At this current point in Self Publishing I can no longer recommend being 100 percent exclusive to Amazon.
Reason? I believe that their policy on “pages read” as it now stands is crippling self published authors. I also believe they were forced to carry out this based upon unscrupulous Kindle courses who taught students to spam the market with 5,000 word books. More on that later.
Allow me to explain….
Example: If I go down to Barnes and Noble and buy “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell and never open it – why should HE be punished for it? He did his job. His publishing company did theirs. They compelled me to buy their book based on many marketing and buying motives. More over, why should his income take a hit if I make it through 3 chapters of his book and then get interested in another book or project? It’s a great book by most people’s accounts, but if I can’t get through the book (for whatever reason) why should Gladwell’s income be compromised?
This is what happens to self published authors every day on Kindle. Only on a much larger scale. Our society is ADD by nature. Not only do most participants in Kindle Unlimited have books to read. They have Netflix, cable TV, social media, video games, Angry birds, and dozens of other entertainment options. Your masterpiece is potentially sitting on someones digital bookshelf collecting virtual dust. Waiting ever so patiently until the reader decides whether they want to read it or not.
Amazon already gets paid. They get paid their monthly subscription fee from KU consumers. Yet, authors and publishers are the ones getting our income drastically reduced. When the program first launched it benefited all parties involved. After several months of the “pages read” program it is safe to say the only ones who are being negatively affected is the publishers.
Gambling Addiction for Beginners
On one hand I see why Amazon did this. Here is how it all went down. They saw a bunch of Horrible SPAM books flooding the market by fake guru’s like Stefan Pylarinos and others that taught their students that putting out 4,000 to 5,000 word “books” from cut rate overseas writing services was a good idea. Would be publishers followed this advice and thousands of books like this, this, and this began to infiltrate the Kindle market. Only after watching this go on for years did they finally “revamp” their program to promote quality books. Something I have been saying on Youtube and my program since it’s inception. So a bunch of smart people from Amazon got in a room and sought out a way to keep their market place free of all this non-sense. What they came up with is the current inception of Kindle Unlimited and the pages read concept. Thank all the “Kindle gurus” who cashed in with lavish pent houses and overcompensation Corvettes while teaching their students to spam the market by putting out Gambling cure and fart books.
That was just the tip of the iceberg. In my two years in this business I have heard and personally witnessed people employ various black hat tactics in order to make a quick buck and refuse to actually treat this like a real business. They compromised their own integrity and some of them paid dearly by getting completely booted off Amazon. Others saw their “businesses” completely dwindle away after the Kindle Unlimited changes actually forced them to think.
The same “guru’s” that tried to cash in on the Kindle craze bolted. Many of them jumped into “Amazon FBA” and attempted to cash in on the next big thing. Meanwhile, their students and followers were left holding the bag.
The bottom line is this – I understand why Amazon did this and hopefully you do too. But now I believe it is the best practice to un-enroll in the Kindle Unlimited program and begin dispersing books on other avenues. When a business creates a product and a consumer gives us money for it – We should not be at the mercy of how much it gets used. Imagine if companies only got paid based on the usage statistics of their products. I believe we shouldn’t be at the mercy of readers tastes – whether good or bad. I feel that if someone buys our book we should be able to get our money and keep our money unless they are dissatisfied with the product.
My New Strategy
Now that I’ve identified a problem I want to offer up a new solution/strategy.
First off – If you have books and are not taking advantage of CreateSpace and ACX.com you are leaving money on the table. Those are two more avenues to connect with your audience and will not cost you any extra money to take part it. I have made thousands of “extra” dollars simply up uploading all my books on to these platforms. Createspace has been very steady and I average between 1000 and 2000 a month and ACX continues to grow with last month being my highest month at 700.
You still need to be taking advantage of Amazon’s market by using permafree books and building an email list.
Disburse books that are not selling well into other platforms such as Smashwords, Apple book store, and Barnes and Noble. I realize that those platforms are minuscule compared to Amazon but their payment methods are far better and what do you have to lose if your book isn’t doing well?
Spend more time researching. So many of us are guilty of shooting from the hip and putting out books we think would be helpful (myself included). Lets spend more time researching what our readers really want. Hit up forums, Pinterest, Google Trends, and social media to figure out what your audience really wants. Do they really need another Coconut oil book? Or are there other books you could be writing that your audience would love? Survey your list and ask them what their problems and needs are. People love to talk about themselves and usually have no issue telling you what they want.
Consider being the face of your brand. Instead of having a stock photo of a supposed “expert” you could write books yourself on subjects that you are actually interested in. Novel concept right? This obviously opens up the door for much larger opportunities.
As Always, focus on 100 percent quality books. Accept nothing less from yourself and your writers. Focus less on “keywords” and more on providing excellent value for your reader. Come at it from this place – and you can’t go wrong. My rule of thumb is this – Would you read your own book? If the answer is yes. Publish it! If it is no, go back to the drawing board.
Know this. Self publishing is here to stay. We have to be smart, work it like a real business, and make smart decisions from here on out. I’m not bailing on YOU or the community and will continue to offer my insights and thoughts on how we all can all take our publishing businesses to the next level.