Monday, October 13, 2014

So maybe this is why you need to diversify your distribution chain?

As you may recall, I agonized last year over whether I should keep all of my books in Kindle Select, which meant exclusivity on Amazon, or whether I should diversify and make them available to Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo and all of the other channels. While KDP Select did offer what amounts to highly visible free advertising, the program simply wasn't offering the same return that it had even the year before, and there was no way to know how it was going to change. Fine- things change- but the more invested I was in it as my only platform, the more vulnerable I'd be to those changes.

Shorter: Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Which is why this piece in the New York Times is making me scratch my head. Let me be clear: I understand that as an indie author I have a lot more freedom than most traditionally published authors. If I want to change prices, all I have to do is go to my author dashboards on KDP or Smashwords. Also, if I really wanted to, I could sell my books directly on my website, in addition to or instead of selling them through other vendors. Authors who are published through publishing houses generally can't make those decisions on their own.

But...if I had a huge fan-base, I'd put information on my website, Facebook Page and Twitter account as to where else my fans can purchase my books if I didn't feel Amazon was doing a good job for me. I would also create a mailing list if I hadn't already and send out notices with the same information. And I would encourage people to shop for my physical title at their local Barnes & Noble or indie bookstore. I would also jump all over Hachette and demand that they make their website a place where readers can directly buy my titles. (What, that sounds futile? Less so than making demands of Amazon.)

This is not a static industry, and everyone has to constantly adapt. It stinks when we'd rather be doing things like writing, but that's the way it is. If, indeed, Amazon is doing corrupt things (it's one thing to lose your spot on a list due to an algorithm, it's another to lose it because someone took you off of it) then that highlights that we need to be less vulnerable to them. Yes, by all means, report this to whichever regulating bodies are appropriate, but in the meantime work every other angle and advantage you have.