Wednesday, October 28, 2015

S.D. Skye's Hell or High Water 365-Day Blogathon Day 137 -- No More Kindle Unlimited

Ad Talk Tuesday -- No More KU, Expanded Distribution

So, I finally pulled the trigger and started taking the steps to remove my books from the Kindle Unlimited program. As of December 15th all of my books, romance and the J.J. McCall series, will be available across all channels. 

Nook, iBooks, Kindle, and Kobo. 

I'm still weighing Smashwords. 

Why am I making that move? 

For the first couple of months on Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Select, I did fairly well. I didn't see a big increase in sales but I didn't see a dip in sales either. 

In the last month, I've seen a significant dip in have a number of other authors in the program. What I've learned through tons of research is that even though there are over a half million books in the KU program, probably close to a million by now, Amazon's algorithms cannot equally promote all authors (or give them visibility), so those authors who aren't high profile within the program or Kindle Select pretty much get lost in the dust. 

Lesser known authors with few books for sale will struggle to build a strong audience in the KU program. Here's why I believe so. 

No More Opportunity Costs

Outside the Kindle Unlimited program, in the world where people actually buy books, there is a cost associated with flipping from author to author. If you find one author's whose books you really love and get curious about another one, you have to pay to give the new author a shot. And in trying the new author, you run the risk getting a disappointing read and dropping money down the drain. So, most people tend to stick with the tried and true authors--which helps build loyalty to the author and a solid readership. In KU, there is no opportunity to cost to skipping around and trying a bunch of new authors. If your first page doesn't excite, they will just move on at no cost. They don't have to force themselves to invest in you because of all the money they stand to lose. 

So I believe those in the program with existing strong audiences will fare well in the is program. Their readers will keep readings. For new, lesser or unknown authors, it's going to be tough to build a strong readership or sustain one. It's especially hard if you're writing one or two books a year.

The counter to this, of course, is if your books are really good and you're releasing frequently. That increases your chances of success. When they love you, there is more to buy. That's how a lot of the big authors have made it--releasing lots of book fast and keeping their hungry readership stuffed with new material

With me, I have a loyal readership but I can't release J.J. books every four months or every two months, so I tend to fall off the radar until my new books come out and at that time I get a bump in my algorithms and sales and borrows go up.

This is what I think based on my research and it seems reasonable what's next?

Lesson Learned -- Patience

The big lesson I've learned in all of my research over the past few months is patience -- in a series, it's better to release multiple books at one time than to release them a year apart. And that means ticking off your readers until you build up your backlist, but it's critical to surviving as an indie. So this is one reason why I'm postponing the release of Joint Deception until I can release Hostile Allegiance with it. 

For aspiring writers, that would be my biggest lesson. If you're writing a series, release multiple books at one time. That way when your readers fall in love with your characters, they can read one book after the other after the other -- Amazon's algorithms will love you for it and you will probably get more visibility on the site. 

Lots of authors are biting mad over the drop in sales. Look at the Kindle forums if you don't believe me. Am I angry with Amazon? 

No. It's a business. They are doing what they have to do to ensure the success of their company. But it's no longer financially advantageous for me to keep my books exclusively there. 

In setbacks, sometimes there's opportunity. And I see this as an opportunity to expand the series to all platforms and build up my readers across all platforms, especially with the new branding. 

If it doesn't work, I can always pull the books down and sign back up with Kindle Select, but I feel like this is a good move--at least for now. I'm giving it two years--and a whole lot of books. Then I'll re-evaluate. I'll keep you abreast.

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