to be less Amazon dependent  (Read 6917 times)  

Offline Seneca42

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #75 on: January 13, 2018, 07:41:17 AM »
I did a bar napkin comparison of the two stores a while back and I may be off a bit, but I think Amazon sells 40 times more books per year than Kobo. So the numbers won't come close between the two when comparing them, but that said, it is frustrating to ever feel like you are getting somewhere with Kobo. I do like how Kobo readers pay more on the next in series books than Amazon readers. I just wish more readers used Kobo. I think writers outside the U.S. might be doing better with them than I do being here in the states.

Ya kobo is strong in Canada, Australia, UK, and a bit in europe. They are abysmal in the US. They need a partner (like walmart) to push their devices into people's hands (and let people know they even exist).

What's frustrating is that the competitors actively seem to not want to upset amazon. I mean, marketing 101, there are TONS of people in the world who HATE amazon. They should be promoting themselves as a company that "cares about books"... because that's where zon's achilles heel is... they are the big, faceless, 2,000 pound gorilla that doesn't care about anything other than taking over the world  :P

They should be doing all kinds of promos with the TP's as well, who have a vested interest in diminishing zon's control of the market.

But everyone seems to be sitting on their hands. I'm sure there are good reasons for that (most likely resources and finances), but unless they do something they are simply handing hte market to zon.

 

Offline My Dog's Servant

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #76 on: January 13, 2018, 08:38:35 AM »
Twisted Tales....thank you for that thoughtful analysis. I've been slowly filling a notebook with my thoughts on all these issues, trying to see where my books fit in an ever changing market and what I'm currently able to act on, especially now that I'm in the process of moving back wide. But I'm still struggling to bring it all into a coherent, actionable plan and this was very helpful.

Offline Arches

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #77 on: January 13, 2018, 10:00:42 AM »


What's frustrating is that the competitors actively seem to not want to upset amazon. I mean, marketing 101, there are TONS of people in the world who HATE amazon. They should be promoting themselves as a company that "cares about books"... because that's where zon's achilles heel is... they are the big, faceless, 2,000 pound gorilla that doesn't care about anything other than taking over the world  :P


It's not that any competitor is worried about upsetting Amazon. The self-publishing market is not worth the effort it would take a competitor to win away market share from Amazon. Authors can waste a lot of time developing alternative business models that make no sense because they don't have the marketing muscle Amazon has. Almost nobody is going to buy from your website, no matter how you configure your payment options. It's a waste of time.

The only viable non-Amazon marketing approach is what David VanDyke mentioned at the top of the thread, namely an aggressive effort to market through existing online outlets. The problem is the biggest non-Amazon entity is Apple, and they could hardly care less about selling books. The next biggest is Google, and they care so little that a new author can't even get an account without going through a third party. B&N has been extremely successful in destroying what was once a viable online bookstore. That leaves self-pub authors with Kobo as the only non-Amazon outlet which actually cares about ebooks. Unfortunately, they have almost no presence in the good ol' USA.

Like it or not, most self-pub fiction authors are stuck with Amazon as their most likely largest outlet. Yeah, it sucks to be so dependent on one company to sell ebooks, but the basic problem is that we have a niche product very few businesses actually want to sell. That's just business.

Offline IoneKeeling

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #78 on: January 13, 2018, 11:08:19 AM »
...The next biggest is Google, and they care so little that a new author can't even get an account without going through a third party. ...

First, "next biggest" is relative to authors. My next biggest most months after Amazon is B&N and that may be true for most romance writers. Apple is difficult to search on and IS device dependent. I can have a nook app on my ipad, my iphone, my android tablet and I am willing to bet that the only reason there is not a nook app for the kindle fire is because Barnes and Noble won't put one up. iBooks app will only be on iDevices.

The reason you need 3d party for Google (and you don't, you just reach out to support and make your case for going direct, show them your existing catalog and show you are legit elsewhere) is because a bunch of plagiarism/copyright infringement was taking place because you get paid just a few days after the end of the month, so scammers were getting paid before they got caught, unlike with attempted copyright infringements. That's why Google did a ban for new accounts. But, again, hearing that people are starting to get on direct again, they just have to make more of an effort.

