Monday, March 18, 2013

Exclusivity

A few weeks ago I went all-in with Amazon KDP Select, the program that allows you to make your ebook free for a period of five days, and pays you for lends to Prime members.

I didn't make this decision lightly, because I don't like the exclusivity aspect of it. I believe competition is important in the marketplace, and I want to make my ebooks available in as many outlets as possible. In choosing KDP Select I'm missing out on money from other platforms, and I'm limiting my potential fanbase.

In the past, I've played with KDP Select with a few titles, but opted out again after the three month enrollment period. And I've always tried to have the majority of my titles available on other platforms.

I did very well on Kobo in December, making $4k. I like what Mark Coker is doing with Smashwords, but I really think he needs to find an anchor beyond ebook distribution (advertising in free ebooks?) B&N has been disappointing, but I made $14k on Nook last year, which isn't chump change. I've been putting off uploading my ebooks to iTunes because I had to get a Mac (you can't upload on a PC).

I believe I understand why exclusivity is important to Amazon. If authors enroll in KDP Select, and Kindle is the only place these authors' ebooks are available, then fans of these authors need to buy them from Amazon.

This also is the reason for proprietary formats. Buy the Kindle, and the only place to easily get ebooks is the Kindle Store. You can't shop BN.com with your Kindle.

While this undeniably drives consumers to Amazon, I also think there are some other things to consider.

Amazon has the best online shopping experience. If they allowed Nook and Kobo owners to shop on Amazon.com, they'd make more money than they would catering to a proprietary format. Open source always wins. The more people you allow to join, the better you do. I think Amazon should sell ebooks in epub format. If they want to try it out, they could experiment with my ebooks. Then I wouldn't feel like I'm letting down fans who have a different ereader, and both Amazon and I would sell more copies.

Some authors refuse to go into KDP Select because it is exclusive. This means Amazon customers don't have as much selection or choice as they could have.

Amazon spends a lot of energy (which I assume means man hours and money) making sure the KDP Select ebooks are exclusive and aren't available elsewhere. If they weren't exclusive, this energy could be conserved, or used elsewhere.

Amazon is dominating this market, but if they destroy all competition they'll have to deal with government intervention and outcries of monopoly. Plus, on a capitalistic evolutionary level, competition is good. It makes everyone improve their game.

And yet, in spite of my reservations, I went all-in. Every one of my ebooks is now in KDP Select, and has been for all of March.

So was it a good move?

I just checked my 6 week KDP total, which updated yesterday, and I've made over $100,000.

More than ten grand of that is from Prime borrows (assuming $2 a borrow for March). That more than makes up for my loss of sales on other platforms.

But while the borrows are nice, it's my free ebooks that are helping me sell my backlist. My first Jack Daniels novel, Whiskey Sour, has been free for the last four days, and I've given away over 100,000 copies.

That's the most I've ever given away during a free promotion, and I'm really curious to see how high I bounce back onto the paid bestseller lists tonight. The second in the series, Bloody Mary, has earned me over $8k this month, many of those sales in the last four days because of Whiskey Sour being free.

So I gotta say I've been extremely happy about going all-in with KDPS, even though I did it with some reservations.

Now I'll take questions.

Q: Haven't you publicly ranted against the exclusivity of KDP Select? Doesn't going all-in make you a hypocrite?

A: As new data comes in, I adjust my opinions. I'm currently making $2400 a day on Amazon. About 10% of that money is coming from borrows. I have years of data from the other platforms, but I've never earned $240 a day from them, even on all of them combined.

Right now, KDP Select is giving me the opportunity to make more money, and I'm taking that opportunity.

Q: What about your fans who have Nooks or Kobos?

A: My ebooks are DRM free. They can be purchased on Amazon and converted to epub format using Calibre.

Also, Kindles are just $69, less than the cost of three hardcover books. If a reader is willing to wait long enough, they can get all of my ebooks for free because eventually I'll make each title free. So a reader can buy a Kindle, then get my entire oeuvre for nothing.

Q: Aren't you concerned you are helping Amazon become a monopoly?

A: Lots of writers seem to fear Amazon's power. But I haven't seen Amazon abuse its power, and have no reason to believe they ever will. On the contrary, I've seen them treat authors very well. They've made some mistakes (what company hasn't?) but overall they've been a writer's best friend since introducing the KDP program.

That said, Amazon isn't a monopoly. But they are setting the bar high for competition.

If other platforms want to lure me back, they can. They'll just need to do more for me than Amazon is doing. If they don't want to woo me and other authors over to them, or feel they shouldn't have to, then they aren't taking into account the importance of writers--something publishers are also famous for.

How is this any different than having competing job offers? If more than one company wants to hire you, they need to make you a better offer than their competition.

Q: Are you going to stay in KDP Select for another three months?

A: Yes.

Q: But if every writer went all-in like you did, the competition wouldn't survive.

A: It isn't my job to help other platforms succeed. It is their job to lure me to their platform.

Q: Did you hear that Apple and Amazon have patents on selling used ebooks?

A: I've been following that with interest, and I'm not going to get all worked up about something that might happen. I'll wait until there is an official announcement from Amazon or Apple, with specific money details.

But I will say this: watching my peers overreact to this news has been highly amusing. Sometimes I think writers act a lot like gazelle getting spooked at the watering hole.

Q: But what if Amazon becomes a monopoly and reduces author royalty rates to 3% and then sells used ebooks for a penny and then takes over the government and launches a nuclear strike on Canada, our friendly neighbor to the north?

A: That would be tragic. I like Canada. But I'm not going to worry about this just yet.

Q: I don't believe you made $100,000 in six weeks.

A: I don't believe it either. But I did. :)

150 comments:

Anonymous said...

Selling used ebooks - this is NOT an Onion article- although I wish it was. Very, Very ominous. I'm afraid:


http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/used-ebooks-is-a-ridiculous-idea-that-could-ruin-authors-publishers



Gary Ponzo said...

I've been all in with KDPS for almost a year now and always wonder what I may be missing elsewhere. Maybe nurturing some sales on Kobo or B&N wouldn't be a bad idea longterm. It's just that I was making more on the free borrow revenue than I was with all the other outlets combined. Amazon seems to be a step ahead of the competition when it comes to luring exclusivity. I don't think this ever crossed anyone's mind over at B&N.

bettye griffin said...

You certainly have the right to change your mind, just as anyone else does. I don't like Select, then or now. While I do have an established audience, it's nowhere the size of yours (few writers have), I can't afford to piss anyone off--nor do I feel confident that my readers will be willing to do a conversion. But we all have to do what we feel is in our own best interests (although I suspect from reader comments I've read in the past that many writers eager to replicate your success will do what works best for you as well).

Incidentally, I loved that suggestion you made about putting the book description early in the eBook to refresh readers' memories, so yes, I do read your blog regularly and do follow some of your suggestions. Thank you for being so generous and sharing your experiences with us. It can't be easy, having people constantly asking you to take a look at their covers or ask you for your position on the latest book news (likely with baited breath). Your generosity is much appreciated.

Gary Ponzo said...

As far as the used ebook scare goes--this is a doomsday scenario which will never come to fruition. There are asteroids heading towards earth every day, I really can't live my life worrying about stuff like that, it's too draining.

Joe Konrath said...

Very, Very ominous.

While you're anonymously wringing your hands with worry, I'll be over here, making money.

Seriously, stop fretting about what might happen, and focus on what is happening right now.

J.T. Bock said...

I'm a new author, and I decided to go with KDP select as a way to introduce myself to readers. I've had my book available for a month for lending, and no one has borrowed it yet. I'm doing blog tours and social media, but I believe it would be better if I had other books out there, which I'm frantically working to rectify. Have you done any special advertising of your book being available on KDP?

Congratulations on your success with this program! And thank you for all the information you've shared on indie-publishing. It has been invaluable.

Sarra Cannon said...

I've been opposed to trying KDPS because of the exclusivity, too, but that was mostly because I was working on a series I'd already started publishing on all platforms. I didn't want to cut my readers off mid-series. Now that my first series is done, I've been toying with the idea of trying KDPS on an upcoming title. I only hesitate because I don't want to inconvenience my fans on other platforms. It's a tough decision.

I definitely love the idea of allowing readers with other devices to shop for epubs, though. I don't understand why the other stores aren't working harder to make the shopping experience better. Maybe I just don't see the cost or difficulty, but it seems B&N at the very least should be working to constantly improve their store.

Sarra Cannon

Werner said...

Can anyone explain the concept of a "used ebook"?

Are the covers ripped, the pages dog-eared, notes in the margins and the spines broken?

Claire Farrell said...

There are a few reasons why I personally am against exclusivity, and I can't see myself going completely exclusive any time soon. (FYI, I think it works very well for certain authors/series/situations, but not at all for others. Everyone has to make the decision that works for them, and it's smart to adjust your decisions based on new data).

Last year, Amazon removed one of my books (without contacting me) for two weeks because of a mistaken copyright infringement claim (that was immediately retracted). Readers contacted me letting me know the book wasn't available, and it took multiple emails from myself and the publishing house representative to Amazon to sort out the issue.

The writing thing is my family's only income, so I made a decision to avoid depending on any one book or retailer, but other people do, and that kind of action could have had a major impact on them. (Yet another reason to write more books, people).

Not all books are the same and not all retailers have the same audience. I earned over $40k through Smashwords distribution last year; while that doesn't come close to comparing well with the Konrath :) most of the reader email I get comes from people buying from B&N or the iBookstore. I don't believe I could make up the difference using Select, and I think I would have a lot of disgruntled readers who don't want to go through the hassle of converting files into epub. I don't blame them - I couldn't be bothered to do it either. I'm pretty lazy though. :D

So congrats to anyone making it work, but I'm still not convinced it's right for me. :)

Jude Hardin said...

Used ebooks will be all right, as long as the courts force the retailers to yellow the pages a bit and add some virtual mold and coffee stains. And boogers. There must be boogers.

