I Can’t Ignore the Numbers (Probably only interesting to authors)

About four weeks ago I started writing a blog post about Amazon and why I believe that Select is bad, and wider distribution is the right thing for self publishers. Thankfully, I never hit publish on that one, because this post is me turning my back on what I truly believe.

The fact is my book sales have plummeted. Alpaca has been out for two years, and, truth be told, has probably sold better than I thought it would. When I first stumbled into this ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ world I didn’t know anything about promotion, going exclusive or wider distribution.

My first instinct was to spread my wings to as many places as possible and have my book available in as many far off lands as humanly possible. Then I heard about KDP Select. Give your book away for free. Hand over exclusive sales rights to Amazon. No way! For two years my book has been available on Nook, Kobo, Smashwords and ibooks (and others). I have had sales. (Good sales when combined with a Bookbub promotion.) However, two years is a long time, and sales have stayed negligible on those other platforms. I have always thought “It takes time to build a following on these platforms, give it time”, which I have been able to do since sales have always been increasing on Amazon. I have preached to those in Select about the fact that distributing widely is the ‘right’ thing to do. Those authors have said to me “We are selling lots of books on Amazon, the others don’t matter,” but it did matter to me. I wanted to sell everywhere. I wanted to get on the New York Times Bestseller list. I love the idea of a man in the desert of the Sahara downloading my book on to his generic mobile phone, but maybe I am the one that is misguided?

This past summer Amazon launched Kindle Unlimited in the United States followed by the UK. As soon as KU launched my sales on Amazon started to drop. This is not unusual in the summer, sales are often slower, but this year they have not picked up. Now, I don’t know if Amazon are actively making non-Select books less visible, but I have witnessed fellow authors with borrows increasing dramatically, pushing them up the Amazon rankings and of course, increasing sales along the way. All the time this relegates the authors who do not have their books in KU further down in to the dross.

After discussion with my publisher (and a bit of a reality check for me), I have made the  decision to give Amazon Select a try for 90 days and see what happens. That means sacrificing those other platforms and handing over my soul to Amazon. It leaves a nasty taste in my mouth, but I can see no other option at this moment. Amazon have beaten me.

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