Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
Well, no sooner do I decide to put my forthcoming novel, Occasional Soulmates, in the KDP Select program — selling the ebook strictly through Amazon — than Amazon goes and announces this new gig, Kindle Unlimited, throwing my strategy off track before it even gets rolling. Read all about Kindle Unlimited here (which I reblogged yesterday from David Gaughran). Understand that it is essentially the same as Oyster Books, only emanating from the Death Star.
As Gaughran analyzes it, we’ll have to wait and see what effect this new program has on self-publishers. There are a lot of variables, and it’s hard to tell how promotional outlets will respond to accommodate a shift from individual sales to monthly subscriptions, though it’s probably safe to say that Amazon doesn’t want to kill independent publishing. I have to think they’re making money on it, even if it’s pennies a copy. Lots of pennies are piling up.
But my impression is that it will be very difficult for books like mine to stand out among the over 600,000 titles in Kindle Unlimited, even if none of those titles are from the big publishers. By way of example, I haven’t had a single “sale” in Oyster, as far as I can tell — not that I’ve done anything to promote my stuff there. I’d expect Kindle Unlimited to be equally opaque. After all, people will read what floats to the top. They can’t read what they don’t know exists, so competition will be fierce for eyeballs.
I guess it’ll all become clear as we go along.
In terms of KDP Select, though, I think I’ll maintain that strategy, at least at the outset. I know a lot of people out there have e-readers other than the Kindle, and I know that most of us are pretty mad at Amazon these days. But in getting Occasional Soulmates ready to publish, I’ve reviewed my non-Amazon sales and have to admit the number is tiny. Just for analytical purposes, let’s say they represent about 3% of my total. Most of them were sold via Barnes & Nobel, but again, we’re talking single digits here.
Some readers with Nooks and Kobos will say, “What about me?” — and I have a strategy all set to go. First, I’m also doing a paperback edition this time around, so that will give eager readers a chance to have and hold an actual book. Sure, it’ll cost more, but it’s a physical object, and it’ll have my picture on it too!
Beyond that, though, if you’re truly wed to your non-Kindle device and don’t want to pony up for the p’back, I’m ready to work with you. Buy the ebook on Amazon, and I’ll send you a file formatted in EPUB or PDF (or whatever your device prefers). Of course, you’ll have to provide some kind of proof of purchase, but that can be as simple as emailing me your Amazon receipt.
If Yesterday Road is any guide, I’m talking to fewer than twenty people right now.
Don’t forget, Amazon provides free software so that you can read Kindle books on pads and phones, so you don’t absolutely need a Kindle.
A lot is happening in self-publishing these days, not the least upsetting of which is Amazon’s hard-assed business strategy and now the Oyster-like Kindle Unlimited. For semi-literary novels like mine, or novels that don’t fall into the most popular ebook categories, though, there’s simply no market outside of the Kindle. We’ll see if the paperback makes a difference. I hope it does. I’d like to reach people who haven’t taken the plunge into ebooks yet, or people who just like real, honest-to-god books that smell nice when you fan them under your nose. I know you’re out there!
What are your impressions of Kindle Unlimited and how it’ll affect us indies? Disaster or opportunity?