Thursday, December 29, 2011

To Kindle Select or Not to Kindle Select, That is the Question

Indie Authors have a big decision to make.

Amazon has changed the game and may be planning on taking over the publishing world.  Around mid December they started offering authors Kindle Select.  If you join, you get to be part of their loaning program and get part of the revenue shared by authors whose books are loaned to Prime members.  Prime members can borrow one book a month.

You can also offer your book free for 5 days during 90 days.  Doing so often pushes your book into the top 100 lists for the genres it is listed in and makes it appear also a "also bought" for people.  This means you may sell a whole lot more for awhile after the free days.

Not to mention that books in the Select program will probably be promoted more heavily to Prime customers.  Sounds great, right?

Well...not so much.  In order to do that, you have to go exclusively with Amazon for at least 90 days.  That means you can't sell your book on B&N for NOOK, Apple, any other book sites or even your own website.  You must have your book removed from all of those sources and only be available on Amazon.  If you stay with Select after the 90 days you must stay exclusive to Amazon.
That means you lose your reviews on those other sites.  It means those customers can no longer buy your book.  For some authors, that does not seem like a big deal.  The majority of sales come from Amazon for most anyway.

But think about it for a minute.  Doesn't that take the "indie" out of indie author?  Telling someone where they can and cannot sell their book is not exactly independent. Also, traditionally published authors don't have to play by the same rules.  They are not required to be exclusive, at least from what I understand.  If I am wrong, I hope someone corrects me.  How is that fair?

Also, if a Prime member can only "borrow" one book a month, how many times will that be an indie book?  Indie books are significantly less money.  Why would they use their one borrow for a $2.99 or .99 book when they can use it for a $10.00 or more?  Really, the money an indie will make from the loaning program won't be much.

What if Amazon pushes hard enough that almost all indies are exclusive with them?  Can't they then change the game again...and offer them a lot less profit per book?  Where are they going to go unless they start over, building reviews, etc on other sites?
I don't know.  This seems like a stranger offering me candy on a street corner.  On the other hand, other authors are jumping in and seeing a huge increase in visibility because of days their book is free.  It remains to be seen how that free turns into future sales...but it is looking promising.

So far, I have decided not to abandon my Nook users.  But they are a tough sell.  If things don't improve with Nook users and my sales, I may be tempted.  I have not published with Apple yet, but planned to.  Now this Kindle Select comes along. Still, it just feels wrong in my gut...and my gut seldom lies.

It would be easier to try it if I wrote stand alone books.  Right now I am in the middle of a series.  It does not make sense to put just one of two in a series on there only on Amazon...or does it? What about when book 3 comes out?  Should I make book 1 exclusive then, thinking that it has been out long enough on other sites already?  Decisions, decisions.

Yeah, it feels crappy, like a potentially bad situation in the future. I have been wrong before and could be again.  This is really a hard decision.  A decision every indie author will be facing with every book published. Tomorrow I may wake up and think "what the hell" and try it.  Or I may continue as is, truly indie and loving it.

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