Jude Hardin said...

I just downloaded The Da Vinci Code for free. I think the Big Six might be catching on.

A.G. Claymore said...

I'm not going to get upset over second hand eBooks until I see how it works and who gets money. I kind of like the idea that it reinforces the reader's sense of ownership. I don't want them renting a conditional license to read my stories, I want them to own a copy.

I still keep a title or two in select, just so I can do promos. I like being able to do freebies, but I'm not too keen on the idea of unrestricted freebies. They may be on the right path with the five day limit. Just wish it didn't have to be exclusive.

And Joe, glad to hear you like Canada. We like you right back.

Elena said...

I believe KDP Select works best for authors who have many books available. For someone like me, making the same two books free over and over again, loses its appeal. When I pulled my titles from Select, I made my short story free everywhere and have had three whopping downloads in thirty days. I was hoping Amazon would price-match but they haven't. I'm leaving it as is for now, but based on the pathetic numbers I'm seeing don't have much hope. I figure the best thing I can do for my sales is continue to write more books. I guess that means I have to put a deadline on research! Congrats on those numbers and it's refreshing to read a prolific author who is also a talented one.

Ed Renehan said...

First, my tiny publishing firm has made the same decision as you after carefully studying sales results across platforms. Secondly, I'm not overly worried about the used eBooks aspect of things, as most of our eBooks are priced modestly at $2.99 - so there won't be much financial incentive for reader's to resell them. I think Big Six orgs who tend to over-price eBooks have much more to lose here. Lastly, whatever used eBook phenomena occurs, it won't be unique to Amazon alone. It'll be happening on all platforms.

Eric Christopherson said...

Used ebooks will be all right, as long as the courts force the retailers to yellow the pages a bit and add some virtual mold and coffee stains. And boogers. There must be boogers.

I just downloaded The Da Vinci Code for free. I think the Big Six might be catching on.


Mark my words, they won't be adding boogers to used ebooks until years after the indies start doing it ...

Jacob Chastain said...

Although your success is great and inspiring, I think it is misleading to say that going into KDP is good.

You got in way early, and have been building connections that lead to your sales when doing a free promo. Not to mention you have 50 titles (I think that's the number).

Meanwhile, while you are knocking it out of the park, people over at the Self Publishing podcast (youtube it) are seeing no such luck. And those guys aren't chumps either, Sean Platt and David Wright alone have several titles and are signed with amazon, and still they are seeing no where near what you are in free downloads.

My conclusion, you are selling the way you are because of the platform you have built over the last few years on Kindle. You reached the tipping point a while ago...You aren't the norm though. People shouldn't read your results and think it will happen to them. In fact, most indicators seem to point the other way.

Although, I would love to have you interview Sean Platt and David Wright about this subject. It would be great. Hell, I know you don't do interviews, but you should do their podcast. Would be fuckin' great.

Joe Konrath said...

My conclusion, you are selling the way you are because of the platform you have built over the last few years on Kindle.

I'm selling like I'm selling because I have a lot of good books with good covers and good descriptions at reasonable prices, and I'm lucky. I've never said otherwise.

But I have soundly refuted the "you sell because of your platform/past/legacy ebooks/fame" meme, many many times.

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2012/01/reality-check.html

Jen said...

Congrats on your success. I have been reading a lot of negativity about using Select and doing book giveaways, which made me skeptical to do so at first. But after reading one of your posts, I decided to try it out. I had a three day giveaway last week and it was a huge success (though what I consider a success is nowhere near your numbers)and it did result in sales/borrows after the free period ended.

Mark Coker said...

Hi Joe, you know i love you, and you know I think you're one of the smartest cookies in this business. It's great you've made KDPS work for you. I hope you make millions over the next few months and bank it safe. Yours is a high-risk strategy, not at all different from investing in a single stock. Your retailer portfolio isn't diversified. Such a concentrated exposure works well when you're hitting the numbers, but it can also become a game of craps if you roll a seven. Any time your percentage of sales from a single retailer exceeds that retailer's market share, you're over-exposed. Almost like clockwork at KindleBoards, it seems like every other month or so, there's a thread of authors decrying their drop in sales at Amazon, and then the speculation ensues about why their sales dried up. Did Amazon change their algorithms? Maybe, maybe not. It doesn't really matter. Algorithm changes or not, there's a lot of randomness in this game at every retailer. Sales go up, sales go down, often without reason. When someone's getting 90 or 100% of their sales from a single retailer, and that retailer rolls over in their sleep and accidentally crushes them, there's not a lot of recourse. It takes time to rebuild platform elsewhere.

There's a glut of books today. Soon, there will be a glut of a great authors. The easy days are behind us. The new writers who hit the market in the last couple years, and who will hit the market today, next week and next year, will be your new competition, and many of them are choosing to go global at all retailers from day one, and stay that way. Every retailer, and every store they operate in each country (Apple's in 51 countries now), represents its own micro-market where you're either building platform, fans and author brand, or you're not. If you're not, it means someone else is. You've maintained non-stop presence at Amazon, and there's no doubt this has benefited your platform building there. At other retailers, you haven't maintained non-stop presence. You've missed the rise of Apple, which is now the #2 global seller of ebooks, and will probably become #2 in the US this year. Other great authors who've maintained non-stop presence have a platform-building advantage over you. Your advantage, for now, is that you're one of the best writers out there, indie or not. Your books deserve the readers they earn. A few years from now, the advantage of the highest-quality authors such as yourself will diminish as more great authors come on the scene thanks to self publishing. It's a matter of simple numbers. With every passing month, it'll become more difficult to break into these other stores, and as a result you'll find your wagon inextricably hitched to Amazon's horse. Now of course, if Amazon's horse comes to dominate the market in the years ahead, you'll hit a bigger jackpot than all others because you doubled down on the right horse and had the fortitude to stick to your guns. On the other hand, authors betting on the Amazon horse should be careful of what they wish for. Jeff Bezos' driving motto is, Your margin is my opportunity,. Indies better hope we don't see a world where Amazon lacks for competition, because eventually Amazon will turn their sights on their suppliers (indie authors) and require more flesh than exclusivity to maintain their favor. Actually, it's already happening. Amazon's already turning up the heat on authors, like frogs in boiling water. If an author doesn't enroll in KDPS, and only remains in regular KDP, Amazon disadvantages them by giving preferential sales, discovery and platform-building tools to KDPS authors. If an author wants 70% list in hot emerging markets like India and Brazil, they can only get it in KDPS.

It's only business, and it's a game Amazon plays better than anyone.

Jacob Chastain said...

I really wasn't trying to spout the meme that you have refuted (Read nearly every post and comment, I've seen the debates)...

But, we all know that quality covers, descriptions, and books are the base for everything. I'm not saying otherwise.

What I'm curious about is, for the authors who have all of that, and a lot of product, what is the difference between Konrath who gets thousands of downloads and paid sales vs the ones who don't?

Is it really just luck? Or is it not, in some way, due to the fact that you are so wedged into the system that it is hard NOT to sell great?

Joe Konrath said...

Hi, Mark, thanks for chiming in. You know that I have a deep respect for you, and I really like Smashwords.

You make a lot of great points, and I'd like to respond to a few of them.

Yours is a high-risk strategy, not at all different from investing in a single stock.

Yes and no. It is like investing in a single stock, but it isn't what I'd call high-risk. Because I'm in control of my rights, I can choose to pull out of KDPS after three months (or six, or nine, or whenever.)

If you had two stocks, one that was earning 2000%, and one that was earning 10%, I don't see it as a bad short-term strategy to sell the 10% stock to buy more of the 2000% stock.

Long-term, I agree with you. Authors should diversify, and never put all their eggs in one basket. Which is why you can count on my ebooks being on Smashwords again.

But right now, at this particular moment, the KDPS money is so outrageously good that I have to stick with it for a bit.

Almost like clockwork at KindleBoards, it seems like every other month or so, there's a thread of authors decrying their drop in sales at Amazon, and then the speculation ensues about why their sales dried up.

Did you see my earlier comment about authors being like gazelle at a watering hole?

Ebook sales fluxuate. They go down and up, and I'm unable to find a reason for this. It just is. Panicked newbies can speculate and worry and try to figure out cause and effect, but I've never been able to.

What I have been able to do is experiment with many different things, and occasionally find big success.

Joe Konrath said...

The new writers who hit the market in the last couple years, and who will hit the market today, next week and next year, will be your new competition, and many of them are choosing to go global at all retailers from day one, and stay that way.

I don't view other books as competition. This isn't a zero sum game. I truly believe in a global market--so much so that I'm putting expiration dates on foreign sales so I get those rights back to translate on my own.

I'm missing out on selling to SW readers right now, and I'm willing to take that hit in order to sell a greater number of ebooks to Kindle readers. But when my ebooks are back on Smashwords, I should be able to find those readers again.

Every retailer, and every store they operate in each country (Apple's in 51 countries now), represents its own micro-market where you're either building platform, fans and author brand, or you're not. If you're not, it means someone else is.

I'm unconvinced that brand is the reason for ebook success. I think it is visibility. People buy me because they see me, not because they know me.

Currently, I've traded a larger visibility (global on multiple platforms) for a more concentrated visibility on Amazon. And I'm making $100 an hour, 24 hours a day. For the moment, this is working for me. And when I finish riding out this wave, the rest of the world will still be there when I go global again.

In a strange sort of way, I'm actually influencing supply and demand on a digital product. Perhaps, if I'm off certain platforms for a bit, demand for my work will increase, and when I return, it will result in greater sales. I dunno. We'll see.

JH Glaze said...

I agree with you Joe, all of my titles are in KDPS and It has worked for me better than anything else before it. I do appreciate you sharing results and am following you closely because I realize your success is not solely based on the platform you sell your books on, but because of your marketing savvy.

It is the marketing in combination with the tools available on the platform that makes the difference, and you my friend, are really freaking good at it.

