Episode 24 – KDP All Stars, The Decline of Nook & More

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As Jim and Bryan neared the quarter century mark, they talked at length about Amazon’s recent announcement of the KDP Select All-Stars program. Before they got to that, Jim chatted more about live events and the two of them took on a trio of tips about Gmail productivity, editing, and videos for book club questions. The top five news included stories on Apple’s U2 free album promotion, J.A. Konrath’s 15 tips to increase sales, Joanna Penn’s three-year author-entrepreneur anniversary, the decline of Nook and Amazon’s new $2.7 million KDP Select All-Stars program. This week’s Question of the Week: Will the new All-Stars program get you to go exclusive on KDP Select? Why or why not?

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What You’ll Learn: 
  • Why Jim thinks you should spend money on live events
  • How to used canned responses to speed up your email
  • What an online editing tool can do to improve your readability
  • How Neil Gaiman reached out to book clubs
  • How the publishing industry used freebies to jumpstart U.S. reading
  • Why the U2 free album promotion was a big win for everybody
  • Fifteen ways to increase your book sales
  • What Joanna Penn has learned from three years as an author entrepreneur
  • How Jim would fix Nook Press
  • What Amazon is doing to trounce the publishing competition

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  • I have only a single title in Select and its only there to hopefully attract the eyes of borrowers toward my backlist. I am treating borrowers a little like a separate market, just as audio books are separate. I’m assuming that most borrowers and users of KU will search within that space, not so much outside it, so it makes sense to me to have a book in Select for visibility. Its the same with the free crowd in a way. Many readers don’t pay for books at all, but by having a permafree title high in the lists that crowd supports my advertising of the series to paying customers by making it visible.

    There is a post on kboards by some All Stars authors comparing sales required to get the bonus they have been given. Wayne is #46 and sells 11,000 books a month. He has 60 books in Select to get those numbers. I have 11 titles total and 1 in Select. So am I going to be fooled into Select by this silly stunt?

    Hell know! Do I look stupid? Don’t answer that lol!

  • Kim smith

    yes!! WHAT AN AWESOME SHOW! the KDP thing…well, I am in it for all my current work, but so far nothing is happening…maybe more people will begin borrowing now? I hope so! thanks for the show guys, I am sad I have to wait ALL the way to next Weds now 🙁 but I may just go out and listen to all the old epps AGAIN!!! :0)

    • Bryan

      Haha, if you want to re-listen, we won’t stop you, Kim :).

    • Lots of great nuggets of info in each show. I need to re listen as well. 🙂

  • Lavie Margolin

    Bought a copy of Ted saves the world as a thank you for the great advice and news shared in the podcasts. It has definitely helped me.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Lavie! Much appreciated. I hope you enjoy the book too :).

    • Yes! Keep buying! Let’s make Brian #1!

  • Thanks for another great episode! Each Wednesday I look forward to the show. 🙂

    I have a new series releasing this month and I’m considering the first book for KU and then moving it with the other published books to wide distribution after 90 days. The All-Stars program doesn’t sway me one way or another, though.

    • Bryan

      Yeah, I’ve been reading some of these numbers of the top 100. Might be harder than I thought. I’m keeping my dreams big though :).

      Thanks for listening!

  • Love the show I’ve been listening since episode three. Honestly I check my podcast feed first thing every Wednesday morning to see if the show is up yet. You two have great interaction and it is always an enjoyable and informative time.
    So Jim I nearly fell out of my seat when you said that book marketing is too subjective and you wouldn’t sell someone book marketing. I kind of thought that was the whole purpose of the show was book marketing and that’s what the author marketing club was all about 😉
    Five star show, keep it up!

    • Selling book marketing as a consulting service is tough for the reasons I explained. AMC is all about tools and training to give you the opportunity to have success. I guess my point was anyone who tries to sell you guaranteed success is trying to fool you. 🙂

      • Just teasing Jim. I totally get what you’re saying about those “too good to be true” promises. It would be amazing if every time you did A in marketing B would happen. It just changes at such a rapid rate. Also, a lot of people have unrealistic ROI expectations when it comes to marketing. We all want to see the biggest return on our investment.
        Thanks again for always sharing the knowledge, it is great what you are doing.

        • Bryan

          Thanks for listening, Clark!

