Time to tackle the burning question for indie authors: Should I go exclusive with Amazon?
For any self-published indie author, Amazon is a big factor in many decisions. I’ve written before about the 800 lb gorilla that is the Amazon review. The reason Amazon is so important to reviews is the same reason it’s so important to an author’s sales strategy: it’s the single biggest distributor of books, especially e-books. And with their Kindle Select offering, Amazon offers marketing and sales incentives in exchange for not distributing your e-book with anyone else.
So, the question boils down to, do I want to get a bigger slice of a smaller pie? What’s an indie author to do?
Since the experience of every author and book is different, I won’t go over the nuts and bolts of the two different distribution models. Smarter bloggers, such as David Gaughran and Derek Haines, have done this better than I ever could. Rather, I wanted to share my personal experience with my first novel and how that’s shaped and continuing to shape my decision around Kindle Select.
The Best Laid Plans…
I originally went with Kindle Select as a launch strategy. As a debut author, my main concern is getting eyeballs on my work without any name recognition. Kindle Select allows your e-book to listed in Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s e-lending library. It also makes running a Kindle Countdown sale easier and more profitable, and those are where most of my sales spikes happen. And it’s only exclusive for e-books, not the paperback.
I had thought by this point, nearly a year on, I would be moving off Kindle Select. I thought I’d be putting Sparrow Squadron on distributors such as iBooks, Google Play, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. Although Amazon is the biggest player, those other channels are not an insignificant chunk of the market. The Amazon exclusivity may also be a barrier to getting the e-book to libraries. [I haven’t researched this yet, but if someone knows more, please comment!]
But I had also thought at this point my sequel would be with the editor and I’d be working on the third and final manuscript of my series. Oh well! Thanks to my laziness and hella writer’s block, the decision was made for me.
I’m staying on Kindle Select for the time being.
The Reasons I’m Staying on Kindle Select
- Sparrow Squadron seems to chugging along nicely on Amazon and collects about as many reads via Kindle Unlimited as via individual e-book sales. I don’t want to cut off that avenue to readership (and, let’s face it, $).
- Moving onto other e-book distributors mainly means going through Smashwords. Smashwords has notoriously stringent formatting guidelines. Because I didn’t think about these formatting rules when I originally wrote Sparrow Squadron, staying on Kindle Select delays the inevitable reformatting work required. [Side lesson: in the future, I will write my e-books in MS Word using these guidelines in the first place, eliminating the need to reformat.]
- New channels means new marketing, and I need to focus on writing!
Any indie authors out there have your own thoughts on this big question? Let me know in the comments!