Thanks for all you do.

Joe Konrath said...

With every passing month, it'll become more difficult to break into these other stores, and as a result you'll find your wagon inextricably hitched to Amazon's horse

Not sure I agree. We have a system where any book, at any time, can become a hit on any platform.

I have been on Smashwords, Apple, B&N, and Kobo for years, but haven't had any big hits (another strike against the platform theory). Now, it is true that I could have a hit on one of these platforms, and that taking my books of will prevent this from happening, and perhaps even lower my odds for it happening in the future.

But right now I have hits on Amazon, using KDPS, and to take those off for the possibility of a hit on another platform seems unwise. I'll stick with the bird in the hand for the moment.

Joe Konrath said...

Indies better hope we don't see a world where Amazon lacks for competition, because eventually Amazon will turn their sights on their suppliers (indie authors) and require more flesh than exclusivity to maintain their favor.

It is certainly possible. And if that happens, it will allow for other opportunities. Like ad-driven free ebooks, which I've been thinking about for years.

I just gave away 100,000 ebooks in four days. If I made 20 cents each via ad revenue, that would be a nice little sum.

Anonymous said...

Joe, I like you strongly believe that KDP is the way to go right now. The reason is because Amazon has the best platform for sales and visibility worldwide, by a longshot.

It's also going to stay that way for a long time. Unfortunately BN, Kobo and even the almighty Apple iTunes store haven't been able to duplicate the Amazon store, or even a fraction of it. Amazon's formula (categories, "also bought", etc.) isn't complicated. But, that said, no one has been able to logistically duplicate it. So, at least for the foreseeable future, Amazon will continue to be the Kong of the island.

I'm all-in with KDP and anticipate that I'll be that way for a long time. I've switched around and my sales elsewhere haven't begun to match even the Amazon borrows, much less the free promotion option.

--Jagger

Joe Konrath said...

what is the difference between Konrath who gets thousands of downloads and paid sales vs the ones who don't?

Here's a more interesting question. Why did Konrath's Whiskey Sour have 100,000 free downloads, and Konrath's Disturb, which was free a week earlier, only had 12,000?

Why have I sold 135,000 copies of The List, but only 65,000 copies of Origin?

This isn't platform. If so, all of my ebooks would sell equally well, right? Yet some vastly outsell others, and some sell well for a while, then sell poorly, and some sell poorly for a while, then start selling well.

Yes, it is luck.

Joe Konrath said...

It is the marketing in combination with the tools available on the platform that makes the difference, and you my friend, are really freaking good at it.

Thanks. But don't discount the importance of luck. And don't think that what works for me will work for everyone.

We all need to try different things. Everyone's mileage varies. Seeing me do something and succeed doesn't mean it will work for you.

Anonymous said...

I have four indie books out with Amazon (I know what to expect by now) and over 100 with publishers. I was debating today whether or not to go indie with Amazon again, or just submit it to the e-publisher (it's a smaller e-publisher and I'm in a relationship with them where I write what I want and just submit).

With Amazon, I have to work a little harder and do more of the detailed work. With the publisher I don't have to do anything but give a cover description.

Thanks to you post today, I guess I'll be working a little hard this time and I'll be going rogue once again. I felt guilty about not going with the e-publisher, but it's all about what's best for the book and for readers.

I'll also be doing the KDP select. I hate exclusives, but it's worked before and frankly, I don't have to worry about distributing anywhere else...which is nice in a way of its own.

sashagirl said...

Joe,
because of you, my 16th novel (and my first ever self-published)DINOSAUR LAKE is out-selling all my other 15 small press published novels by 4 times over. I'm finally making money! Thank you! I, too, love Amazon Kindle...except for one little nagging problem. My newest self-published ebook, a collection of spooky short stories, has not began selling yet and I offered it for free a week ago for 5 days. One of those free-buy customers put a one star review on it because "no words appeared on their Kindle...just blank pages" but, I guess, out of irritation gave ME a "review" of one star. It wasn't a review if they never read it. My first review. So all over the Internet now my new collection of short stories shows one star and, of course, no explanation that it was not a review, just a complaint. Will it hurt my future sales, do you think? I left a comment for the person to email me and I'd send her a free PDF - no response. There's no link to her anywhere. I contacted Amazon and asked them to delete the fake review...but they refuse to do it; saying it's legitimate. If it wasn't the first review and the book new I wouldn't care. It just bugs me. What would you suggest I do? Oh, congrats on the great sales...I hope it will be me someday! After 41 years of writing and 18 published novels It'd be nice to finally make some good money again. I am a patient person. Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Feo Amante said...

But what if it turns out that money and success won't really make me happy?


KIDDING! I kid! :D

Anniken-VHP said...

Thanks for sharing all this info. It's very helpful. I have Book one of a trilogy finishing 5 days free in KDP today too. For a while it was right behind Whiskey Sour in Germany on the popular fiction list. Haven't seen many sales yet, except for a handful in Germany. Interesting experiment.

Iola Goulton said...

what is the difference between Konrath who gets thousands of downloads and paid sales vs the ones who don't?

I just read a post on a no-name author who just got 40,000 downloads during her KDP promotion. Now, that hasn't translated into many sales as Konrath gets, but it shows that getting a bunch of downloads can be done if you do it properly. See http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/readin-o-the-green-the-anatomy-of-a-free-book-promotion/

Stephsco said...

You've made some really great points. I am uncomfortable with Amazon for a lot of reasons, all that you pointed out, but I also shop from them occassionally and I like to support authors, so if an author I like only has a book available on Kindle format, I will find a way to convert it for my Nook. Or read it on a free Kindle app for my phone.

Chuckles Austen said...

Interesting post, as always.

I've run into a different reason for going with KDP Select. For me, personally, Barnes and Noble made it so incredibly difficult to sell stuff through their store. There was some minor problem with my business account, and I couldn't get anyone over there to solve it, or make much of an effort to try.

Smashwords 'meat-grinder' system made it impossible for me to get up a properly formatted book. This has recently been solved by allowing me to submit e-piub format books that are then more easily and quickly converted, but by then Amazon had already stepped up, so I opted into the program.

They've been really helpful, and very responsive. On top of that, my first week in I gave away 3,000 copies of my first, test book. It's translated into real sales for the rest of my titles, and overall made me--for the moment--a very happy one-stop shopper.

I was considering going back to try again with other avenues. But your post makes me think I should leave things this way for the time being. No DRM, no worries about reaching other readers.

I do fret a bit about monopolies, but not enough to let it affect me, now. Amazon doesn't own the rights, so ultimately it's in their best interest to keep me happy.

I don't imagine we'll have to worry about it much until Jeff Bezos leaves. That's usually when a company changes for the worst, when a corporate replacement starts looking at bottom lines instead of being smart.

Mark Asher said...

From a reader's perspective, I'll tell you what I've concluded about exclusivity. I don't like being confined to a single seller, and I'd prefer not to sideload.

So my answer is something like an iPad Mini. I can load the Kindle, Nook, and Kobo apps on it and buy and download directly to my device. Sadly this means I can't use Amazon Prime for a free monthly ebook, but I'll survive.

Alan Spade said...

Joe, you are faithful to your philosophy : you play to win. You bet on the best horse. History only remenbers winners.

You numbers speak for you, though Mark Coker made a point when he said you may lose opportunity on other platforms.When you use KDP Select on the best spots of the year repeatedly, you improve your "chances" to make 90 to 95% of your total sales with Amazon.

Even if I do recognize Amazon is a better platform for visibility for indies (and visibility is clearly the key), sorry, for my part, I'll continue to work with weaker teams and against exclusivity, because that's where lies my self-preservation sense and independance.

Jill James said...

I have thought about doing what my small press publisher does, doing the KDP Select for the first 90 days and then everywhere else. It is just too hard to get the books off the other vendors once they are there.

Optional Delusion said...

Everyone should check out this article on the business of literature. A great read (if a little dry). But it puts the modern problems in historical context. Very eye opening. Affirms a lot of what Joe talks about.
http://www.vqronline.org/articles/2013/spring/nash-business-literature/

William Robert Stanek said...

I like Mark Coker's thoughts on this--well thought out. Most indies just aren't going to see anything close to this. My best KDP Select 6-week period was $35,000, including select bonuses. It was a good result of about 20 test titles but not good enough to move all of my books to the program--I've written 150 or so of them.

I sold 108,000 books on Amazon last year and gave away 252,000. Good but not even close to the 1,000,000+ sold in total.

William Robert Stanek said...

At present, Amazon represents only 10% of my sales; meaning 90% of my sales are elsewhere.

As far as Amazon goes, Amazon abuses its power almost every day. You've just been lucky enough to not be on the receiving end YET ;-)

Just blogged today on a related topic http://readindies.blogspot.com/2013/03/dont-cry-for-me-argentina-or.html.

Thanks for sharing!

Lou Vincent said...

I'm delighted to know of your success. Here's wishing you continued more.

Something I don't quite understand about joining Amazon Prime, at least in terms of getting free ebooks. The program allows members one free borrow per month, yet anyone with a simple amazon.com may download any number of individual books on their free promotion dates at no charge. I'm trying to see the added benefit of one free book per month for Prime (paying) members.

BTW, from what Joe writes, am I to understand that Prime and non-Prime book down-loaders of free books may only do so on a real live Kindle? That is to say, they cannot receive a free book via an Amazon reading app?

Regards.

William Robert Stanek said...

I'd also like to comment on your $100 an hour analogy. You've earned that over the past 6 weeks, and that's really fantastic for you. But the big question is whether that will hold and for how long that will hold.

This industry surprises the best of us all day long every day--if you're doing things right. I've been a pro author since 1995 and an indie author since 2001. At an hourly rate my sales at retail are an order of magnitude above the rate you mention and have been for the past 18 years. Although I was willing to test the waters, there's no way I'd ever bet my future on a single market and especially not on Amazon.

