Self-Publishing Series: Understanding the Rules

broke the rules

I mention in the book – Write to Launch – that when you’re producing a paperback or ebook you need to understand and follow the rules of the publishing platform you are using. The thing is that this piece of advice works for EVERY system you are going to use to create your platform and book. This is a cautionary tale because it’s something I failed to do this week – worse still I failed to do this when launching someone else’s book.

What went wrong?

In short, if you want to do a reduced price promotion on Amazon (Kindle only) you need to be part of KDP Select, which is an exclusivity thing. When you do this you can do two types of promotions:

  • Free days – where your book is free for anyone to download from any Amazon site. Yes, there are a range of Amazon sites, basically different countries. I have done this a couple of times with Living with Intent, so I get how it works.
  • Kindle Countdown Deal – where you can reduce the price of your book and have a gradual increase over a couple of days. I planned on doing this for Write to Launch in late-May, but failed to understand the first rule of countdown deals. But there is another gotcha with countdown deals, want to know what that is?

Kindle Countdown Deals

The first rule I messed up for me is that you have to have your book enrolled in KDP Select at the same price for 30 days before you can do a countdown deal – when you give it away for free there is no minimum time. This makes complete sense, it’s so you can’t take a $2.99 book and put it up to $7.99 to discount it back down for the ‘deal’ period. But I had failed to check the rules and know the platform well enough before I wanted to use it.

The second rule, and the more important one which is even in the first line of the Help page – “Kindle Countdown Deals is a KDP Select benefit allowing authors to run limited-time discount promotions on their books available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.” Yes, that means the discount only occurs on the US and UK Amazon sites, but I didn’t read the help page. Worse still you have to configure it by marketplace, so I should have worked it out, but my brain didn’t engage that next cognitive step.

The most important aspect of this is to remember that Amazon does a geographic filter, so you can’t purchase from another country’s Amazon site if you have one in your region! See, if the filter wasn’t there then there would not be an issue, just send everyone to the US or UK sites! Since we’re based in Australia, you can see the issue with this.

We found a way around my oversight, but couldn’t do a 99c sale in Australia. I think the audience were okay with it, since we openly talked about the mistake, and I’ve learned that people are generally quite forgiving of honest mistakes – but I felt awful about the error. And I should have known! I should have read the rules! I should have made the next step from the marketplace to the implications for the Australian site!

This is why I play small

To be honest, this is one of the reasons I don’t heavily promote my content, for fear that I’ve missed something! But I don’t expect the people I go to for advice to provide me with every detail, I expect that I will have to do some of the work myself – but I don’t apply that mindset to my own content. Yes, this situation was different because I was being paid to look after the launch, and there should be an expectation that I would get this right. But it has made me very aware of an underlying fear that I work within – a fear I’ve pushed past a little, but I now have a name for it.

Importantly, for me and my client, I realised the problem very early on and put a plan in place to fix it as best we could. People have still bought the book, regardless of the mistake, and she read the top 50 in the Business Skills category on day two of the launch (if you’re interested the book is The Resilient Employee, it’s a great book to give you skills to deal with workplace change). The experience allowed me to understand that I have kicked that perfectionist trait I’ve been trying to move past for the last five years – and that was an exciting outcome in a difficult situation. But it does not excuse this oversight on my behalf, and it is not a mistake I intend on making again.

How about you? What is holding you back from putting your content out into the world? Have you had any similar fails in not learning the rules? I’d love you to share them with us – yes, it will reduce my pain 🙂

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