So I’ve decided to take the plunge. I’ve never been a fan of exclusivity but I’m also not a fan of the artist’s purgatory better known as corporate America—a place to which I’m currently slave until this whole writing thing takes off. And if I’m going to be completely transparent here, I mean totally and shamelessly honest, The Things They Didn’t Bury has been on sale for almost 3 months and I have sold 10 copies. Yes. 10. Every single one of them to someone I know by name.
Discouraging? Definitely. But I’ve got patience, I’ve got the will to experiment, and I’m just wrapping up book 2 which means my virtual shelf space will no longer be the equivalent of a black hole by the end of June.
A lot of writers seem to be split on the subject of KDP and going all in with Amazon. It’s controversial and a little scary—especially for us indies who tout our independence like some war wound we acquired while trying to learn HTML and format our e-book for free, or from the amount of money we got misled out of while trying to find a decent cover artist. It’s intimidating to put all of your eggs in one basket, and according to some ideology, just plain wrong.
My biggest trepidation with KDP was its effect on readers. Luckily all 10 of mine have kindles but what if some didn’t? Would they feel slighted? Would it matter at all? Obviously, exposure is everything, and as a new author my goal is to reach as many potential readers as possible—whether through my blog or other social media, through ad space, reviewers, or retailers. And I wanted those readers, regardless of which reading device they owned, to be able to discover my books.
But here’s the issue. I can make my book available on every e-book retailer, I can make the file DRM free, I can give over a hundred copies away for free, which I did. But I’m still a new author—an obscure anomaly that no reader is scrambling for, that no reader is seeking out, or even giving a second thought. In fact, none of them even know I exist.
So even before tackling the hurdle of actually selling copies of my book to strangers, I have to conquer the hurdle of being invisible. And I think KDP can help me with that.
Now, why would I want to participate in KDP free days when I’ve already given away over 100 free books, none of which have translated into any sales? Well, first of all, giving away free books is always a gamble. There are a lot of factors at play. When I reached out to book reviewers I sent out almost 150 emails. Approximately 30 responded saying they would review my book, and in the past 3 months only about 10 of them actually have. Maybe they got busy. Maybe they just didn’t like the book. These are things I can’t control.
Other things I can’t control are who enters a giveaway I may be hosting on my blog or someone else’s. Maybe they don’t read contemporary fiction but they entered anyway just to see if they’d get lucky. Maybe they enter every contest they find. Maybe they don’t even read. Finding the right readers, the right audience—it’s like finding a needle in a haystack—and them finding your book, well that takes a needle, a few stars aligning, and some divine intervention. And when you consider the size of a blog’s online readership versus the size of Kindle owners, they’re not even comparable.
Amazon is huge.
So while I may enter into the abyss that is KDP Select, competing with every other self-published author and free book on the market and getting sucked into further obscurity, I also might find that one reader who is looking for a book just like mine. That one reader who will tell their friends and their family and the clerk at the grocery store and that guy across from them at the gas pump. They’ll tell their Facebook friends and twitter followers and the people in their Friday night book club and their Sunday morning bible study.
That’s the goal. So I’ll start with KDP, trading temporary exclusivity for the hope that I’ll find my readers, one by one until one day all I have to worry about is writing amazing books for them and all they have to worry about is reading them.