Episode 145 – 2017 Predictions, Vellum, and a Grain of Salt

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Question of the Week: Which paid advertising platforms do you think will be most effective in 2017?

Bryan and Jim have chutzpah, and they’re not afraid to show it with their contentious opinions on 2017 predictions, copyright issues, and more. After thanking their patrons, Covermint Design, Black Shadow Moon, and Twisting Fate, they tackled tips on self-publishing resources, interior book design, and advice for newbies. News stories included Amazon Books and locker locations, Jane Friedman’s trends for 2016, an author with unfair copyright issues, another author’s reasoning for leaving KU, and the top predictions for 2017. This week’s Question of the Week: Which paid advertising platforms do you think will be most effective in 2017?
What You’ll Learn:
    • Where to check out some new resources for self-published authors
    • Which piece of software Mac users can use for formatting their books
    • Why newbies should take author advice with a grain of salt
    • Possible reasons behind Amazon’s book stores and locker locations
    • Jane Friedman’s top publishing trends for 2016
    • One author’s reasoning for leaving Kindle Unlimited
    • Written Word Media’s Top 10 predictions for 2017
Question of the Week: Which paid advertising platforms do you think will be most effective in 2017?

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  • What will be the most effective marketing in 2017?
    Persistence and experimentation, just like always. 🙂 🙁

    • Bryan

      Haha, yay persistence!

  • Lavie Margolin

    I believe those that hit the target market directly and allow for the easiest steps to purchase. At present, I believe it will be Amazon Marketing Services- the keyword targeting is not very expensive as opposed to only book targeting. You are reaching consumers who are already on the site to buy with a relevant message and no friction to make a purchase.

    • Bryan

      I’m thinking AMS will play a big role in 2017 as well. Thanks, Lavie.

    • I couldn’t agree more. Let me offer a different angle: Amazon wants to earn more money. I am convinced that they will give you an extra kick for you $ spent in marketing money to have more writers spend more money on marketing. They sell the books anyway–if they sell more from advertising spenders or more from non-advertising spenders does not impact their overall book sales. It’s like printing money.

      • Bryan

        Good point, Gilbert. I like the idea of printing money ;).

  • Daniel Martone

    With FB, Amazon, and Bookbub ads losing some of their effectiveness, I think (read hope) that we’ll start seeing services that cater only to certain niche markets. A company that markets solely to Science Fiction fans. I know there are already sites that do this, but I believe we’ll start to see readers engage with them more in order to find a better and more personal experience.

    • Bryan

      I’d love to see that, Dan. Let’s hope!

  • FB ads will likely be more of a testing ground because I can experiment for a mere $5. I’ve hit on some and missed on others. I looked at AMS but had a minimum of $100. Will that FB audience that responded to that add translate to AMS? If so, I see me using both.

    • You put in $100, but you don’t have to spend it all. I’ve done them and stopped at a few days at $20 spent.

      • I should have read more carefully, but I’ve seen others comment that they must commit $100 so I assumed. Do you get immediate feedback such as click counts? I usually give my FB ad three days before evaluating website clicks, etc.

        • I don’t remember how quick you get feedback. It’s been a while, and I haven’t started to use the new style ads yet since they opened it up to non-KDPS books.

          • I took the plunge and will see how these go. One immediate issue, unlike FB ads, you cannot edit everything, only certain sections. I had a typo, had to wait for the ad to go live, and then terminate it. The only option is to copy it, fix the typo, and submit the new ad for review.

    • Bryan

      I second Roland, Darren. It’s actually hard to spend your money in a short period of time on AMS ads.

      • I’ll probably give it try then. I have one FB ad that has about a 20% ROI and might work there.

  • I think Amazon will be the most effective ad source. People are already there to buy books.

    Bookbub ads could be great again if they throttle back the number of people in there. Put them on a rotation or something so it’s not saturated.

    • Bryan

      Yeah, I think Amazon will definitely be a big contender.

  • Jim I have to say that you are dead on with the Amazon store and locker thing. I doubt they will put any in rural areas though. Lets say I work in Manhattan and need something. I would much rather go to the Amazon store to pick up instead of having to hope it gets left on my doorstep. BTW the Manhattan store is like 1/2 mile to the 24/7 Apple store. Amazon can keep top 5 products in a few niches in the store. They know whats selling and could have a warehouse in Jersey to replenish stock every day. Heck they could put washing machines in the store and you buy and have it delivered next day.

    • You know I’m right when Vinny says I’m right!

      • Bryan

        Lol. NOW you comment ;).

        • I only posted to see if Jim was watching the comments lol

    • Bryan

      Good points, Vinny. Thanks!

  • I’m going to veer away from the question of the week and answer one of the questions raised on this episode. You were wondering why Amazon would waste time with lockers. I work full time in logistics (not with Amazon) and I know first hand that the trend is to ship people their products at the lowest possible expense to themselves (the business) and to as many customers as possible for as low as possible (shipping costs).

