Sunday, December 15, 2013

Should Amazon be an Author's Only Game in Town?

Amazon changed the game for authors. Not only did Amazon allow authors to bypass the "gatekeepers" of traditional publishing by making their retail book platform available to self-published and indie authors, with the advent of ebooks, Amazon changed how authors are paid with a more equitable share of the price of a book if the author follows Amazon's pricing guidelines. 

Amazon's CreateSpace and KDP allow authors to bring their works to the market and earn their fair share of the sale of each book while providing a lot of the services a traditional publishing house would provide.

Despite all of this, there are those who decry Amazon as destroying the publishing industry and are making a mimicry of the quality of books available to the public. Obviously, a lot of those crying foul are members of the traditional publishing industry or authors who have done well in that system. Yet, amazingly enough, there are plenty of self-published authors who have joined the ranks of Amazon haters. 

To me the question an author should be asking is not should I sell my books on Amazon, but is it worth it to make my books available for sale from other online book retailers, particularly ebooks? 

Who knows how long traditional paper books will continue to sell in large numbers? I do know I am glad print-on-demand technology allows me to make my books available in paperback without tying up in capital in a traditional press run of books and having to gamble they will sell as they sit gathering dust in my office.

While the overwhelming majority of my ebooks sold are from Amazon's Kindle ebook store, I do have some books available through Barnes and Noble and Kobo. As I experiment with a few titles using Draft2Digital's distribution services, I will also have titles available for sale through iBookstore. As Draft2Digital's retail partners grow in number, so will the number of ebook retailers my books will be available through.

Do I plan to make all of my books available to every ebook retailer? At the moment, no. I still believe Aaaron Shepard's argument in the self-publishing classic Aiming at Amazon, is the best way to go, steering the bulk of your sales to Amazon where the website's book promoting and sales software can go to work for you, the author. The more you sell on Amazon, the more Amazon will promote your books.

So why am I slowly adding other titles for sale through other ebook retail platforms? Because I am betting ebooks are going to continue to grow in popularity. If the other ebook retailers begin to gain market share, I want to be there when they do.

The books I am slowly making available through these other retailers are not my best selling titles on Amazon. Since these books are slow sellers on Amazon, they don't benefit from the "Amazon book selling machine." It makes sense to experiment with these books on the sites of other ebook retailers. What I learn will be helpful and any money earned is a bonus.

Draft2Digital is the timesaver that has made me decide to take this approach. It costs me nothing to make my ebooks available for distribution through the company and I gain additional retail exposure for my books. The process of uploading has proven to be simple and not time consuming.

My books need to work hard for me and earn me as much income as possible. For the time being, this slow gradual approach, with little time and no money invested, seems like a sensible plan. 

In the mean time, I will be watching the ebook market carefully in hopes of learning the information needed to best determine which approach to take. I want to be there early when the market changes!