Friday, 30 November 2012

The Amazon KDP Honeymoon...Is it Over?

Looks like the honeymoon with Amazon is over.

A friend recently dropped me this small bombshell of a link to another writer's blog post:

As much as I love the ease and simplicity of the Kindle upload and KDP programs, I'm not blinded to the fact that Amazon is becoming Godzilla. And you don't get to grow that big without stomping on an awful lot of stuff along the way (whether you intend to, or not).

The upside of coming across this blogger's post was twofold: first, it reminded us that there's no such thing as a free lunch unless your host wants something out of you in return (and I've been guilty of eating a great deal of lotus lately); and secondly, that putting all of one's eggs in one basket is never a good idea. I can say that a certain air of complacency has probably crept in since we started to see some success with Kindle (actual sales, a clutch of reviews - even if one or two seem to be hilariously misguided) - all within the last few months, and due entirely to the KDP promotional tools. The fierce self-promotional zest has faded but that's been due to heavy client artwork commitments lately, as well as the act of writing and publishing three new books this year alone. Promotion should never come that far down the priority list, of course, but Amazon's KDP system has served to isolate us in a little self-contained world where free promo offers yield distribution, which leads to real sales and reviews - which again, help the promotional cycle to continue.

A change in our outlook and long-term investment has been needed for a while, it just took somebody else's observations to point the fact out to us.

As a result, I tried an experiment in uploading our new cyberpunk thriller, Malaria 9, to Smashwords, just to see how difficult it was to fulfill SW's rather hefty and off-putting formatting and style criteria. I downloaded the thing last summer, took one look at it and thought "Urgh! Later."

'Later' never happened, until now.

With a tiny bit of tweaking, the MS was ready and without too much wailing and gnashing of teeth, made live on the site. No ISBN was assigned (though I still do have a bunch of those, somewhere) - I could aim for the hip vote and say this was me keepin' it real and refusing to sell out to The Men at Apple and Sony (ISBNs are required for their retail and seemingly universal EPUB format), but it was also part of the experiment to see how far something that wasn't available on those platforms could be pushed. If it dies its death, then fine - I'll know better next time, and 'M-9' is still available on Kindle and selling copies on a regular basis. The 'Trinity Chronicles' books will be ISBN'd when they go live on SW later as they are still in effect the flagship titles for FWB, even if the third and final book in the trilogy is still a long way off (all those other pesky ideas kept getting in the way).

So the honeymoon with Amazon may be over, but it just means that we're becoming polygamous now. It'll probably be happier that way.

1 comment:

Sandra said...

Dear Chaz,

Like you I had (most of) my eggs in one basket...the Amazon basket (now perceived by me as a cage!) ... With 6 of my 9 titles in the kdp Select program.

When I realized that the kdp Amazon Community Board on the topic of "Are your book sales updating normally, now?" was receiving TENS of THOUSANDS of hits I kind of when ape-crazy.

Besides designing a complaint board independent of Amazon's kdp Community Board, I too uploaded my no-strings titles to Smash and Nook - Okay ;D So I'll re-build my numbers have checks from three (or more) sources and increase my visibility to a broader range of eBook readers after I re-tool.

After a couple weeks of dejected sadness ;D I am now singing Gloria Gaynor's lyrics, "I will survive"

Emily Hill
Amazon - Aggregated!

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