Exclusivity vs. Going Wide
Putting all of your eggs in one basket. Whenever I hear that phase, it immediately conjures up thoughts of limiting myself in any situation where there are other possible choices to consider. In today’s lingo, the acronym, FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, is probably the way most people would describe that same feeling.
Sometimes FOMO will thrust you forward, pushing you to make a choice where the possible positive results, although not guaranteed, will outweigh the negative of not making that particular choice. Sometimes, it simply freezes us in place. We know there are other, perhaps better choices out there, but the fear is not of missing out, it’s of change. The change is not guaranteed success, so the FOMO in this case, is missing out on what we already have if we leave it behind to try something new.
In the world of indie publishing, the fear is leaving behind the comfort of staying exclusive with Amazon, or branching out into the many other electronic bookstores where we can place our books for sale. Think of it as like being a baby bird that doesn't want to leave the nest and venture out into the scary, unknown world. The nest is all we know. The nest has been there for us, perhaps even good to us. But to really learn and grow, leaving the nest may be the best choice.
As with everything, there are two sides to every story. Most of us got our start as an Indie Author by first publishing our books on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). There is an option to include your work in their Kindle Unlimited program, which allows the customers who pay for that service to download and read your work for free. Our payment comes from the customer actually reading the book. The payout for this is determined by the amount of page reads your book accumulates through the program. It sounds like a great idea. People can read your book for free and you still get paid for all your hard work! The catch? You have to agree that you will not offer the electronic version of your book anywhere else while you are participating in the KU program. Your commitment is for 90 days, and is auto-renewed every 90 days. If you’re not paying attention, you can be in this program for a long time. And just because someone downloads your book, there is no guarantee that it will ever be read at all. I have personally experienced this… you get a spike in your sales ranking when someone downloads your baby, your blood, sweat and tears—the book you possible spent years writing. And then nothing. The line on the graph on your reports page never moves. Why? Because the book was downloaded but never opened or read by that customer. Perhaps they came across it and were intrigued enough by your cover and blurb that they decided to add it to their TBR, and downloaded it right then and there. But it is way down their list of books to read and it may be weeks or even months before you see any reward for your efforts.
Now, some Indie Authors swear by the KU program. They get a ton of page reads and make a decent living being a part of this program. But for a lot of us, it’s just the opposite. So what is the alternative? Keeping your book available for sale on Amazon, because, let’s face it, they are the juggernaut. But if you also opt out of the KU program before the auto-renewal kicks in, you are now free to distribute your book to other book selling platforms, while keeping it for sale on Amazon.
I have recently been trying to make this decision myself. I’ve had my book, Dead is Forever, exclusive to Amazon and KU since it was first published in May 2017. Now, as a first book, by an unknown author, it has fared pretty well overall. Without being specific, I sold over 100 copies of Dead is Forever by the end of 2018, which was about a year and a half from the publication date. It’s not a best seller, and I understand that in the scheme of things, it’s not even a lot of books. But I’ve been happy with the results since a lot of first time authors never sell more than a couple of copies of their first book. And 2019 has started off pretty good. Over time, I’ve had page reads through the KU program, but not enough to keep it in the program.
And now, I feel like it’s time to take Dead is Forever, wide, as they say. Wide, simply means that I am making it available through other digital bookstores. It will still be available at Amazon, but no longer available for Kindle Unlimited download.
This was a decision I didn’t take lightly. As a matter of fact, I’ve let the KU auto-renew happen several times rather than jump into the wider sea of opportunity. Mainly because of that reverse FOMO—Fear of Missing Out on what I already had. I mean, I had page reads. Was pulling my book from the KU program a mistake? Would it eventually catch fire and I would be missing out on profits accumulated from more page reads over time by just leaving well enough alone?
After much deliberation, I finally pulled the plug on the KU program for Dead is Forever. The exclusivity ran out on February 15th and I did not renew.
There are a few ways I could’ve gone to distribute my book to the other platforms. I could upload my book to each bookstore individually that I wanted to be on, or choose one of a couple of distribution sites to do it for me. I decided that trying to do it individually was more work than I was willing to take on right now. I work a full time job, and have grandkids to spoil, leaving me little time for writing most days as it is, so I decided to let Draft2Digital do the heavy lifting for me on this new chapter in the publishing side of my writing life.
I can’t tell you how awesome and scary it felt to hit the PUBLISH button on the D2D site. There was no turning back as soon as I clicked on that button.
I sent my first born out into the world of other bookstores last night. I went to bed wondering if I’d made the right decision. When I awoke this morning, I had several emails confirming publication to several of those new bookstore sites. I immediately went searching for my book. The first one I looked at was Barnes & Noble. I knew I’d made the right choice as soon as I saw my book available for purchase and download on the B&N site.
It’ll still be a few days before Dead is Forever is available at all the other bookstores, but I know in my heart that it was a good decision for me.
Putting all your eggs in one basket, in this case, the basket being Amazon, was not the best choice for me. I am looking forward to seeing how my book performs at the other bookstores. Yes, I know that I will still most likely get most of my sales from Amazon. However, I really like the idea of branching out to these other platforms. I will move Deadly Passion and The Razzman Chronicles off the KU program and onto other bookstore sites as soon as their current 90 day commitment has ended.
I’ll provide an update on how this all flowed at the end of the year. I’ll let you know if it was a successful move or if I should have ignored the FOMO itch. But for now, for me, the FOMO of what could be with the other bookstores, won out over the realization of what has been with the KU program on Amazon.
Until next time... please visit me below: