Amazon Select—I Love You, I Love You Not

During my many days communicating with fellow writers around the world, I’ve heard all kinds of opinions about the pros and cons of signing up with Amazon Select. I don’t want to go into how, over the past year, Amazon has made it tougher and tougher for us indie stars to shine. That’s fodder for another post. I just want to talk about the Select that’s in place today and whether or not it can help us sell ebooks.

Far and away the biggest advantage of joining is that every ninety days Select writers get five free promotional days. Amazon suggests we use two at a time; and for the most part, I agree with them. I, personally, have had a few really good one-day promos that landed my books on the free top 100 list in the U.S. One time I had two on there.

Nevertheless, I’ve run far more two-day promos and that’s what I recommend. I’ve found that late in the second day my rankings almost always begin to fall. There might be
exceptions, but just as there are to every rule, they’re few and far between.

I’ve heard it before and I can hear a few of your thoughts now—“I’m not giving my babies away! I worked far too hard on my books, and they’re too darn good to give away.” Well, the few people I’ve heard say that weren’t selling a whole lot of books.

This writing racket is an extremely difficult one to break into. If you haven’t roped one of the big-six publishers or another that has deep pockets, the odds against you are immense. And while we’re talking about immense, keep in mind that Amazon’s reading audience is huge as well. An author can have dozens of free promos for a single book—give away five, ten, twenty-thousand or more free Kindles each time, and he or she still won’t scratch Ammy’s reading surface.

It’s a well know fact that a very, very small percentage of free downloaders will ever actually read your book. I’ve heard it guesstimated at one to two percent.  Just as an example, let’s say you ran a freebie promo, did well, and had 20,000 books snatched up. Even if as many as five percent eventually read your book, that’s only one thousand ebooks. Amazon has millions of customers!

And keep in mind, even if only a hundred people read and liked your book, there’s a good chance they will be checking your Author page or searching your name on Amazon to see what else you’ve written. I think this a benefit that many writers overlook–most readers put their new downloads on a que. They don’t actually get around to reading them for quite some time. You’re sowing seeds for sales with your free promos. You’re cultivating a crop of potential buyers that will keep popping up–for quite some time.

Now…think about what could happen if you ran ten reasonably successful promos over the course of a year. Each time you’re planting more seeds! And that’s not to mention the
immediate satisfaction you can reap when two, three or more days of very good sales follow a successful free promo.

Yes, like I said here earlier, Amazon isn’t treating us nearly as good as they did last winter. But they are still the biggest bookseller in the world, and that world, rough as it is, is there for us to conquer.

If there is a better way of promoting our books (without spending a small fortune) rather than “giving them away” on Amazon Select, I’d sure like to know what it is.

Write tight!

Tom Winton

Comments ( 8 )

  1. / ReplyMarj
    Some excellent points made. Maybe I'll consider them after all.
    • / ReplyTom Winton
      Sure hope the post is of some help to you, Marj.
  2. / ReplyDebra Foden Celso
    I love your insight...I have gotten a lot more books through the sites recommended - Free ones also - Not all read but will be and the ones I like will difinitely be on my radar for more books..... I am currently reading two books at one time....Both yours.... Debra
  3. / ReplyPhyllis Burton
    Hi Tom, Just read 'Love you, Love you not'. This is a really excellent article on the Amazon Select programme. I note that it was written in January. Are you still of the same opinion? Has it survived the test of time and would you still recommend writers to go on to the Select programme? It is as you say a difficult time for Indie writers and whether readers' 'Love you, or Love you not'! And when you reach those 'crossroads', which way do you jump? Decisions...decisions...
    • / ReplyTom Winton
      Thanks so much, Phyllis. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. Now, in answer to your question, I think that Select can still be very useful for relatively unknown indie authors. Although Amazon has chipped away at even more of the remaining perks since I wrote this article, Select can be useful. If an author can line up a feature before they run their free promo with a big site like Ereader News Today, Pixel of Ink or BookBub, they have an excellent chance of hitting the free bestseller list and selling some books after going back on paid status. 95% of those who do hit the list won't sell a ton of ebooks, but they will sell some. Also, some of the free downloaders will read those books which will help give then a bit of exposure and increasing chances to pick up some ever-important reviews. Though I am now in the process of taking all four of my books off Select, I am considering signing my new book on when it is finished. If I do, it will probably be only for one 90 day term though.
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