Episode 109 – Editing Costs, Amazon Advantage, and Branded Content (with Chris Fox)

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Question of the Week: Are you going to shell out $99 a year to join the Amazon Advantage program? Why or why not?

With a little help from their five intern candidates, Bryan and Jim took on a massive news week in the world of self-publishing. After thanking their new patron Nora Femenia (and her book The Silent Marriage http://bit.ly/silmarr ) Chris Fox dropped by the show to discuss the results of his 21-Day Novel Writing Challenge. Chris and the guys discussed tips on book marketing examples, the costs of editing, and productivity heat maps. The temporary trio examined 7 big stories, including Kobo’s expansion to Turkey, backwards copyright law proposals, trad pub algorithms, podcast TV adaptations, branded content on Facebook, Wattpad’s new entertainment endeavor, and the Amazon Advantage program. This week’s Question of the Week: Are you going to shell out $99 a year to join the Amazon Advantage program? Why or why not?
What You’ll Learn:
  • The results of Chris Fox’s 21-Day Novel Writing Challenge
  • How to see 180+ real-life examples of strong marketing
  • How much you can expect to pay for developmental editing
  • Why it’s important to know when you’re most productive
  • What Kobo’s latest expansion means for the industry
  • Why Chris Fox doesn’t think the proposed copyright law will pass in Australia
  • Why algorithms could replace agents in the future
  • Which indie author is getting a TV deal through podcasting
  • Why you shouldn’t worry about the Facebook branded content rule
  • How Wattpad is innovating and how it could impact indies
  • The tools at your disposal if you join Amazon Advantage
Links:
Question of the Week: Are you going to shell out $99 a year to join the Amazon Advantage program? Why or why not?

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  • Lavie Margolin

    I usually say “yes!” to at least trying any opportunity to promote offered by Amazon but the benefits as detailed in the article, just don’t seem so beneficial. This may work better for a small publishing house as opposed to an author (even with multiple books). I just don’t see a return on paying for something like this:”pay $1500 to be offered to the Amazon Vine reviewers”. As long as you get reviews from verified purchasers, I feel those are (nearly) as legitimate for a prospective buyer.

  • jamiearpinricci

    Because the Advantage program is for physical stock only (not ebooks or MP3 files), it has not real “advantage” for me. My print books are already stocked with Amazon (through my traditional publisher and through CreateSpace for my indie titles). The $99 PLUS 55% vendors fee, I would never stock books this way. If you are one of those unfortunate souls from the early self-pub days who bought thousands of your own book that are gathering dust in the garage, then maybe. Otherwise, I will give this a pass.

  • Spider McGee

    Not to sound cynical, though I admit I certainly am, but it seems like just another way to shake down would-be writers. Pay this money, get in this exclusive club. Meanwhile, it’s all we can do to just make ends meet. And it seems to me that the more established writers who can actually afford the service don’t even need it. Just another way to shell out to Amazon. It’s hard enough earning money with their pay structure already.

  • There was one itty bitty tidbit of info on this episode that isn’t true. Wattpad is insanely huge in Turkey, and many of the books on the social network have been adapted to film in the country. So, in actuality, they HAVE done movies already. I have a connection at Wattpad who might be able to offer more insight. If you want, fellas, I’d be more than happy to see if she could get in touch with y’all.

  • I would sign up for the Amazon program in a second if it means paying only $100 a year plus pay-per-click to show up near the also-boughts. It’s the same as facebook ads, except that people on Amazon are on the website specifically because they are in a buying mood. Being in the right place at the right time is what marketing is all about. With regard to the more expensive services, my guess is they didn’t spend any effort creating the services or price range: I believe these services already existed for large publishers: their just making them available to the general public, and so the only effort was the press release and the time it took to have a marketing meeting. Like Jim said, they have nothing to lose by offering the deal.

  • I’ve done some additional digging into Amazon Advantage, and this is what the FAQ says:

    “What kinds of products do you accept into the Advantage program?

