by Maurem Kayna
After trying out several self-publishing platforms, I've recently decided to give the Brazilian Amazon a try as well. Even though Amazon is pretty relevant in the global market, I still hadn't put much effort into understanding and using it better, because I already had an ebook published through Amazon in the U.S. with Simplíssimo. The new version of the book, however, with new design and improved cover for publication at the iBookstore brought about this... need... for lack of a better word. The Simplíssimo service itself told me to create and account and manage sales directly through the Brazilian Amazon store. Well, here I am making yet another entrepreneurial test.
The registration process and file upload is indeed very simple, as Natalia Montuori, Self-Publishing Manager at Amazon Brazil, had mentioned during a talk organized by Oficina do Livro, which I attended in Porto Alegre. All you have to do is create an account (as if you were registering for an email address or a social media website) and fill in the book information, which is crucial for the eventual success of your book, since category, keywords, and title help your chances of getting the ebook found by consumers during searches.
After registering the book and confirming that you're the author of your work, you must submit a file with the cover image and the text itself, which can be a .doc or ePub file. Other formats are accepted, but these seem to be the formats that yield the best results for the final conversion. In time, the format sold by Amazon is exclusive and matches the company's proprietary ereader and/or application.
Is it worth it to sign up for Amazon KDP Select?
Sales price is set by authors, and it determines the percentage they'll receive from each sale. If authors decide to charge over $2.99 for their book, they can sign it up for the KDP Select program by Amazon, which offers some benefits.
The first benefit is that your share goes from 35% to 70% on the cover price. The second―which is very important if the author/entrepreneur is willing to have a serious promoting plan―is the possibility of offering the book for free at certain periods of time. However, all these benefits come with a price, of course. After all, we're not living in the land of plenty at the reach of our keyboards.
In order to enjoy all these benefits, authors can only sell their ebooks through Amazon. They won't be able to make the electronic version available in any other online store, nor distribute it for free on their own website. It may seem harmless, but this is something that authors must consider carefully before they get all happy about the bump in royalties. The considerations mentioned below are not a list of pros and cons, but aimed at answering some questions authors may have if they're thinking about taking a leap of faith into self-publishing, so they can make an informed decision.
Price ― Several studies have shown that ebooks sell more if they're under $2.99. So, in order to participate in the KDP Select program, you must give up this "ideal price" strategy. However, that shouldn't be seen as a limitation, because you can create a sales promotion and make your book available for free (for five days every 90-day period,) which is a really relevant advantage.
Format ― Amazon uses an exclusive format (mobi,) which means that readers who own other devices different from the Kindle (such as Sony, Kobo, Alpha, etc) will not be able to read your ebook without first tweaking it a little to bypass the Digital Rights Management (DRM) and convert it to ePub format. If you're not familiar with the process, odds are many readers are also unaware of these technical issues pertaining to the world of ebooks.
Actually, Amazon does have free apps available for their ebooks to be read in any computer, tablet, or smartphone, but that's only partially comforting, especially if the author is a newcomer and/or relatively unknown. At least in Brazil, people buying ebooks are reading them in ereaders or iPads, and it seems that Apple is still leading ebook sales in the country. If you have an iPad, you can read books bought at Amazon without any worries, but if you have a Kobo, Sony or any other ereader different from the Kindle, you'll have problems accessing your book.
Visibility ― For those well-known authors, for whom readers are already looking and anxiously awaiting their new title, having your books available in a single location is not a handicap. However, if you're a newcomer, you need as much exposure as possible, you need to have a presence in as many sales platforms as you can. Keep that in mind. Of course, if you don't have a structured promotion plan, it doesn't matter whether your book is for sale in one or ten online stores.
What not to expect (neither from KDP or any other self-publishing platform) ― This is a good tool that provides great control over sales, whether you have signed in for KDP Select or not. Nevertheless, as it happens with other self-publishing platforms, it's only one more tool available to authors who are trying to find their place in the sun right before the readers' eyes. In order to become visible and find your audience―which is something rare in Brazil―you need to promote your work the smart and creative way. Never ever do anything to upset readers!
The sole purpose of this tool is to make your book available for sale and free you from the bureaucracy of registering your business to issue invoices, sales receipts and the like. You "pay" for it as your book sells, giving Amazon a commission on the cover price, which you set yourself. The rest is all up to you.
MAUREM KAYNA is a Brazilian author born in the State of Rio Grande do Sul in 1972. In addition to working as a Forest Engineer since 1994, she has always been passionate about books, words, and libraries ever since she can remember. In 2010, she published an ebook called Pedaços de possibilidade, inspired by her blog of the same name. She also had a short story translated into English and published by the Contemporary Brazilian Short Stories project, and more recently she launched an interactive literary site available in three languages and titled Seasonal Labyrinths.