I almost titled this post “Disinformation”. But even though I’m only on my first cup of coffee, I realized that could send the discussion down a political well I didn’t want to visit. That’s not what this post is about. The problem is I just read something on one of the blogs I follow that has me grinding my teeth in frustration. Since I happen to know the person who “said” what has me so frustrated, I’m going to walk a thin line of not identifying the blog or the actual comment. That means I’ll be talking in general terms. So let’s start with this: if you’re going to make a blanket statement about something and then say you could prove it if you took time, stop and erase the statement. You just undermined your entire argument.
This is a problem I see all too often, especially on social media. Hell, let’s be honest, probably everyone here has been guilty of it from time to time, myself included. In this particular case, the comment was made and it just didn’t sound right to me. So I went to check my own data on the topic and discovered several fallacies with the OP’s stance. It also dawned on me that this was the same sort of disinformation–well-meaning though it may have been–I see all too often in publishing.
Authors are like anyone else. We tend to find an approach to something we like and dig in on it. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking computer operating systems, writing software, marketing approaches or outlets where we sell our work. We see it whenever you start talking Mac vs. PC or Amazon vs everyone else. I’ve seen some of it recently aimed at me as I’ve documented my experiences trying to take my books wide.
Hell, I was one of those for years who argued against going wide. Amazon had always been a great partner. I was making good money through both sales and page reads. But then I started seeing my page read numbers increase while the actual money decreased. Part of that was because more and more indie authors were getting into the “pool”. Another part was because Amazon was starting to allow trad publishers to jump into that particular pool–something I don’t agree with.
That started me looking at alternatives. I’ve spent more than enough words in other posts explaining why I made the final decision to go wide. So far, I’m not regretting the decision one bit. On the financial end of things, I may have lost the KU page reads, but my sales elsewhere have more than made up for it.
Let’s look at some numbers. Vengeance from Ashes sells for $2.99. At the 70% royalty rate I get from Amazon, that means I should make $2.03 per unit sold. Except I don’t. You see, Amazon also charges a $0.15 delivery fee per megabyte. So my $2.09 royalty per unit now becomes $1.94 per unit. If someone borrowed the book this month (if it still happened to be in the KDP Select/KU program) and read every page, I’d receive $1.46.
There was a time when page read payments came close to equaling what you received for a purchase of your book. But that’s a pretty big income drop, especially when you consider Amazon is getting $9.99/mo for every subscriber to the program.
Going through Draft2Digital (because I’m lazy and trying to put out several dozen titles in a short period of time while still writing and taking care of the day-to-day responsibilities I have) that same book sold on B&N will net me $1.78. It will be about the same for the other outlets. Yes, that is lower than Amazon, but that is a choice I made by using the third party to put up my books. It is worth it to me for the time I save right now by not having to deal with each major store individually to set up product pages, submit the books, wait for them to say if they accept the books, fix anything, etc.
More numbers, in general this time because I don’t want to be very specific. Looking at my sales for the month so far, I am selling right at twice as many books on the non-Amazon outlets than I am on Amazon. I have Nocturnal Origins listed for free and had no problem going through D2d with getting the other stores to list it at that price. Because of that, I can see buy throughs of the rest of the books in the series. And I did not include the number of free downloads in the comparison numbers between Amazon and non-Amazon outlets. If I did, the non-Amazon outlets would be outstripping Amazon by closer to 3:1.
Because I released entire series at the same time or within a week or so, start to end, when I took them wide, I can actually see the sell through on them on the non-Amazon outlets. I now find myself wondering how many readers I’ve missed over the years by not offering my books in these other storefronts. After all, many of the books they are currently buying are five years old or older.
There is another issue where Amazon is concerned. One of the reasons I stayed with them exclusively for so long was their responsivity to authors when there was a problem. Whether it’s the pandemic, growing too fast, a change in attitude or uncertainty about the change in leadership, that seems to no longer be the case.
