Selling my soul to the devil

Last week I’ve chosen to enroll “The Shadow of Black Wings” to Amazon’s KDP Select program. Now, there is some controversy among the indie community as to whether this is the right thing to do for an author. It supports Amazon’s monopoly, they say. It limits your marketing and distribution opportunities. It doesn’t work as well as it used to.

These are all good and valid reasons, but here are my equally compelling reasons to join the program:

1) Other platforms weren’t worth the effort.

Over the last two months, all my non-Kindle sales combined amounted to less than 5% of Amazon sales. Now admittedly, I’ve based most of my marketing efforts on Amazon.com, but that’s part of the problem: with all the hard work involved in writing, marketing and social networking, I just couldn’t focus on other platforms. Every time I had to change something in the manuscript or product description, I had to do it on several websites. Every time I wanted to advertise, I had to post several links. This might have worked if the sales weren’t so poor on those other channels, but the way it was going, it just wasn’t worth it.

This might have been a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts: focus on Amazon, and only Amazon will bring profit. But  as a fresh starter, I really needed to focus on something. Establishing a reader base is a difficult enough process as it is. Some more experienced authors reported that releasing their books on Kobo was, for them, a worthwhile investment – but they took their already made fan bases to Kobo with them. I don’t have that – yet.

2) A part of the series may have a greater chance than a standalone.

Select and free promos may not be working that well anymore for standalone works, but “The Shadow of Black Wings” is just volume one of a greater series. My reasoning is simple: give the first one free, and hope they will come for the rest. It works for everything else, so why not for books? 🙂

This part is the greatest gamble I’m undertaking. Will anyone want to continue reading the series after getting the first book for free, or will the Select promotions just take a huge bite out of my potential readership – and leave me with nothing to show for it? We’ll see…

3) It’s only three months.

In the end, if nothing works, it’s just 90 days – and then I can change my mind. That’s not much. The Select enrolment period for Transmission is almost over, and it feels like it’s been yesterday that I’ve reached #1 on UK bestseller list for sci-fi anthologies.

With luck, in three months I may be in a better position than I am now. I may have people actively looking for me on other platforms, disappointed that I’m not there. There may be other opportunities showing up – when I started out in June, Kobo Books was just a rumour; who knows what will happen between now and December?

But until then, “The Shadow of Black Wings” is exclusive to Amazon, and free to loan for all Amazon Prime members. Stay tuned for further announcements 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Selling my soul to the devil

  1. My experience is that it is still worthwhile to do it for the first book of a series. But with a caveat. On your free day, if you don’t look like you’re going to do at least 2000 downloads, cancel the promo. If you don’t get at least that many downloads on day one, it won’t benefit you at all and could actually harm your rankings, as when you go back to paid there won’t be sufficient free units to move you higher, and you might slip due to no sales. So it’s a crapshoot. How lucky do you feel? Think you can make it into the top, say, 40? If so you’ll see a bump on sales, and some nice follow on sales for the other books in the series. If not? Not so much.

    My feeling is that the program is still worth it if you have a large backlist. I now have 15 books out, 13 of which are paid, so it makes sense to roll the dice on maybe 5 or 6 of the titles in any given 90 day period. I’m not sure how I would feel about it if I only had one or two…or three. In the end there is no right or wrong answer, but the odds have gotten far greater against a free promo having a measurable effect on sales. Phoebe Sullivan just did a good blog detailing her actual sales results on a slew of titles, some of which had massive downloads, and the data is…so-so. I recommend reading it, though, for a good indication of how things seem to be going.

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