Where should I sell my books? Surprisingly, this is one of the hardest questions an indie author needs to answer. Logic says to sell them wherever you can–the more available they are, the more sales you’ll get.
This is the rule I’ve played by, with the exception of one stint in KDP Select two years ago. KDP Select is an Amazon program available only to books that are exclusive to Kindle. They offer some interesting promotional tools to Select titles, including putting your book in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.
But at the time, Select did not give me the results some of my fellow authors saw, so when my enrollment term was over, I put my book back up at Barnes and Noble, and also published it via iBooks and Kobo. My stance since then has been that it makes the most sense to have things as widely available as possible.
So why on earth would I pull my books from two of those markets? (I also pulled them from iBooks, though this post is primarily about Kobo.) Select has gone through a few changes, and I thought it would be worth giving it another shot. Spring/Summer are slow sales periods anyway, so I won’t really be missing out on much.
I did this all over three weeks ago, so imagine my surprise when I received an email from Amazon on Saturday, informing me that they had found my book available for sale on a website in Italy. They informed me I had five days to get the book down from that site or they would take it out of Select–thus canceling the promotions I had scheduled for next week.
I followed the link and discovered the Italian store uses the Kobo catalog. Then I did some more digging on my own and found it on a site based in Australia. Considering I delisted my book with Kobo three weeks ago, this is inexcusable.
To further aggravate the situation, the Kindle team made a slight error and removed my book from Select immediately, rather than giving me the five days’ grace promised. The promotions I’d been counting on as part of my business plan have been canceled. I’ve contacted them and they’ve reinstated me, but I’ll have to wait until the end of April to run promotions now.
Putting it simply, I have no desire to do business with a company whose practices put my livelihood at risk. My sales from Kobo have always been negligible–had it not been for the ease of publishing and the increased visibility, I would not have bothered with them at all. This was really the straw that broke the camel’s back.
I pulled the rest of my books on Saturday night and sent them an email expressing my displeasure and asking them to ensure my books are no longer in their catalog at all. I received this message in reply:
Please note that the book was removed successfully from Kobo site when you de-listed the file. Unfortunately, in regards to our affiliates, it sometimes may take longer than usual for an update to go through.
To speed the process, we have sent a request to our partner support team to follow up with Mondadori and request that the book be removed as soon as possible.
I would accept a week lag, because I know there can be update quirks. Not being able to count on my book being pulled after three weeks is ridiculous. I’ve replied, thanking them for their assistance but reiterating that this has caused me to end our business relationship.
Addendum explaining the iBooks situation:
Before all of this happened, this post was going to be about iBooks. Part of the reason I haven’t used Select since that first attempt is a line in the iBooks contract requiring authors to publish all their work through iBooks. Anything you publish anywhere, you have to also put up in iBooks. Since my first Select attempt did so poorly, I didn’t really mind that. However, when I decided to try again, I knew that meant pulling the plug on iBooks.
I’ll be honest–as a business person, I still don’t like the idea of giving one retailer a monopoly. If every author enrolls their books in Select to the extent that Amazon is able to drive the other companies out of business, Amazon will no longer have any incentive to give us a good deal on either royalty rates or marketing options.
However, I also don’t like having companies tell me when and where I can sell my books. That’s why I went indie in the first place. Amazon doesn’t demand exclusivity to publish; Select is a choice they give you. Kobo feels very strongly that an exclusive relationship is bad business, but it isn’t their place to make that choice for me, nor is it Apple’s.
The Italian site has finally pulled my book! I’ve been checking obsessively all week, since Amazon gave me that five day grace period. This really was down to the wire as that grace ended today. Still, it’s all over and done with, and I can move on.