The mysterious ways of Amazon and kindle forums revealed.

Posted: April 25, 2011 in #self publishing

I can’t believe it has taken me two months to find out how promoting your Amazon/kindle eBooks, or POD paper books works on the various dedicated forums. Maybe it is because I have been too busy building this website and other distractions. When people talked about promoting their books on Kindle boards in America, I assumed it was owned by Amazon and that they would have a similar set up in the UK. How wrong I was.

Amazon does have its own forum in America and the UK, but they seem a little static, in that you post some PR for your books and leave it at that. I have to say though, that as of yet I have not attempted to join in the forum discussions on Amazon in the UK.

The active forum in America for eBooks is Kindle Boards. But first some history. Kindle boards started in November 2007, independent of Amazon, following the release of the first kindle. The Amazon forums of the day had a few problems with moderation and heated discussions and in 2008, members of the Amazon forums started to join Kindle boards. The majority of the new members wanted to talk about their kindles and to talk about books they had read. The growth in kindle sales, led to a growth in the membership of Kindle boards as the prime forum for kindle discussions.

From the beginning, kindle boards set the standard of heavy moderation to cut out bad language and personal attacks.

Of course, it wasn’t just kindle owners who joined, a few independent and self-published authors joined as members and took the opportunity to promote their books. This was great at first, but soon the promotion infringed on topic discussions and it was decided to set up book Bazaar, where authors could freely promote their books. Rules and decorum etiquette were put in place to prevent authors from promoting their books in unrelated topics. Authors were though allowed to use a signature in all their posts, on whichever topic they posted in and included a thumbnail of their book/s. It was thought beneficial  for kindle users to be able to could look up the books that authors had available from the authors signature if they found what the author had to say interesting.

Sometime later, Writers cafe was set up, mainly for new authors to pose questions and for readers to join in if they wished to ask questions or reply to questions from authors.

I would recommend that all new authors read the rules before posting anything. There aren’t many rules, but what there are is vitally important. As much as the readers can make you, they can also break you if you go against the rules and promote your books blatantly in their subject related forums.

Amazon forum in the UK is the same as in America. In the UK, it is early days for eBooks and the equivalent independent forum to kindle boards is Ku Forum. There is a link in the sidebar at the top of the page. Much smaller in membership than kindle boards, it is however growing as kindle sales take off in the UK and I would recommend all who read this join KU forum as eventually membership will grow and it will become the prime forum for kindle related discussions and author PR. Even now with a small membership, they receive in excess of seventeen thousand hits per month. As with kindle boards, they have rules and though the appearance of the site is different, it works in pretty much the same way.

I have not found any similar independent forums in Germany. Amazon .de, Germany has an English book forum, which seems quite lively and it is worth looking and listing the details of your book there.

If anyone has more information on, Amazon.co. uk forums, or nook boards, please post in a reply.

Footnote: I have just joined in a discussion with readers on Ku forum, that basically says, discussions are becoming heated on Amazon.co.uk and there doesn’t seem to be any moderation. Looks like history repeating itself and Ku forum will benefit.

Stop press

When I posted a link from Kindle Users Forum (KUF) in the UK, to my blog article on the mysteries of Amazon/kindle forums, following a discussion topic with readers, the owner and founder of KU forum, Lou, sent a message to thank me for mentioning them in the article.

I had only been a member of the forum for a week, so you can imagine that I was taken aback when I received his message, but somehow not surprised. This is just one example of the warm welcome I received when I joined the site. Not being one to pass up an opportunity, I messaged him back for some background information on KU Forum, for a follow up article. I was knocked out when he agreed to help and here is what I found out.

Put simply, Lou was an avid reader and a member of the UK Amazon kindle community when it first opened its doors. As a Website developer, he could see that there were shortcomings in the structure of Amazons community site, whose prime objective is to sell books and sundry equipment.

Lou searched around and looked at how other independent kindle forums were operating and found them to be centered on the American market. He decided to design and set up his own forum site, to cater for the British reader and author. His choice of forum software came down to ensuring that the forum would interface with the kindle platform, to give the best experience for kindle users, when accessing  KU Forum  from their Kindle or computer.

With the explosion in sales of kindles, he was surprised at how quickly KU Forum took off. Not one to be caught out by the demand, Lou had decided from an early stage that he wouldn’t tolerate trolls, spam and abusive behavior, which would drive members away. His moderation policy is to be fair but firm. This approach has resulted in a friendly atmosphere on the forums between moderators and members.

