Username:

Password:

Fargot Password? / Help

Tag: exclusivity

3

Controlling Digital Content

The greatest thing about ebooks is the ease of selling and sharing them. It can also be the worst thing too, because it leaves authors with little control of their content. With print books, no one can sell your novel unless you supply them with products. With ebooks, once a distributor or retailer has your file, they can keep selling it forever—with or without your permission.

Why reputable businesses would do this makes no sense, and yet, they do. Take Sony for example. First, the retailer kept discounting my books again and again, causing Amazon to discount my books and me to lose money. My distributor would contact them, and they’d stop for while. Then out of nowhere, Sony would put my books on sale.

Then Amazon Select came along, and I decided I was done dealing with Sony permanently. So INgrooves, my distributor, had my books removed from their ebook store. A few days later, three of my Jackson titles popped up in the Sony store. They were old versions from my previous publisher, supplied by a different distributor. I contacted both my ex-publisher and the other distributor, and they quickly took care of the issue.

For a while, I had no books on Sony’s site, and everything seemed fine. Then suddenly, they were back, selling on Sony again. I know this because Amazon called to let me know I was not in compliance with my Select program agreement. They were very nice about it in person. But two days later, I started getting emails about each of the titles that was still selling elsewhere, with a 30-day notice to get in compliance or have the book removed from Amazon’s program.

Of course, I had already contacted my distributor and asked them to communicate with Sony, using a lawyer, if necessary. INgrooves sent an email to Sony and within two days, the books were down again.

But why did they start selling them again in the first place? What happened to the royalties during that time, since I no longer have an agreement with them? And will it happen again? Is Sony purposefully violating my rights to make a few extra bucks off my inexpensive e-books? Or is it an error? Does it have a computer program that keeps picking up files that should have been deleted?

Sony is not the only guilty one. I’ve heard authors complain about Kobo doing this as well. And several authors who were published with Dorchester have complained that the publisher made and sold e-books of their work—after the company gave the rights back to the author. The Amazon person who called me said many authors are experiencing similar scenarios.

This is such inexplicable behavior all around. Just because it’s an electronic file doesn’t mean anyone can sell it for profit. Authors are calling for a boycott of Dorchester, and it’s tempting to ask readers to boycott Sony as well. And Kobo too, if they’re guilty of this form of theft—also known as pirating.

11

All Amazon!

I finally did it. I pulled all my books from B&N and enrolled the rest of the Detective Jackson novels in Amazon’s Select program. My apologies to Nook owners! But the royalties from Kindle Owners Lending Library (KOLL) are too good to pass up.

In December, Amazon paid $1.70 per “borrow.” I made more money in one month from KOLL, with only half my books enrolled, than I’ve made from B&N in the last year. Sorry again to Nook owners, but I just can’t sell books there. Which has always been puzzle to me…because I sell so well on Amazon.

So it’s done. I’m exclusive. The move is not necessarily permanent, but I have a feeling my Amazon KOLL royalties will continue grow along with sales. And as I mentioned in a previous blog: Amazon already owns me. I might as well profit as much as I can from it.

The hardest part will be not giving away ebooks from my blog…or through LibraryThing or Goodreads. The exclusivity clause prevents it, and I’ll miss that interaction with readers. I love giving books away! But I can still give away my print books, and more important, I can give away ebooks through Amazon. And I have to remind everyone that Kindle apps are available on almost every device, and you can read Kindle books online, directly from Amazon now in the “cloud.”

So my ebooks are still available to nearly anyone with a computer, mobile phone, or tablet. And I’m sleeping better at night, knowing that as long as Amazon is doing well, so am I.

11

Moving Toward Amazon-Only

And the craziness continues. Yesterday The Sex Club, which is now selling well again, was suddenly being discounted on Amazon from $2.99 to $.99. Which means, I was suddenly making a third of the money. After cursing loud and long, I tracked down the culprit. Kobo was selling the title at $.99—even though I requested they take it down two weeks ago.

