The Tough Decisions of Independent Publishing

Yesterday, I wrote about making 2015 B I G! Alongside that, I am also hoping to make it different. I've been an author-publisher for little more than a year now, and 2014 was a big learning experience for me with quite a few highs. That first sale! Hitting 100 sales! Having both Convergence and Consumption selected by Kobo for their Next Read listings! Newsletter subscribers! All these were huge achievements in my early, learning-as-I-go, baby-steps into the publishing arena.

2015, on the other hand, feels like it needs to be a bit of a fresh start, in some ways, as I look at what has worked for me and what hasn't. I need to be bolder, I need to be more proactive, I need to try new things. 2014 was all about being an author, and while that part will certainly continue, I need to pay more attention to the publishing side of this business. In short, I need to keep learning and experimenting.

May will see the release of my first solo novel for this year, and, as a publisher, I want to change things up a bit.

So, I'm enrolling in KDP Select.

hicks-kdpThat means, for the foreseeable future, my titles will be available exclusively on Amazon.

I am hopeful that this move will help me build a larger audience, particularly as the release of Emergence draws nearer, as well as the release of our second anthology this fall. Amazon is the world's leader in book sales, and KDP Select offers me some unique options as a publisher, like offering a 5-day free run on my titles, or countdown promotions. You'll also be able to, effective immediately, find both Convergence and Consumption in the Kindle Owner's Lending Library and Kindle Unlimited. So if you haven't checked out my work yet, here's a free and easy way to see what I've been up to. Go give these stories a borrow!

This exclusivity agreement with Amazon operates in 90-days intervals. If I'm not convinced of Select's validity to me as both an author and publisher, I can always end my KDP Select agreement and re-release my titles on all platforms. But for at least the foreseeable future, my works are gone from the Nook, Kobo, Google Play, iBooks, and Smashword platforms.

The why of all this is simply to experiment and to dip my toes into new and interesting waters. I've not used KDP Select previously, so this shift is an attempt to expand my base of readers on one of the single largest eBook platforms available, and to see how it stacks up against the way I had been operating. I want to see what works best. Quite frankly, there's just not enough of a demand on all those non-Amazon platforms at the moment to make the diversification worthwhile, and getting multiple sites to synch and coordinate properly during those rare promotional periods can be a time-consuming headache with so very little reward. The vast majority of my sales have been to Kindle customers, and I'm hoping to tap into the very large pool of readers that the Kindle platform possesses.

But, again, we'll see what happens. This isn't a decision that I've made lightly, and I've been weighing the chicken-or-the-egg-like options for the last three months. I think now is a good time to act and to shake things up a smidge. This is a trial run and I'll be looking at the numbers closely, particularly once Emergence launches. The bottom line is that, from a business perspective, I need to be doing more and I think that KDP Select may be the solution, even if only a temporary one in this ever-shifting landscape of publishing as a whole. Again, we'll see. In the end, it's all about reaching more readers, any way I can and figuring out the best way to maximize attention for my releases while building an audience of readers. Time will tell if this is a smart move, or not, but right now it feels like the right moment to experiment and compare and contrast my efforts at diversification versus exclusivity, and figuring out where the readers are at.

Michael Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.


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