It’s not the first time I’ve tried the KDP Select program with Amazon. I enjoyed being able to run specials (5 days out of 90 required per exclusivity period). But I quickly found I could change prices on my own, whenever I wanted. (As long as I didn’t raise them above the price of other outlets.)
I tried the free book giveaway on my first novel–A Lamb in Wolfe’s Clothing (Now Waking Wolfe), and discovered something…lots of people download the free books, but few read them. I would assume that’s because those people download so many free books, they never get around to them all. So I gave up the KDP Select status and instead, went to Smashwords to get my books on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, etc, etc, etc.
Here’s the thing: Once my books broke into the mainstream and started to rise in popularity, Amazon put in place all of the tools required to capitalize on those sales, boosting sales even further. Amazon became my publicist…and a good one at that. The other outlets? Well, they seemed to care less about my growing popularity. There were entire months, quarters even, without a single purchase from them while my ranking continued to climb on Amazon. I was often lucky to get two sales per month from the other outlets.
At first I didn’t care. As far as I was concerned, I was presenting myself to the broadest audience possible by being on Amazon as well as the other outlets for eBooks. But then I started to realize, my royalties in some countries were remaining 35% on Amazon because I was no longer on the KDP Select program. and more than that, I wasn’t in the sharing program. I decided to add up the losses one day and quickly discovered I was leaving a LOT of royalties on the table by leaving my books open to the other outlets. I was losing more in one month than I had made over the entire year on the other outlets…combined.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not all about the money (Though I must admit a genuine gratitude to the writing Gods for giving me the opportunity to make a living on my authorly skills.) No. It’s also about coverage. Let’s face it. When an author begins to write, the goal is to affect as many people as possible with those scribblings. Amazon does that very well.
In a free market, the best product succeeds. I know there are exceptions to that rule, but in the eBook world, Amazon has created a product that delivers many, many, MANY times the rewards as the others. And the others seem to be unconcerned with that gap (unconcerned enough to take steps to close that gap anyway). Forget that the device distribution is lower for the other outlets, a simple software modification would identify those Indie authors who are climbing the charts elsewhere and capitalize on it (If for no other reason than to tap into a new revenue source). But they seem unwilling or unable to do even that.
In the old days, when an author signed with a publisher, they signed with one company that would be responsible for the distribution. Though Amazon is placing itself at the head of the new ePublishing industry, asking for exclusivity for the type of distribution/promotion they do for authors is not a new concept. I’m not saying my position won’t change. I’m not saying that Amazon is the only answer for the ePublishing universe. But I am saying, right now, Amazon is my publisher. And as long as they produce as they have and have promised, and as long as no one else can match their skill, reach and tenacity in promotion, I will remain signed with them.
I actually hope the other guys can get their acts together. I don’t think it’s necessarily healthy for one company to be such a singularly dominant force in any industry. But the other outlets can’t expect authors to leave their living on the table simply to make a statement about monopolies…not in the numbers they need to grow, and certainly not with the lack of commitment they seem to have for the Indies. Show us you care about your authors and those positions could change, until then, having our books listed on your channels actually costs us money–and though I like you, I don’t like you enough to lose money (or audience) for you.