Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How to Game Amazon at Their Public Domain Publishing.

Using a Binder to get around Amazon's Public Domain self-publishing policies.
(photo: aktivioslo)

Winning the self-publishing race can mean gaming the Publishing Godzilla.

(Meaning: you can get around Amazon's Public Domain policies and still be legal in your agreements with them.)

You might have peculiar books which Amazon will query, but everyone else will readily accept. So how to get them published in spite of being blocked for no good reason?

This is Advanced Binder Marketing Theory. And it can bring you extra earned income.

You'll only seem to get in trouble when the distributor won't accept them. Amazon may do this on their own whim, by asking you to prove the date it was first published and the author's date of death. They don't check on every single PD book you publish. (My tests have shown it to be about half.) Just give them what they want, as I've covered elsewhere. Your books are a little delayed, but they get approved if you do only submit public domain books and can prove it.

They can also simply block any binder which contains a certain book - which is giving them trouble for some other reason, and they don't want any more copies, even though other distributors readily accept it. Perfectly valid public domain book - but they won't take it under any circumstances. This situation is where the "gaming" comes in.

There is a simple solution to get around any already-flagged PD book you have - a book which acceptable everywhere else, but not Amazon.

The workaround is actually all within your existing tools:
  • Give Amazon the binder they want - and meanwhile give all other distributors the one they want. 

The Lemonade Solution to Lemons

Binders give you the solution to this.  Binders have multiple books in a series - and you match these with a hardcopy version, perhaps even an audiobook series.

As much as I don't like doing this - you simply create an original version of the book which is questionable, such as creating a book review to take it's place.  Just substitute that new original book for that one in your series that you send to Amazon. You create one binder version for everywhere else, and one special version specifically for Amazon.

While you have to do the work, it's probably that you get to know that particular book even better. (There's discussion here about simply substituting an entirely  different book - but you want the Amazon binder to be as close to the hardcopy binder as possible, so your readers are delighted with the extra/bonus content in the hardcopy, not disappointed.)

Why binders? Because the distributors love these - because binders have great intrinsic value.

Of course, I also wouldn't suggest trying to send the flagged lemon-book to any other Amazon-owned company like CreateSpace or Audible. Same reason: internally, they flagged it for a reason - don't tempt fate. Hardcopies published through Lulu are different - but again, your agreement with Lulu says you own and control the rights. (Making lemonade isn't advised in self-publishing - except when Amazon is giving you the lemon. Make sure you stay legal in publishing only bona fide, provable public domain works - not "gray area" orphans where no one is defending that copyright. Eventually, such purposeful strategies can bite you back.)

Again, nowhere else (except maybe Kobo - which exacts its own "pound of flesh") really cares that much about this public domain area to that amount of detail.

How to earn Lemonade Income

The advantage of trying to get around Amazon is in selling your other book versions.
  • Binders represented by the same cover and title - but having more in the hardcopy than the ebook - will add value to these books. 
  • Your ebook sells your hardcopy version. 
  • As well, your audiobook can be sold as a binder. You'll then have a set and an added income source.

While I don't mention this lightly (having to make a distributor-centric version is the main reason I don't publish to Smashwords, besides their finicky Meatgrinder) - having your book up on Amazon can bring you added income,  particularly with the hardcopy and audio versions also available and linked together.

This is again, a binder approach at publishing, not just a single book.

This works out because the other binders also point to your binder-hardcopy and make you additional sales. My own limited experience with this is that you get more hardcopy sales through Amazon with matching binders (cover, title, description) but audiobooks do well giving added income.

You're after the total income-increasing effect of multiple published versions.

All the distributors love binders. Search engines love binders. 

The other distributors are given the binder-product you originally wanted to publish. This approach allows you to have several types of cake to eat at the same time.

And lemon-cake can be very tasty...

[Update: Found that the PD book Amazon had rejected - which started this research - was actually under an unknown renewed copyright, so they rightfully flagged and blocked that book as well as the binder it contained. Oops. So I took it down everywhere. Lesson learned.]

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