I requested the takedown because I enrolled The Sex Club in the Kindle Select program and it requires exclusivity. So the fact that it’s still selling there could also get me kicked out of the program. I’m doing everything possible to correct this, but retailers are notoriously slow about taking down books, especially if they’re selling.

I distribute to Kobo, Sony, and various other retailers through INgrooves, and this is not the first time I’ve had to deal with the discounting issue. For those not familiar, here’s the short version: Amazon will not be underpriced. If a competitor puts an ebook on sale, Amazon matches the price. This can be a serious problem for authors who make most of their money from Amazon and need to control what price their books sell for on Amazon.

When I starting losing money on Amazon, I see my mortgage payment for the next month disappearing. Which leads me to strongly consider withdrawing all my books from INgrooves. The small amount of money I make from other retailers is offset by the profit I lose from the discounting issue.

My only hesitation, as always, is readers. I want them to have full access to my books, regardless of their e-reader device. But I’m running a small publishing business (Spellbinder Press), and I have to make smart business decisions. I have to be able to track and predict profit.

Also, I have to remind readers that my ebooks are available for purchase from my website.

Other writers tell me I should upload to Smashwords as my distributor, but that doesn’t fix the discounting issue. And I’m tired of continuously having to scan the other retailers to ensure they’re not undercutting my ability to make a living from Kindle sales.

Pulling my books from INgrooves would leave me with ebooks available on Kindle and Nook only. But what I sell on B&N/Nook every month won’t even pay my cell phone bill.

After I see my first bonus payment from Amazon for enrolling in the Select program, I’ll have to decide whether keeping my Detective Jackson books on B&N is actually worth it. I predict I’ll be exclusive to Amazon by the end of the next year. Some people may see this as a sell out. But I have to make a living, and I’m worth more than minimum wage.

Readers: Can you sympathize with this decision?

Writers: How do you deal with the discounting issue?

6

The Exclusivity Dilemma

Amazon often dominates my thoughts these days. Like many other authors, because of Amazon’s KDP self-publishing program, I now have readers and I’m able to make a small living. So I’m deeply grateful to Amazon, even loyal. As an author, I’m also entirely dependent on the company. If it kicked me out of the KDP program, I’d have to go back to freelance editing, and I would write far fewer novels.

Yet, I don’t want to see Amazon become a monopoly or have it be the only place my books are available. I want readers to have choices. Still, to survive financially, I may have to climb on board the Amazon train and let go of the idea that I’m an independent author.

Two issues are on deck for me right now. First, is the lending library that everyone’s buzzing about and some are calling predatory. Amazon called me two weeks ago to pitch KDP Select to me personally. Surprised by the contact, I assume it’s because I have ten books on the market and sold quite a few on Kindle last year.

My only concern was the exclusivity issue, but in the end, I decided to enroll two of my standalone thrillers. Which means I had to pull those books from all other e-readers. I wasn’t making enough money on them from any other sources for it to be a financial decision. My hesitation was based only on my commitment to give readers full access to my books.

But the promotional opportunity Amazon offered—a five-day giveaway of the books—was hard to resist. The exposure could be invaluable. Right now, The Suicide Effect is being downloaded in record numbers. Because I have nine other books for new readers to buy, this could turn out well for me. I’ll know in the next month or so.

The other issue is the possibility of becoming an Amazon-published author. I have two thrillers in submission to Thomas & Mercer, with the hope that Amazon will buy the rights and republish them as T&M titles. If that happens—and I hope it does—those books would then be sold exclusively by Amazon. The benefit to me would be Amazon’s incredible marketing machine, which would expose my entire body of work to thousands of new readers.

So my commitment to full access for readers is eroding. After last year’s run-up in sales, followed by the inevitable decline when the Amazon algorithm dropped me (as it eventually does), I came to the conclusion that Amazon already owns me…if I want to be a full-time novelist. The struggle to resist is futile.

So I’m tempted to simply get it over with and put all my books in the lending program and give up on selling them anywhere else. I believe I’ll end up there someday anyway. It wouldn’t change my finances enough to worry about, but it would make me feel guilty about denying my books to readers who don’t do business with Amazon.

What do you think?

WP Like Button Plugin by Free WordPress Templates