Why My Ebooks Are Only Going to Be Available on Kindle

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Last month, at the MWA-NY panel, my fellow panelist, S.W. Hubbard, was telling me how her ebooks were only available on Kindle and that she felt the decision resulted in more sales. As an indie author, she felt it was the best decision.

I had taken the opposite approach with The Six Train to Wisconsin. I had made it available across all ebook platforms (Smashwords, Kobo, Nook, iBooks, etc.) when it was published in 2013.

At this point, I have close to three years of sales data and I can say that the bulk of my sales are on Kindle. About 90% of my ebook sales.

So just from a cost perspective, it makes more sense to format one ebook for Kindle and not for the other platforms.

My other book, The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts, was published by a small press. They originally released it across all platforms. But after three months of sales, they decided to opt in to Kindle exclusivity to keep the book on the Amazon Bestseller lists and also generate more visibility on Amazon.

I think they made the right decision.

And I decided to explore the pros and cons of Kindle exclusivity (using KDP Select) with The Six Train to Wisconsin. So for the rest of this year at least, The Six Train to Wisconsin will only be available in ebook format from Kindle.

And I also will be releasing Six Train’s sequel as a Kindle exclusive ebook this fall.

Here’s my Pros vs. Cons list to this decision.

Pros:

Amazon lets you buy Kindle ads for your book. These ads appear on Kindles and also on Amazon pages.

Your book is part of Kindle Unlimited and you get paid for pages read even if no one actually purchases your book.

You can run Kindle Countdown and Free Book Deals for your book and Amazon promotes them.

Your sales are concentrated on Amazon and it helps your Amazon Bestseller ranking.

 

Cons:

Readers who don’t have Kindles or the Kindle app cannot get the ebook.

Smashwords allows gifting without paying for the book (using coupon codes). I don’t think Kindle does.

 

Any thoughts on the pros and cons of going with KDP Select? Has anyone else had experiences with it?

 

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Author friends–if anyone is interested in donating a copy of his/her paperback to a great charity auction, please read on.

Literacy Volunteers of Greater Waterbury in CT has an annual fundraising dinner and auction in April.  The nonprofit focuses on helping adults improve their literacy and become better employees, parents, and citizens.

 

They asked me to reach out to fellow authors for book donations. They will provide a thank you letter for the book that can be used for a tax deduction for the donated copy.

 

Approximately 300 people in the Waterbury area attend the dinner and auction. The books are auctioned off and help raise money for the organization.

 

If an author is interested in donating a signed copy, please  write “Thanks for supporting Literacy Volunteers!” and sign the copy and mail it to me.

 

I need to receive all books by April 1, 2016. If you’re interested, please shoot me a quick email at kourtney(dot)heintz (at) yahoo.com or comment below and I’ll email you my mailing address.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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39 Responses to Why My Ebooks Are Only Going to Be Available on Kindle

  1. Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog and commented:
    I have made this same decision for my eBooks. I have often wondered if this has hurt my sales. It’s good to see an article that does some level of comparison.

    • Thanks for the reblog. I worried about that as well, which was why I kept my self pubbed book on all platforms for so long. But the data showed me the sales weren’t happening there. The great thing about KDP Select is you can try it for 3 months and see what happens. It’s not a major commitment. You can always opt out of it and put your books on the other platforms. 🙂

  2. Verna Clay says:

    Hi Kourtney, I believe the genre may have something to do with the success of sales. I opted to slowly make all my books available across a wide platform starting about eighteen months ago. Perhaps some would be better exclusive to Kindle; I’m not sure. However, I sell more ebooks on iTunes than Kindle in the western romance category. I have been very happy with Smashwords and the money received from them. Also, the best marketing tool I have discovered is making the first book in a series free. Years ago, sales with Kindle were phenomenal; however, as they continued to tweak their strategies, and everyone got on the bandwagon, I recently heard authors remark that they make about a third of what they once did with KDP. I look forward to your conclusions in six months.

    • Very true Verna. It’s very hard to tell which is the best option. I’ve heard of people having a lot of success with KDP and so I figured it was time to try it. This book came out 3 years ago, so anyone who wanted it on Nook or iBook or Kobo had plenty of opportunity to purchase it at least. That’s really interesting how one category does so much better on iTunes. Thanks for sharing your experiences! I think it’s really important that people realize every author has a different experience. There is no one size fits all for indie publishing.

  3. Carrie Rubin says:

    Since both my books are with small presses, I don’t have the say to switch to only Kindle, but with those pros you list, I can see why some might want to. I’ll be interested to see how things turn out for you should you go this path.

    • I was surprised when my small press wanted to shift to Kindle only. They did make the book available on all ebook platforms for 3 months, so there was some data on sales for them to base the decision on. I’m excited to try something new. It’s always what next? I figure price and platform are new things to tweak. I’ll plan to do a follow up post in 6 months. 🙂

  4. Elle Knowles says:

    That’s a thought Kourtney, I’ll have to keep in mind. It’s a lot of work to prepare different formats for other venues and doesn’t always seem worth it. ~Elle

    • I spend so much time proofing each version and paying for the file formatting. At first I thought well there’s the possibility of hitting more bestseller lists, but then I realized I’d rather concentrate on being on Amazon’s bestseller list. Plus there’s all these other promo opportunities you only get with KDP. I figure why not try it out?

  5. Mayumi-H says:

    Very interesting post, Kourtney. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy writing/editing schedule to share your reasoning with us, since it’s always interesting to see different authors’ perspectives on publishing, notably e-publishing, with all of its different formats and structures. I’m not surprised that Amazon’s service offers the best stats for sales, since they’re looking to control pretty much everything involved with online purchasing. 😉 In all seriousness, though, it’s great to hear that you’ve had such success with them, and I do look forward to hearing how your exclusivity period turns out!

