readers a reason to take a chance on them.
“KDP Select is good for authors,” says
Anna Hess, the author of 17 e-books on
homesteading, including the 12-part
Weekend Homesteader series. “Using
that program, I’m able to get on Amazon’s Top 100 Free list from time to time
when I do book giveaways, and that
really broadens my audience and brings
new readers to the books that aren’t free.”
Hess and her coauthor husband had first
sold their books through their Web site,
www.waldeneffect.org, but after moving
fewer than 300 copies, decided to try distributing through KDP. They soon saw
results and self-published several more
books the same way. The brisk sales
caught the eye of Skyhorse Publishing,
which is now publishing the Weekend
Homesteader set, broken into monthly
installments priced at 99 cents each.
“Selling books for 99 cents encourages
many readers to take a chance on an
unknown author, spreading my name
further,” says Hess. She’s now selling
about 4,000 e-books a month.
Social book recommendation site
Goodreads also encourages authors to
On Readers’ Radar
Social media expands discoverability
options for self-published authors
B; A;;; P;;;;;
Self-published authors may not have the publicity and distribution apparatus of a major publishing house, but as social
media has evolved they are finding more ways than ever to
garner new readers. A range of new services from book-cen-tric companies like Goodreads and Amazon, developments
from Facebook and Twitter, and a handful of apps are making
it easier for authors to be discovered by new readers and to
grow their audience.
(top) Book giveaways, like those through Goodreads,
can help get the attention of new readers; (below)
Goodreads graph illustrates the sales of Colleen
Hoover’s novel Slammed after a giveaway.
The book market has become increasingly competitive in recent years—350,000 new print titles were published in 2011, up about 61% from a
decade before, according to research firm
Bowker. This makes it difficult for any
author, especially a self-published one
without a publicity team, to stand out
from the crowd. But by using social
media tools, self-published authors are
finding they can go it alone and still discover a passionate audience.
“It’s such a great time to be thinking
about publishing and leveling the playing field between established authors and
new authors—all those same tools are
available to anyone who wants to participate in offering their content,” says
Libby Johnson McKee, general manager
of independent publishing for Amazon.
Few companies have worked as aggres-
sively as Amazon to help self-published
authors promote and sell their books.
The retailer’s CreateSpace was the largest
self-publishing company in 2011, releas-
ing 57,602 titles (the next largest,
AuthorSolutions and its various imprints,
came out with 41,605 titles).
In addition to CreateSpace, Amazon
has been boosting its investment in Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), its e-book
publishing arm, to help self-published
authors improve their discoverability. At
the end of November, the company announced that it would
be adding an additional $1.5
million into its KDP Select
fund. The program allows
authors to offer their books, or
their entire catalogues, for free
for a limited period, with the
agreement that for 90 days thereafter
they will sell their e-books exclusively
Books distributed through the Select
program are also available in the Kindle
Owners’ Lending Library, where Amazon Prime members with Kindles can
borrow any book for free for one month.
These kinds of giveaways can be valuable
to authors seeking ways to generate
interest in their works and give new