About Me

Tollesbury, Essex, United Kingdom
I was born in the Summer of 1969 in Dagenham, just on the border of East London. School was largely unproductive but enjoyable, setting me up for something of a wayward but interesting life! On leaving school I had various jobs including putting up stalls at Romford Market, working in a record shop, putting up ceilings, gardening and road sweeping. After resigning from an insurance company to play in a band, I found myself unemployed for two years. Then finally I got back on my feet and I've been a psychiatric nurse since 1997. I wrote A Cleansing of Souls when I was 22 years old and followed it up with Tollesbury Time Forever almost twenty years later. I started writing The Bird That Nobody Sees in September 2011 and it was released in July 2012. In terms of writing, my heroes are Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck. I would also include Kris Kristofferson, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits as literary influences. So that's me I guess - scruffy, happy and in love with literary fiction, music and life...

Thursday, 22 March 2012

My KDP experience so far...Blog 2







Blog Post 2
The Sales Reports
The KDP Community Forum
KDP Customer Service
Summary

The Sales Reports
Ah! The blessing and the curse that is the sales report! Can you imagine? Every time someone downloads your book the numbers change in front of you! It might not seem much but it quickly becomes more addictive, frustrating, doom-laden and ecstacy inducing than most things this side of the law. But you have to press that F5 key to see any changes. Believe me, you are soon hanging on every hour without a sale thinking - "that's it - nobody else is going to buy my book" before BLAM another one is downloaded! And you can't help but hope it is the start of something big and magical. When you realise it's not it smacks you right the other way. Then you begin to suspect that there is a problem with the reporting mechanisms, urged on by others in the desperation forum threads. You email KDP (more of that later!) and before you know it another sale comes in. But did it come in because they fixed something or was there really just that massive gap between sales. It's an absolute mind-f**k my friends! But once you have access to these figures, imagine not having access?? Then you realise that actually, despite the frustration and the downtimes that thrill of watching those little numbers increase is worth all the standing on the bedroom window ledge...

Positives:

  • you get exact sales figures daily and royalty figures weekly and monthly
  • you can work out some form of correlation between promotion and sales
Negatives
  • you get exact sales figures daily and royalty figures weekly and monthly
  • you can lose sight of the fact that this is a long game, not a quick win game
  • you will need a new F5 key at some stage
The KDP Community Forum
Being new to all this I naturally assumed that forums would be full of helpful, like-minded individuals all enamoured with this wonderful Indie Publishing revolution. The Amazon Forums (or the Zoo as many refer to them) soon made me realise differently. Within a few days of publication I happened to mention that I had got some nice reviews. I was instantly accused of paying for them, having members of my family write them who hadn't read the book and basically scamming the system. I responded in a sadly typical sarcastic fashion and had my post deleted by Amazon along with a warning. Wow, I thought. Nobody told me about this. And I haven't been back there since. So when I saw KDP had there own forum I was very pleased. Again, naively perhaps, I thought this would be new, excited authors all in this together, a new era, a bright new thing. Now generally the comments are not as nasty or as malicious as some of those at The Zoo but you still have to be careful. It's a bit like an old pub where you get your regulars, your crotchety old codgers in the corner, your groups of happy-go-lucky chaps and one or two people that shouldn't be allowed out of their own houses. But overall there is some very good advice given. So be polite, don't brag, don't promote and try and be as helpful to others as possible. Just make sure you wear a heavy coat and don't spill anybody's pint!

Positives:
  • KDP Forum offers excellent advice for the beginner and the experienced
  • you don't feel quite so alone when things aren't going too well
  • more or less any query you have has already been answered on one of the threads
  • far better than the Amazon forums 
Negatives:
  • finding the helpful threads amongst the arguments can be a little difficult at first
  • easy to isolate yourself if you're not careful
KDP Customer Service 
Let me start by saying I think Amazon completely underestimated the uptake for KDP. That may be one of the reasons why their customer service is so, well, varied in its response. I have used them maybe four times, the first three times I got a standard email of acknowledgement stating the problem would be resolved within two days. And it was. Excellent. At the beginning of March though I had an issue whereby 3 sales were placed in the Free Price Match column (indicating that my book was free on another site and Amazon had made my book free in response and 3 people had downloaded it.) This clearly was wrong as my book has never been available anywhere else. I queried this immediately and the matter is still to be resolved. I have had six emails stating they are working on it, two that it has been resolved and one stating it is being looked at right now. So, to be honest, the jury is still out. They have an incredibly complex job and 3 misplaced sales is perhaps not top of their agenda. Still, they offer a service and should therefore be able to provide it.

