I've been doing a lot of thinking, and I do mean a lot. I very rarely ever just jump into something all willy-nilly and hope for the best. I'd much rather go over it and over it in my head a hundred times before I act, so when I say I've thought about this, I really have... numerous times. I'm sure if you're reading this, you have no doubt heard of Amazon's Kindle Unlimited subscription services and the brouhaha that went down when they announced they'd be switching from royalties per book to royalties per page. Authors were outraged, books were pulled from Select, chaos ensued...
I stayed fairly silent on the topic, except for discussions here and there i had with one of my best friends, Beth, and my husband. At first, I felt it was a horrible thing and that I'd never enroll my books in Kindle Select ever again. In fact, I'd only enrolled Craving when it first released and my short story, Saved by the Bear, was eventually part of the program to test out the Kindle Unlimited waters last year. I wasn't impressed with the results I got from Craving and figured it'd be better to branch out into other retailer sites since I was just starting out and trying to build an audience.
But then I started to really think about it for myself and what it could mean for me. As it got closer to time for Take Me On to be released and the start of the new pay-per-page-read royalty policy, I decided to take the leap again and test things out for myself. To date, Take Me On has been my most successful release, and it isn't because of the sales it's getting (though I certainly can't complain there because that's been pretty darn good, too). It's because of the pages read in Kindle Unlimited.
The very first day TMO was in the program, I had over 3,000 pages read. That was a huge leap compared to the one or two borrows here and there of Saved by the Bear that I got before that and the one borrow Craving had before Unlimited. I figured it was all because it was a new release and it would die down in a few days. To my surprise, that has not been the case, and I have made it to close to 8,000 pages read a day on more than one occasion. It's been between 5,000 and 7,000 steadily for the last couple of weeks now. In fact, in the first 11 days of this month, I have over 65,000 total pages read. Granted, that could all change at any moment, but it got me to thinking. IF Amazon pays even a half cent per page, I stand to make over a grand from Unlimited alone this month if my numbers average what they've been for the rest of the month. That's a pretty good chunk of money...
I am still a relatively small time author who hopes to one day become a mid-lister (though The Willow Creek Vampires Series ushering in the next vampire craze would be pretty sweet, too, if I'm being honest). I have no reason to believe I won't make it to mid-lister status at some point if I keep heading in the direction I'm going now, especially since I'm leaps and bounds ahead of where I was a little over a year ago when I first published. I'm still building my audience and trying like hell to get my name out there.
On the surface it would seem like the more places my work is available, the better. I'm not sure that's the case for me at least not until I can build up a bigger presence. As you can see from the numbers I provided above, I could be making over a thousand dollars this month before I even look at my sales figures. Want to know how much I make everywhere else that isn't Amazon for The Willow Creek Vampires Series? On a good month, I make maybe $30 combined and that's a REALLY good month and it's usually closer t0 $15 or $20. Now that's not to say that I don't appreciate those readers because I do. I am beyond thankful for anyone and everyone who took a chance on my books. The problem is, $30 doesn't pay my bills and this is what I do for a living.
I love writing more than I ever thought possible when I first started almost three years ago now, but I'm a business woman at heart. I even have a bachelor degree in that. I view myself as a small business, and my mind is constantly looking for the best business decisions. I've heard from people in the know who have said going exclusive with Amazon isn't the best thing because you exclude the audience of other retailers. However, not going exclusive excludes Kindle Unlimited readers, and I think for me personally, I may have a bigger audience there.
Let me explain what I mean because some of you might be thinking that those readers could still purchase my books if they wanted to. I recently signed up for Unlimited myself. Last month, Amazon had some sort of dealy where you got 30% for a year's subscription, so I figured I'd try it for myself. Once I did that, I found myself scrolling right past books that weren't in the program without even really meaning to. How many Unlimited subscribers do the same thing? My bet is a whole lot of them. If you're paying a monthly subscription, you want to get the biggest bang for your buck. Why would you drop more money on books that aren't included in it when you're paying for unlimited reading for the month? I have since purchased a few other books that aren't in Unlimited, but I'm not sure that's a common occurrence once someone is enrolled in the program.
So basically I am giving KDP Select another shot on The Willow Creek Vampires Series. I *think* I will still have Craving set to free and not enroll it, but Haunting and Awakening will be enrolled for at least 90 days. During that time, those books won't be available in ebook format outside of Amazon. Paperbacks will still be available elsewhere. It might only last the initial 90 days, but it could be an indefinite thing if it goes well. I have to test the waters for myself and see where the waves take me. I will be making the transition over the next week, so if you want to read WCVS and haven't and you purchase books from B&N, iBooks, Smashwords, etc., you'll have a limited time to pick them up.
It could be a colossal fail, but I'll never know if I don't try. Thankfully, I have the support of my husband (both emotionally and financially), and writing has given me the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom to my two kids, but I have to go where I have the best chance of making a living from what I love to do so I can continue to live the life I want to live. If everything goes how I hope it does, my goal is to build up my name as an author and then go wide later on.
Before I sign off, I want to say that I in no way think every author should go exclusive with Amazon. In fact, I think there are a lot of authors that it would hurt if they did. If you already have an established readership or if your sales on other outlets are strong, then Select wouldn't make sense. But for me for now, all signs point to Amazon. Stay tuned for the continuing saga of Stephanie's writing journey... lol