Considering Our International Audience

Photo credit: Karen Roe via Visualhunt.com / CC BY

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Are your books available to an international audience?  I’ve found that my international sales have picked up after I implemented a few tweaks.

First off, do you have an Amazon Author Central profile on the international sites that support them?  Be aware that, depending on the site, you may need to create a new login (instead of using your usual Amazon login), and that some sites don’t have all the features that others do.  You can use Google Translate to help you with a bio, etc. (my recommendation would be to go very basic with it) or you could pay a translator at a site like Fiverr to have your bio inexpensively translated.

USA
UK
Germany
France
Japan

Amazon India also has an Author Central, but our profile populates automatically there.

Here is the list of international Amazon sites (not all of them offer Author Central):

Visiting the sites can be very helpful, in terms of figuring out our international pricing.  Let’s take Mexico as an example.  I visited the Amazon Mexico site (translating the page to English with a click of my mouse), and searched for my genre, cozy mystery, in the Kindle store.  I sorted the results by popularity and could see that the most popular in that category were priced between 114–$123 peso.  According to Google’s currency calculator, that’s between $6.04 and $6.51 US dollars.  For me, that’s a bit high.  I also saw on that page books as low as 0.00 and 38.41 peso, which is  $2.03.  Better.

amazon-mexico

So, instead of just basing the international prices on our US prices, we can look on the sites, see which books are selling well, and price accordingly (or at least use it as a guide).

Another thing to consider is our international print distribution. Although Amazon does a great job distributing ebooks to foreign markets, it’s good to evaluate our approach for print distribution.  Printed books are expensive overseas because the shipping costs are exorbitant.

One alternative is to use IngramSpark to fulfill international print orders. They have printers all over the world and distributing print on demand from these printers helps to defray the readers’ shipping  costs. As David Penny wrote in his article for the Alliance of Independent Authors a year ago:

Ingram has facilities in the US, UK, France and Australia, and services other territories through partner arrangements. As of 2015 there are partners in Germany, Russia, Poland, Brazil and South Korea. By the end of 2016 they will be putting in place partner arrangements in South America, South Africa, China and India.

You can use the same interior and cover PDFs you uploaded to CreateSpace to upload to IngramSpark, but because there are some differences between the two businesses, you may need to get your spine tweaked (I believe there is a difference in page thickness).  If you go this route, you’ll want to opt out of expanded distribution at CreateSpace.  Additionally, you’ll need an ISBN for your book to be published by Ingram (not the free one that you may get from CreateSpace).  There is, as well, a set-up fee for IngramSpark of $49 a book, although there are frequently coupons to reduce or waive that cost.

Personally, I’ve found going on IngramSpark worth it.  Last month I netted twice as much from them as from CreateSpace.

Additional reading and resources: 

A Facebook group called The International Indie Author, headed by writer Mark Williams.  You will need to ask permission to join.

I’ve referred to this article by Giacomo Giammetteo before, but it’s such an excellent overview of CreateSpace vs. IngramSpark that I’ll list it again: Watchdog: Ingram Spark vs CreateSpace for Self-publishing Print Books .

Have you got Author Central profiles for the different international Amazon sites?  How do your international print sales look?  Any tips that I’m missing?

Tips for expanding our international audience: Click To Tweet

Photo credit: Karen Roe via Visualhunt.com / CC BY

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25 thoughts on “Considering Our International Audience

  1. This is really useful, Elizabeth! I think it’s easy to forget that what we see on Amazon isn’t what other folks in other countries see on their countries’ Amazon pages. And it’s so important to be accessible like that in other countries. Thanks for the reminder to take care of that.

  2. I only have Author Central pages in the US and the UK. The language barrier thing freezes me every time. I know you can use various sites to translate, but how do you know if the translation is right or isn’t so far off you look like a fool? I do pick up sales every once in a while in AU and CAN, but they don’t have an author page functions. Darn them.

    1. B.E.–I run it through some translation tools to try to minimize the possiblity of issues, and I keep the bio worded much simpler than my US/UK bio so that it would be easier to translate. Probably the most important thing is to list our website and newsletter signup there. Everything else is just gravy.

      And hopefully they’ll give us a bit of a break if it’s awkward…we’re English speakers, pretty clearly

  3. I’d adjusted all foreign markets to match US markets for print books. I suppose those could be adjusted downward to fit the market, but not by much. I don’t like to drop below $2 profit per book.