ETA - for anyone reading this without a google direct account and interested in going direct, it's only going to cost you a few minutes to email books-support@google.com and ask them if you can speak to an author liaison or similar about getting your books on google play. Include links to your author pages elsewhere.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2018, 11:12:29 AM by IoneKeeling »

Offline Rosie A.

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #79 on: January 13, 2018, 11:12:04 AM »
I have never sold a book through Kobo. As of total, I havr given away 67 copies of my books. I'm also American, so I wonder if that has anything to do with it. Sucks. I'm almost of a mind to pull all my books from there but I keep hanging on. I've been wide since October and not a sinle book sold? It's issues like this that hold us back. Personally, I have no desire to pay for an in house Kobo promotion if my books aren't going to do well anyway.

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Offline evdarcy

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #80 on: January 13, 2018, 11:54:27 AM »
I have never sold a book through Kobo. As of total, I havr given away 67 copies of my books. I'm also American, so I wonder if that has anything to do with it. Sucks. I'm almost of a mind to pull all my books from there but I keep hanging on. I've been wide since October and not a sinle book sold? It's issues like this that hold us back. Personally, I have no desire to pay for an in house Kobo promotion if my books aren't going to do well anyway.

I only had one sale on them for sooooo long and then Bookbub... There was then a fair... well a lot. :) I'm now averaging less than 1 book a day there (so at least one every two days) after that fact with no more advertising.  I keep trying to bag one of their promos but so far to no avail.  I really wish I could get more traction with them as I'm aiming for markets outside the US with this series.

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Offline notjohn

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #81 on: January 13, 2018, 12:46:43 PM »
The reason you need 3d party for Google (and you don't, you just reach out to support and make your case for going direct, show them your existing catalog and show you are legit elsewhere) is because a bunch of plagiarism/copyright infringement was taking place because you get paid just a few days after the end of the month, so scammers were getting paid before they got caught, unlike with attempted copyright infringements. That's why Google did a ban for new accounts. But, again, hearing that people are starting to get on direct again, they just have to make more of an effort.

ETA - for anyone reading this without a google direct account and interested in going direct, it's only going to cost you a few minutes to email books-support@google.com and ask them if you can speak to an author liaison or similar about getting your books on google play. Include links to your author pages elsewhere.

That's interesting, thanks! I wish I'd known it a month ago while revising my Guide.
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Offline Sati_LRR

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #82 on: January 13, 2018, 02:36:03 PM »
Does anyone know if Payhip have stopped showing the real name of the Paypal seller to buyers during the payment phase?

Offline HSh

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #83 on: January 13, 2018, 02:55:09 PM »
Does anyone know if Payhip have stopped showing the real name of the Paypal seller to buyers during the payment phase?


You have to upgrade your Paypal account.

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Offline RobMartin

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #84 on: January 13, 2018, 03:31:30 PM »
First, "next biggest" is relative to authors. My next biggest most months after Amazon is B&N and that may be true for most romance writers. Apple is difficult to search on and IS device dependent. I can have a nook app on my ipad, my iphone, my android tablet and I am willing to bet that the only reason there is not a nook app for the kindle fire is because Barnes and Noble won't put one up. iBooks app will only be on iDevices.

The reason you need 3d party for Google (and you don't, you just reach out to support and make your case for going direct, show them your existing catalog and show you are legit elsewhere) is because a bunch of plagiarism/copyright infringement was taking place because you get paid just a few days after the end of the month, so scammers were getting paid before they got caught, unlike with attempted copyright infringements. That's why Google did a ban for new accounts. But, again, hearing that people are starting to get on direct again, they just have to make more of an effort.

ETA - for anyone reading this without a google direct account and interested in going direct, it's only going to cost you a few minutes to email books-support@google.com and ask them if you can speak to an author liaison or similar about getting your books on google play. Include links to your author pages elsewhere.
Google is currently accepting applications for new accounts. I haven't published yet, but I applied and got an acceptance email about 2 weeks later.

Offline Sati_LRR

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #85 on: January 13, 2018, 03:38:08 PM »

You have to upgrade your Paypal account.
I have a paypal Business account. But that hasn't stopped paypal from showing my real name, even though I have a business account with a business bank and card (with only my business name) attached to it. So I want to make sure payhip isn't going to show that.

