Sunday, June 23, 2013

Huge as in stuffed roasted moa!

This is Bevan and I, last summer, Christmas Day actually. We'd probably stuffed ourselves stupid then took to taking photos in the garden. This was also the day that Petal's First Winter sat at number one in its categories on Amazon's Kindle Store. It was a huge day for us, we'd finally made it! We were number one in the world and it was thrilling! Then a book titled Stinky Dinky took the spot the next day and we watched Petal float round the top twenty for the next month. But that moment when we'd made that top spot - there was nothing else like it really. And having one kids ebook in the top 20 meant that all of our other ebooks were selling really well. I think over that summer, the most at one time we had in the top 100 was about 29 ebooks. THAT IS HUGE!
When we went camping in Algies Bay over New Years, I had to tote my laptop and camping chair down the hillside twice a day to the wireless hotspot at the camp just so I could catalogue the sales and borrows. I made thousands in two-and-a-half weeks over December, and a few more in January. It was a really, REALLY good summer for us.
Things have changed so much in the 18 months that we have been selling kids ebooks on Amazon. We started out following the trend to sell the books at USD$2.99 so we could make 70% royalties and it worked really well for us too until the September Slump hit. What is the September Slump you ask? Its when the Northern Hemisphere go on vacation without their wireless and stop buying ebooks of any kind. August was slowing down for us, but when September hit I'd felt like my new business was about to fold before we'd even started. It forced me to go hunting on the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Community forums for answers. And I got them too - the same thing happened last summer. So I waited it out and planned a pre-christmas pricing change, lowering all my ebooks that weren't a compilation to USD$0.99. That worked for a while until a technical glitch dumped all bar 3 of my 45 titles out of their categories. It took a million emails to their technical department, when finally a month later my ebooks were back where they belonged. But during that time, I sold about 10 ebooks a week because no one could find them. I couldn't use my 'free' promotional days while on the Kindle Select Programme, and I ended up asking God to sort it out 'coz I couldn't. Mid November things were back on track and by early December they were selling again but very slowly, until the week before Christmas I had a few 'free' promotions happening, then BAM! They started selling faster than beach jandles on a hot summer's day. And what a rush.
So what did I learn from all of this? Firstly I learned that pricing matters - and its changing every month. Actually it's very rare to get books staying in the top 20 of the children's categories that are priced over USD$0.99 now. Secondly, it takes at least a month for the technical department at KDP to sort any technical glitch out. Thirdly, the big publishing houses can't match the USD$0.99 prices - yet. Fourthly, hang on, I know there's a fourthly. . . Fourthly, books don't sell so well when America goes on vacation, so don't sweat it! And, Fifthly, Christmas and New Years is the BIGGEST selling season for children's digital content. And I mean biggest - like huge, huge as in stuffed roasted moa huge.
So that's it for me this week. I'm off to publish another title - Petal's Autumn Change (or Petal's Fall Change for the .com store). So look out for its free promo, sometime soon.
Enjoy writing and reading to your own little squidlettes.
~ Joy Findlay

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