    • Thanks Mayumi. It was something that took up a bit of my time so I thought well here’s a blog post topic. 😉 My readers seem to mostly purchase from Kindle or paperbacks so it makes sense to focus my energy there. I hope this decision helps sales. I like to try different things and see the results. It’s almost like a science experiment. 🙂

  6. Ally Bean says:

    Interesting post. I’m going to sound a bit cantankerous here, but I’ve had a couple of Kindles and hated them. I found that I didn’t remember what I was reading as I went along, and that I forgot I’d even read the books when I’d finished them! I can understand why your publisher wants you to go this route, but if this becomes a trend in publishing, my reading days are numbered. That being said, best of luck with all your books, regardless of what format they are in. 🙂

    • Hi Ally. I know many readers who prefer a paperback to an ebook. In fact, the majority of my sales of Six Train were paperbacks. So my books will continue be available in paperback on Amazon and other online retailers. This post was only about the pros and cons of having your ebook available exclusively with Amazon’s Kindle or letting it be sold via iBook, Nook, Smashwords, Kobo, etc. I love a paperback and I wouldn’t put a book out without a paperback or sign with a press/publisher that wouldn’t put out a paperback version. 🙂

  7. jmmcdowell says:

    I have the feeling this is a decision that will need to be periodically reviewed if some newcomer(s) find a way to make serious inroads against Amazon! The e-publishing world evolves so rapidly, I suspect the playing field might look very different in 3 years or 5 or 10….

    • Definitely agree. As of right now, this is what I am doing for Six Train and it’s sequel. 🙂 I think it’s something I will revisit annually. The cool thing about being Kindle exclusive is it’s only a 3 month commitment. So authors can go back to all platforms for ebooks after that time period.

  8. Sounds like a good decision based on the evidence you have Kourtney – I’ve got a Kindle so that’s how I buy my ebooks.

    • Thanks Andrea. The benefits of KDP Select seem to be worth trying out. Most of my ebook sales are Kindles so it’s not really giving up much in sales to be exclusive. If it was, I might not try it. 🙂

  9. Aquileana says:

    I totally second your decision concerning the release of the ebook just for Kindle and not for the other platforms…. Not only for a cost perspective but also because judging per your own statistics almost all sales come from there…. I wish you very good luck, dear Kourt. Sending love and best wishes. Aquileana :star:

    • Thanks Aquileana. It was something I was firmly against for 2.5 years. Because I didn’t want to lose readers, but then I realized my readers weren’t really on those other platforms. And there are some big benefits to being exclusive with Kindle. Indie publishing is all about being innovative and willing to try new things. So I decided to embrace those ideas and give it a go! Thanks so much! Hugs.

  10. I an not that advanced in the technical world of kindles etc 🙂 I am still old fashioned and buy the paper kind.. but I do often recycle books to the charity shops.. And there are those which I love and keep and have re read often..
    Sending love your way my friend xx

  11. Interesting post, Kourtney. My ebook series is only on Kindle now, mainly because I don’t have the time to get it up anywhere else right now! lol But, you’re right, Kindle does make you buy the book first if you want to gift it to someone, which really can get expensive. I didn’t know that Smashwords offers coupons so you can gift for free. I think that’s a major selling point for authors who are trying to gain visibility but don’t have a lot of extra dough to hand out free copies in exchange for reviews.

    • I definitely used my Smashwords coupons for giveaways and contests. For free copies to trade for a review, you can use NetGalley. You can upload your Kindle there and give it away for free to reviewers, booksellers, librarians, bloggers, etc. You have to pay a fee for this service, but it’s pretty cool. My publisher did it for TGWIG. Authors can also buy this service directly too.

      You can also create a .pdf document with a watermark that you can email to people. 🙂

  12. It’s more important than ever to stay flexible with things changing constantly. I don’t do Kindle, but got a mini iPad as a gift which is really convenient for traveling and for checking out new series to see if I want to read the rest. As long as there are paperbacks available, why not sample outlets. Sounds like you’ve done your homework

    • I think every author has to figure out what works for their books and their readers. There is no one size fits all. I tried being available everywhere. Now I’m trying exclusivity. I’ll reevaluate in a year and consider my options. 🙂 I think most readers like being able to test drive a book from the library or try a new author at a discount via an ebook. I do have samples of my books available on Goodreads as well as a couple ebook sites. Thanks. I try to base my decisions on evidence and research. 🙂

  13. Pete Denton says:

    As always, a very balanced post. Seems like something to trial at least and like you say, each author needs to weigh up the pros and cons.

    Out of curiosity, you mention that 90% of ebook sales are on Kindle. What is the percentage of ebook v printed books? As you’ve done a good number of talks and events over the last year or so, I wondered whether that affected the percentages.

    • Thanks. I definitely think it’s worth trying and seeing what the results are. For Six Train, I have all the numbers over almost 3 years of sales. 70% of my total book sales were in paperback format. For The Girl, I have my numbers as of Dec 31 and it’s 72% of all sales are paperback. My marketing strategy as well as my book’s target market probably play a big role.

      • Pete Denton says:

        I find those percentages really interesting as some authors probably plonk it on amazon and then moan about lack of sales. The work you’ve put in must be driving a higher portion of printed sales.

        I love being a stats geek 🙂

        • Unfortunately it’s incredibly rare for a great book to be discovered and have lots of sales without constant promo and marketing work. I hadn’t done much playing around with the Kindle price or Kindle advertising. I’ve been doing more of that this winter and seeing more Kindle sales happen. It’s ongoing work that never stops. LOL. My problem is I took several stats classes so I know how hard it is to determine with actual certainty what is driving sales. Sometimes I do 3-5 things and I see a spike in sales. No way to know which of those was the main driver.

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