British indie author Katharine E Smith of Heddon Publishing reports on her day in Manchester at the Amazon Marketing Academy at the end of last month. Judging by her experience, it's well worth making time to book a place at this free event if you see it popping up in a venue near you. Read on to find out why.
I was really happy when I found out there was an event I could attend outside London; it was good to see the North of England getting a look in.
The publishing event was one part of a much wider Amazon Academy conference. Attendance was free and even included lunch – although, as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch and arguably, as authors and publishers, we’ve more than paid for a lunch at Amazon’s expense.
What I Learned about KDP
The initial session was with Amazon’s Darren Hardy, who talked us through the KDP publishing process. No matter how many times you’ve done something, I think it’s always possible to learn something new.
I learned two things:
- This now seems obvious although may be a recent change: when setting Kindle pricing, you can choose a Primary Marketplace, rather than a default Amazon.com, from which pricing for other territories can flow. You can choose to opt out of this and set each separately if you prefer.
- If you are an Amazon Associate, you can embed a link on your website for a preview of a book. Resulting click-throughs will earn you a little bonus on any purchase made.
What I Learned about Writing a Bestseller
There followed a session called How to Write a Bestseller, which I think is a pretty brave title, with the potential to make attendees roll their eyes, but the two authors, Keith Houghton and Tracy Bloom, were very down-to-earth and engaging. As a fiction writer, I like to hear how others work. Their styles contrasted markedly, from edit-as-you-go to very methodical planning, with a story flow-chart and questionnaires for characters.
What I Learned about Book Marketing
The third session was Marketing Your Book.
The non-fiction angle was covered by Joseph Alexander, whose range of guitar tuition books has a very specific target market, and features add-ons such as audio downloads.
Ideas for marketing fiction included engaging book bloggers, and using the KDP Select options such as free promos and Countdown days. Also, contacting local media: they are usually hungry for stories.
Whether fiction or non-fiction, quality is key: your cover, book design, editing and blurb/book description have got to stand up.
Finally, the all-important marketing tool, which we are hearing about everywhere, is the mailing list.
What I Learned about the Author Business
After a very nice FREE lunch, we returned for the final session: The Business of Being an Author. ALLi’s very own Paul Teague was a member of the panel, and the subject matter was more commercially-focused, with the impetus on being a business: being willing to invest a little where you can, and to outsource work where possible.
I don’t know if I am alone in feeling this way (I suspect not), but in honesty I left the day feeling both inspired and slightly downhearted.
In my life as an author I am a long way from where I’d like to be and sometimes when I hear such great success stories, I feel like seriously small fry. But without events like this, it is possible to feel isolated, and miss out on the advice which people are very generously sharing.
There are so many avenues to follow, but some of the key messages were:
- Make yourself write and avoid distractions
- Quality cover, content and blurb
- Build your mailing list
- Outsource work where you can
- Take the business of being an author seriously
Overall, this was a really positive event and I came away feeling even more strongly that great things can come from independent publishing.
OVER TO YOU If you've been to a similar event and have other points to add to Katharine's list, we'd love to hear about them!What indie authors can learn from the @Amazon Academy by @PublishHeddon Click To Tweet
OTHER GREAT POSTS ABOUT AMAZON & KDP FROM THE ALLi ARCHIVE