Ripley King said...

Six books. Five with SW and Amazon, one exclusive to Amazon.

Great covers. Decent descriptions. Front matter up to code with links. Having confidence in myself, great stories. Didn't see any problems in the formatting.

282 free downloads from both SW and Amazon. The joke is on me, but I'm laughing right along with them. I got my reasons.

No measurable bump in sales, but for us unknowns it's still early. BTW, I'm not counting on anything.

Like I said before, I average about $10 every three weeks from Amazon. I'm up to $28 with SW.

Marketing is getting to the readers, and other writer's blogs don't cut it. Tours are a waste of time. Twitter is a waste of time. Building a platform is a waste of time. Even blogging as I did and do is a waste of time.

Unknowns like me waste more time on marketing that doesn't work, when they should be writing.

I'll stick with both SW and Amazon, but I like the idea of introducing each new book as a KSP offering for sixty days, and then branching out.

Time spent marketing will depend on how many newsletters with wide audiences I tap or afford. Ten minutes with each form average?

My entire marketing strategy is now geared to reaching readers without wasting my time. I'm giving as many books as I can away, building my fan base.

Two separate giveaways, two different books, one SW one Amazon. 282 free books out there. No bump in sales, no reviews. I didn't get lucky. I'll just have to try again, and again, and again.

Freebies. Newsletters. Now I'm not wasting my time. The sales will come.

Ripley King said...

Just got through reading the articles mentioned here, and that explains a lot. The first one was too dry, and I don't care.

The others made more sense for me. And for just a few newsletters, when I planned on ten.

I have no expectations for April, but hope for the best.

Mike Fook said...

26 books. All at Amazon, some at Smashwords - distributed to all from there. Websites of my own.

I do about 75% of sales at Amazon. 15% at Smash, and 10% at my own sites.

Sales at Amazon are between $1,500-2,000 per month.

The ups and downs on Amazon are nutty. Still, I'm within $500 each month.

I'm going all in with KDPS. I just don't see the other platforms doing anything for me. When I joined KDPS for a couple of my books, they sold more. I'll put all the books there exclusively and see if there are enough sales to compensate. There is no harm in joining KDPS for 3 months. I am sure I won't lose money. What I'm losing is the ability to sell my own books and collect buyer's emails. This I'll focus on later when I start doing much better.

Let's see what happens. In the meantime, I'm writing my ass black and blue to crank books out. For writers that haven't yet broken through - cranking out more and more books is one way to stave off starvation.

PS - please for the love of god move your comment system to your own domain.

Alan Spade said...

@William Robert Stanek : glad to hear there's an other strategy than Attila's that is working. :) Especially since you say you are an indie author since 2001.

About the million sales you've made in a year, how much were ebooks ? How much self-pub versus others ?

Hope Welsh said...

I did an experiment. I used KDP Select...and watched my title I promoted the most do really well. It stayed in the category top 100 for the entire three months.

I decided--well, heck, might as well take it off Select and try that...

My sales went to dearly nothing.

While I don't make the kind of money with KDP that JP is making, I was quite happy to be bringing in more than 1k a month on my book.

I'm back with Select--and in less than a week, I was back in the category top 100. A WEEK.

No, I don't think I'm losing a thing with KDP Select.

I've made virtually nothing with the title I still have on B&N and SW.

As for the lending -- I love it. I make a few extra $ each month on that. But then, I don't mind if someone lets others read my e-book. If they like it, they'll look for more of my work.

I choose to look at each READ as a potential sale down the road: I try to think of tomorrow's sales--not just those of today.

Tuan Ho said...

I'm still relatively new to the publishing game but I did manage to sell around 10 copies of a 2,500 word short story on Amazon after a KDP 5-day freebie period.

I can't wait to get my novel up!

Keep the regular blog posts Joe, I'm loving them lately.

Ellis Shuman said...

I went with Amazon KDP Select partially after reading this blog.

As a debut author, it's not all about the money.

In the first 10 days of March, I sold 3 copies. Not anything to brag about.

Now I just ran a 5-day free promotion. More than 8,000 people all over the world downloaded my novel.

I don't know if this will result in sales, but that doesn't even matter. I am so pleased that I have such a huge readership!

Can any other platform give me this exposure to readers? I don't think so.

Josephine Wade said...

As far as used ebooks I'm not sure how that would work since when you purchase an ebook from the major bookstores you lease it - not buy it. The leasee wouldn't be able to resell it.
Maybe you could return it to the seller for a small fee and they would resell it, but the possibility for data corruption would probably out weigh any benefits. Also ebooks are already about the price of most used bookstores there would be no financial benefit to the venture.

Just thinking out loud.

-Josie

David Gaughran said...

Regarding the used e-books thing, I'm not worried either. First of all, Amazon has only applied for a patent. Like all tech companies, Amazon apply for lots of patents every year that never go anywhere - it's an insurance policy against getting sued in the future.

Even if it does happen, I would bet anything that it would include some form of author/publisher compensation - which would put it streets ahead of the huge market in second-hand print books, where the author gets nothing.

Finally, I don't share the fears that a used e-book marketplace could cannibalize my sales. Like 99% of authors, obscurity is a far greater danger. Anything that asks as a tool for readers to discover my work is great. It *might* cannibalize the sales of a small handful of authors at the very, very top - but I'm not too concerned about their bottom line. For the average working author, I think it could be great - if it happens at all.

Jude Hardin said...

I'm unconvinced that brand is the reason for ebook success. I think it is visibility. People buy me because they see me, not because they know me.

Then...

Why did Konrath's Whiskey Sour have 100,000 free downloads, and Konrath's Disturb, which was free a week earlier, only had 12,000?

...Yes, it is luck.


Is it visibility, or is it luck? Brand? None of the above? All of the above?

I've gotten excellent visibility with my T&M books, yet they're not selling nearly as well as I would like for them to. Pro covers. Pro editing. Pro formatting. Good descriptions, and they're good books. Mostly four- and five-star reviews. Crosscut is currently in the top 100 on two genre lists, and it's part of a couple of different promotion efforts, and it's priced at $1.99, yet sales aren't nearly what you might expect. Is it just that I haven't gotten lucky yet? And what else could I do (besides write more books, which I'm doing) to improve my chances of getting lucky?

I think publishing now, indie or traditional, is just the way it has always been: a crap shoot. There's no way to predict what is going to sell, and there's no way to create a bestseller with increased visibility.

So, really, it all boils down to luck.

And that's kind of scary.

Pale Rambler said...

I must agree with the gazelle comparison. Places like Kindleboards are becoming choked by fretting and fear-mongering, which I could understand if the majority of the fretters were making serious money. Seems as though the ones who are typically offer the voice of reason.

Joe Konrath said...

Is it visibility, or is it luck? Brand? None of the above? All of the above?

If you get lucky, your book becomes visible.

By visible I mean on multiple bestseller lists, or via third parties (offsite reviews, Twitter, Facebook, advertising, Goodreads, other websites).

Crosscut is ranked at #2000, which is very good. If you had ten other books ranked at #2000, you'd be making very good money.

As for luck, I've been blogging about that for eight years, and now you finally get it?

Joe Konrath said...

Places like Kindleboards are becoming choked by fretting and fear-mongering

There was forum called Absolute Write where the same thing happened. The negativity ruined it. Echo chambers aren't ever helpful, and while bitch sessions can have their place, when original thinkers start getting mauled by lazy groupthink it becomes a sour environment.

The great thing about the Internet is it gives everyone a voice.

The tragedy of the Internet is it gives everyone a voice.

Jude Hardin said...

If you had ten other books ranked at #2000, you'd be making very good money.

That's a good point, depending on price and royalty rate. But CROSSCUT'S current spike doesn't seem to be carrying over to my other Colt titles. Seems like it would, if visibility was the key, so I'm sort of baffled by the whole thing.

As for luck, I've been blogging about that for eight years, and now you finally get it?

No, just reaffirming I guess. Just feeling a little down this week for a few reasons. Thanks for allowing me to vent a bit.

Alan Spade said...

I was just comparing Brandon Sanderson's and Robert Jordan's Towers of Midnight on Kobo and on Amazon.

The ebook have 34541 ratings on the Kobobooks website, and only 636 reviews on Amazon.

It's a bit like comparing apples to oranges, but still, it has been a smart move for Kobo to partner with Goodreads for reviews : Towers of Midnight has 3000 reviews on Goodreads.

In terms of image, Kobo may appear more professionnal with more ratings, and for the reviews, Goodreads seems to be good for validation.

I suspect the ratings does not affect the algorythm used by Kobo very much for the ranking of the books, though.

But Kobo is increasingly partnering with indies (at least in the Kobo newsletter), so it's a good thing, IMO.

Just help them survive for a few years, and it will bear fruits.

Walter Knight said...

Canada can be replaced.

STH said...

Interesting conversation here today.

RE: Exclusivity - I’ve heard many times that new authors need to have their books on every platform. And honestly, that doesn’t make sense to me at all. If you only have one book, the odds of discovery on any platform go way down.

Having something to offer for free is the best way to gain visibility. And it just happens that the biggest platform also lets you make your one book free for 5 days every three months.

My one book is making me money. But I haven’t made it free for a long time because I’m almost finished with a new book and want to cross promote when it’s ready. Anyway, without going free, my sales have slowed to a crawl. I have no reason to believe that would be any different on another platform.

Also, the idea of "putting all your eggs in one basket,” Joe refuted this just fine, but I’d like to chime in… 3 months is not a big commitment, not exactly signing away your rights forever.

STH said...

re: Used ebooks. Maybe Amazon is applying for patents to lock them up so no one else can legally use the technology. Like Phizer does with drugs and Exxon does with better batteries (allegedly, of course).

STH said...

Re; The List vs. Origin

Isn’t also possible that The List just has better appeal among a wider array of people? Those numbers are a pretty big sample size. If it’s consistent for years, that doesn’t sound like a coincidence to me.

