Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Wider Distribution - the Hard Numbers

This time last year:

Me (at the local smoke shop): I'm self-publishing a book.  It's due out in a couple weeks.
Manager: Cool!  Where can I buy it?
Me: It'll only be available at Amazon.  Do you have a Kindle?
Her: No. I have an iPad. But that's okay, because I have that app thing.
Me: Kindle for iPad?
Her: That's the one.

That's just an anecdote, but it's fairly indicative of how my non-Amazon sales go.  Them what don't have a Kindle use the app.  Them what don't like Amazon have to wait to buy my books elsewhere. Why?

Well, I initially started out as Amazon-only because I wanted to see how the Kindle Select perks worked for me.  Then, in May, I took Dying Embers out of Kindle Select and put into wider distribution to see how that worked for me.


I sold 5 books in the 90 days I had DE in wider distribution - and those 5 sales were due to an ad that sold me over a hundred books at Amazon.  Needless to say, I put DE back into Kindle Select and haven't regretted it.

Then I took Wish in One Hand out of the program and placed it in the wider distribution windmill.  Almost 90 days have gone by.  1 sale.  To a friend. 

I tried looking for 'non-Amazon' marketing outlets.  They don't seem to exist.  Those Kindle advertisers who do put up links for your books at other sites garner very few sales.  How do Nook / Kobo / Apple users find new books?  Got me.  Perhaps those distributors are using their marketing space for the Big 5.  :shrug:  I am not Big 5 and I never will be, so oh well. 

I still have WIOH in the wide distribution and I will through at least a month's worth of the launch for In Deep Wish.  Because I am launching IDW everywhere and I want to see how that goes.  Maybe if I wave two books in a series at those other readers, they'll be inclined to buy.  Probably not, though.  I have low expectations.  We'll see.

I tried a wider distribution for my printed books.  I sold like 1 book that way.  To the same friend.  I made .61 on a $15 book through B&N.  (BTW, I made .59 on the 99 cent ebook I sold through B&N.)  And that is the money for a cheaper to print book.  If I wanted to take BloodFlow through the process, my take would be considerably less unless I wanted to price my paperbacks so high no one would want to buy one.  Raise your hand if you're willing to pay more than $15 for a paperback.  Yeah, I didn't think so.  Hell, even at $12.99, I can't move these suckers and any lower makes my cut feel like I'm giving these away.

To sum up, I haven't figured out how to make money at the wider distribution thing.  There are dollars out there, but I can't seem to tap into them.  If I do, I'll let you know what the secret is.  I suspect if the other book distributors got a little more friendly to self-published authors like myself - provided some perks and incentives, a little marketing somethin-something - it might be better.  I'll probably never know.  In the end, I keep trying new things.  And after I try the new things, I end up back with Amazon exclusively because that makes the most sense for me.  Time will tell.  If that changes, I'll roll with it.


  1. I'd made the decision to go Amazon exclusive with the early Moonstruck books because 1) uploading was something I could do and 2) my sales from the small press books seemed to be centered on Amazon, except for one flukey 4th quarter when Baseball Boy worked for B&N during the early days of Nook and he downloaded one of my books on all the ones he sold as a sample. LOL

    I took the introductory long novella in Penumbra Papers wide distribution. It's still there. That series has never done as well even though SEASON OF THE WITCH and THE DEVIL'S CUT are KU. I've often wondered if the series would have taken off like Moonstruck if I'd kept it in the 'zon.

    With the Moonstruck "compilations"--putting two novellas together with new and cut material, I'm putting them into wide distribution. I've pretty much tapped out the Amazon audience. I put MOONSTRUCK: SECRETS up on KU. It never did much in sales there. I've since taken it off KU and gone wide. I'll automatically put MOOONSTRUCK: LIES in full distribution through Draft2Digital. They are much easier to work with than Smashwords.

    Anyway, I haven't figured out the formula either. My self-pub sales are way down for 2015, despite several new books out and wider audience due to the Harlequin releases. Sadly, HQ sales are dropping because no new release since last April and the next release isn't until June. :(

    Unless one catches lightning in a bottle, I'm not sure how to find an audience or guarantee sales. I continually brood and scratch my head over it. Thanks for being willing to share your experiences!

    1. Thanks for all the information from your perspective, Silver! D2D is way easier to work with - from what I understand.. I never went the Smashwords route. Bummer about your sales being down. I wish it was just the newbie curse.

      Lightning in a bottle. Yep. Or cold-fusion in a jar. Glad I'm not over here brooding and scratching my head by myself, but then again, I wouldn't wish this on anyone. Thanks for being willing to share your experiences, too!

  2. In two years, I sold four books on Smashwords. Now everything is up on KU. A few more sales, but a fair number of pages read. And I like the ease of having everything in one place (well, two, including Createspace.

    I'm glad to have the reassurance of your experiences!

    1. I'd say to try Draft2Digital instead of Smashwords, but I'm not sure that would help too much. Like I told Silver, they do seem easier to work with. The ease of one place for all the work is definitely a plus for Amazon. Now if everyone else would get on board. LOL

      Any time, Deb!