  • Crissy Moss

    No, not in the slightest.
    My day job actually changed their bonus structure a year ago. They use to give bonuses depending on quality of your work above and beyond your work from the year before. A fair system. Now they only give the top 200 performing employees a bonus. A large portion of who the top 200 employees is depends completely on who the bosses above us like. Basically that means a lot of us can’t get a bonus, so we don’t care about our work nearly as much. They gripe at some of us for not doing as well as last year and our response? Why bother?

    I see the same thing with this Amazon deal. There is no incentive, it won’t apply to me any time soon. I just have to keep plodding away in the best way for myself and say bully for the guys who are already making lots of money to get more money. Amazon would do way better if they gave this bonus to “up and coming new authors”. Now THAT would inspire me to maybe go KDP select on a few more titles.

    • Bryan

      Thanks for giving the example. That’s a good way to look at it.

      Maybe they’ll work their way to us folks moving our way up the food chain by the end of the year :).

      • Crissy Moss

        Somehow I doubt that. Amazon is a corporation, they’re in the business of making money, and this makes perfect sense in that meaning. They want the people selling the most books to be on KDP select so they can draw more readers to Amazon. It makes sense in a business way, but it really only effects the people who are already making a lot of money, and those people have less incentive to go KDP select if they have readers elsewhere, or already make so much that they just don’t care about this little bonus. I mean, if I was Hugh Howey why would I care about an extra 25k? I’d just let it go so maybe someone else who needed it more could get it. (Then again, not everyone is as charitable as I am.)

  • Ember Casey

    Nothing short of retire-at-thirty money will tempt me into exclusivity with anyone, haha. As far as the bonuses go… I’m not sure they’re large enough to tempt the big names into exclusivity, at least in romance (based on what I know some of them are making on other vendors). At the point I’m listening to this, they’ve announced the All Stars, and most of the authors in the romance category are those who had special contracts to participate in KU without exclusivity. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when the contracts end.

    Here’s my biggest concern with KU: that from here, it appears that it’s mainly “successful” for authors right now because Amazon is doing its darndest to make it so (with bonuses, increased visibility, allegedly “weighed” rankings, etc.)– NOT because readers have migrated there en masse. Of course, it’s hard to tell when the program is still new and *especially* since Amazon is offering people the free trial, but I really don’t see any evidence that this is suddenly where all the readers are–just that KU is suddenly where all the good Amazon mojo/visibility is.

    Of course, I write romance, so my experiences might be very genre-specific. But some things I’ve noticed/heard:
    * I haven’t had a single reader contact me to ask me why (by contrast–when my last release took a couple of extra days to go live on iTunes, I got a TON of messages asking where it was and why it was late, haha.)
    * KU ads have been popping up on my Facebook newsfeed, and I’ve been clicking on the comments to read them. About 30-40% of the comments are people complaining that they can get the same service for free at their library (but people love to complain at companies on social media, so obviously we have to take that with a grain of salt).
    * In some of my author loops, we’ve been discussing whether or not subscription models were “where the readers are” these days, and a number of us have asked our street teams (which usually consist of quite avid readers) whether or not they subscribe to KU. Overwhelmingly, the answer was no (and most surprising to me–a large number of them responded that the reason was because they wanted to actually own their books. When I asked *my* street team, half of them responded with some form of “I don’t own a Kindle,” but I’m one of those weirdos who gets about 55% of her sales from places outside Amazon.)

    Obviously none of that is scientific (or on a scale even remotely large enough to be “evidence” of anything), and as ever, I know all experiences vary by author. But I’ve been following KU very closely because, well, you have to watch *everything* in this industry so you can adapt if necessary, and I’m just not sure that we’ve actually reached that point where subscription models/KU are “the” book market now. It just looks like KU is where *Amazon* wants *us* to be, if that makes sense. And the (potentially) inorganic nature of the benefits scares me because there’s no real foundation of readers to support them.

    (I’m sure there are plenty of people who disagree with me–that’s just what it looks like from *here*).

    Great show, as ever! (And sorry to write a novel on ya! Once I got going I just kept typing, haha.)

    • Bryan

      This is a great post, Ember :). Our longest comment response yet. Thank you!

      55 percent on other platforms? Wow! Very cool.

  • Kim smith

    wednesday is the best day of the week! smbs day!

    • Bryan