    Not every customer finds Amazon Prime to be worth the money because they may not order that often from them and also rarely take advantage of their premium offers such as movies, books, and so forth. So there is a large chunk of customers out there that go to Amazon.com and place an order and then pay shipping each time. Some people can be scared off by shipping costs and might choose instead to find a cheaper option elsewhere. Therefore, lockers open up the possibility to offer no shipping costs by choosing to have your product shipped to a locker instead of using USPS, UPS, or FedEx to deliver at a high cost.

    Walmart currently offers free shipping through their Site to Store program. If you have your item shipped to the store and pick it up there, you pay nothing for shipping. In my opinion, Amazon is trying to do the same thing because Site to Store has become a popular option for Walmart customers. Walmart uses their existing logistics system to ship items from their online warehouse straight to the Distribution Center and then ship it to the customers preferred store to complete the transaction.

    Amazon has distribution centers popping up all around the country. They are building their own logistics services and in my opinion, are using lockers to complete the delivery to the customer similar to how Walmart uses their stores to complete the transaction.

    It makes perfect sense to use one of their hourly associates to deliver items to remote lockers, using their distribution centers as a central hub. It reduces shipping costs and delivery time by leaps and bounds.

    I think in the long run, it could help self published authors who sell print books through Amazon. Currently, each book ships for around $3 each unless the customer has a Prime subscription. If they don’t use Prime, they get a $3 shipping fee tacked on. That can potentially be detrimental to book sales. The locker program could erase that hurdle and also capture customers who are not Prime members.

    So, sorry that I didn’t contribute to the question of the week, but I thought you might find this tidbit interesting.

    • Spot on!

      Also, people get watches, cameras, kindles, and other expensive stuff dropped off at the doorstep. Our suburban community has had a rash of package thefts the past few months. Not a big deal if it’s a book, but if it’s my coffee filters or (God forbid) my hipster roast coffee, I’m flippin’ out!

    • Bryan

      That IS interesting, Jason. Hadn’t thought of that. Thanks.

  • A point to consider about Amazon imprints comprising most of the top twenty. When considering the fairness of Amazon promoting those books over other titles, you have to remember that the authors have paid for that promotion by a reduction in royalties. Indies not in an Amazon imprint are making 70% while imprint authors recieve significantly less and are banking on Amazon extra promotion to make up the difference. When weighing the benefits of being an Amazon imprint, be sure to count your costs: namely the percentage of royalties you will sacrifice long term.

    • Bryan

      Good point, Nathan. Thanks.

  • Chris Syme

    Hey guys-Of course I have to complicate matters. It depends on your budget. If you have over $500/month to spend: Facebook, BookBub ads, Amazon Marketing Services ads, and high end rented lists. If you have less than $500/month to spend: warm audience Facebook ads (they’re cheaper), rented lists, and BookBub Featured deals. People are confusing the effectiveness of Facebook ads with increased prices. Ads will cost more in 2017 (low inventory) so people who had success with $10/month are not going to find that same success anymore. Whatever you do, it needs to be consistent and you need to test for effectiveness. There you have it. Onward and upward.

    • Bryan

      Complicate away, Chris :).

  • CE Martin

    Finally listened to last week’s show and I’m perplexed by the Smashwords talk: what kind of difficulties are you having with Smashwords uploading? I leave my new stuff on Smashwords for one KDP Select period, then upload it on Kobo and Smashwords, and neither seem difficult at all. What format are you uploading in? Are you getting errors reported that prevent wide distribution through SW channels?

    More troubling to me is that within a month or two of uploading to Smashwords, I see my work appearing on pirate sites. That doesn’t happen when I only upload to Amazon.

    As for paid advertising, I think in 2017 we’re going to see a continuance of a trend where catch-all advertising continues to decrease in successful results. That is, authors are going to need to target specific demographics on non-book sites to sell; e.g., if you’re pushing a post-apocalyptic book, buy adspace on a Survivalist website.

    • The uploading/meatgrinder often forces you to make corrections that are hard to figure out.

      There have been times when I changed my price or description, and they unpublished my book, forcing me to fix the content (TOC, specifically) before they would put it back up. It had been fine for over a year, I changed the description, and I was hosed for days and missed my promo period/sale promo.

      • CE Martin

        I’ve gotten a couple of those before… I tend to upload as a .doc and it always turns out to be stray codes hidden in the document. Formatting codes. Once removed, it works fine.

        • Yeah, to be fair, they helped me through this before. My problem here was that I’d made no changes to the book itself. It had been published for years and all I did was update the book’s description and the price and they used that opportunity to ‘republish the book’ and find problems from two years ago.

          When I asked them for help, they told me I needed to fix my source and republish. When I told them I was on a business trip and wouldn’t have access for a week, they didn’t care and said ‘sorry, customer experience is more important.’

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