Tuesday, December 3, 2019

More Ways to Get The Executive Lounge, and Some Thoughts on Sales Channels

I set up a Books2Read universal link for The Executive Lounge, so you can find it on a bunch of different stores with one click. If I add a new store in the future, the link will still work.

Get The Executive Lounge

Right now, links are live to Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, 24Symbols, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori, although the book isn't actually available on Scribd yet. Sometimes it takes a while for everything to percolate through. :/

If you haven't heard of 24Symbols -- I hadn't until I saw it as a B2R option -- it's a subscription service similar to Kindle Unlimited, but it doesn't require any kind of exclusivity crap. Unless Amazon changes its policy, you'll never see my books in KU, but 24Symbols doesn't make any outrageous demands, so I'm giving them a try.

I've never set up a Books2Read link before, but it was easy to do. The web site is well designed and the process is pretty intuitive. And if you distribute through Draft2Digital, which I am for some vendors, those vendors are automatically included in your B2R link, because B2R and D2D are linked sites. Setting all this up is free, so even if you only make a few sales through the less-popular-in-the-US vendors, it's still worth doing. And I've made one sale in Euros so far, so yay!

I've heard some writers say that they don't go wide because their wide sales are negligible, and it's not worth missing out on KU sales. I think this is short-sighted.

I figure, nobody in Europe, or India, or Australia, or anywhere else besides the US and maybe Canada knows who I am at this point. You build a fan base one reader at a time, and that applies to each sales channel. If you're not available in European stores, then you're probably not going to have any European fans. If you start publishing books in the European stores (or wherever,) you're there, and you'll eventually start building your fanbase there. It might well take a while, but as Kris Rusch always says, this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Looking at this another way, it reminds me of the way some tradpubbed writers were experimenting with indie publishing a while back, indie pubbing one book and then looking at their first month or two of sales. When they didn't earn thousands or even hundreds per month right away, they declared the experiment a failure, and said it proved that indie publishing was an overhyped bubble. Heck, I remember one writer, known for SFF novels, who indie pubbed a contemporary short story, saw a small trickle of sales in the first couple of months, and declared the whole indie publishing business a clear failure, with a bit of snarky smirking. [huge freaking eyeroll] Well, no kidding! That's not the kind of book you're known for!

The folks who tried going wide for a month or three, then declared it a failure and scurried back to KU are making the same mistake, I think. (Okay, maybe not the exact same mistake as the Contemporary Short Story writer-person, but plenty of others did the same experiement with the kinds of books they were known for. It still takes time to build up indie sales, when that's not how your fans are used to buying your books.) Any time you're looking to expand into a new market, it's going to take time. You're not going to hit it big in any new sales channel right away, unless you win the lottery. And "Step 5: Win the Lottery" doesn't belong in anyone's business plan.

And I have to think back on how many times I've heard a collective howl go up from the Kindle Unlimited community, whenever Amazon makes some major change in policy, or changes how they distribute money, how they credit "reads," how they require books to be formatted. Whenever Amazon tries to plug a hole being exploited by scammers and cheats, huge crowds of folks who were legitimately publishing through KU (but often were riding the edge, gaming the system while staying just this side of the line) scream and cuss and complain that their sales have tanked because of the change. They're collateral damage, and since Amazon's primary concern is the experience of its customers, not its vendor-partners, they don't care what the indie publishers think.

(Which I believe is a good policy in the long term, from a hard-nosed business perspective. If you piss off your authors, there'll always be more where they came from [that's how New York publishing has stayed in business so long, with the horrible treatment they give their writers] but if you piss off your readers, the authors will suffer too and the whole thing will spiral.)

I know some folks who see KU for what it is -- a right-now cash cow, that could change or shrink or go away at any time. If you grab the money and run month-by-month, paying off existing bills or making one-time cash purchases or just socking the money away, that'll work and it comes with little risk. The people who scream loudest whenever Amazon pivots are the ones who were paying their mortgage and buying groceries with their KU money, which IMO isn't a great idea. Amazon could make another change next week that'll completely tank their sales, and then they're screwed.

Personally, I'd rather build a fanbase spread across as many vendors as possible, to insulate myself from the effect of changing conditions at any one vendor. It's doable -- I know writers for whom Amazon is less than half their income. It takes patience and a long-term view, and I'm willing to give it that.