to Kindle or Not to Kindle...the Q That Tries Men's Souls

WHY 1 Kindle Title Goes Ballistic, Another Goes Blippo –

An academic delving into the inner workings of a typical Kindle Reader’s mind & how to please it…

by Robert W. Walker

I often hear this same question repeated on chat groups and blog commentaries again and again. Why is it one title on the Kindle virtual bookshelf flies off the shelves while another sits there like a stone. Being academically inclined as the professor that I am, I went seeking answers to this question. In point of fact, I wanted to know myself the secret to success as a Kindle Author. The result was a highly recommended lists of Do’s and Don’ts.

In fact, the #1 answer you seek is in the low-low pricing for; it cannot be too low for Kindle readers; they really like FREE books, so go figure LOW. Getting into five and six bucks is HIGH. Almost all of mine are priced at 1.99 or 2.99 but when selling a thousand in a month as I did last month, this is good news that my books are set at low low low prices. It may on the surface appear counter intuitive to slice your price so deeply, but with a book at seven and eight dollars—the same book—it will not MOVE. You might sell one, two, even three books in a given month at this price, maybe. I speak from experience of having several kindle titles with price controlled via the publisher and they have sold a whopping NOTHING. So in essence, gaining a thousand new readers and making a killing at the low pricing is working out just fine as a new business model for this author.

SECONDLY and I cannot stress this enough - title sells; cover art sells. I work on my titles and I gain professional help with my cover art.

THIRDLY - blurbs and reviews do indeed help sell books, despite anything you have heard to the contrary. But just as important on an ebook from an unknown or mid-list author is something you can control a hundred percent which brings us to our fourth truth:

FOURTHLY -- your book's description. Write it as your pitch, write it as you would want to see on the back of your paperback or hardcover backflap. Write it so that the reader gets it FAST but gets it all -- the five Ws as in Who it is about, What it is about, the main premise, Where it takes place (setting) and When (time) and Why it's so cool and maybe how if it fits in there. In brief sell it as you would pitch it to an agent or editor but do so to the reader. Read some successful high selling books' descripts and after reading enough, you will see what I am talkin’ about. In the end, it is the most important short-short you will ever write, the story about your story. It needs be written with your copywriter’s ad-man hat on.

FIFTHLY - there can be no missteps or misspellings or grammatical issues in your descript.

SIXTHLY - you must check the formatting after the html conversion and look over your entire book to be certain the reformatting has not thrown in a lot of WingNut stuff. People who buy and read and run into this kind of problem in the midst of the story really hate it.

SEVENTHLY – I swear to high-heaven that my Series titles are doing three times the business, maybe four times the business of stand-alone-titles. If you are putting up your FIRST book and you plan a sequel, by ALL means get that fact into your description; if it is a series already and you have more than one up do as I do and artfully number them as part of the cover art – Book 1,2, 3, 4, etc. I had it done as a vertical banner on the cover. I have become convinced when I set up my Children of Salem as a 3 volumes in one deal that this is why that book took off as it was seen as a kind of series, and my 11-book Instinct Series has out-distanced every other of my series. I have to believe there is a connection there. Kindle readers love series, especially enjoy getting hooked on an ensemble cast and wanting to see more of your main hero or heroine.

Finally - another thing you can control - bring the book to the attention of others on FB, Twitter, your blogs, website, chat groups.....get familiar with and the Kindle Amazon. boards. Seek out eZines interested in eBook news, etc.

This is what I've been doing along with blogging on a book in progresss that is going straight to kindle when done....a play by into the masochism of allowing followers to read sections as they come off.

Meanwhile, I talk about the other titles up at kindle NOW.

Tease, tease, tease. Which can be done in a humorous, fun way on facebook for instance where I have run contests. You can take a concern of the novel, a secondary thread perhaps, as highlight it on a social network and ask folks there if they have given much thought to this as it comes up in your Kindle novel or book. Perhaps the one with the liveliest response can win a free copy of a previous book or the one you are promoting.

rob walker
"Dead On takes the reader's capacity for the imagination of horror to stomach turning depths, and then gives it more twists than a Georgia backroad that paves an Indian trail." - Nash Black

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Comment by robert walker on June 28, 2010 at 10:34am
I tell you true, after 30 yrs of beating my brains out, this is the ONLY way to fly for this boy.
Comment by I. J. Parker on June 28, 2010 at 9:08am
Yes, thanks, Robert. This is very helpful, and congratulations on your sucesses!
Comment by Jon Loomis on June 28, 2010 at 1:13am
This is interesting stuff, thanks Robert. I'm thinking about doing a quickie, Kindle-only pseudonymous series--not sure what form it would take, but if either of the Republican candidates get elected governor here in the fall it's going to be a disaster for state employees like yours truly. Best better have a fallback plan.

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