Joe Konrath said...

Isn’t also possible that The List just has better appeal among a wider array of people?

It's possible, but unlikely. Origin is the catchier idea.

I've sold more copies of Trapped than Endurance. No idea why.

Things are what they are, and explaining them is impossible.

Wickergirl said...

It's good to see that Joe is still doing well.

I've been following the Self Publishing Podcast and the efforts of Johnny B Truant to market his Fat Vampire series through KDP Select. It doesn't seem to be going very well at the moment.

You can catch up and follow the story on Johnny, Dave and Sean's podcast.

http://selfpublishingpodcast.com/

I saw another story today about what it means financially to have an Amazon best seller. It didn't match Joe's figures, much to the author's disappointment.

Check out novelist Patrick Wensink's story, My Amazon Best Seller Made Me Nothing:

http://www.salon.com/2013/03/15/hey_amazon_wheres_my_money/

And yet Joe is definitely doing something right. He saw the future of digital publishing. He got in early. And he's working from a base of 50 or more books (I think) which means he can be far more flexible in his approach to marketing than any other author you care to name.

This foresight is the reason I pay attention to what Joe says. Being able to figure out what's going to happen tomorrow is better than being able to figure out what happened yesterday.

Wickergirl

Wickergirl

Joe Konrath said...

A lot of people have pointed me to that Salon story.

First of all, I've gotten two exceedingly polite cease and desist orders from Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey, for obvious reasons. If I knew I could have parlayed that into bestsellerdom by going public, I would have done it.

Second of all, he's got an $8.95 Kindle ebook, and he's splitting profits with a publisher. His expectations were wildly disproportionate to reality. He should have been reading my blog and priced appropriately. Hell, if he'd read my blog he wouldn't have gone with a publisher, and kept 70% for himself.

It is possible to get onto certain Amazon bestseller lists with very few sales. Or with lots of sales in a very short amount of time.

IMHO, the fact that he made $12,000 on that ebook is astonishing. I've made that much in a day, and I'm still amazed he did that well.

But perspective is everything, isn't it?

Alan Spade said...

STH said : "Also, the idea of "putting all your eggs in one basket,” Joe refuted this just fine, but I’d like to chime in… 3 months is not a big commitment, not exactly signing away your rights forever."

We authors have a tendancy to underevaluate our work when we do not sell, and to overevaluate it when it sells. It's natural.

But before E.L. James sold by the millions, she was just as any of us. A self-pub author. When her ebooks sales raised, she found a publisher.

Nowadays, not all self-published success stories find a publisher, though. Google Marie Force.

When an avid reader doesn't find an ebook on her platform, she does not always use Calibre to make a conversion. A good percentage will certainly decide to switch to Kindle, and forget other devices.

Yes, there's iPad and Kindle app. But there's also Nook and Kobo users, and these are the ones deprived.

Amazon plays the number game : 100 000 authors who each have 10 fans who go with KDP Select, and you reach (or annoy) 1 million fans.

On the 100 000 authors, some will be good and grow, always using KDP Select.

Indie writing is still in its infancy. When we have 100 Joe Konrath, will you always say 3 months of exclusity harms no one ? It's very simple maths.

STH said...

"I've sold more copies of Trapped than Endurance. No idea why."

Assuming that you’re saying the difference in sales is consistent, I think this helps my point.

"Trapped” may simply be a more appealing title than “Endurance.” It is to me anyway. One sounds like a thriller, the other (at least subconsciously) sounds like an ordeal. Put them both in front of me and I know which one I’d pick up.

Similarly with the other books we mentioned. You say “Origin” is a catchier idea. I tend to agree. (I also read and enjoyed that book, btw). But some people would see a plot about "the devil is found…” and stop reading already.

All I’m saying is that if the numbers are consistent (especially with the big numbers you are looking at) there are probably reasons you could cull from the data.

I’d suggest the “Trapped" and “Endurance” show that one word can make a big difference.

Joe Konrath said...

Assuming that you’re saying the difference in sales is consistent,

I should have been more specific.

I have many titles that flip/flop with sales. Right now Trapped is outselling Endurance and Afraid. But they take turns being the leader. Ditto Origin and The List.

It's very easy to apply Texas Bullseye to explain why something has happened, but unless it is predictive, it doesn't mean much. Especially since this is, I believe, a crapshoot without much reason to it.

STH said...

"I have many titles that flip/flop with sales”

Ah. Understood. never mind, then. :)

Suzanne Anderson said...

After you come off of your five free days, do you raise the price back to $2.99 or keep go to a nominal .99 cents?

My book is currently free and I'm wondering about the best strategy.

Thanks!

Ripley King said...

I love real numbers. Starting off at the bottom, no place to go but up.

Most authors in my boat are obscure for a reason. They don't know how to tap into readers. And like I said, other writer's blogs are pretty much a waste of time. Touring doesn't lead to readers, even if you can book a good number of willing blogs. I've said it before, I'll say it again here. Writers care about their books, not my books, and not your books.

I see author's at Goodreads doing all they can to give away books and then some, with very poor numbers to show for their efforts.

Most author's cram the social networking sites and scream one thing only. You can all guess what that is. It's waste of time.

I didn't know how to really reach readers until I ran across Joe's post, and then it clicked. Everything I had been missing.

I've been ghosting this blog for a year plus, maybe closer to two years, and a couple of weeks ago was the first time I even heard about these newsletters, and so many of them, too.

Of course I ghost other's blogs. Popular authors don't want to give up their most precious secrets. They would rather charge for them. And come to find out, it's the same old garbage recycled. Spending hours, wasting time, doing things in hopes of a few books sold.

Now I knew it came down sampling. Giving away as many books as I could to as many readers as I could, but it took Joe to fill in the blanks. He realized we are not in competition with each other, none of us are, and he's making his money.

My low and laughable numbers will only get better as time goes by, based on what I can do and what I can afford. I still live paycheck to paycheck. I'm willing to admit that. I'm 52, and have no shame.

Maybe I'll be forced into all my books at Amazon for a while. Maybe not. I don't know. I'd rather not for reasons Mark stated.

As I see it, running on both sites gives me the single largest distribution network I could ever hope for. A wet dream come true for any author.

Around the world on multiple e-readers . . . that just thrills me.

Reaching readers with free books.

I did what I could with what I had just before Joe's post. I shared those numbers because I'm that 99%.

I may have to cash in all my change to pull off what I want to do with my KSP offering next month, and what I'll be doing with Smashwords, but I think it'll be worth it.

BTW, you can offer your Smashwords titles on many of these newsletters, so why not do both? I see no real reason not to, as of yet. Free is free, and how many iPad users read these newsletters?

Free books. Readers. Distribution around the globe. Multiple devices.

To the newbies like me that come here and ghost, yes there is real hope. Just do it.

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Jude Hardin said...

My book is currently free and I'm wondering about the best strategy.

I think I have it figured out.

Flip a coin. If it lands on heads, price your book at $.99. Tails, $2.99. If you sell a bunch of books, make sure to do just the opposite next time. Or, better yet, something totally different.

You have to try to trick the Luck Fairies. You have to stay a step ahead of them at all times.

WHATEVER you do, don't be consistent. If you are, they'll sense a pattern. They'll be on to you, and you'll have to start all over again with a different pen name.

Merrill Heath said...

My next novel will be released under a pen name since it's a different genre than my other novels. I'm either going to price it at $12.99 like the big dogs and go with all distributors...or go with KDPS, offer it free for 5 days out of the gate, then price it at $4.99. Depending on sales I'll either leave it in KDPS or drop out and list it with the other distributors after the obligatory 90 day period.

Either way, I figure I'll sell about 25 copies, so it doesn't really matter.

Then, as someone else said, I'll write a sequel that will sell about 25 copies, just because I can.

Booyah!

Ripley King said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ripley King said...

@Jude

Been there, done that, own the tee.

And Fate is this little old man with a moldy teddy he totes around at all times. He slaps one upside the head with it when they get too cocky. I took a swing at him once in a drunken state.

An edit feature would be nice here, or more coffee.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

"My book is currently free and I'm wondering about the best strategy."

Some of my friends price at 99 cents coming out of free, hoping the book will rise up the lists at the discounted price. The downside is that you make a lot less money at 99 cents.

I've always gone back to my usual list price coming out of free. My book probably doesn't rise as much as a result, hard to say, but it stays pretty consistent and makes more money.

So that's your choice. Do you want to gamble that 99 cents will move the book up the list faster, then switch it back to your regular list price? Or do you want to make money now, even though you might not rise as far or fast?

"You have to try to trick the Luck Fairies. You have to stay a step ahead of them at all times."

Hang in there, Jude. :)

Traditional publishing isn't any less risky. These days it might be more.

Jude Hardin said...

Traditional publishing isn't any less risky. These days it might be more.

I'm about 12K words into the Colt prequel I mentioned previously, and I've decided for sure to self-publish it.

But don't say anything. I'm trying to stay under the Fairies' radar for now. ;)

Anonymous said...

I've come out of a free run and raised the price to $0.99 and I've come out of a $0.99 promo and raised the price to $3.99. Done both several times. The $0.99 to $3.99 bump always worked best by far - even counting sales instead of profits.

CR Cowden said...

100,000 free downloads on one book? Come on. That's double the most downloads I've ever heard of from other authors. Even with a bump from ENT or POI 40,000 is the most I've seen and that was back in the "good old days".
Luck? Not sure I'm buying it.

Jennings said...

As always, great post. I have used KDPS as a loss leader since publishing my fist book last July, and while my numbers aren't anywhere near yours, the fact that my sales are up every month makes me happy. My sales on the other platforms is nowhere near that on Amazon (2 books that were on for 2 KDPS cycles are off and I've put them up elsewhere), and Apple is an absolute nightmare compared to the others so I haven't even put my best selling book on there. I get the wide vs deep argument, but since there's virtually nowehre to advertise for the other platforms vs outlets for promoing on Amazon, and since Amazon accounts for about 95% of my sales, sometimes I wonder if it wouldn't be better just to go all in for now while keeping an eye on trends. Thanks for the great info!