Take Origins, for example. I’ve groused here before about the problems trying to get Amazon to price match. It shouldn’t be difficult. When you ask them to do so, if you do it via email–which I always do to have a paper trail–you give them the title, the ASIN, the price you want to match. Then you have to give them links to the other stores where the book is priced lower. No problem. Should be easy enough to do, right?
July 1st, I made the request to price match. I was assured it would be done shortly. Since then, I have exchanged approximately 14 emails with Amazon about the issue. First, it went free. Then it switched back to $0.99. Rinse and repeat a time or two. Then I was told they were having a tech team look into it. Then I was told it was fixed and give them a few hours. Then I was told they couldn’t price match because the edition number–the fucking edition number that isn’t required anywhere, including Amazon–didn’t match. I needed to go to every store and change it to match Amazon’s info.
I’ll admit I wasn’t particularly nice by then. I point blank asked why they were basing the decision on that instead of on the legal identifier of the ISBN? No answer to that question. But they did finally say I could make the change on the Amazon page instead of going to every other store. Of course, it could be because I also said I was taking their action–or lack of action–as approval not to price match, at least for that particular book. Once I made the change, I let them know and was told–again–to give them a few hours to push through the change.
Fifteen hours later, it still hadn’t been made. So yet another round of emails and more promises of having the tech team look at it and they would be back in touch with me in another 2-3 business days. Well, I haven’t heard back from them but the book is now listed as free.
But. . . you knew there had to be a but.
Looking at the listing, it is clear they may be changing it back at any time.
And, btw, they tell you in their emails they retain the choice to change the price at their discretion. Wut?!?
So, as a final comment on this overly long screed, Amazon has driven me to go wide. Between declining page read income even though page reads have stayed constant or gone up, the problems dealing with tech support–and this began before I made the decision to go wide–to having to cancel promotions once I did because of their games with the price of Origins, it’s not worth staying solely with them, especially looking at my numbers elsewhere without any promotion or new books to drive the sales.
This isn’t a decision for everyone. It takes work. But I would recommend everyone, indie and small press alike, look at the big picture. Don’t rely only on what I tell you. Don’t rely on what others say. And if they give you numbers, make sure those numbers are accurate. Do your own research and make the decision based on your needs and your expectations.
And don’t be afraid to change your mind if circumstances change.
Now for a bit of promo.
September 7, 2021 release
War is hell. No battle plan survives the opening salvo. When the enemy is set on the total destruction of your homeworld, how far will you go to protect it and those you love?
This war has already cost Col. Ashlyn Shaw too much. She has lost friends and family to an enemy that doesn’t know the meaning of honor. Marines under her command have died doing their duty. Her enemies at home conspired and brought her up on charges, sending her and members of her command to the Tarsus military penal colony. But they didn’t win then and she won’t let them win now. She is a Marine, a Devil Dog, and they can’t take that away from her.
Ashlyn is determined to do all she can to protect her homeworld and end the war. She will lead her Marines against the enemy, knowing that if they fail, Fuercon will fall. But will it be enough and will those who have conspired behind the scenes to destroy her and all she stands for finally be brought to justice?
Duty and honor. Corps and family. That is what matters. It is all that matters.
November 16, 2021 release
Mossy Creek, TX is not your normal town. For more than a century, it’s been a haven to Others, people with special “talents”. Magic and shapeshifting are normal there. Others and Normals co-exist as friends, neighbors, lovers and family. But all that is in danger of being destroyed as an untold evil comes to town, determined to destroy not only those sworn to protect the town and all who live there but the very town itself.
Mossy Creek’s wayward children have returned, one by one, to town. Annie Grissom Caldwell, Quinn O’Donnell, and Meg Sheridan are back and determined to do all they can to stand between their town and the oncoming danger. Dr. Jax Powell, the Rogue, leads them and, in her role as one of the town’s Guardians, will do whatever it takes to keep everyone safe. But another of their group, Maddy Reyes, may very well hold the key to victory.
But can they trust her?
Do they dare?