After much deliberation and foot-dragging, I’ve decided to re-restrict my publishing options. Yes, I’m aware that I have recently flip-flopped on my position regarding independent writing (found here) and I’m interested in traditional publishing again. I am still a realist, however, and understand that for the foreseeable future I must plan on independently publishing. And I still recognize all the benefits of being an indie author.
As an independent author, I’ve been doing my homework on the best option. Indie authors almost exclusively have the same clarion call: publish everywhere. Publishing only on Amazon is the road to ruin. Your readers will be using a number of different platforms. Limiting publications is just leaving money on the table. Don’t contribute to the power of large, soulless corporations. Maybe even stick it to the man a little. So I published on the combination bookstore/aggregator Smashwords, and a large number of its client. I also put my book up on Kobo. It even made it to a few less-known sites like Payhip. And after maintaining editions of my books on each, I learned one hard fact: it’s a shitload of work.
Don’t misunderstand me… I actually ENJOY working hard. It’s satisfying. Having something finished that I can look at and say I created it is the greatest thrill I’ve ever known. Right now it’s well past midnight, and it’s not the first “well-past midnight” this week. It’s Tuesday. But still I’m banging out my words, drooping eyelids and all.
It’s also worth pointing out that I have a day job. A few nights a week, I have a second part-time job. I’m the primary caregiver for both an energetic dog and a very pregnant wife. Time is a very valuable resource, one that sometimes has to be spent simply on catching up on Netflix and vegetating for a while. And all this is relevant to my decision to sell exclusively on Amazon, but not my only reason.
Why I’m Publishing Only on Amazon
Let’s look at the breakdown, for most important to the least important:
- Maintaining multiple sites is too time consuming. As soon as I become a full-time writer, I promise to all my readers that I’ll make all my books more widely available. Right now, though, it’s simply too much work to maintain so many platforms.
- Selling on multiple platforms dilutes reviews and sales ranks. I am still an unknown author. I still have few enough sales that I know exactly who that little spike is on my sales graph. (Even if it was that guy I met at a blackjack table on my honeymoon.) However, sales lead to more sales. Having people maybe buy here, or maybe search my name there, does nothing to improve my visibility. I’d much rather all my readers combine to provide a sales bump on a single network.
- Amazon has marketing perks for work exclusively published on their site. Programs like Kindle Select and Kindle Singles are only available in exchange for exclusivity. Is this fair? Nope, not one bit. Is this worth it? Often, yes. And these things also contribute to author rank and getting more eyes on my books.
- Other networks aren’t performing well enough to be worth it. Most of the aforementioned online bookstores are excellent services, but they are all considered “alternatives to Amazon” by many readers and writers. Amazon still has the one one customer base to rule them all, and Amazon readers account for the vast majority of my sales. And as I’ve already mentioned, each sale counts at this point.
So for any readers out there who are being put out by this decision to only sell on Amazon, I’m deeply sorry. However, this is a case of Amazon providing the best possible platform to authors. Does the company have uncomfortably monopolistic practices? Kind of. But I’m willing to bit that ethical bullet for a little bit to get my writing out there. I’m certainly not signing on any dotted line with blood, tears, or other bodily fluid. For now, however, in my particular case, I’m publishing only on Amazon.
Have anything to add to this, either for or against? Let me know in the comments.