Monday, March 2, 2015

Solving Competition and Making Profits by Indie Publishing

Competition Can Be Both Good and Bad For Indie Publishing -  Particularly With Public Domain Books

(photo: Ronel Reyes)
Some ebook distributors don't want you competing with other titles, others encourage it. Amazon and Google seem to be at different ends of this scale.

Publishing the same books to both of them shows why.

Amazon hates Competition

Just finished up a rant on getting a reject from Amazon (that made 5 out of a recent batch of 30.)

What this showed was that you want to only submit unique titles to Amazon for them to process as Kindle ebooks. On hardcopy books, they don't (can't) care. If you go head-to-head with an ebook which Amazon itself is selling or giving away, you lose - unless you change the title radically so it's now a "different" book.

The two solutions to dealing with Amazon are to a) Submit content with only new, radically different titles from the original - which includes "(annotated)" or "(illustrated)" tacked to its end, or b) Offer collections of ebooks, which also have titles which aren't in their database of books.

The titles are the key.

Google likes Competition

But on the other hand, submitting those same books to Google Play/Books showed the opposite. Google took them without question or reject.

With Google, you profit when they send people to your ebook and they buy it via Google - or are sent to Lulu to buy your hardcopy book. And in this case, you want to have the exact same title, or very close. Because then you fit into their search patterns for "other editions". And getting your book so Google will index it and send people to you - that is the Holy Grail of online marketing.

Here, having the same title works to your advantage - since Google now sends them to your ebook and your flashy cover shows up better than the stodgy versions that are sitting there. If they want your hardcopy instead, it's just a click away. (And when you sell a hardcopy book on Lulu instead of through Amazon, you can make 2-3 times the income off the same book.)

The titles don't matter.


A couple of caveats here: for both Amazon and Google, it doesn't matter if the epub itself is called something slightly different than the book cover.

When you upload your epub to Google, they read it for the embedded meta-data, which includes the title - and so match it up with other books that have the same title.

Amazon takes the meta-data you give it when you submit via KDP. So you could have two titles for the same epub, in theory.

This isn't true for hardcover books. I've had to re-proof books on Lulu going out through their Global Reach where the title page of the book didn't exactly match the cover - at least the title and subtitle and author(s).

Your meta data has to match your cover on iTunes and Amazon, not so much everywhere else. Since we are dealing with an assembly line here, it pays to be excruciatingly honest.

How you win on both counts.

It's all in your marketing. The whole point of commerce is to add value to people's lives. Your bliss has led you to books which are out of print, or poorly offered. And you've done your research to find out that they are in an area which people will pay good money for those solutions. You know where you want to go in order to add value and get rewarded for your efforts.

The trick is in what you are offering.

Ideally, you create a single book which is published everywhere. Just assembly line your batch of books for this area and get them all ready.

But Amazon doesn't want what you post freely to Google, iTunes, Nook, Kobo, and everywhere else (that accept PD books.)


  1. Edit the books into shape with new covers and nice descriptions, etc. 
  2. Post these to Google, iTunes, Kobo, Noot - everwhere except Amazon (yes, the hardcopy versions will show up there, anyway.) That's unless Amazon doesn't have that title in their Kindle database.
  3. Create collections of these works and give these unique titles and flashy covers/descriptions, as usual - and post these to Amazon as well as everywhere else. (Now your 6 books can become 9 or more...)

Everyone wins at this.

  • All your readers get high-quality books in the format(s) they want.
  • You choose the races you want to win, and win all the races you choose. 
  • The race tracks have their nice little races just the way they want them.

Have fun with this...

No comments:

Post a Comment