Offline IoneKeeling

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #86 on: January 13, 2018, 04:20:27 PM »
Google is currently accepting applications for new accounts. I haven't published yet, but I applied and got an acceptance email about 2 weeks later.

What email did you apply to? Was it books-support@google.com?

Offline RobMartin

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #87 on: January 13, 2018, 04:42:33 PM »
What email did you apply to? Was it books-support@google.com?
Went to their site https://play.google.com/books/publish/ and filled out the application. Took a couple of minutes, then they said they'd get in touch. Two weeks and I get an email.

Offline Ellie Lynn

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #88 on: January 13, 2018, 04:56:11 PM »
I only had one sale on them for sooooo long and then Bookbub... There was then a fair... well a lot. :) I'm now averaging less than 1 book a day there (so at least one every two days) after that fact with no more advertising.  I keep trying to bag one of their promos but so far to no avail.  I really wish I could get more traction with them as I'm aiming for markets outside the US with this series.

Kobo is my best market. I easily sell twice what I do at Amazon, sometimes 3 or 4 times more. And I truly love the promotions tab, but the pricing page makes it so easy to run a promotion in a specific country, which is something I like doing from time to time.
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Offline HSh

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #89 on: January 13, 2018, 06:26:03 PM »
I have a paypal Business account. But that hasn't stopped paypal from showing my real name, even though I have a business account with a business bank and card (with only my business name) attached to it. So I want to make sure payhip isn't going to show that.


Only way to know for sure is get a friend to buy something from your Payhip and then send you a screenshot of the information they receive (after you're using a business acct).  Payhip told me the business acct would be enough but I didn't believe it will I got someone to help me test it. 

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Offline Marty South

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #90 on: January 13, 2018, 06:58:05 PM »
And I truly love the promotions tab...

I didn't know there was a promotions tab. Just in case I'm not the last one to know about this, apparently you just have to ask:
https://kobowritinglife.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/115007245647-Dashboard-Promotions-Tab

Offline Elizabeth Barone

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #91 on: January 13, 2018, 09:02:27 PM »
It's not that any competitor is worried about upsetting Amazon. The self-publishing market is not worth the effort it would take a competitor to win away market share from Amazon. Authors can waste a lot of time developing alternative business models that make no sense because they don't have the marketing muscle Amazon has. Almost nobody is going to buy from your website, no matter how you configure your payment options. It's a waste of time.

The only viable non-Amazon marketing approach is what David VanDyke mentioned at the top of the thread, namely an aggressive effort to market through existing online outlets. The problem is the biggest non-Amazon entity is Apple, and they could hardly care less about selling books. The next biggest is Google, and they care so little that a new author can't even get an account without going through a third party. B&N has been extremely successful in destroying what was once a viable online bookstore. That leaves self-pub authors with Kobo as the only non-Amazon outlet which actually cares about ebooks. Unfortunately, they have almost no presence in the good ol' USA.

Like it or not, most self-pub fiction authors are stuck with Amazon as their most likely largest outlet. Yeah, it sucks to be so dependent on one company to sell ebooks, but the basic problem is that we have a niche product very few businesses actually want to sell. That's just business.

Emphasis my own...

The solution, to me anyway, is to focus on selling outside the US. We can't control whether Kobo moves into the American market, but we can control whether we penetrate non-US markets. The first step to doing that is making sure you're there. You can't sell anything on Kobo or the other non-Amazon stores if you're constantly yanking your titles to go back into KU; it typically takes six months to gain traction in those stores. (I think I said this up-thread, but it got lost amidst all the Payhip stuff.)

More and more ebook markets are opening every day in non-US countries. Make sure you're there. Make sure your pricing is something the market can tolerate; do your research. A lot of the suggested pricing is completely off. Kobo and KDP, for example, suggest I price a $3.99 ebook at 250 rupees, which is the typical cost of a paperback in India! Instead, I've priced it at 70 rupees, and that still may be too high. Joanna Penn talked on her podcast about paperback prices in Indian bookstores and how that completely changed how she was pricing her ebooks in rupees. (She prices her ebooks at 49 rupees and paperbacks at 399).

