I first started publishing my stories five years ago. I stuck my toe in the water with a short story, “Heart of Oak”.
Then followed up with my first published novel, BLOOD WILL TELL.
When I started, I published widely–directly to Amazon and through Smashwords to other marketplaces, including Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Apple iBookstore. I didn’t have all my eggs in one basket. Three other novels, three other short stories, and one novella followed. I didn’t do very much in the way of promotion and no traditional marketing at all. And mostly, I broke even or maybe did just a little better than that.
And then, in July 2014, two things happened. I published the first book in my epic fantasy series, THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.
(By the way, is it bad that I can type the link to that book from memory?) And, within a couple of weeks, Amazon started its Kindle Unlimited program.
Somehow, THE SHAMAN’S CURSE made it onto Amazon’s lists, which really boosted sales. It’s still my most successful book. And I’m still mystified by how that happened, because I still wasn’t doing any real promotion or marketing. But, because of that boost on Amazon, I did notice something else: That first month, I had sold about 8 copies of TSC in all of the markets I reached through Smashwords and about 1500 on Amazon.
And Amazon had this new Kindle Unlimited feature that was only available to us independent authors under certain circumstances–one of which was that we make our books available exclusively through Amazon. Well, that was pretty much a no-brainer.
I withdrew the book from Smashwords and joined Kindle Select. That went so well that I published everything new–four more novels (three in the DUAL MAGICS series and one stand-alone) and a new short story–exclusively through Amazon. Gradually, I withdrew all my other work (except one short story that I’d always intended to leave free) from Smashwords and made them exclusive with Amazon, too. That’s nine novels, four short stories, and one novella.
And I’ve had no complaints about that decision until recently. Over the last month, page reads–the measure by which Amazon pays authors for books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited–have fallen to almost nothing. I don’t have the data to determine why this is. I don’t know if Amazon’s relatively new feature, page flip (for which they purposely don’t count pages) has anything to do with it or if it’s something else. Disabling page flip certainly hasn’t made a difference–though I’m in process of finishing up that project anyway.
Maybe all the Amazon customers who would be interested in my work through Kindle Unlimited have already borrowed it. Though, sales continue at about the level I’d expect six months after my last release.
Either way, it’s time to start exploring my options again. I’ve started looking at the schedule on which I can remove my stories from Kindle Select. This is slightly complicated by the boxed sets. I can’t publish the boxed set or any of the books or stories in the boxed set anywhere else while any of them are still in Kindle Select. However, they all seem to be grouped in the May/June time frame, for some reason, with one outlier in mid April.
As I prepare to publish BECOME: BROTHERS
and get back to work on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING, hopefully this week but certainly this month, I have a decision to make.
- I can publish it exclusively with Amazon, at least temporarily. This ties it up for three months. On the other hand, I haven’t completed–heck, I’ve barely started–my research into the best way to take my books wide again, so I probably wouldn’t be ready to do that immediately anyway.
- Or I can publish to Amazon first, without tying the book up in Kindle Select and continue my research into other options.
- I don’t see any value on holding off until I’m ready to go wide, so I can cross that option off, at least.