As I prepare to release Vapor Point, I find myself stuck between a rock and hard spot. Amazon is offering a great new program that might help an independent author like me get noticed and perhaps be read by people who may not otherwise see my books or know of my existence. The new Kindle Unlimited program is part of KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select – the author side of Amazon Prime.
With the original Prime membership, a reader could “borrow” a free book each month. As an Indie, I didn’t get too excited about this. Let’s face it, who’s going to borrow a $4.99 book by an unknown author like me when you can download your favorite established author’s new $12.99 book at no charge. While I would love to say that I’m all about trying the new guy for free, it’s simply not true. I’m just like everyone else – I’m looking for the best deal for my money.
However, with the new program there will be no limit on the number of books that can be borrowed by a program member. This means you won’t be forced to choose between the new Michael Connelly thriller and my latest release – you can have both for your membership fee. Download and read any book past the 10% point – a little farther then the free preview – and the author gets paid. A sweet deal for the reader and the author.
Here’s the rub – an author must make Amazon the exclusive digital (ebook) distributor for the book for as long as it’s enrolled in the program. The enrollment period is in 90-day increments. Here’s how Amazon explains this:
So if I want in, I can’t sell an epub file for a Nook, Kobo, or Sony reader – those folks get their digital books through Barnes and Noble.
Realistically, 98% of my (not so many to begin with) book sales are through Amazon. I’m not bothered by a retail exclusive clause that doesn’t allow me to sell digitally through Barnes and Noble for the 90-day period, but I don’t like that I can’t distribute to my readers through my own website. Do I understand why Amazon requires this exclusivity? Of course – we all do. If you want to drive Barnes and Noble’s digital trade into the ground, then you have to cut off the supply to the other devices. And the way to do that is through incentives to the publishers. In this case me.
What makes it a painful decision is that a lot of my personal friends have Nooks and Kobos. I take pride in being a loyal friend. But financially… it would be silly not to try this program.
I didn’t load the digital version of Blood Link Book V – The Healer to Barnes and Noble when it was released in December. That decision had nothing to do with the KDP program. At the time, it was a decision based on the hassle of working with Barnes and Noble. They were making some internal changes to their self-publishing program and loading or adjusting books was a giant horking pain in the butt. I chose to hold off loading the book in hope they’d resolve some of their technical issues. I never did get around to loading the book. The mail from Blood Link fans with Nooks or Kobos was minimal. I took care of those few folks independently utilizing PayPal. But based on the exclusivity agreement – I won’t be able to do that if I opt into the new system.
I think it’s important to point out that this doesn’t mean that the folks who don’t own a Kindle are without options. Anyone can read a Kindle formatted book on a phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop without buying a Kindle reader. The applications are completely FREE through Amazon. I’ve embedded the link to the applications page for you here. This was how I read the Kindle version of my books for the first year I was published. Now I own an inexpensive Kindle as well as a Nook so I can read in either format.
I’ve been at this for a couple years now, and if you’ve spent any time following along, you know that I’m terrible at self-promotion. That hasn’t stopped me from stumbling around and trying new things. I still have a lot of questions about this program:
Will this help me be seen and become established?
Will I sell more books/make more money?
What will it cost me in terms of readership?
Will I go from a faithful ten readers down to a faithful eight?
Do I enroll one book or all my books?
I don’t know the answers yet. But I do know that if I don’t sell enough books to cover the costs of editing, producing covers, and my website, then I’m not going to be able to afford to continue publishing, much less ever afford a vacation, a boy toy, or a new .45 and the ammo to put through it. You all knew that I’d come back to the weapon didn’t you?
Based on where I am and looking at where I would like to be, I’m going to give the program a try. And just for the record, I threw the boy toy in as a distraction in hopes that Mr. Scott wouldn’t notice the part about a new .45. Ssshhhhhhhhh!!!