    We currently accept books, calendars, single copy magazines, CD’s, DVD’s, VHS, vinyl LP records, software and video games. We do not accept digital content (e-books, MP3 downloads) or subscription-based items like magazines or journals. We are always looking at new opportunities, so please check back with us in the future to see if we have expanded our product categories.”

    I think the main confusion lies between the fact that there is Amazon Advantage and Amazon Marketing Services. They seem to be two separate things.

    From what I can glean, if you are in KDP Select, you get access to Amazon Marketing Services, which means you can use pay-per-click Ads.

    But the other programs mentioned, vine reviews, detail pages and coupons are only available via Amazon Advantage.

    So if you’re a self published author, and in KDP Select, you can make use of the pay-per-click advertising.

    If you’re not in KDP Select, you can enroll in Amazon Advantage, but it is only relevant for print books. Using CreateSpace muddies the waters somewhat,

    Here’s a couple of sources:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/seller-account/mm-product-page.html?topic=200329700

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/seller-account/mm-product-page.html?topic=200329770

    http://rogerpacker.com/blog/amazon-adds-pay-per-click-advertising-kdp-select-self-publishers/

    https://kdp.amazon.com/community/thread.jspa?messageID=829249

    CreateSpace specific links

    https://forums.createspace.com/en/community/message/288843#288843

    https://forums.createspace.com/en/community/thread/21239

    • I have no print books yet, so that means I won’t be able to use it. If I had print books though… I don’t really know. It depends on where print falls in the 80/20 scheme of things, I guess.

      If I ignore all this awesome info and pretend ebooks apply, I’ll still be equally conflicted. Most of my readers that will buy my ebook on release day are in Singapore or Malaysia, which means that Kobo is the only store that works for them. On the other hand, I get the occasional sale on Amazon, but Kobo is completely dead after the release week so it may make some sense to join this if I had the money.

  • Correct me if I’m wrong, but they offer the marketing program to those in Amazon Advantage or Createspace. The marketing program is then $99 to join. If this is correct, you don’t need to join Amazon Advantage, which is only cool if you have physical products to sell. Physical products (our books) do not include POD from CS, as you don’t need to be in AA to sell these.

    I think your question should be would you shell out $99 to join the marketing program, not AA

    • I don’t think you need to pay to join AMS. But if you want to use it to advertise ebooks, you have to be in KDP Select…

      Eligibility

      Authors and publishers whose Kindle books are enrolled in KDP Select can advertise those books. You’ll need to create an Amazon Marketing Services account, which you can do from the KDP Select Benefits tab (click “Promote and Advertise” from your Bookshelf). If you already have an AMS account, you’ll still need to create a new one to use with KDP.

      To be eligible, your book must meet these requirements:

      Be available on Amazon.com

      Be enrolled in KDP Select

      Be written in English

      Meet Amazon Creative Acceptance Policies and Amazon ad policy for books.

  • QOTW – I will pay $99 for the marketing program. It’s hard to get books in front of people who are ready to purchase, so testing this is a no-brainer.

  • DarcyPattison

    You discussed the possibility of algorithms writing books. This is similar to a classic science fiction story. “Franchise” by Isaac Asimov is the 1955 story is part of Asimov’s “Multivac” series of stories. In the futuristic world of 2008, the United States has become an “electronic democracy.” Multivac, the super-computer, chooses one lucky person to be “voter of the year.” This person, Norman Muller, answers a series of questions and the computer uses those to decide what the results of an election would have been, if an election had happened. We think it ludicrous to let one man’s answers to random questions determine the outcome of an election. Likewise, it’s ludicrous to think that artificial intelligence could plumb the depths of human emotions in a novel.

  • Honoree Corder

    I sell quite a few books through Amazon Advantage each month (and have for the past 6 years), so it’s worth it for me to invest less than $10 a month to stay in the program. When I run out of inventory, I will switch over 100% to CreateSpace and then I probably won’t continue with AA.