by Janis Patterson/Janis Susan May
According to some, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly but expecting different results. I guess I’m insane, because I’ve been avoiding Kindle Unlimited for years. Why? Because I hate even the threat of a monopoly.
Let’s face it – the ‘Zon is closer than a lot of people – myself included – think to becoming a monopoly in ebook sales, and if that goal is accomplished, how long do you think we writers will be receiving those lovely 70% royalties? On the other hand, the ‘Zon is the 800 pound gorilla in online book marketing, and that is a very real fact with which we must deal.
I have long touted the desirability of going wide, of having my books available on numerous platforms, of supporting diversity in sales venues. (In the interest of full disclosure – I will admit to having a couple of short stories exclusive to the ‘Zon for various reasons not germane to this discussion.) However, going wide can be dangerous to one’s bank account.
The ‘Zon’s exclusivity program of Kindle Unlimited, which they push shamelessly, is ruthless. If you aren’t in KU, your books get shoved down... way down. I have typed in the exact title of one of my wide books, both with and without quotation marks to show search for entirety and by word, yet in neither instance did either show up until the fourth or fifth page. The pages of books that did show up were all KU titles – some of which did not even share a single word in their title with mine.
Even with such a handicap regarding discoverability, the biggest chunk of my income is from the ‘Zon. The other venues, which I have worked so hard and done without in order to support, offer only trifling sales. And no, they don’t advertise or push my books either.
So – the question becomes, how much can I afford to support a principle when it is not supporting me? I am fortunate; I do not have to depend solely on my writing income to survive – however, it is a part of our household income. I repeat – how much are we supposed to give up in order to support a principle? One of the writers whom I have mentored, as well as several other professional friends, are in KU and making very respectable sums on page reads alone. And no, none of them are ‘book stuffing’ scammers of any stripe – just hard working writers with good stories to tell.
I’m a good writer, too, I work hard and I have good stories to tell. I’ve won awards and been on several best-seller lists (all in Europe – go figure!) but I’m buried so far in the search engine heap my books may never see the daylight of solvency.
So I have come to the conclusion that the least I can do is experiment. I’ve decided to pull some of my better-selling books from other venues and place them in KU. If they do well, I’ll move them all. To those of you readers who use non-‘Zon venues and devices, I’m sorry I shan’t be available to you, but let’s be honest - if you had bought my books I wouldn’t have to be doing this.
I still hate even the remotest hint of a monopoly.
I hate bankruptcy even more.