Part 1 ‘All In or Going Wide’
It’s almost a year since self-publishing my first book Starfish Singers. What a learning curve. The publishing world is like one big gigantic wave. And while some authors are enjoying riding their publishing wave, others may be struggling with the basics of the whitewash and getting started.
Serious authors, like surfers, understand their terrain and work with the elements. From understanding our own natural writing style to learning from others and working with a team to produce the best version of a book we can.
Now more than ever, any writer with a good idea for a book can ride the wave well. The major keys are knowledge of the platforms in the marketplace, choosing the best option to publish your books and getting your book under the nose of a targeted audience.
Amazon is the biggest bookstore on the planet, serving a whopping 225 million customers. On Cyber Monday alone, Amazon sells on average 300 items a second. Amazon has 96 warehouses in the world (Australia is joining them), and these fulfillment centers are the size of 20 football fields.
In its humble beginnings, Amazon was a bookstore. Now it is the ‘everything store.’ Jeff Bezos, the founder, and CEO of Amazon is a revolutionist and not afraid to disrupt the old ways. He believes that “the common question that gets asked in business is, ‘why?’ That’s a good question, but an equally valid question is, ‘why not?’”.
We will talk about the ‘why not’ later. For now, let’s look at a tiny snapshot of why authors are signing up with the #12 company on the Fortune 500 list.
- KINDLE Amazon’s digital game changer
The Kindle store is one giant networking machine with a massive list of books in the millions. And Amazon puts those titles (written by anyone) in front of readers as recommendations. These suggestions on what to read next are based on among other things, the customer’s reading habits. For Amazon, it’s not about the competition it’s their obsession with keeping customers coming back to the Kindle store, ready to show them their favourite books to read.
- KINDLE DIRECT PUBLISHING (KDP) The platform without a publisher
A staggering sum of authors that were turned down from agents, written off by publishers or found their manuscripts stuck in the slush pile switched to self-publishing, and their book sales skyrocketed through the digital roof on Amazon’s KDP.
It’s open to anyone and with KDP Select authors can opt in for 70% of the profits back in their pockets. There is just one big string attached. Authors who enrol in the Select Program must commit their digital books exclusively to Amazon during the exclusive period. Some Authors go wide and upload their books to a range of distributors including KDP, while others choose KDP Select and either hire professionals or do the hard yards themselves in understanding this platform and getting their books in front of readers.
- KDP SELECT A Program with Benefits
Signing up to KDP Select is not a guarantee that authors will make sales, it’s a program, which includes:
- Automatically available to Amazon Kindle readers who are subscribed to Kindle Unlimited
- Earn royalties under the Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP) Read program
- Available in the Kindle Owners Lending Library (KOLL) program
- Participate in Kindle Countdown Deals
- Offered for free for five days in each 90 day enrolment period
Check out Amazon US for more benefits. Australians can make their KDP published books available for readers in the Australia Kindle Store.
- ALL IN EXCLUSIVELY OR GOING WIDE?
The publishing industry is in rapid change. Forums are a great way to gain information on keeping up to speed with changes and an opportunity to gain knowledge about why authors are choosing to go exclusively with KDP Select or distribute on multiple book sale platforms. Here are a few suggestions from seasoned authors:
- If you’re new to the self-publishing world, KDP Select may boost your discovery and keep the starting out process simple.
- If you experimented with KDP Select and it’s working now, don’t always assume it will keep working
- Well known authors may choose going wide to increase readership
- Going wide allows the freedom of controlling where you want to distribute your book
On a recent forum discussion, an author reached out asking for help with distributing their books. The author had novels and a children’s book.
Forum Answer: “On Amazon, there are 70% and 35% royalties. To get 70%, your eBook must be priced between $2.99 and $9.99. For a short story, you would probably have to price at 99c, and for that, you would just get 35%. If you go with 70% and it’s a picture book, consider the download fees compared to 35% where there are no download fees.”
The author decided to keep their novels in KDP Select and go wide with the children’s book.
To sum up the decision, there is no right or wrong answer although factors like genre, the number of books, author’s goals, where your audience is and where you are in your career can point authors in the right direction.
Now back to the ‘Why not.’ Revolutionists like Jeff Bozos don’t get stuck on the ‘why’. They push beyond the reason and tap into something that’s never been seen or done before. It’s like their brains are uniquely wired to dream up something unique that’s purposeful. Like Amazon’s octocopters. Those mini-drones will soon be dropping our purchases right to the front door within minutes or hours of our sale. But wouldn’t that require warehouses in mass locations all over the world? Yes, it would, and it’s why Amazon is looking to the sky.
See you next time as we take a deeper look into the Amazon machine and why as authors we need an understanding of its mechanics to maximise its benefits.