Exclusivity, Why You Shouldn’t
You made it this far! Awesome! You’ve revised until you hated your entire book, chosen a cover designer and gone through the pain and eventual joy of the editing process! Give yourself a pat on the back! You’ve earned it. Now, it’s time for you to decide where, when, and how you want to publish. I will talk about print on demand later on but for now, lets talk retailers. The place that will sell your book.
The first name that comes into most new author’s minds is Amazon. Amazon is a wonderful place for readers and authors alike, but they are also tricky. You, in theory, can gain traction by joining Kindle Unlimited but with that little white box of possible downloads, comes an exclusivity clause. You may not sell a digital copy of your book anywhere else but on Amazon.
On the plus side, you can always give it a try for three months. This is recommended for new authors but in my personal experience it hasn’t made a huge difference. How much it pays off seems to depend on genre, so do your homework to see if it’s worth it.
Here are the 5 main reasons you should look into other options:
- Changes in the game/rules: Amazon is a business and above all, they want to make money. They love to mess with algorithms and even who can or cannot review your book. When they make changes to royalties or when it pays you, you have no other option but to deal with it.
- You are running a business: You are. Being an author, whether traditional, hybrid or indie, is a business. You need to think with your business hat on. If you opened a flower store would you only sell to mothers? No, you would sell to everyone. Choosing to be exclusive to Amazon or any other retailer shuts out other readers. Not all devices can read a .mobi file (The file type used for Kindle) in fact, most eReaders take an .ePub file. As a business, you don’t want to alienate readers and you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket.
- It’s not as difficult as it might seem: There are two truly amazing choices in distributors out there for eBooks, we will talk about hard copy distribution in another post. So, for eBooks there is Smashwords (SW) and Draft2Digital(D2D). I chose SW really only because D2D is a younger company and they didn’t have quite as much reach. They are quickly growing though and you don’t have to worry about formatting your book. D2D will do it for you which saves time and money. These two also pay higher royalties to authors. I have recently made a switch from buying on Amazon to buying on SW because I know the author sees more of that money.
- There’s a great big world out there: Though it’s called the world-wide-web, that doesn’t mean the same websites are common or even accessible everywhere. Though Amazon is big in the U. S., Kobo is much more popular in Canada. Do some research via other authors in your community who might live, or sell, in different countries. Be prepared to act as a middleman if someone shows an interest but can’t access your distributor — and don’t forget to ask them how you can make it easier for other readers in their region!
- There is no magic trick to sell books: You need time. Time to market your books, time for your book to circulate. Exclusivity makes this more difficult. Imagine you were planting a garden. If you plant your seeds and leave them alone. Some might grow, but others will get strangled by weeds and eaten by animals. Weeding, watering, marketing. They take time and effort to achieve the desired goals.