Positives:
  • good initial response to queries
  • seems to be manned by real people
  • they have a vested interested in making the system work
Negatives:
  • variable response times
  • passed from one department to the other
  • don't always get back to you within the time-frame they set
Summary
KDP is a wonderful invention which provides a fantastic opportunity to authors to get their work out to a paying audience. There are no quality controls to speak of and maybe that's for the best. To my mind to share your words with another is a basic human right that has been eroded over the years by agents and publishers who value money above all else. I'd be wrong therefore to claim foul when I see some of the things that are published via KDP.

I can see KDP changing over the next year or so, particularly in regard to the Free Promotions which so clearly propel some books into the charts which may not otherwise have been there - coupled with the indifferent financial figures released by Amazon recently. 

For me the positives outweigh the negatives in all areas.

Now where has that pesky F5 key run off to again...    


So thank you for reading my early experiences of KDP. And guess what? You now have the chance to have a direct impact on any future updates! Yes, just by clicking on the link below! (of course it's a link to my novel - you've got to try haven't you?!)

Tolllesbury Time Forever - Amazon UK
Tollesbury Time Forever - Amazon US

Cheers fine people!!

8 comments:

Eve said...

Just a quick note - I'm a recently published indie author -- and I, too, thought that the online community would be supportive.

I just got into my first online "argument" with a jerk on one of the Goodreads.com author groups. I said, "I want to review women's lit, 'cause my book is women's lit) and he hijacked my thread, told me I was "missing out" and then plugged his book and THEN sent me an email telling me his book was "the best" and that it was too bad I couldn't review "the best" book out there.


Dude was a major dick. And the "moderator" refuses to delete the thread.

Moral of the story: the internet is filled with assholes.

I feel you on the F5 button, too. :)

Stu Ayris said...

Sorry you had to go through that Eve!

Equally there are some wonderfully supportive people out there too - but just like in real life they're a little quieter and not so obvious. But when you find them they are priceless. I'm one by the way and I know a few others! Perhaps we should start some underground movement of nice people that just want to be nice to others and help them on there way!

Eve said...

yes, i have met some really wonderful people in the indie community.

i love your idea of an underground community of only nice indie authors. :) count me in!

Anonymous said...

Isn't the protagonist called Simon Gregory and not "Simon Anthony"?

Stu Ayris said...

It was until a rather disgruntled Simon Gregory knocked at my door asking why I had written a book with him in it!

Khaalidah said...

I self published my novel in 2008 through Xlibris. At the time I was working full time and in school and raising children one of whom was graduating high school and another who was entering college. Time was short. I thought that Xlibris' "promotion campaign" would propel me to superstardom. It didn't As a matter of fact, they've only tried to get me to invest more money in "stuff" with them that is supposed to help me sell. Done.
Last Novemeber I decided it was time to get on the sell this book already bandwagon. I'm working it. I've joined Goodreads and have given away free copies and am trying to write at least one guest post monthly (no luck so far this month), and all the little tricks I can learn along the way to gain exposure. I'm still not getting rich. Hell, I'm not even sure if I've made any sales, BUT, I have entered a fantastic online writing community that I wouldn't give up for anything. The camaraderie has been priceless and I do see a improvement...I do have a handful of great 5* reviews. That's a plus. Slow going, that's for certain.
@Eve, I hate that you've had that experience on Goodreads. Some people are just unkind. I'm going to look for you on Goodreads and friend you, if you don't mind.
Best luck to everyone and thanks Simon for this great post!

Bob Sanchez said...

Simon, thank you for the detailed and thoughtful post. I looked at the KDP forums once and got the impression it was just a bunch of people telling each other about their books--hell, it's all I would have done.

Amazon has been good to me so far, though I'm still waiting for my first check. While my options remain open, it's likely I'll be sticking with them for a good bit.

Stu Ayris said...

Thank you Bob for your comments. It's all about working your way through the minefield I guess - fortunately on the forums there is such a wealth of information that you can get the best of it without suffering the worst!

The name's Stuart by the way - Simon is the main character in Tollesbury Time Forever! ; )