Can You Give Away Free Digital Copies of your eBook When Enrolled in KDP Select? @JoRobinson176

No actually, as it turns out. Only via Amazon, and almost never via email attachment. The road to getting most things right as an Indie publisher is a steep learning curve. Knowledge is unlikely to magically appear if you can’t even imagine what questions to ask, and haven’t much of a clue what knowledge is required anyway. Most of us learn from mistakes, both large and small, along the way, and what with the continually changing and growing world of self-publishing, we really are learning all the time.

Having up to now had some of my books published for sale on Apple and Smashwords and all the rest, I wasn’t concerned about Amazon KDP Select rules as they didn’t apply. Now though, after MONTHS of working really hard to get them off Smashwords supplier sites, I’m being as careful as possible not to break any of them. I’ve decided that for this year at least, my current books will be published exclusively with Amazon and CreateSpace. With CreateSpace extended distribution my paper books are still sold by Barnes & Noble, and with the perks of KDP Select, I’m very happy with the status quo.

One rule that many of us might not have known before, is that with KDP Select you can only distribute your eBooks through Amazon. You can send copies to “professional reviewers”, but not to anyone else. This appears to include not being allowed to send out digital books as prizes in competitions. You can only distribute free books via Select’s five free book promotion days every three months. Any eBooks distributed BEFORE you sign up for KDP Select are alright, so don’t panic if you did that while not signed up for Select. You can send your paper books to anyone you like though as prizes – you’ve bought and paid for them after all.

You are not allowed to gift any eBook in exchange for a review, and if you do ever review a gifted eBook, make very sure to add a disclaimer to your review on Amazon. You are not allowed to swop reviews. I do review the books of some authors who have already reviewed some of my books, but only when I’ve bought the book, read it, and honestly liked it. I think you’re safe doing this if you don’t do it often, and are also reviewing the books of mostly unknown to you authors, but certainly don’t make review swopping part of your Indie trip, or you could find your book booted out, and your reviews taken down. If you write books on grammar, writing a scathing review of another author’s book about grammar might be taken as breaking Amazon’s rule of reviewing the books in your own field. All in all, with reviews, authors should definitely tread lightly – and certainly read Amazon’s policy on them so as to be safe, rather than sorry.

In fact, reading Amazon’s terms before we all zoomed off to publish would probably have saved some of us intrepid Indies a bruised knee or two. I’ve figured out that the two US dollars extra I pay for any eBook I buy from Amazon is for the privilege of having an account there as a non-US citizen, and this is fine with me, because it is a privilege. Buying eBooks from Amazon is a lot simpler (and mostly cheaper even with the surcharge) than buying them around here. I could never figure out why my royalty payments were different for my novels when they had the same prices though, until I got stuck into that old fine print. Turns out that your royalty at the higher rate is X minus relevant VAT minus cost per megabyte book file size. Authors pay for the delivery of their books every time a reader buys them. It’s only cents per MB, but it is a good thing to know when you’re planning on publishing a book chock full of images. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned along the Indie path, is to always read the fine print, and the best advice I could ever give to a new self-publishing author just starting out on this road, would definitely be to figure out the rules first. Happy scribbling fellow Indies.


Should you Sell eBooks from your Website? @JoRobinson176

Many web owners sell books directly, and sometimes exclusively from their sites, collecting one hundred percent of the price via PayPal. If you publish with Amazon KDP Select, this is obviously not allowed – in fact, if your book is with Select, you are only allowed to distribute the digital books through them, and only the selling of your paper books after ordering them from your POD supplier is considered kosher.

If you’re not with KDP Select you can sell them anywhere you like, so the website option then becomes viable, and a very good idea too. As an independent publisher you get to try a variety of avenues for selling and marketing your books. We all know about Smashwords and all the other sites where you can make your books available to buy. It’s quick work to load them up there – although – not such quick work to get them taken down by the way. I unpublished two of mine from Smashwords months ago, and I’m still trying to get Barnes & Noble to remove them from their site so I can enrol them in Select again.

So there are all these options open to you for spreading your books far and wide, but do consider having one or two for sale directly from you. I’m in the process of getting a couple ready for this very thing. Many of us use Me, because the thought of hosting my own website terrifies me, but moving to in the future will be necessary because of Google visibility.

You can’t install a PayPal button and sell your books from, although that needn’t be a hindrance. Why not set up your own website with a link to it in your sidebar? Setting one up is only a little work to begin with, and then occasional updates after that. A nicely designed static website is a great thing to have to use for all your future promotions, sales, new releases, and a great way to showcase yourself and all of your books.

A couple of free website hosts are Weebly, and my favourite, Wix. It shouldn’t take you more than a day to get it looking nice and professional. One little tip though – take your time picking your theme and theme fonts, because once you publish and go live you can’t change those. It’s up to you how much you use your website. You have the option of a blog to go with it, which you can use weekly, bi-weekly (or not at all), and share links to pages from there to all your social networking sites regularly, so it needn’t be something that stagnates. Wix has a lot of really lovely, and easy to use features, and setting up your PayPal button is the work of minutes.

Once you’ve got your book written, proofed, and beautifully formatted, convert it to an eBook format (or a selection of formats, such as PDF, Mobi, and ePub) using free downloadable software such as Calibre. Calibre is a great tool for Indie authors to have, with many useful functions other than book conversion – which is a whole lot more words, and best kept for another day. The important thing is how easy it is to use, with step by step instructions, your books will be ready to sell very quickly. Obviously these books will not be protected from customers emailing copies to their friends, but the same applies to every eBook you ever send as a prize or review copy, so that is a thought – the ever present and growing piracy. The customers who do buy it from your website are unlikely to be buddies with each other though, so you probably won’t lose any sales if they do send it on to their grannies and so on, and pirates prefer not to spend a dime at all mostly.

Whether you write something specifically to sell yourself, or experiment with a book you’ve already written that may not be doing so well, it is always an option for the Indie writer. Some authors are making a lot of money this way, especially those in the health and recipe book sector, so if there is a book lurking in you that would help or add value to readers enough for them to buy straight away, rather than taking the time to look for it online, go for it! I personally can vouch for the quick finger of the impulse buyer, and I can’t think of one bought this way so far that I regret buying, and the more you are spread around, the more visible you will be – always a good thing.


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