Sariah Wilson said...

For CR - I did a promo at the end of January this year. I ran it for three days, and got over 40,000 downloads. I used BookBub, and was picked up by one major freebie site (Freebooksy). I think had I gone the full five days (like Joe does), had I been picked up by POI or ENT, I could have probably had lots more downloads. Despite him potentially arguing to the contrary, Joe does have some name recognition with those big sites, and they were probably more likely to pick him up and advertise him than they were a nobody like me with my first book (he's got 50+ listed). I don't think his numbers are at all unrealistic because I got close to half of what he did in approximately half the amount of time.

Anonymous said...

I did a promo in February and barely got 10 downloads.

Before you say "Well you must be terrible" hear this: I have a professional cover by a top ebook designer and my book was well reviewed in a few places. I also have blurbs from published authors. Only one review on Amazon and I can count the sales on one hand. It's been out for months.

It's not a grisly thriller, though, so maybe Select only works with genre books?

Anonymous said...

It seems like BookBub has managed to position itself so that it can manipulate the top 100 free books. it's making a fortune in the process. For authors who want to buy their way to the top, now is the time. BookBub will pass, as do all things, and probably sooner than later. In the meantime, if you want to be able to call yourself a "bestseller" then go ahead and buy in while the buying's good. IMO, the top free list no longer means much. It only shows where the sheep have been herded by the people who are making money herding them.

christinaow said...

hi. i did a free promo and i got 1300 dowloads but only 1 purchase. How do i make KDP work for me. there has to be more to it.

Anonymous said...

https://read.amazon.com

--You don't have to by a Kindle to read kindleBooks any more.....

Not to mention the Kindle Apps, which are available just about any where (including the Nook).

Finnean Nilsen Projects said...

I haven't gotten to read all the comments, so maybe you addressed this earlier, but I'm interested to know what impact you think having titles through amazon owned imprints has on your sales. I notice every time I turn on my kindle the ad is for an amazon imprinted book (which makes sense, obviously) so I would think it would have a substantial impact. And if you do feel like it had an impact, how much did that factor in to your decision to go all in?

Ann Voss Peterson said...

"100,000 free downloads on one book? Come on. That's double the most downloads I've ever heard of from other authors. Even with a bump from ENT or POI 40,000 is the most I've seen and that was back in the "good old days".
Luck? Not sure I'm buying it."



Wow, you haven't even bothered to read other posts on this blog. Like this one:

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2013/02/ann-voss-petersons-big-regret.html

And at the time of that post, I gave away over 49k in a two-day promotion.

Obviously research isn't your strong suit.

Unknown said...

I feel like I am having a successful first year as a writer - I just sold the 5,000th copy of my debut book today - and I don't know how I would have made that happen without KDP Select. I have been "All In" (if you can be that with only one book out) since the beginning and I have no intentions of leaving. I just need to get more product out this year so that I can rotate my titles through the free runs. As close as I can figure, all the other work/posting/tweeting/blogging work I have done has accounted for about 1,000 of my sales. The other 4,000 came from two free runs. I don't expect this strategy to continue working forever, but I am happy to keep riding it as long as it does. To those writers who don't like exclusivity and having all their eggs in one basket, I get it. Good luck to you!

Ripley King said...

I can't afford Bookbub, but I can certainly do what I can with the other sites. It's not rocket science, it's readers. Readers looking for free books. Readers.

rblaa said...

As a writer, the story makes sense for your point of view.

As a reader, I hate the exclusivity restrictions. I deliberately chose an ePub device to get the widest possible content (a Kobo reader in this case).

I have used Calibre, but it is still an annoyance. Most of the books I read just are in the stores that are convenient to me.

It is a better story for me as a consumer if book sellers simply make content easily available.

I tend to buy now late at night with quick downloads. Anything that gets in the way of that in practice means that I am not buying.

David L. Shutter said...

For authors who want to buy their way to the top, now is the time

So is Bookbub, a paid ad service, some form of cheating now?

And multi-million dollar capaigns for print, TV, radio and building-wrap signs in Times Square are what exactly?

Just curious.

Anonymous said...

"So is Bookbub, a paid ad service, some form of cheating now?"

Please don't put words in my mouth. Bookbub can currently manipulate the top 100 list. Authors can pay Bookbut to get the manipulation in their corner. That's all there is to it. It's a system that will collapse but at this moment in time an author can pay money and then appear to be good. When the list gets manipulated like this, however, it loses all legitimacy. Now is a list of people who paid money, not people who have the best books available for free.

Joe Hart said...

"Bookbub can currently manipulate the top 100 list. Authors can pay Bookbut to get the manipulation in their corner. That's all there is to it."

Bookbub is advertising, plain and simple. You pay for an ad with them, they send out an email to a list of people that wish to receive updates on free or deeply discounted books. It is still up to the people receiving the ads whether or not to download the book. That's why some authors have 5000 downloads and others have 50,000. There's no manipulation going on other than getting a free book in front of a person who requested an email when a book in their preferred genre becomes free or discounted. Rising up a free list doesn't equate to being a good book either, it's all in perspective and within a person's preference. It's the same as regular sales just like Joe mentioned: some books perform better than others at different times, that's all. Not sure where the manipulation comes in...

Ripley King said...

In Bookbub's pricing and statistics page, I pay $450, and I can average 6300 downloads. Translation: 6300 readers. Not writers, readers.

760 average books sold. Translation: about two grand. That's not gaming the system, that's just good business.

Just to be sure about something, this is a business. Those of us who care about our products want great stories well told. We take pains to accomplish that for our readers. We want our readers to be happy. With that said, we are entertainers. This is the business of entertainment. If we're good we make money, if we're not we don't.

These service providers are in the business of telling readers we exist. If we have to pay to reach that many readers, we pay. We're buying an ad. We are promoting ourselves to the only segment that counts in our world. Readers.

It's better to find readers than be stuck in writer hell, where everybody begs for you to buy their books, but they rarely, if at all, buy your books. Thousands of writers, screaming for you to buy their books.

I can't see how this would be gaming the system in any way, shape or form. I can't afford Bookbub as of yet, but the key word here is yet. As for when I can, I'll runt f#@k these services for all their worth.

This is a business, and readers are our everything.

Are we a cynical lot? Or just paranoid by nature?

Joe Konrath said...

When the list gets manipulated like this, however, it loses all legitimacy.

Actually laughed at that.

Legitimacy? Really?

The goal is to become visible, so people see your book, then decide for themselves whether to try/buy. Leading a horse to water and all that.

The only thing "legitimate" about a bestseller is that a lot of people bought it because it was highly visible. How it became visible has NOTHING to do with quality. TO say otherwise is just plain stupid.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

A.G. Claymore said, "I'm not going to get upset over second hand eBooks until I see how it works and who gets money."

I'm not going to get upset over a bit of hysteria based on a patent application and a blogger's speculations.

Anonymous said...

" How it became visible has NOTHING to do with quality."

I agree and in fact that's my point. We're at a time when someone can write a piece of crap, pay money to a third party manipulator, get the book highly visible and on to something called as "bestsellers" list.

To me it's actually sad that some people will pay money to give their books away for free.

That said, it's also a business. For some people the bounce will be more than the outlay. Notice I said for some, because many will find it a losing proposition.

As for the "legitimacy" of the top lists, before people could pay to get on it there was at least some quality competitiveness that played a major role in what books got on and which didn't. Now the quality competitiveness is less and, in turn, so is the legitimacy.

Finnean Nilsen Projects said...

"before people could pay to get on it there was at least some quality competitiveness that played a major role in what books got on and which didn't. Now the quality competitiveness is less and, in turn, so is the legitimacy."

That's total bullshit. People have been paying to be on lists since there were lists to be listed on. It has always been that way, and always will. It's like saying "Sitcoms were great until they started advertising. Back then, if it was good people watched, now people watch because they're told to."
A good book will sell because it's a good book. Take out an ad at the Super Bowl - you'll pay three million, and probably sell enough to cover it - but you won't sell any more if your book is shit. We're not here to talk about the "legitimacy" of lists. Jesus. We're here to figure out how to make money publishing our books.

Sariah Wilson said...

Didn't somebody just do a blog about how they got their non-fiction book on NYT bestseller lists by paying a lot of money to a company who caused it to happen?

People/publishers have been buying their way on to "legitimate" lists for decades.

Joe Konrath said...

As for the "legitimacy" of the top lists, before people could pay to get on it there was at least some quality competitiveness that played a major role in what books got on and which didn't

I get it. You're trying to be funny. Because you know there are many bestselling books that aren't well written. So your "quality" comment was sarcasm.

I hope.

Alan Spade said...

"The only thing "legitimate" about a bestseller is that a lot of people bought it because it was highly visible. How it became visible has NOTHING to do with quality. TO say otherwise is just plain stupid."

I don't think word of mouth is a myth, because, when you have a few books that are highly visible, there's still a choice made by the readers.

I would not use the word "quality", though. There are books which have a better resonance with readers, period. Hence the word-of-mouth phenomenon. There are books readers want not only to embrace, but to defend.

About Bookbub, for how much I see myself as an idealist, I don't see any harm to it. You pay to get your book visible by readers in your genre. It costs money to build that kind of newsletters lists. They are precious.

It's not the same, IMO, as the publishers renting shelves in bookstores, because we are talking about an unlimited shelf with the internet. I hope other Bookbubs will rise, perhaps cheaper ones.

Anonymous said...

My agent implied the same crap (to paraphrase): 'Using Bookbub to launch your book into the best seller ranks is a scam, but to have a big publisher run full page ads and pay for top bookstore placement is legit.'

