Sep 292015
 

EggsBasketI love Mark Coker.
He’s one of my self-publishing heroes, who has been very inspirational ever since he founded Smashwords.

Mark writes insightful blog posts about the self-publishing industry, which in general are upbeat and positive in tone.
Lately, however, in his posts, but also in a podcast for the Indie ReCon, he has expressed his concerns about KDP Select and the power Amazon exerts with it.

Like me, Mark has never been a fan of KDP Select, but now more than before, he seems to be predicting doomsday if Indie authors keep choosing for Select.
As I believe Mark is a true visionary, his predictions have me very worried indeed.

KDP Select
Indie authors can publish their ebooks on Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing, a very handy platform, which gets their ebooks on all the different Amazon sites. No problem there.
Since December 2011, however, authors get the choice on KDP to enrol in Select, or not.
From the beginning many authors were wary of this, as enrolling in Select meant that their ebooks could only be available on Amazon and nowhere else.

As ‘reward’ for this exclusivity, authors were able to price their ebooks for free, five days in every 90 days.
Pricing the first in a series for 99c or free, has always been a good marketing strategy, so authors flocked to enrol in Select, pulling their ebooks off other platforms, like Kobo, Apple, Barnes & Noble etc. And this while selling ebooks on as many platforms as possible, is also a good marketing strategy!
For some reason Amazon was able to lure them in, most likely as authors were selling most of their ebooks on Amazon anyway and thought, ‘what the hell…’.

Kindle Unlimited
I am firmly in the ‘never put your eggs in one basket’ camp, so I never enrolled in Select. There are other ways to price your ebooks for free on Amazon, so Select only had drawbacks for me. Even though most of my sales were also on Amazon.
But in the last few years, Amazon has added other ‘benefits’ to enrolling in Select, that non-enrollies don’t get.

In addition to Select, Amazon introduced Kindle Unlimited, a subscription service, which prices every ebook in Select automatically for free. Authors in Select are paid for every page that the subscriber reads. This might sound great, but it works out that they now get paid less for their ebooks than if they’d had a ‘normal’ sale and receiving 70% royalties.

On top of that it turns out that Amazon is changing their algorithms to make ebooks that are not in Select, less discoverable on the site, thereby ‘punishing’ authors that don’t enrol.
Then why not enrol in Select and be done with it?
Because Mark Coker is worried.

trainNot an easy problem, nor an easy solution
As Mark explains in his blog post and subsequent comments, what is happening at the moment with Select is a runaway train, that can only end in a huge wreck. For everyone – Select-Indies, non-Select-Indies and even authors who are traditionally published.
Yet their is not an easy solution to this problem. Some authors decided to enrol in Select even though they hate it. But as they are fulltime authors, they feel they don’t have another choice at the moment, but to enrol. Their families have to eat.
At the same time their are established authors who do fine without being in Select.

For a few years now, people have said that it is a great time to be an author. And I agree. But I feel the pressure of bringing out my books as fast as I can, as it seems that this ‘sweet spot’ is slipping away.
I believe in diversification, so I will keep going with Mark’s (and other’s) suggestion not to enrol in Select.
However, with writing my first ever fiction series, and under a penname, I simply am an unknown author, trying to find a market, in a self-publishing world where non-exclusivity is being punished. Will I ever be able to find readers for the series that I have put my heart and soul in for the last year-and-a-half?
Self-publishing was never an easy road to take, but it is getting harder and harder still and I am worried.

I hope that my fellow Indies will decide to go (or stay) non-exclusive as well. Unification among Indies is the only way to go!
Please take the time to read Mark Coker’s blog post and subsequent comments. Whether you’re pro or con Select.

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