  4. You forgot Canada! I have an author’s page, but whether it’s in other countries, I’m not sure. I’ll go check. Thanks! I do believe it’s in US and Canada.

      1. It’s okay, Elizabeth. I was teasing you. I did go and look and it seems if you have an amazon page in Canada or the US, you’re on both. Good to know! Thanks for your insight. I went in, cleaned up my author page, and added all the updates necessary. Had I not visited your site today, I wouldn’t have thought of this. Thanks!

  5. Hi Elizabeth – really useful post … and we need to check all things and work out the best deal for us … so many countries! Cheers Hilary

  6. A very helpful post, Elizabeth! I know I’ve been picking your brain about this lately, so I really appreciate you laying it all out. I’m in some of the other countries through Amazon Author Central (UK, France, Germany, and Japan…maybe India?), but I wrote my bio in English, figuring if they are reading my books they can read English. None of my books have been translated into other languages.

    1. Kathy–You inspired me to revisit the topic. :)

      You make a good point about *not* worrying about translating the bio. And I’m thinking a non-truncated link to our website should be relatively easy to understand in most languages (especially if it’s our name and a .com).

  7. For countries in which you have not set up a profile, does it default to the US price on Amazon that you set? And if you set a price lower than the US in a foreign country, does US Amazon tag that as undercharging and convert the US price to the lowest? I know it does this on other platforms (iBooks, etc.). How do you get around Amazon’s automatic system not thinking your foreign prices are cheaper than in the US, or is that not an issue?

    1. BP–Actually, we control all our international prices on our regular KDP dashboard. And, sadly, Amazon seems to have thought of all exigencies with this. If we set that we want to receive 70% royalty, for instance, and we set the price for the book in Brazil too low, we see this message pop up: “Price must be between R$5.99 and R$24.99 to be eligible for 70% royalty for sales in Brazil. You will earn 35% royalty at this price.”

  8. Thanks for the shout out for the Facebook International Indie Author Group, Elizabeth.

    In fact Mark Leslie Lefebvre of Kobo has been there today discussing international sales through Kobo.

    A couple of small points re your main post.

    While Amazon has a Kindle China store it is not accessible through KDP. The best option for China is the Beijing-based translation-distributor operator Fiberead. They got me to #1 in Kindle China and several other (bigger) Chinese ebook stores.

    Watch out for a likely Kindle Singapore site next year as Amazon prepares to expand across SE Asia. Currently Amazon operates its Kindle India store from Singapore.

    Also to bear in mind that outside of the Amazon Kindle countries Amazon surcharges readers (a $2.99 ebook will cost $4.99 in South Africa or Norway) and in many parts of the world the Kindle store is not visible on the Amazon site.

    By comparison Apple has 51 global ebook stores, Google Play has 75 global ebook stores and Kobo has potential reach across most of the world.

    Kobo Writing Life just last month added new territorial pricing options so we can price as we like across twenty countries, including listing at 0.00, 0.99 or 5.99 for the same title in different territories.

    Kobo is also working closely with OverDrive. OverDrive sends our ebooks to 40,000 digital libraries around the world in fifty languages.

    For maximum global ebook reach (c. 500 global retail outlets plus 50,000 global libraries and a dozen global subscription services like Playster and Bookmate) at no upfront cost we need to be using Smashwords, StreetLib, PublishDrive and Draft2Digital.

    PublishDrive has just set up fantastic new global sales analytics.

    1. Hi Mark. Thanks for stopping by. And thanks for all the resources you provide for writers.

      I need to check back in with Fiberead. I first read about them on TeleCrunch last year and submitted some work for them in March of 2015. Aside from signing some updated contracts along the way, I haven’t kept up. Thanks for the reminder to do so!

      You make an excellent case for making sure our books ‘go wide’ with distribution to all retailers. I ascribe to this as well and use Draft2Digital to help me with distribution (and just, honestly, to stay organized with a single dashboard). I’m also with Smashwords which works with OverDrive (I don’t think D2D is yet).

      I’ll need to check out PublishDrive. Thanks for the tip and thanks for your organized, thoughtful comment, Mark!

      1. A final follow-up (promise!) – Draft2Digital is a very smooth ride but neither D2D nor Smashwords get us into Google Play. PublishDrive and StreetLib do.

        PublishDrive and StreetLib are both alternatives to Smashwords for OverDrive and unlike with Smashwords, StreetLib and PublishDrive titles go into OverDrive without being put into the self-published section.

        Also, OverDrive does not accept erotica from Smashwords, but has no restriction on erotica titles from other distributors.

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