In more ways than one.
Let me explain. Three months ago I tried an experiment. I pulled my books from all the other vendors and went all-in with Amazons KU program. I was following the advice of many that had gone before me and decided to give it a try to see if I could emulate their success there. It was a decision I thought about long and hard, but in the end I decided was worth the 90-day commitment.
I was wrong.
Entering KU was initially a positive. I saw a nice jump in sales, and page-reads were at a level that had me on track for a 30% increase over my average monthly income. Not as good as I had been told to expect, but not bad either.
Then, Amazon happened.
One of my biggest problems with Amazons KU program was its lack of transparency. Amazon shares little to no information on the program with its authors and is anything but clear as to how it really runs. They also have you over a barrel from day one as they can make changes to the program at anytime and without warning. As they did so right around the time I entered it. Was my timing bad, or was I simply a victim of bad luck? I’d say both. But being at Amazons mercy was my first mistake.
Right around the time I entered KU they made a change to the algorithm. This is not something they do that often, it’s a constantly evolving program and we expect it to be tweaked from time to time, but this was a major change. I heard from friends making six figures telling me they were suddenly down by up to 30%. Some even more. A few had lost income in the neighborhood of 90%. In other words, career ending losses. It started a thread on Kboards that grew to over 3,000 posts and is still growing to this day. Everyone was desperate to figure out the new changes. The thread is filled with a lot of theory and speculation, but in the end there is little more than that. The truth is; nobody knows what Amazon did, they only know that’s its effecting their bottom line in a negative way.
As it did to me. My initial upward spike quickly turned into a long slide down. I’ll spare you the details and just say that by the time the ninety-day commitment was over I was pulling down the same numbers as I had been when I was wide. And that was with my first book Closure being offered FREE. (I’d been forced to put a price of $2.99 on it to justify going onto KU)
So, lesson learned. KU is as bad a deal as I thought it would be. While I may have gained a few readers that I might not have reached the old way, it just wasn’t worth it to be exclusive to Amazon.
What does that mean for you the reader?
A lot actually. Those of you that get my books from places other than Amazon will now have access to them again. My entire Jack Randall Series is in the process of going back to all the vendors they use to be at. Apple, Kobo, NOOK, and Google already have my books up and available (or soon will, there’s always a glitch somewhere). Bill is working hard to make the transition as quick and easy as he can. If you have a problem with a download please don’t hesitate to bother him, by sending an email to email@example.com. He doesn’t care what time it is or anything. No, really!
So I am Free of the KU prison. Closure will also be free again too. This takes a little while to accomplish as you are mostly dealing with computers and not people. You have to point and yell on the internet to get one vendors computer to price-match a book that’s on another vendors computer. I wish I were making that up but I’m not.
How did Amazon respond? I’d heard stories of books getting a drop in ranking, or a slow turn-around when coming out of KU, or even a period of time-stoppage where the book sold nothing and sat as if frozen for a few days only to have a sudden spike before returning to normal. I got none of that. What I did get was something new.
My first book Closure has 1500 reviews on Amazons US website alone. 92% of these reviews are 4 star or above. One has 223 up-likes and has been the first review you see for years. Guess what’s at the top of the page now? That’s right, 1, 2, and 3 star reviews. I guess this is Amazons form of the doghouse. How long will it last? Who knows. But I can tell you this, it won’t change my mind about leaving KU. I should have trusted my instincts and business sense in the first place. If there was any chance of me trying KU again in the first place they’ve just made it harder for me to consider it. If anything, it’s made me even more determined to build a readership on the other platforms. I’ve seen battered wife syndrome while working as a paramedic, I certainly won’t let Amazon put me in that kind of relationship.
But business is business and Amazon is doing what they will. I’ll simply recognize them for what they are and work with them as best I can.
So no more KU. From this point on I intend to be wide and keep working on what the readers want; more books.
The next Jack Randall novel, Homeland, should be ready soon. I’ll also be adding to The Twelve Shepherds as scheduled. I have some ideas for giving Larry his own spin-off series and have spent a few hours toying with a SciFi idea. I hope to speed up my production this year as several distractions have been taken care of. The disco ball is finally hanging in the kitchen.
Audio is on Bill’s list. We tried to get Optimus Prime to do the books, but he had scheduling conflicts. My kids were very disappointed. But as soon as I hear the voice of Jack in the audition tapes we’ll be going into production.
Hardcovers! We’ll soon have the hardcover versions of all the Jack Randall books out through Lightning Source and available on all vendors. Yes, even in New Zealand.
The Twelve Shepherds! I hope to ramp up the release schedule and get Season Two out a little faster.
So that’s it. I hope to be blogging more and sharing some more personal happenings of what goes on is casa Wood. Stand-bye for that.
Thanks to everyone who hung in there with me while I experimented with KU. I apologize for leaving you and won’t let it happen again!