Why Exclusivity is Bad (Unless You’re Amazon)
We recently read, with significant interest, a series of articles that author Nick Stephenson began posting regarding experiments in pulling titles out of KDP Select (a program that Amazon runs which encourages authors to publish their titles to Kindle and make them unavailable anywhere else, whether that’s another retailer or selling directly from the author’s own website)
In a post entitled Income Report: Why Exclusivity is Bad (Unless You’re Amazon), Stephenson talks about how exclusivity can be a good thing, but then outlines an imaginary conversation between a breakfast cereal manufacturer and Walmart, in order to illustrate whether or not the supplier is getting a fair wholesale price and actual tangible benefits.
He goes on to make a few conclusions regarding going all in with a single retailer (we’ve captured some highlights below):
The bottom line: exclusivity is a terrible idea if you’re not getting anything in return for it – even if you’re only locked in for a few months. Which brings us around to KDP Select and the much-maligned Kindle Unlimited program.
Signing up exclusively with KDP is working for some people. Well, maybe 100 people. But realistically, anyone not in the top 100 KDP-exclusive authors is probably better served moving on. In fact, those not in the top 50 would probably earn more on other channels than they make in bonuses and borrows.
You can probably see that overall income has stayed pretty steady in the last quarter, overall up roughly 10% – 15% since July while Amazon has fallen from around 85% of my income in July to around 55% of my income in November.
Sales on other platforms (iTunes, Nook, and especially Kobo) have grown from around 5% – 10% of total income up to nearly 30% of total income. It took a few months to get going, but the move was definitely worth it.
None of this diminishes my gratitude to Amazon for making self-publishing a viable career alternative for many, including me. But the rose-tinted glasses can’t stay on forever, right? There are opportunities to be had outside of KDP, and you don’t need to be a slave to the Hot New Releases window to make great things happen.
Don’t get me wrong – dropping my titles out of KDP Select was scary. But, at the end of the day, entrusting almost 100% of my income to one retailer (who can – and have – slashed royalty rates on a whim) was even scarier.
The end result? I’m now in a position where monthly fluctuations from any one particular source of revenue are less likely to spell trouble. My overall income has also increased since the beginning of the year, when all my titles were exclusive.
Stephenson’s blog contains a lot of detailed information that authors will find relevant and useful including recent posts such as: Could you survive without KDP? and Breaking Free Part 2 – One Month Later.
Apart from his helpful and data-filled blog posts, Nick also teaches other authors how to find their first 10,000 readers – you can get started with some free video training here: http://yourfirst10kreaders.com and be sure to check out his FREE eBook on the same subject called Reader Magnets.
Nick Stephenson is the author of the Leopold Blake series. He was born and raised in Cambridgeshire, England. In a previous life he has worked as a lawyer, marketer, chef, and paid assassin for the UK’s Tax Authorities. If you ask him about it, he will deny ever having worked as a lawyer.