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Old 04-28-2011, 09:12 PM   #1
David Marseilles
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Harmonizing Kindle Direct and Smashwords

Challenge #1: Amazon has a minimum list price of $0.99 for indies.
Challenge #2: Amazon will match or remove (with no apparent consistency) if you list the same book free elsewhere.

I'm planning to self-publish part 1 of my first novel around June. I've been planning through the various stages of releasing the 3 parts of the novel and thinking about how to embrace Amazon's system while still managing to market my book with the resources that I have. Like many aspiring self-publishers, free books are an important element in my marketing plan. At the same time, however, I can hardly ignore Amazon's audience.

Question #1: Does Amazon detect 100% off coupons (assume that at least some are publicly posted) from smashwords and match accordingly, or might they only be watching list prices? I realize this might not be a question answerable with any certainty, but I appreciate any experiences you might have.

Scenario 1: Assuming Amazon would notice coupons and take action according to their policies, I plan to delay listing at Amazon during a timed marketing blitz for each release, and then list with Amazon months after each Smashwords release and cease issuing coupons thereafter.

As a downside to the first scenario, I'd have to cut off the free book portion of the marketing at an arbitrary point, and might miss my moment to gain some traction.

Scenario 2: Release individual parts 1-3 on Smashwords, and then release the compilation on Amazon once it is completed around December. My hope being that I could continue to coupon each individual part on Smashwords forever without breaching Amazon's pricing terms for the compilation. Titles of the parts would be Subtitle: Book X of Main Title, while the title of the Amazon compilation would Main Title + The Complete Series (or hopefully a compilation indicator with a little more pizazz ).

As a downside to this second scenario, I would be losing exposure on Amazon in the intervening period and potentially running into readers during marketing that might have read me from Amazon but weren't willing to create a smashwords account to get the freebie.

Question #2: Looking at the above 2 scenarios, do you have any advice or cautions?

I realize delistings by Amazon would not be permanent, but I hesitate to send any messages to potential Amazon readers that I'm an amateur, and I fear my book alternately appearing and disappearing might highlight fact. While it's true that I'm an amateur, not everything that's true should be advertised. So if I can, I'd like to avoid making avoidable mistakes.

Thank you in advance for any comments. I've been benefiting from great mobileread advice even before joining, and the community is always helpful.
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Old 04-28-2011, 09:43 PM   #2
TrineDaely
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My thought would be to do the Amazon distribution through Smashwords instead of separately, but I'm new at this myself.
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Old 04-28-2011, 09:57 PM   #3
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If Smashwords has begun distribution through Amazon, it is news to me. I'm not sure that would solve the underlying issue, though. I would think Amazon would still enforce their pricing policy (unless "Smashazon" wasn't a prank ).

I do appreciate you taking the time to post, and welcome to mobileread.
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Old 04-28-2011, 10:12 PM   #4
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I would guess that there's no chance at all that Amazon searches for 100% off coupon offers. That seems like way too much time, effort and expense. I'm prepared to be wrong, but I really doubt it.
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Old 04-28-2011, 10:31 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Marseilles View Post
If Smashwords has begun distribution through Amazon, it is news to me. I'm not sure that would solve the underlying issue, though. I would think Amazon would still enforce their pricing policy (unless "Smashazon" wasn't a prank ).
AFAIK, Smashwords doesn't distribute through Amazon. You can send people to Smashwords for MOBI files, though. It's an additional distribution channel.

One potential strategy (that I'm doing while my Kindle book is busy being listed) is to list your book on your own site (if you have one). I think on your own site, you would be able to price the book whatever you wanted.
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Old 04-28-2011, 10:46 PM   #6
David Marseilles
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carld View Post
I would guess that there's no chance at all that Amazon searches for 100% off coupon offers. That seems like way too much time, effort and expense. I'm prepared to be wrong, but I really doubt it.
That does seem like it would be a million times tougher than monitoring list prices. Good point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bhartman36
One potential strategy (that I'm doing while my Kindle book is busy being listed) is to list your book on your own site (if you have one). I think on your own site, you would be able to price the book whatever you wanted.
They theory being similar to carld's, that while Amazon will auto monitor list prices at known competitors, tracking every nook and cranny is harder? That makes sense.

I suppose I should look at the actual policy language and see if there is a real violation with 100% off coupons. If the language goes to the list price itself, it wouldn't even be just about avoiding punishment, there would be no violation in the first place.

Thank you both for posting
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Old 04-28-2011, 10:49 PM   #7
TrineDaely
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"Smashwords and Amazon are working to complete technical integration" is what it reads in my distribution manager on Smashwords. I opted out of Amazon because I already published it there first, but I plan to do the next through Smashwords and avoid the PITA that the KDP upload is.
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Old 04-28-2011, 10:59 PM   #8
David Marseilles
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They've had some sort of agreement since 2009. I have no idea what the specifics of the hold up are, or if Smashwords has even disclosed that, but I'm not sure I'd count on them being ready for your next book if you are close to publishing. Smashwords' 2011 April Fool's prank even made fun of this very failing.
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Old 04-28-2011, 11:12 PM   #9
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Thanks for the info and the laugh David! I just knew there was something listed, so it looked promising, but if it's better to publish on both and just do coupons on Smashwords, I'll go that route. I stopped in this thread more to gain info than anything else, so I look forward to seeing more replies that can clarify everything.

Last edited by TrineDaely; 04-28-2011 at 11:13 PM. Reason: brain not working properly atm
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