Archives for December 2012

Digital publishing and Amazon

How do I love Amazon? Let me count the ways…

If it weren’t for Amazon, I don’t believe that I would have a published book for sale today. Because of this internet conglomerate, I have two detective novels and two nonfiction books available for purchase, as you read these words.

Yes, and David Gaughran’s book Let’s Get Digital were also instrumental in getting my books published without an agent or contract with a major publisher, but without the market spawned by Amazon with the introduction of the Kindle, the demand for e-books would never have been created in the first place.

Therefore, in my mind, Amazon ultimately deserves a share of credit for any success I will enjoy as an author.

Amazon created the Kindle Select program, where a book may be enrolled for special treatment over a period of three months.

My short story collection Always a Next One was put into Kindle Select. During the time in that program, I’ve found my book marketed ubiquitously online, everywhere from American Thinker to an Australian television station website.

It’s extremely gratifying to find a well-placed, attractive ad for your product, especially an advertisement that you didn’t have to buy.

At this point in my writing career, exposure to my work is most important. “Free” advertising is invaluable. The Kindle Select program has been a great way to get my book cover visible all over the internet, where many eyes have found an adorable puppy looking back at them.

But that’s not all Amazon has done besides creating a market and offering a subscription service to help sell books.

Recently, for the third time in as many months, some algorithm in Amazon’s marketing software generated an automatic email and sent it to me.

Interestingly, the subject of the email was Secondhand Sight, the title given my most recent novel.

It was no coincidence.

Amazon was marketing my book, trying to sell a copy to me!

Even better, there were twelve novels in total from the Mystery and Suspense category, which their marketing widget had obviously recognized as my preference.

Secondhand Sight had received top billing, and Coastal Empire was the second book offered in the email. Apparently the widgets track how many times a potential customer has viewed a particular product. True, my competition in the offering did not include Michael Connelly, Dean Koontz, or James Patterson, but so what?

The important point was that my novels were marketed in the email, and prominently featured. Highlighted. Most importantly, I didn’t pay a dime, beg on bended knee, or do anything of which I’m aware to get Amazon to promote them.

It just happened, a most pleasant surprise, apparently a free benefit from doing business with the 800 pound gorilla in the market.

And all this time, I thought big corporations were evil and heartless.

Getting a free promotion from the market leader in the e-book business is like receiving a tastefully expensive Christmas present from someone I barely know.

Honestly, I do not anticipate that millions of potential customers were blasted that same email. I suspect that a rather small, select number of Amazon customers who had the same basic search patterns in Mystery and Suspense novels were the ones who received a similar advertisement.

To me, it wouldn’t matter if the same email was sent to 12,000 possible readers or only a dozen…or fewer. Even if I turned out to be the only recipient of that email, the message meant that somebody other than me is actively marketing my book, thanks to good old-fashioned capitalism.

After all, if my book sells, Amazon gets a small cut. It’s worth every penny, too.

Is this a great country, or what?