More Choices for Authors

Yesterday I started a series of posts on marketing. I want to expand on two items that you will find discussed in most marketing guides like those I reviewed: Writing more and KDP Select exclusivity.

The best way to attract (and maintain) your audience, and to sell more books, is to write more. You’ll see this sort of statement quite a bit, some suggesting having at least two books finished before publishing. The truth is that most authors publish one at a time — even though it takes a few books before they reach the level of success they are hoping for.

Two things here: One, once your first book is out, you cannot take years on the next. However — and this is number two — you don’t want to sacrifice quality for apparent productivity. Author Mike Duran has some insightful thoughts on this here.

The e-revolution seems to be pushing a trend to shorter more bite-sized books, though long “epics” aren’t completely extinct. Cranking out shorter books can swing content either way: Better or worse quality. Regardless of your book’s length, I would suggest not choosing speed over story. Make the time to tell it well.

With Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) having the largest market share of ebook downloads, many authors don’t hesitate to go exclusive with them (and the benefits it offers). Others want their book available widely as possible, and believe multiple platforms is the best way to achieve this. Thriller author Robert Bidinotto argues for exclusivity:

Suppose you were given the following alternative: You could continue sell your print book edition all over the world, via multiple platforms and vendors; but you knew, from past experience, that this would generate only about 5,000 sales per year. On the other hand, you were offered the opportunity to distribute exclusively through Sam’s Club, which promised you a special promotional deal guaranteeing you sales of at least 20,000 books per year.

Now, the argument for the former is the widest possible distribution of your book. But the “widest distribution” isn’t the same thing as the “widest readership.” The widest readership is measured in total sales, no matter which or how many channels those sales come through. Would you, as an author, really care if only Sam’s Club members–or residents of New York State, or people with blue eyes–were buying and reading your book, if it brought you four times as many readers as you would have otherwise?

Joanna Penn, who like Bidinotto, believes it is up to the author to decide what their definition of successful sales are. She discusses the pros and cons of exclusivity, ultimately concluding it isn’t for her. Her thinking is along the lines of still emerging digital markets (that KDP isn’t in), the dangers of putting all your eggs in one basket (what if something happens to Amazon?), and so forth. All valid points to consider.

And authors thought all their decisions were limited to what words they put on a page?

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Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “More Choices for Authors

  1. KDP Select is only 90 days at a time so it’s not necessarily all your eggs in one basket…

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    • True, however, as Penn points out, you can’t really switch back and forth without impacting audiences. For first-time authors, it may be a good way to go initially.

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  2. It’s a very interesting thought. I have an Uncle that published through KDP, and he’s not seeing big results…I keep telling him that he has to promote, go on reading sites, offer ebooks for review…he’s not very Internet-savvy (he bought a book called Facebook for seniors!) I try to help but I don’t even know what his book is about, and I fear it will turn into friends and family buying his book. I should show him this post.
    Thank you!

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    • The internet has a so many ways to promote (though don’t forget traditional methods), but the other side of the coin is that the internet is vast. It definitely takes some effort, time and patience to get your book out there.

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