Joe Konrath published the post I've been hoping for ever since Amazon tinkered with its ranking algorithm. In his post, Exclusivity and Free, Joe is joined by Blake & Jordan Crouch, authors of Eerie, who share their experiences with various self-publishing platforms starting with PubIt!
Joe's post is a must-read for anyone who has self-published or is thinking about it. I'll summarize a few things here, but, really, head on over to Joe's site and read the original.
(Also, Black & Jordan Crouch are offering their book, Eerie, for free today (July 2), so head on over and pick up your copy.)
Here's the scoop:
Publishing platforms covered:
- Barnes & Noble's Nook/PubIt!
- Kobo's publishing program (Kobo is soon launching a self-publishing platform: Writing Life)
- Amazon KDP & KDP Select
Publishing platform that was the most flexible and author friendly: Kobo
What Blake had to say surprised me:
[I]n May, I had the opportunity to drop my best-selling title RUN into a Kobo promotion involving email blasts, coupons, and prominent placement on their landing pages. I could not have been more pleased with the results. RUN reached the top 10 on Kobo's overall list, stayed there for several weeks, and the rest of my catalog sold well in response. When you consider the size of Kobo's market share, the fact that I sold more books on Kobo in May than I did on Pubit! is astounding. It was only a few hundred dollars shy of beating Amazon for May, and it did beat Pubit! again in June. Even better, Kobo did not request exclusivity. Their writer-relations people are some of the friendliest, most proactive, responsive people in the business. Suggestions and requests I made last year were taken to heart. It's no secret that Kobo is on the verge of unveiling their own platform (Writing Life). If there is a company that could one day compete with the mighty Amazon, it's these guys. They're inventive, have far, far reaching plans to bring writers what could become the slickest digital publishing platform ever created, and they get that writers are customers. They listen. Best of all, my titles continue to sell and rank highly on Kobo's bestseller list, a month after the promos ended. I cannot say the same for Barnes and Noble. There is no other platform (aside from Amazon) where I've seen this level of "stickiness." If someone asked me what's keeping the majority of my titles out of KDP Select, I would have to say these guys.That makes me more interested in hearing from authors who are testing out Writing Life before it's rolled out at the end of this month.
Pulbishing platform which sold the most books: Amazon
This was the least surprising thing Blake had to say. Every author I've talked to has admitted to selling more books on Amazon than on any other platform. That Kobo came close to Amazon's sales figures amazed me.
That said, Blake wasn't entirely pleased with his experiences with Amazon's KDP Select. He writes:
KDP Select opinion pieces are a dime a dozen. Amazon is still, hands down, the most lucrative platform for me. Even though the transition from free to paid sales appears to have weakened as of late, success stories like Ann Voss Peterson and Robert Gregory Browne are convincing enough for my brother and I to roll the dice and drop EERIE into KDP Select. I say this as someone who has had great success with free titles: they still make me nervous. I get the excitement of giving away 70,000 ebooks. The prospect of making new fans. But free, in the long run, is dangerous. It sets a bad precedent and level of expectation in the minds of readers. Am I a hypocrite for saying this while EERIE is free? Maybe. But if all the platforms did away with free, I'd be okay with that. As writers, we cannot keep going to that well. It will dry up. Kindles may be able to hold a gazillion ebooks, but readers can't read that many. The key is not being downloaded. It's being read.This post is not going to end with a definitive conclusion on freebies and exclusivity. I'm uncomfortable with both concepts, even as I play the game. My sense is that the people who survive and continue to do well selling ebooks will be those who experiment, take risks, and adapt. We've said it before, but what worked yesterday, may not work today, and the possibility of a game changer (like KDP Select) is constantly looming.
Publishing platform that has technical support staff from hell: Barnes & Noble's Nook/PubIt!Although Blake and Jordan were "pleasantly surprised" by their books performance on PubIt! their sales rank was disappointing. He writes:
It [their book's sales rank] never seemed to correlate to a corresponding low rank. Even on days where we sold 400 books, our rank never dropped below 2000. I have no doubt this cost us many, many sales, a good chunk of money, and kept the book from every appearing on the BN bestseller lists. A real shame, because the marketing triggers that Pubit! pulled worked in a big way. The tech just wasn't there to support them, and their tech support staff just couldn't be bothered to give a damn.Overall, Blake's experiences are encouraging. The promotions he ran with the various platforms worked and his book, in generally, ranked well.
But that aside, Pubit! clearly has some real marketing power, and the smaller window of exclusivity (as opposed to KDP Select's 90 day commitment) is a definite plus. When Pubit!'s tech support decides to follow the model of Kobo and Amazon and treat writers as customers instead of entities to be ignored, Pubit! could become a force.
Blake and Joe go on to discuss book pricing and the pros and cons of offering books for free. Joe just posted the blog, but already many authors have written in to share their experiences with various platforms and programs.
If you'd like to read Joe's post it's here: Exclusivity and Free
Read the comments here: Exclusivity and Free (Comments)
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Photo credit: 3D Issue