Wednesday 13 December 2017

(vol 4) CHAPTER 15: "Other Platforms"

One of the many decisions an author makes when releasing a book is what platform you're going to release on.

For e-books the big choice that most default to is Kindle (Amazon), and with good cause; they are the biggest seller of e-books without a doubt. When you say 'e-reader' to Joe Bloggs on the street, most people will just assume you're talking about a Kindle device, not realising that there are other brands out there. 

But the choice of platform comes down to two simple choices; go wide, or go with the biggest bite of the pie.

Despite what people think, there are other ways to read e-books without passing through Amazon's gargantuan eco-system. I myself have been a proud Kobo reader since 2012. And while Apple don't have a specific device themselves, a lot of people have i-phones which can be used via the i-books app. Goggle Books are the same.

But Amazon has an ace up it's sleeve; Kindle Unlimited. 

While you could sell your book for an upfront price like the other venders, Kindle Unlimited (or KU) follows the subscription style, much like Netflix or an Odeon cinema pass. You pay a block fee and have access to read as many books as you can.

On the other end of the process, the author gets paid not in an upfront lump sum, but at the end of the month based on the number of pages readers read. It's all worked out very technically (Amazon have a formula that normalises pages so large fonts don't benefit) using a pot of money divided by KU authors then divided by page reads.

The down side to this option is that Amazon want you all in. If you want the benefits of KU (and for better selling authors with lots of books I assume it can pay quite well) you cannot put you book up anyway else. No Kobo, no i-books, no Google. Once in, you are tied to Amazon and KU for 90 days.

I only have one book at the moment and it's never going to be a big big seller. Flash Fiction collections just don't have the pull of novella's and full blown novels. But I went in on KU for the first 90 days of sale because, quite honestly, I didn't have anything to loose. People could still buy for £1.99 if they didn't have KU membership so I wasn't limited to people only in the program. And because Createspace, one of the two most well used ways of going 'Print On Demand', is owned by Amazon, I was still able to release the paperback version of BRISK WORLDS back in October without breaking the rules.

But benefit me it has not. And my 90 days ended two days ago.

I chose not to remain and am now working on option two; going wide.

Three months since BRISK WORLDS was released, you can now buy it on Kobo. This is a particularly special moment for me as my Kobo device is my preferred method of e-reading (sorry other e-book apps).

BRISK WORLDS still won't be a big seller but it's nice to have my work out there on two different ecosystems. It was a simple process of just taking the word doc prepped for Kindle and uploading it to Kobo's site. 

They say on their web page that it's easy to get started as an indie author, and they're not wrong. Obviously the hard work of formatting was done back in September, but from logging on to pressing publish took me about 20 mins. That's really quite remarkable, to know that technology is at a point where you can put your work out there that quickly.

So that's not a bad way to end 2017. I have my first published work done, available in two e-reading formats and also as a paperback (the real dream!).

Now I'm looking at 2018 and planning on doing it all over again.

Let me know your own self publishing stories in the comments below or on twitter (@BrianSCreek). Have you seen success in KU or do you prefer to go wider? And what other channels do you use?

And if anyone has any questions regarding my experience of kindle or Kobo self-publishing, feel free to ask.

See you in seven. 

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