Typical. Authors spending their own money to promote is frowned upon, but publishers doing the same with corporate funds is revered. Now an anonymous appears on this thread to ape this concept - are you my agent in disguise?

Ed Renehan said...

Hi Joe - To your very good point about Kindle books without DRM being easily portable to other devices, and also the inexpensive nature of Kindle Readers, I'd add that (as you know) the Kindle Reader app is available for Windows, iOS and Android devices. In fact, research shows that the vast majority of people reading books on the iPad are reading Kindle editions, not editions from the iBookstore. All the best, - EJR

Dale T. Phillips said...

Joe, thank you for supplying valuable data with which we can make business decisions. I've bought a number of your books by way of thanks, because you help us with good information in these revolutionary times. I'm in favor of having ebooks available on all platforms and formats (thank you, Smashwords), but I've been listening to you advocate the Select program so much, I took the plunge. My first foray into Select just went up, a collection of ten horror tales: http://www.amazon.com/Halls-of-Horror-ebook/dp/B00BWYVVVK/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1363869454&sr=1-1&keywords=halls+of+horror

It'll be instructional to see what this does for sales and visibility for this and my other titles. As a hybrid author, I can change things up, as you've long counseled. If it works, I may rotate other collections into the program to see if that changes the game. How interesting to live in an ongoing social experiment!

Anonymous said...

'Using Bookbub to launch your book into the best seller ranks is a scam, but to have a big publisher run full page ads and pay for top bookstore placement is legit.'

Again, please don't put words in my mouth. I didn't say anything was legit or imply something else wasn't legit. What I find interesting is that one one of the most visible lists in the world, the top 100 free list, has been gamed to such an extent. Want on it? Pay up and enter.

Of course, the visibility system has always been gamed, by circle jerks, reciprical "likes," and all the other little tricks that authors spend their time on instead of figuring out how to write good book.

What's interesting is that the gaming has never been this huge, or this accessable to the masses, for the mere click of a PayPal button.

If it's your thing, go for it. To me, though, any bump will be temporary. Even BookBut can't make anyone like your book. If it's crap, it's not going anywhere in the end, period, no matter how many downloads you get. Even T&M can't turn their coal authors into diamonds, and trust me, they've made mistakes picking their authors just like every other publisher has.

Jude Hardin said...

Now is a list of people who paid money, not people who have the best books available for free.

Define best.

Whoops.

Fail.

Joe Konrath said...

Of course, the visibility system has always been gamed

Indeed. It's called "advertising" and "coop" and "marketing".

Except now you don't have to be a huge bestseller to get that kind of star treatment. You can do it yourself.

Even T&M can't turn their coal authors into diamonds

Last I checked, T&M had made a profit on every book they've published.

But I find your coal analogy interesting. All coal has the potential to become diamonds, giving the right circumstances. If a book isn't selling well yet, it doesn't mean it will always have low sales.

"Yet" is very important when ebooks are forever.

Gone are the days of stripping covers off paperbacks for full credit and remaindering hardcovers where they can be sold for 99 cents without paying the author. And amen to that.

Wodke Hawkinson said...

If Smashwords ever offers wireless delivery of ebooks (like Amazon's Whispernet), we believe Amazon will be in for a lot more competition. Amazon is a huge and wonderful venue, but the ease of delivery has got to be a significant factor.

Digital Book Maven said...

Anon@2:52 PM:

"It's not a grisly thriller, though, so maybe Select only works with genre books?"

Look at the BookBub lists, Anon. See any books like yours? My guess is not. Ebooks are for genre fiction.

NinaAmir said...

What a great discussion. I can see the advantages of what you are doing, Joe, based upon the benefits you describe. Yet, I'm on board with Mark Coker, and still remain steadfast in the concerns you voiced (despite the fact you threw them to the wind). I fear that Amazon is taking away rights from authors, pushing those who "won't do it their way" to the back of the bus, and monopolizing the market. They've tried this before. I think it's important for new authors, in particular, who don't have the platform or track record you have, to be in all markets with their books. They never know where they might find their biggest audience. And they should be wary of giving up rights. It's hard to use you as a model; you have achieved more than most. They will not have the same types of choices in most cases.

Anonymous said...

Joe, you get a lot of flak from those claiming your extensive backlist is what gets you sales. As a contrast to your known name and titles, I'd like to hear more about your one-off book with you new pen name. That new fresh title with no famed name attached to it can give us all a fresh perspective. Don't need to know the secret pen name or title, just how that one 'debut' novel is doing.

Joe Konrath said...

Don't need to know the secret pen name or title, just how that one 'debut' novel is doing.

Very well, to the tune of about $70k.

Finnean Nilsen Projects said...

That doesn't make sense. See, I could understand if there was a back list. A friend of mine does very well with giveaways - but she has over a dozen books out. Every time she does a giveaway people buy her other listings. I get marketing - people respond that, that's why Lee Child sold a few million copies since the movie came out and James Patterson prints his own money on his keyboard - but debut novels under pseudonyms,even and especially when the real author doesn't mention it - they don't sell.
Almost ever.
Richard Bachman was a footnote while Stephen King was selling millions. JD Robb only sold because Nora Roberts wrote a story under each name to introduce her. People LOVE Paul Christopher's books, they're not interested in Christopher Hyde's. And Noah Boyd did well under that name, but when he was Paul Lindsay no one gave a damn. And, I promise, with the later two finding success with their pseudonyms, no one is looking for their works under their real names. At least no one has asked me or bought them from my store.
So why?
Why would a book under your third name earn you seventy thousand dollars with no marketing except free giveaways. With no backlist. And no time to get lucky?
That doesn't make sense.

Joe Konrath said...

Why would a book under your third name earn you seventy thousand dollars with no marketing except free giveaways. With no backlist. And no time to get lucky?
That doesn't make sense.


Intriguing, ain't it? :)

Finnean Nilsen Projects said...

: D
Very Much So.

Joe Konrath said...

Very Much So.

One of the reasons for a pen name was to see, like King did with Bachman, if I could be successful without being me.

Which means I can't reveal the pen name, because that would ruin the experiment.

But I did prove (to myself at least) that it is possible to have a modest hit being a nobody. Someday I may share all the details, but util then I'm content making money, and knowing I was right. Again.

Finnean Nilsen Projects said...

If being right is wrong, I've never wanted to be right. And I'm not interested in knowing the name or the book. Removing the check negates the true nature of the experiment. But you are obviously (logically) using techniques you've learned over the course of your long career (rules that I previously mentioned that seem to be void in this discussion). Seventy thousand dollars is not a small amount of money. Let's assume that - for a debut - you've priced it at 2.99. That means approximately two dollars a book (a bit more, really, but still). That means you've sold thirty-five thousand copies (give or take). Now, I have a return ratio of ten percent - for every ten books I give away, I get one buy. Now, I could have a shitty cover (I don't) and a bad description (I think it's fine, you can tell me otherwise) and we could have a terrible style (though we're doing alright with the people who actually rate us) but it's still ten percent.
So, to sell thirty-five thousand copies, we would have to give away three hundred and fifty thousand.
Something isn't adding up. And so, while, listen, man, I want you to make every penny you can and take all that shit to the bank, there's something missing. Something not adding up.
It's not back log - if the debut is selling well. It's not marketing - if you haven't done any. It's not getting lucky - unless you have a horseshoe up your ass. And it's not exposure - unless the book is with an amazon sponsored imprint.
So - and you don't have to answer this. But if you want to: what the fuck is it?

Joe Konrath said...

Seventy thousand dollars is not a small amount of money

It's not. But I've made $100k in six weeks. So the $70k is relative.

So, to sell thirty-five thousand copies, we would have to give away three hundred and fifty thousand

Given away 70,000. Your math is off for this property.

It's not getting lucky - unless you have a horseshoe up your ass.

Maybe I do.

Or maybe I just know how to play the game. Really really well...

Alan Spade said...

"Or maybe I just know how to play the game. Really really well... "

That seems to imply not everybody can make $70k on a debut novel. Thank you for recognizing it.

Anonymous said...

JA, seeing you're success after success, I've finally convinced myself that it's time to throw in the towel. I struggle to sell 30 books a day. Everything you touch turns to gold. It's clear that you're supposed to be in the game and I'm not. So, I'm going to shut it down.

Anonymous said...

JA - I'm assuming you are using the same BookBub and related services for your third name book, so there's promo...

And that you have your pen name account(s) linked to one Amazon Author Central Account.(?) Wondering if people who have viewed or downloaded any of your titles get Amazon recommendations for your third name title, even if it is in a different genre.

Given how many views and downloads your titles have, this would be a lot of opportunities for that title being seen.

Thanks for laying so much info out on the table. Your blog is so informative and entertaining.

Anonymous said...

That's what I was wondering too--does the debut/pen-named book somehow get attached to Konrath, and recommended by Amazon to readers, as opposed to just hanging out there completely alone, different Amazon author login and everything. There has to be a reason more than bookbub and the like for such extreme success on a one-off.

Joe Konrath said...

That seems to imply not everybody can make $70k on a debut novel. Thank you for recognizing it.

I never meant to imply otherwise. I've said that self-pubbing will earn an author more than legacy publishing in the long run, except in rare cases. I've said ebooks are forever. I've said keep at it until luck strikes.

I've never told anyone they can earn what I'm earning.

Joe Konrath said...

So, I'm going to shut it down.

Congrats on recognizing you don't have what it takes.

I spent over 20 years struggling to get to this point. If you're this easily discouraged, you won't make it. Better to admit to that and do something that makes you happier, then spend years being miserable.

Joe Konrath said...

I'm assuming you are using the same BookBub and related services for your third name book

Nope. I just learned about BookBub a few months ago.

And my pen name is in no way linked to my other books.

Lori Brighton said...

