I'm posting this blog and the next one on both of my blogging sites to make sure everyone understands what's happening at Katzenaus.
There’s an old, old joke about how one handles an 800-pound
gorilla. The answers usually include saying “Yes, Sir!” and giving him whatever
he wants. For indie writers and self
publishers, the 800-pound gorilla has always been Amazon. It dominate today’s
book world, selling more books than anyone else, newcomer or traditional
publisher. No one seems to have exact figures because they change minute by
minute, but a safe estimate is that it has something in the range of ten
million books available on its website.
From the time I first established my little self-publishing
imprint back in 2009, I argued against allowing Amazon to gain complete control
of my work. Certainly, I published my
books on the Kindle site and used the Amazon-affiliated CreateSpace to print
and circulate my paperback editions. But I was also determined to utilize as
many sales outlets as possible. I always recommended
Smashwords for its ability to place electronic editions in the Barnes and Noble
and Apple i-Book catalogs, as well on an ever-increasing number of smaller book
distribution sites. It cost me more to
get my books formatted for different sites, but I thought it was worth it, and
for a while, it was.
I also spoke out against Amazon’s new schemes to get writers
to give them exclusivity over certain books.
The promises of more support, free days, new promotions and things like
paying lending libraries just didn’t seem worth giving one company a monopoly
over publication. However, things change quickly in the publishing world, and I
have slowly begun to realize that many of these changes are reader-driven. If
one believes in a free-market system (and I do), then we need to listen when
the market speaks.
In the past five years, the value of using multiple distribution
channels has eroded noticeably. In 2010,
I could count on selling some 500 books a year through Smashwords with
royalties of approximately $2.00 per book—well worth paying someone $50.00 to
format a new manuscript for Apple and B&N. Then—steadily—the numbers declined. In the
first two months of 2016, I have sold exactly three books (total from 18 sales
channels) through Smashwords, at a profit of $4.26. And meanwhile, formatting
charges have increased to $100.00. It is simply no longer possible to justify avoiding
What has happened? I don’t have some magic explanation, but
when i look at my Kindle sales I see steady growth; when I look at Smashwords,
steady decline. Obviously the people who read my books have made a choice, for
whatever may be their reasons, to do their book buying on Amazon. And if that’s
where my readers are, that’s where I need to be as well.
So . . (drum roll for
announcement!) . . . starting tomorrow, most of my books will be available
exclusively on Amazon. That will make
them eligible for inclusion in the Lending Library and on the list of free
books available to Prime customers. Already tonight, someone has borrowed a
copy of “Damned Yankee” and read 190 pages. For those of you who have purchased
any of my books from other sites, rest assured that the copies have been
archived there. So if the dog eats your Nook, you can download another copy of
my books from Smashwords. However, if
you want to make a new purchase, you will have to do so on Amazon. We’ll give it a
90-day trial and see how it goes.