Katie Kimball | Kitchen Stewardship
ebook: Better Than a Box
date published: January 22, 2013
copies sold: around 6,000 during initial launch, including Kindle
ebook: Healthy Snacks to Go
date published: April 26, 2010
copies sold: ~2,500 in the first two years
ebook: The Everything Beans Book
date published: March 1, 2011
ebook: Smart Sweets
date published: November 16, 2011
copies sold: ~500
ebook: The Family Camping Handbook
date published: July 9, 2010
Case Study:You're not the author of one ebook but of five so far. What do you see as the benefits of publishing new ebooks regularly? How do you continue to promote older titles even as you're releasing new ones?
In that light, publishing new eBooks regularly has many benefits:
- Something new for my regular readers to purchase.
- The opportunity to make “discount packages” so that if someone gets interested in one book, they might just grab two or three since there’s a deal on multiple copies.
- Chances to “get out there” with other bloggers/affiliates while they promote the new book.
- Now that I’m on Kindle too, the fact that my other books usually show up when people are browsing/buying one book is huge. For example, I know that when one book is doing well (Better Than a Box during launch, for example) the other books feel the snowball effect and their sales rise (January showed double average sales for Snacks and Beans, the only ones on Kindle at the time).
- The obvious answer: A new book makes a lot of money on launch, and any product that continues to sell, even a little, is passive income. More books = more income.
As far as promoting older books, I have done a few things:
- released 2nd editions that are 25-50% longer
- scheduled special promos with affiliates, like putting a code for Better Than a Box into Heavenly Homemaker’s eCourse just before a bundle sale – it did plenty well enough for the 15 minutes it took to set that up.
- having sales always pushes purchases
- the Bundle of the Week sale was a good thing, too – and I sold 114 copies of Better Than a Box with the 50% off code we included with the bundle, so that was also decent fallout without much extra work
Ultimately, once you have done all the work for a product, it’s very nice to have something “to sell” that you can choose to market heavily or leave alone for a few months.
The topics come from readers, typically, or in the case of the camping handbook, it was something I was inspired to write – I had so many ideas while camping but didn’t think they were a perfect fit for ten blog posts on a Kitchen blog, so…eBook idea! I ask for topic ideas when I do reader surveys, and sometimes people will make requests on blog posts: “Can you make this idea into an ebook?”
I have a list of ideas for at least the next 4 books. 🙂
I did a talk on ebook writing once, and this is what I said about choosing my first idea (snacks):
Healthy Snacks to Go was the perfect topic because:
- My readers were asking for it – often
- It spanned multiple niches
- I had lots of material
- It was unique
- It was a “gap” for most people (hint: fill the gap!)
- Some of my highest Google searches and most popular recipes are snacks recipes from this book
However, I do have a bit of a system now that I’ve been doing it a while:
- collect recipes
- make a recipe list
- send recipes to testers (readers who volunteered; they get a free copy of the book) once finalized here
- make edits based on tester feedback
- create a recipe “template” for the format, icons, font, etc.
- make an outline of the “rest” of the book beyond the recipes
- start filling in the blanks!
- push to the finish…using any time I can scrounge up
Making a deadline that other people know about helps me to make time, even when I’m busy. I’m accountable that way – so I might start scheduling giveaways for launch or just talk about the book on social media to get people excited, and then I’m more motivated.
On the flip side, I made the cover to Healthy Snacks to Go 15 minutes before I published it using MS LiveWriter and two sort of dark photographs. It was literally an afterthought (that I almost forgot completely). But that book still sold well, at least making more money/sales than I ever expected at the time! My own readers, at least, forgave the horrid cover. It’s still a DIY cover albeit with updated photos, although I used a different cover (also free, DIY, from CreateSpace when I published in print) on Kindle because it really is more attractive.
Of the first 4 books, the most expensive cover and first done by a professional designer was Smart Sweets…which can’t sell itself for anything. So. In my experience, design is only one piece of the puzzle, and not the most important one – but I know MANY will disagree with me.
Now that I have many books, I recently considered a new site for all of them. The main reason TO make a separate site is so that the sidebar doesn’t distract the customers. We decided that, since KS needs a new theme anyway, we’d get one where we can put a custom sidebar on the eBook buy page and leave it where it is. I enjoy the SEO benefit of affiliates linking to my site, one reason I changed shopping carts a year ago.
I definitely didn’t want 5 new sites to manage (one for each book) and I also wanted all the books together for those customers who might buy more than one. Making a new “KS eBooks” site didn’t seem to make sense for the reasons above.
I have started running 50% off promos with special landing pages for affiliates with big audiences, and that does seem to be a good way to get a boost in sales on a given book for the month. I also offer a half-off-any-book code on the thank you page after a purchase, and that also makes an impact on those special sales.
For my commission level, again this is partly a result of publishing before a gazillion bloggers had ebooks. Many now offer 50% commission.
I did offer the book for free for 2 days, which was GREAT for promotion. Results:
- Gave away almost 10K books – being in the hands of 10K people has to be a good thing, if they read the book someday.
- No noticeable increase in blog traffic from people browsing the book and clicking links to KS
- Sold a good handful of books after the free promotion at full price. I’m fairly certain that was positive fallout from the promo.
- The next month, the camping book sold 5-10x as many copies as my other books – again, I think that’s because of increased exposure with the promo, and I’m very happy with that! However, it’s POSSIBLE that it’s because I just released the camping book on Kindle. Hard to tell – If I do KDP Select with another book, it would NOT be within the first week of the Kindle release.
- I didn’t see increased sales of other books, unfortunately, but I think I did the freebie too early – my books weren’t really “related” as far as Amazon knew, so my other books weren’t showing up in the “people are also looking at…” thumbnails. Oops on my part.
- I offer a coupon for $1.95 to get printable versions of the charts, checklists and recipes in the book back at my own site. I have seen 20 people purchase that, so that’s nice – although not a very big percentage of the 10K freebies!!
- The book HAS been lent out through the Kindle lending library, which can only happen as part of KDP select. I love that part, because I can offer a book for free to my readers, but Amazon pays out based on the percentage of all books lent out. The first month, I was VERY pleasantly surprised to see that the payout per book was close to $2, which is very respectable in my mind.
So 2 questions remain for me – (1) is the KDP Select program worthwhile based on the lending library payouts (vs. being able to sell on my own site)? (2) Is giving away the book for free worth the promotion time and energy? If yes, then KDP Select is more worthwhile, if no, then KDP Select has to stand on the lending library alone.
I DO think that publishing via Kindle is always a good idea – Amazon sells itself, so there are always a few sales a month, totally passive income, and I love that. If you have an eBook, Kindle-ize it immediately. 🙂