This is all very interesting, as your blog usually is! Here's my deal...I did KDP when it first started with pretty darn good success. But it wasn't the borrows and shared pot of gold at the end where I made my money. I made my most money because after my free days when it converted back over my raking would be so high that people would keep buying. so it was more the ranking after free days that help. Now when I've done kdp its not ranking well at all when it crosses back over, in fact sometimes its worse. I'm assuming Amazon changed something. So sales are okay, but certainly nothing to write home about and not really worth going exclusive. So are you making your money from sales and borrows, or is it because you've got a series going, readers get one book for free and rush off and buy the others? Forgive me if you've discussed this and I missed it. But I'm with you about going exclusive, the author has to do what he/she thinks is best for their career and whats best is getting your books into as many hands as possible. Before ebooks explosion B&N and Amazon were seen as evil because they were killing the small book store. Now apparently its shifted to just Amazon. And I'm sure some day it will shift to someone else. No reason to live in fear especially when authors have it better than we have ever had it before. Im just enjoying that fact that I actually have a career doing what I love!

Lori Brighton said...

And I have to say that as much as everyone fears amazon, imo they have treated indie authors, up to this point, better than any other place, including doing more promo. No idea if that will last, but as I said, up until now..

Also, awhile back I signed a deal with Montlake and Im positive that they found my book (they came to me with the offer) because of my many downloads when I was on KDP.

Barbara Phinney said...

I love buying books for my Kindle, but as a KDP author, I hate seeing returns. I grumble about them all the time, but this morning, with my phone, I clicked onto one of my books and I accidentally bought my own book. Fortunately, the payment didn't go through because of an unrelated reason, but I can see how returns happen.
Have you seen many returns? What are you thoughts on Amazon's return policy? I don't like it because I've seen my books returned after the reader has had them a week or more.

woolfcindy said...

Your reasonings for going exclusively with Select make total sense, but if you don't get borrows, which I don't, then I'd be shooting myself in the foot. I've tried it with three of my books and lost money because I got the usual amount of Amazon sales and no borrows, so I missed out on the sales on the other venues. But I have to admit you've got me thinking.

Pepper Phillips said...

My three books just came off of Select. With this blog, I enlisted them back on. I did my last two days of 'free' two weeks ago and used ebookbooster per Joe's directions. I had over 7k downloads, made some lists, including the top free list. Since then, I've sold more copies of my book in ten days then ever before. Plus 50% of that total was in the KOLL program. (Color me happy.)

Now if my editor would finish with my edits on the new book!

Thanks Joe, you're the best on information sharing.

Jude Hardin said...

So, I'm going to shut it down.

What? Shut it down? Did you say SHUT IT DOWN? Nothing gets shut down until we decide it gets shut down! Did we shut it down when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!

Hang in there, anon. Do something fun. Take a little break and let your batteries recharge. Then get back at it. Everyone gets discouraged from time to time. I know I do. I guess it just goes with the territory.

Alan Cramer said...

I must be jinxed. The books I had in kdp select won't sell on amazon. In fact they have sold better for me on B&N. My audience is small, so maybe by giving them away, i let all my potential customers get them for free. The books I never put in kdp seem to be my best sellers, money wise that is on amazon. But my genre and audience is smaller than Joe's. Even tthough I came to ebooks with a small following from my self published trade books

Frank Sergeant said...

> Did we shut it down when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!

A quality education is expensive, but it is worth every penny.

Frank

Joe Konrath said...

A quality education is expensive, but it is worth every penny.

Is that a French pin? On your uniform?

Joe Konrath said...

My new six week total is $116k, assuming borrows are $2.

Frank Sergeant said...

> Is that a French pin? On your uniform?

Is that another one of your "How many Frenchmen does it take to change a light bulb?" jokes?

Oh, you must mean the counterfeit Legion of Hohner medal (for playing the harmonica). I'm grimacing in the photo because it's not my uniform it's pinned to -- I'm naked.

Joe Konrath said...

It's National Lampoon's Animal House, Frank.

The Germans bombing Pearl Harbor is something Bluto/Belushi said. The French pin is another quote.

David L. Shutter said...

"Is that a French pin? On your uniform?"

I thought it was a PLEDGE pin?

Or is there some sideways joke I'm missing?

Jude Hardin said...

It is pledge pin. I also wondered if I was missing something. :)

Frank Sergeant said...

> It's National Lampoon's Animal House, Frank

Thanks. I loved that movie. Apparently my memory is going.

Frank

David L. Shutter said...

"Thanks. I loved that movie. Apparently my memory is going."

Released in 1978. I vaguely remember seeing the original movie trailer and wished I was old enough to see it.

My God, getting old.

Jude Hardin said...

Released in 1978.

I just happened to be starting college and pledging a fraternity at the time. We were having a toga party, and rumor had it that anyone who showed up at the theater wearing one got free admission. We'd sucked a few kegs dry by then and were primed for adventure, so a bunch of the guys piled in the back of my pickup truck and off we went, laughing and hooping and hollering.

I know what you're thinking: driving while intoxicated, under-aged, multiple loose bodies bouncing around in the back of the truck...

But it was okay, because nobody wore seat belts back then either!

When we got to the theater, the ticket takers just shook their heads and laughed. The rumor was false. We had to pay to get in, just like everyone else. I think it was three bucks at the time.

I guess we were quite the spectacle on that chilly October night, showing up at a first-run theater wearing nothing but bed sheets. All I can say is don't try this at home!

Joe Konrath said...

I always thought it was a French pin. Now it makes a lot more sense...

David L. Shutter said...

SWEET! I called it first, what do I win?

Do I get a really expensive 6-pack shipped to me?

Can I get a beta read instead :P

James Everhart said...

Um, you somehow forgot "libraries". It's amazing how many people come in to read the latest bestsellers. The waiting lists for 50 Shades of Grey, which was also a huge seller even in places like Target last Xmas, was astounding.

Kathryn Loch said...

Joe - I have to admit I disagree with your stance on piracy. My day job - I'm a number cruncher, look at data analyze. I've also seriously pursued publishing since 96. I worked hard, learned my craft and I wrote. I completed about 6 romance novels and rejected every time.


I put the books away for a long time but in Sept 2012, I finally had the guts to self publish on Amazon. I read the fine print of the KDPS, and it was that number thing for me again. Put up my first two novels. One was my freebie, the other $1.99. The freebie was had impressive numbers. October I put up 3 more novels. The shorter ones I priced at $0.99 but they lead the way with the freebies. Sales weren't huge in Oct or Nov. but the freebies charged on - then the positive reviews starting coming in. Not a huge amount but enough to be quite encouraging.


December I released a novel I knew would point right at my target audience. I didn't put that one as free. I had one small one that was my loss-lead. But my target novel was priced at $1.99.


December sales tripled and it would be enough to pay some bills. Yay! I got the last of my completed novels up in Jan. My target novel was flying. January's numbers came in and I almost fainted $5k! I had a plan for progress. I had posted all of my completed novels but still had others that were almost finished. But as Jan ended and Feb began I saw an abrupt slow down.


Positive reviews were there - very few negative and they weren't major. I was communicating with my readers, expanding my presence on the net, and working like crazy to complete my other book. Released another one in Feb. It came out of the gate strong - excellent reviews. Then I saw the returns climb as sales slowed even more.


By the end of Feb. totals dropped $2k with no indication as to why. I worked on promoting - sneak peaks at professional covers for the new stuf.


I have a small but dedicated fan base now. They jumped on they had fun with learning about the new stuff. I was changing freebies, trying different things, but sales slowed. This just didn't make sense.


Then I found that my loss-lead and several others, including my best seller had been pirated. They had been cracked and were now epub and whatnot (although I had been trying to get my stuff formatted and up on Smashwords.) They say if you don't want your work pirated, make it $0.99. I did, but it was also my second best seller when it wasn't free. I made a surprising amount of money on it. That's the one that was pirated the most. But I found it on a forum based in France - dedicated to romance readers. And they're having a serge in membership.


They say you don't lose money from pirates because they will never pay to download your book. The avid romance readers having their discussion groups on this forum like everyone else in this genre were my target audience. I saw a select few providing the masses with books in the formats they requested. Suzi Romance Fan searching for a particular format finds this forum. She posts, anyone know where I can get this title in this format? Oh one of the chosen few say, I picked that up free the other day on Amazon. Don't worry I've got Calibre. Here ya go.


I tracked dates, looked at code on the sites were my books were stored (thanks Google - NOT!) and crunched numbers. When my lead works were posted, they took about a week then they too exploded just like they did on Amazon. But this time, my sales have tanked, numerous glowing reviews and all. I'm almost back down to December's numbers and trying to figure out what the heck to do. This is all backwards! Everyone said it wouldn't happen this way - but it did.


But - I have no clue what to do now. lol! (Sorry this was so long but I thought you might find it interesting.)

Joey said...

Joe, I wanted to make you aware of a new option which will be launching in early 2014, www.nokbok.com. We are utilizing a completely different reader pay and royalty model, which we believe will not only offer competitive royalties for authors, but also help authors get more readers. Nokbok also has no intention of making author's materials exclusive to our site. Our royalty model is outlined here:
http://www.nokbok.com/blog/nokbok-royalty-model-doing-publishing-differently

Please take a look and let me know your thoughts. I hope that you will not choose to make your work exclusive in the future, it is taking advantage of authors. Thanks! Joey - The Nokbok Team (nokbok.com@gmail.com)

frankierobertson said...

I've been exclusive to KS for the last two years because the borrows compensated for the income lost from other distributors. Following the 80/20 rule, it didn't make sense for me to spread my effort around on platforms that didn't make me much money. (I had been on B&N and ARe before going exclusive to Amazon in 3/12.)

For the last few months, however, borrows have dried up, and I'm seriously considering diversifying again. I was wondering if you would share your thoughts on the matter now, more than a year after going exclusive to KDP Select?

Sam$$The Lover Boy$$ said...

I published my book on amazon named "Life Overpacked"..its a self help book..Facing the marketing issues as sales are very less..waiting for the KDP select to do some miracle..