I also think getting offline is key. If you can build up support in your IRL community by doing signings, library events, festivals, etc, you can build a solid foundation that'll spill over online. I think we too often forget that there's a physical world out there. One of my goals for 2018 is being more present in my community. I want to be their token, beloved author -- especially since I set my books primarily in my little town! But they won't know I exist unless I get out there. Same goes for iBooks, etc. <3

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Offline Herc- The Reluctant Geek

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #92 on: January 13, 2018, 09:54:29 PM »
I've been out of the loop for a while now so haven't got may recent sales figures to go on, but Amazon has only ever been about 50% of my total sales. While it could be because most of what I sell is non-fiction (ie study guides), I always got the impression that while Amazon is the biggest fish in the pond, it's not the only fish.

People are starting to read on other devices now, and the upcoming generation will have no bias against reading on screen like most of those 30+ have. They don't care what a book smells like, or how the paper feels. They just wanna read a book and don't care whether it's paper or pixels.

The Kindle is declining as the primary device people use for reading, I think (although haven't got the stats to back it up), which means that authors will start to find success on other platforms. I can't see why someone cannot sell from their website with payhip/bookfunnel and do quite well. Especially if they advertise effectively. 


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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #93 on: January 14, 2018, 02:19:22 AM »
Joanna Penn talked on her podcast about paperback prices in Indian bookstores and how that completely changed how she was pricing her ebooks in rupees. (She prices her ebooks at 49 rupees and paperbacks at 399).

This is really useful information. Can you remember which episode it was?

Offline IoneKeeling

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #94 on: January 14, 2018, 06:43:09 AM »
This is really useful information. Can you remember which episode it was?

May not have been this one (it's from 2016) but https://www.thecreativepenn.com/tag/india/

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #95 on: January 14, 2018, 07:22:10 AM »
May not have been this one (it's from 2016) but https://www.thecreativepenn.com/tag/india/

Thanks, I'll check it out.

Online BillyDeCarlo

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #96 on: January 14, 2018, 07:22:41 AM »
I took everything wide, now on Amazon and Google direct and everything else on Draft2Digital. My ads for the non-Amazon sites are getting lots of clicks, but I'm only seeing sales on Amazon's site. I only did this yesterday morning, so does anyone know what the lag time is for sales to show up on the Google and D2D reports pages? I'm surprised at the number of clicks on Google Play Books, but doing well also on Apple, B&N, Kobo.
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Offline My Dog's Servant

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #97 on: January 14, 2018, 08:13:41 AM »
I took everything wide, now on Amazon and Google direct and everything else on Draft2Digital. My ads for the non-Amazon sites are getting lots of clicks, but I'm only seeing sales on Amazon's site. I only did this yesterday morning, so does anyone know what the lag time is for sales to show up on the Google and D2D reports pages? I'm surprised at the number of clicks on Google Play Books, but doing well also on Apple, B&N, Kobo.

What kind of ads? Facebook?

Offline Elizabeth Barone

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #98 on: January 14, 2018, 09:07:13 AM »
This is really useful information. Can you remember which episode it was?

May not have been this one (it's from 2016) but https://www.thecreativepenn.com/tag/india/

It wasn't that one, but I'm sure it'll still be useful. She often discusses bits like this during her intro; she's discussed pricing in non-US markets a couple of times. I distinctly remember her discussing pricing again more recently, saying that she prices her ebooks at $4.99 USD, but 2.99 GB, for example. I scribbled it on my whiteboard while listening last month, but didn't write down the episode number. ;^^

I took everything wide, now on Amazon and Google direct and everything else on Draft2Digital. My ads for the non-Amazon sites are getting lots of clicks, but I'm only seeing sales on Amazon's site. I only did this yesterday morning, so does anyone know what the lag time is for sales to show up on the Google and D2D reports pages? I'm surprised at the number of clicks on Google Play Books, but doing well also on Apple, B&N, Kobo.

Do you mean that you just published everything wide and started an ad? Sales in general can take a while to trickle in -- up to six months for things to really get moving. It's the opposite of Amazon, which gives you a kickstart on release but peters out around 30, 60, or 90 days; the other stores take a while but eventually become fairly regular.

Reports for Google usually lag a couple of days. I believe D2D is instant, but I could be wrong; I haven't sold anything there in ages (I'm just using it for Playster now). iBooks lags by 24 hours, and Kobo sales are reported immediately.

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #99 on: January 14, 2018, 09:12:26 AM »
Great stuff here, guys! I'm soaking it all up...I hope. :o
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