eBook Urban Myths

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

It is pretty amazing that for as short a time as eBooks have been around, there have been so many urban myths created around them.

And if they involve Amazon? Yikes!

So I thought I would spend a few minutes debunking the really egregious ones. Especially the ones that might lead an author’s career astray.

#1 – No one is buying 99¢ titles. Or otherwise put “readers have decided 99¢ books are low quality.” Actually you can insert a bunch of pejoratives there but I am trying to keep this article “G” rated.

Sure some 99¢ books aren’t great, however those “readers” everyone is talking about are buying them in droves.

I am here to say that the 99¢ price tag is thriving.

You may not like that fact, however it is true.

Don’t believe me? Go check the Top 100 overall Paid titles on Amazon. The bulk of indie titles are 99¢. Now go check the Top 100 in a variety of sub-genre bestselling lists. The overwhelming majority of indie titles are 99¢.

Guess it was a bit early to ring the bell on 99¢ 🙂

#2 – KDP has run its course.

Again, the program is four months old and already people are planning its funeral. How very premature.

Is it as easy to “pop” large paid numbers after your free promotions? No. Amazon has drastically decreased the conversion rate between free downloads to paid sales.

We are still getting the same huge download numbers, they are just not translating into as large of paid sales. Yet it still generates paid sales. Earlier this month I gave away over 100,000 books. I have sold 13,000.

Is KDP Select as good a deal as it was in December? No.
Is it still one of the best ways to jump-start your sales. Yes.

So, sorry, the accounts of KDP Select’s death are a bit premature.

#3 – No one in the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library (KOLL) is going to borrow a 99¢ book.

Now this one may sound logical, however it simply isn’t true.  Don’t believe me? Go check the KOLL overall rankings. At the time of this writing about 20% of the Top 100 borrowed books were 99¢.

For me, my 99¢ titles borrow at about 1/3 the rate of my higher priced titles.

Do 99¢ titles borrow as well as higher priced titles? Nope.
Do they still get borrowed? Yep.

#4 – Indie Authors realize that KDP Select is ineffective and will jump off the sinking ship as soon as they are able.

Again, I find it absolutely fascinating that people can say these statements with a straight face when the facts show exactly the opposite.

Did many authors not elect to re-enroll in KDP Select? Yes, about 20,000 out of 128,000 did exit the program in the first few weeks in March.

Now, however? There are 131,000 in the program. So for the month of March when many predicted we would see a 50% or greater exodus of KDP Select authors, we were left with about a net 1% gain.

Will people always want to predict absurd things (especially if it is what they really, really, really, wish would happen)? Yes.

However as publishing professionals, we need to think for ourselves.

So if you hear something like “the 99¢ price tag is dead,” GO RESEARCH the issue before donning your black suit 🙂

6 thoughts on “eBook Urban Myths

      1. Sammy

        Hi Carolyn,
        May I know what your thoughts is to the question I posted on your Maximizing Digital Book Sales, Part 1 on May 16th. Sorry for chiming in here b/c I don’t know how else to reach you via email since my question is long. Thanks

  1. Donna White Glaser

    I’d love your opinion, Carolyn, about why Amazon has adjusted the KDP conversion rates between the free to solds? It would seem that they would a) want to promote as many actual sales as they can (and we want 🙂 and b) would keep the hype over KDP hot among authors, encouraging more to participate. I was one of the original January poppers and now am a little discouraged by AMZ’s “tweaking” of what was finally working for me and others. Any thoughts?

    1. Carolyn McCray

      Yes, we got lucky 🙂

      There was absolutely no way Amazon could allow the paid to free ratio to be 1:1.

      Before forced free was used to drive sales to their other books. This short term “free” promo was carrying people over way too high into the lists and causing too much churn too far up (even the Top 20).

      And while, yes, I would love to get way more “bang for my buck,” Amazon doesn’t owe that to me. Does it make KDP Select less valuable?

      Does it negate it entirely?
      No. At least not yet 🙂

      The next few months should be interesting!!!



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