There are a number of features on KU Forum that are not available on Amazon, for example, when authors post PR in the authors section, tweets are automatically generated. This comes from Lou’s belief that authors are an equally important part of the mix of membership. PR from authors is set aside from the other posts and the discussion forums can be about anything, not just kindle related. Lou would encourage authors to join in these discussions and to mingle with the other members. From his experience there is far more to be gained by joining in on discussions with other members, which adds to the friendly ambience of the site.

Another feature of the site is the home page. Posts that are generated as PR are posted in full on the centre of the page as they are written and posted. Advertising is available at very reasonable rates and helps to support the onward development of the site and can negate the need to over promote, which he feels at times can be a problem, but in which he fully appreciates the authors position. These are not the only features and it is worthwhile you looking at the site and having a good look around.

Lou is constantly looking to enhance how the site works for the benefit of all and is to be commended for his efforts. I would say to all followers of my blog, that his site is more than worthy of support and if you have a blog site, go to KU Forum, enroll and to collect the html to add the badge to your site.

Note: US spellings.

Authonomy post. Members, please  leave a comment on the forum post.

© Declan Conner and declanconner.com, 2011. see sidebar copyright notice.

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Comments
  1. dannym says:

    Really interesting and useful information. I have to say that I find the promoting of my Kindle Children’s books very difficult and tend not to do much but maybe this is the way to go. – Thanks

    Like

  2. Lisa Hardy says:

    I have to admit, that I have bought a lot of authors books for my kindle from recommendations on facebook groups like “Kindle UK reading group”, and also from sites like Goodreads, bookcrossing and from other peoples blogs. There is nothing better than another readers review of a book to further your interest.

    I have bought/received books from Smashwords and NetGalley where one of the conditions is often that you have to review the book and I have done so, usually on my blog which is then posted to facebook and twitter.

    I don’t know if you have looked at all these sites for your book promotion. Amazon is good but facebook is a phenomenon and many authors, both well known and indie authors are on there promoting their books.

    Like

    • declanconner says:

      Hi Lisa, thanks for that information. I do have a facebook, goodreads and twitter profile which I use, but I have not joined with the facebook kindle reading group. I have to admit, I didn’t know it existed. I will be rectifying that as soon as I have finished this reply. I really appreciate you posting this useful information.

      Kind regards
      Declan

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  3. Rik says:

    wot, you mean this nookboards forum?

    http://www.nookboards.com/forum/index.php

    … seems fairly relaxed and not too hurried to me.

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    • declanconner says:

      Thanks for the link, Rik. I’ll pop over and take a look. I like the idea of it being relaxed. I should be uploading to smashwords soon, so it will be good to sound out the forum.

      Like

  4. Hi, Declan

    I’m active on the amazon fora and getting on quite well. As you said, it’s rather important to take a look around first. Good post. Didn’t check out many other fora yet, perhaps I’m also too busy with facebook, twitter, fora and my blog as well as editing 🙂

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    • declanconner says:

      I know the feeling. I floundered about in the UK, not knowing where to go until I found KU Forum. Like you, I find time is precious. I am behind on completing the how to format for POD on here. I also have the two proofs of my printed books sat on my dining room table waiting for my attention. Once the site is developed, I can get on with some writing and sort out the proofs for my books.

      Thanks for the encouraging comment, Stella.

      Kind regards Declan

      Like

  5. Great post, Declan!

    I also appreciate the opportunities and beware the risks at Amazon Kindle forums. It can be rewarding, time-consuming and a slightly dangerous place especially for anything seen as spam. Etiquette is essential, as there are places to promote your books and places not to. It’s also about ten times more active in the US than the UK currently. (note for UK urls, just change .com to .co.uk)

    http://www.amazon.com/tag/kindle/forum/ref=tag_cdf_hd_icdf – the main Kindle forum. Authors, beware of spamming here, just participate in discussions with classy plugs when possible.

    http://www.amazon.com/tag/kindle%20book/forum – the lesser used Kindle book forum that is mostly a free-for-all to Indie authors.

    There are dozens of other Kindle forums, especially genre related, so check it out as a good place to promote.

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    • declanconner says:

      Thanks, Mathew.

      Especially for the links and underlining the importance of not promoting in readers discussions. As I said, ‘as much as readers can make you, they can break you’.

      Like