Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Kindle Unlimited: Hugh Howey, Free Books, and My Compromise

Indie writer and poster child Hugh Howey recently wrote an article about what a "knockout" Amazon has scored with their new Kindle Unlimited subscription program.  I, personally, have mixed feelings, as I know a lot of people do.

For Hugh's post, just click here.

I have ultimately decided to post three of my smaller works on KU as well (which are pretty much free to download if you have a subscription), which I'll show in a minute.

First, this is the gist of the comment I posted on Hugh's blog, which is the argument and compromise I ended up making with myself:

I’m in the same boat as many: I have objections to Amazon becoming the all-powerful dictator of the industry and to exclusivity, but, gee, it’d sure be nice to sell some books, too. Thanks, Hugh, for this article, which has started me thinking.
Points I’m considering:
1. Obviously, I’m against giving all the ebook power to one retailer, no matter how nice their product, or how good their business savvy. I’m also against making my own work only available to their customers and not to others.
2. When the whole “pay per page” thing first came out, my first reaction was, “Amazon’s cheaping out on us again.” And that hasn’t changed in my mind. I assume they’re making a killing and passing the loose coins onto us, the sacrificial writers.
On the other hand:
1. The subscription service buffet is a nice way for readers to experiment on authors and books they might not otherwise give a try.
2. Some books just don’t seem to sell well, no matter how many retailers we have them on, most notably the shorter works. And, yes, Amazon sells more than all the others combined. Only one month did I sell more on B&N than on Amazon.
So between my conscience, my feeble sense of business, and my need to reach more readers, here’s the compromise I’ve come up with while reading this article and everyone's comments:
I think I’ll pull some of my shorter books that don’t sell well anyway, throw them up exclusively on KU for a little while, and see how they do. The shorter page counts won’t yield much raw income, but maybe they’ll serve as “free samples” that will drive readers toward my full-length books, which they can purchase for a full-book price rather than fractional cents per page. And I’ll leave these primary books non-exclusive (which do sell, at least a little, with other retailers) so I’m not cutting out non-Amazon customers and I’m not willingly handing one company the fate of the universe.
A good compromise for me, and a fun experiment to see how things change.
For those who don't know, the KU program is great for readers, but not necessarily for writers.  We often end up getting far less in royalties than we would have had the reader purchased the ebook normally, and we get paid per page read, not for the book itself.  (What kind of Big Brother shit is involved in tracking how many pages you read, I don't know...)
But, because of the reasons I outlined above, I'm going to give this a try.  So what books have a sacrificed for this experimental cause?  My three shortest ebooks, and I'm considering posting a couple more novelettes in the superhero vein in the not-too-distant future.

Click here to find their homes on Amazon:

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