My first thought remains – I want it, now! When will Kindle Unlimited (KU) be available in Australia?
My second thought is me getting over my reader tantrum and putting on my author hat – how the heck do I get readers to find my stories in the huge jumble that is KU?
Discoverability is a major issue whether you’re lending your books in KU or selling them anywhere. With Amazon, though, I’m tempted to think that the primary selling tool is its algorithms. If you can kickstart those in your book’s favour, you’ll sell — until the next amazing new release kicks you down the mountain. Books are releasing like an avalanche at the moment, so the issue isn’t just the discoverability of a new release, it’s the ongoing discoverability of your backlist.
So, what can you do?
1. Pay bribes – which is my cynical way of saying, you’re competing for attention with a lot of authors (me included) who are paying for advertising. This varies from $1 or $2 to $100s at sites that promote free and discounted ebooks, at Goodreads, Facebook (and with FB’s changes kicking in from January 1, you’ll probably need to pay them something now and then to have any hope of any of your posts being seen there), review sites and magazines, and anywhere else you can think of.
2. Engage with social media — really wring the most you can out of your social media time to get the word out. Some people develop street teams (where amazingly generous people volunteer to help you get the word out).
3. Write what readers want – Oh yeah! Now, now, don’t respond with an eye roll. Amazon’s algorithms throw up lists that pretty much tell you what readers currently want. There’s lots of data available. My theory is that the more you search it out and absorb it, the stronger and more accurate your gut instinct will be. Instincts need to be fed.
4. Define your brand — what do you promise readers? Deliver it.
By now, you may be thinking that I’m being very brief, perhaps even glib. Maybe I am. The thing is, all of these elements of publishing strategies are pretty much well known. The magic is in getting the balance between them right. Where do you put your energy? What do you gamble months of writing time on?
Discoverability is about meeting the market. If you write what people want, and communicate with them where they live (online), your books will be “discovered”. Amazon’s algorithms are like most things in life — success is rewarded. Amazon (which wants to sell a heck of a lot more than books) rewards you with greater visibility if you’re drawing in customers to its site.
Which brings me to a final point. If you think your readers aren’t primarily subscribed to KU or interested in being Amazon customers, then maybe KU isn’t for you. The exclusivity clause that locks your KU books into Amazon is a significant issue.
So that’s my thoughts on KU as I wrap up 2014 and plan my publishing schedule for 2015 — more on that soon!
Edited to add: I was just reading this article by Brian Heater in Mashable, KU: Worth $10 a Month, Needs More Books. Very interesting couple of points. First the lack of content as mentioned in the article’s title. Second that KU subscribers can’t just search within KU. Intriguing. Could Amazon be wanting authors to have books both in KU and outside it? Might a couple of sites pop up guiding readers to books within KU – although how could this be made to pay? Author advertising?
Hmm. New iOS Kindle app opens up buffet of Kindle Unlimited books – seems like Amazon is addressing these issues of accessing KU & finding books within it.