Sunday, February 8, 2015

Adventures in Self-Publishing - Amazon KDP Tips

Some random Amazon tips:

Open an Author Central account at, using the same account as KDP.  There are options to upload a picture, videos, link up your twitter account, put up a bio, etc.  If you don't want to do all those things you don't have to, but you do want to do this: Go to "Books" and click on "Add More Books", then add your books.  You can use as many pen names as you want and they'll be organized by a dropdown in the menu. UPDATE: Author Central (though not KDP Select) tops out at 3 pen names, but you can open a second Author Central account, even using the same email address.  Contact support if you need more than 3 pen names n Author Central.

You want to do this so if someone says, "I liked this book, I want to buy another book by the same author", they can click on your name in a product page and it will show all of your titles, leaving out the noise of similarly named authors.  I'm going to pick on somebody here: John Russo, though it's probably the fault of his publishers.

If you search for John Russo, a lot of stuff comes up, some of it not by the coauthor of Night of the Living Dead.  If I click on his name, depending on which title I started with, I go to one of at least three Author Central accounts for him.  Most of his books aren't attached to any accounts.  There is no single place that lists all of his books and just his books.

It takes like a minute to open a basic Author Central account and organize your books.  Do it.

Another tip with Author Central is that if you update your product description here instead of the KDP submission page it updates in less than an hour rather than a day or more.  Keep in mind that if you later use the KDP page to resubmit something (to change the cover, for instance), it will prefill the description box with the last one you used at KDP, not the most current one from Author Central.

You can also use Author Central to add "From the author" and reviews to your product description.  Don't look at the Sales Info.  That stuff is just to fluff or demolish your ego.  If you want to keep stats, look at actual sales from your KDP dashboard, not your rank.  I don't care how many authors sell better or worse than me, I just want to know how many I'm selling.

To illustrate how meaningless this stuff is, let's look at one of the greatest books ever written: Victim City Stories Issue 1.  According to my Author Central stats, it hovers around the 10,000 spot in the overall bestseller list, out of 1.4 million books.  It's well within the top 1% of all books ever written, sitting alongside the Bible and William Shakespeare.  It's made $3.  Even if the free issues were actual sales, I'd still make more money working a couple hours at McDonalds a day.

You may decide to temporarily lower the price of a book below $2.99, forcing you to pick the 35% royalty option.  If you bring the price back up, remember to change it back to 70%.

Don't, don't, don't have more than one Amazon account for things like affiliates, Author Central, and KDP.  If you have a second Amazon account as a customer, don't try to be sneaky and use your affiliate links  - it won't work.  If you have more than one KDP account, you will get banned.  Amazon has excellent support for multiple pen names, so you don't really need more than one account.

If you want to have your book set at permafree, here's the method that worked for me (thanks to Nathalie Ayni):
  • You can't be in KDP select for this method, as you will need to set your books at free at Kobo, iTunes, and Barnes & Noble
  • From the KDP website, go to "Contact Us", click "Pricing & Royalties", then click "Other".  DON'T click "Price Matching"
  • Say something like "My book, Bred by the Billionaire Werewolf Biker [Amazon link] is available for free at other retailers.  I would like to have it available for free here at Amazon", then provide links to your book at the other websites.
  • KDP has two canned responses.  One is "We could, but we're not going to", which is what people get if you ask under "Price Matching".  The other is "OK, go confirm it".  The responses are word-for-word the same for various people, so there must be a semi-automated system.  For whatever reason, if you make the request under "Other", it gets to people that actually do it.
  • If it doesn't work, wait a week or so and try again.  It might just depend on the person you get
  • Note that the old price will still show up on your KDP dashboard, and it may or may not be free for other Amazon territories.
There are other methods, but they never worked for me.  This worked in under 12 hours.

Kindle returns: Customers can "return" a Kindle book within 7 days.  This causes some consternation to some folks, as maybe the customer is being cheap and getting their money back, or they download it just long enough to strip the DRM and pirate it, but I wouldn't get too worked up.   I'm a lot more charitable.  Since the introduction of Kindle Unlimited, you see the word "FREE" a whole lot.  Combine this with Amazon's hair-trigger "one click" system, the fact that things like reward points and some gift cards can't be used on Kindle books, their awful mobile app, and folks with big thumbs - I can see someone either accidentally ordering a book, or ordering a book that charged real money when they thought it wouldn't.

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