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A Case Study about Joe Konrath’s Success with KDP Select

Posted on 2013-Feb-17

by Paul Salvette

After having spent the entire morning looking here and there to find a voluminous source of marketing-related information for our dear authors to boost their sales, I read industriously yet retraced my reading progress to one place that has it all. It has been a long journey sidestepping into the arresting information about all things eBook.

Joe Konrath’s Case Study


Although I am not a great fan of any long post (longer than 1,000 words), this blog provided by Joe Konrath is an exception. Unlike frequently-read industry news, Joe focuses on his commercial insights in plain words for anyone to understand. If you’re like me that math puts a deadly spell on my brain, the combination of success stories will make you continue reading to the end of his reasoning prowess. It is an undeniable quest for every self-publisher to overcome the discoverability in their lifelong career. As an author, you must do whatever you can in your ability to light your eBooks into the sky where every reader can see, remember, and purchase. But the problem is there are already so many ingredients for you to make your book shine and each one brings different results.

Success Doesn’t Come Easy


In one huge and epic chapter Joe Konrath openly discusses the success he had on KDP Select and generously shares mathematical evidence. Although the second paragraph might lure you into thinking that his income was so delightful, it was the long process of experimenting with different marketing strategies that were truly useful for many (I will come back to this point later). As usual, Joe does not wait to share his technique how five-day giveaways of The List propelled him into a Top 10 earner in Free category. Even after the free run, he still enjoyed the dynamic sales north of $3,000 in 12 days.

Despite adopting the same free promotion, the second novel, Afraid, did not enjoy the same level of success. However, he still showed the confidence in the platform that the giveaway had upgraded his second novel’s rank. Joe continued another experiment by giving away 20,000 eBooks under one of the pseudonyms he chose not to disclose. Based on this anonymity model, he does not always have to rely on an established name to sell his books; readers make their choices according to their budget in the wallet; lots of money was earned in a few weeks.

“A Rising Tide Raises All Boats”


Shortly after his Jack Daniels series book was brought back on the shelf, Joe teamed it with Bloody Mary that made it to #2 on the Top 100 Free list. This book helped him achieve a stable source of income. Moreover, another book, Whiskey Sour, was expected to live in the limelight that their peers had lived. Combining these chart-topping books together results in the greater discoverability for readers to see, remember, and purchase. The more frequent readers see the book in charts, the higher chance they will buy convinced to buy. Apart from sales, the amount of borrows seems to be a winning factor on Kindle Select platform that provides sustainable income for authors. Joe speculates that Kindle Select can increase his sales record up to phenomenal 50% or more.

Diversifying Sales Strategy and Markets


In light of his successful promotional run, he sees how giveaway can boost sales even after the free promotion period ends. Although this strategy can be unpredictable for some, it is worth investing time and energy putting as many titles as possible on the shelf and trusting the Amazon algorithm to work its magic. With over 50 titles in the market, he will continue to experiment with Kindle Select while preserving the choice to publish his books with other retailers e.g. Kobo, B&N, Sony, Apple, and Smashwords. “I don’t like to exclude fans because they chose a different ereading device” said Joe Konrath. Personally, this thinking system can allow any author to diversify their sales strategy to approach their readers virtually everywhere.

Translating Your Work into Spanish or French, Maybe?


A self-published author is likened to a CEO in terms of making decision. They should not only try different distribution channels, but also pricing strategies also need to be flexibly adjusted (i.e. raising, discounting, or bundling). Potential opportunities in sales are so endless that you always keep an eye on crafting a new approach to entice readers. If you have a good relationship with other authors, the collaborative effort can be worth exploring. Short stories are valuable in their own right. Translating your work into other languages can help expand your fanbase, but read the post below with caution.

If your first language that springs to your mind is Spanish, this analytical post from Publishing Perspectives will give you the direct insight of how the Latin America region is divided territorially. The percentage of tablets possession (iPad) is far greater than eReader (Papyre) at this moment. One country’s success story might be another insignificant case study. While Latin America might be too huge to focus, France is opening to the whole new world. According to Electron Libre, 14% of the French have read an eBook. On a separate occasion, the French Prime Minister predicted that eBooks would benefit the book industry given the fact that brick-and-mortal bookstores are not performing very well.

Working with the Publishing Options of Amazon


Back to Joe’s post, he praises how Amazon Publishing is “author-friendly” to be an “equal business partner.” The platform helped him to promote and constantly sell his books. Perhaps, having control over his assets equals to distributing products across various markets to lessen the risk and reach a wider group of audience. Having professed in experimenting with marketing strategies, he now aspires to make his own choice rather than being told what to do. This freedom of choice has taught him many lessons and, most importantly, how to be an ethical person to share his valuable insights among future independent CEOs.

Experiment & Learn


In essence, eBook distribution poses greater challenges for self-publishers to experiment and keep learning from different strategies. There is no right or wrong in this school for you to pinpoint how to be successful. The more you distribute your quality products to the market, the higher chance consumers will pick your product off the shelf. Once that road of recognition is cemented, you can use every ounce of creativity to productively build your career as an author and look for new markets that will effectively put you in the hall of fame among other chart-topping colleagues.

Label: Marketing

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