Good news if you are an Amazon Prime customer or subscribe to Kindle Unlimited: you will now be able to download Shadow’s Talent in your preferred Amazon store – (or at least you will as soon as Amazon gets it on there with a couple of changes I’ve made to it.) Any previous visitors to this site will notice how all my links are now gone except for the Amazon one. This is because to get these perks I have had to make my book exclusive to Amazon and sell it nowhere else.

Before you get on the warpath with me, any of you who are tempted, just read on.

Signing up to the Amazon program that makes this possible (KDP Select) is something which has seen self published authors vociferously voicing divided opinions. Mark Coker’s comments about it in the Smashwords Guide to Ebook Success at first convinced me not to do it. Hugh Howey’s blog post http://www.hughhowey.com/ruminations-on-exclusivity/ made me see that there was an equally logical counter-argument. My decision to try it for the required 90 days is really down to one simple thing: Amazon is the only site where people have been buying my book already after nearly six months of it being published.

Before we go any further, here’s a disclaimer: the lack of attention Shadow’s Talent got on Apple, Barnes and Nobel, Kobo and Smashwords is not the fault of those retailers. Each has a perfectly good selling platform and plenty of customers to target, and I simply haven’t done that. I’ve been going with the strategy of keeping my overheads low (IE not spending much on advertising) and seeing where it gets me. After six months I’ve drawn one significant conclusion: every time I have tried to find affordable advertising that has a reasonable chance of reaching potential readers, the best sites I come up with are all based on Amazon.

Take for example the forum http://www.kboards.com. This is a forum dedicated to Kindle and Amazon and readers in general, which also welcomes readers to sign up and talk about books even if they do not own a Kindle or shop at Amazon. What self-published author would NOT want to give that a shot? I signed up this evening, and advertised my book according to their self promotion guidelines for free. I can also talk to people about stuff I’ve read and engage in a little community conversation if I want to. I do, and I plan to. I don’t have huge amounts of time to spend on web communities thanks to writing and maintaining a day job (which I love just as much) but just ONE post per day on that forum has the potential to display the advert and links in my signature to hundreds of people who go there every day.

Now here’s the clincher: I have never seen a forum like this for any other e-reading device or retailer. Yes they welcome anyone, but they are most focused on Kindle and Amazon. As are many other forums like them that attract voracious readers who love books.

Mark Coker calls KDP Select ‘evil genius’ on the part of Amazon because they are supposedly recognising that self-published authors are the future and so keeping themselves with the lion’s share of the market by demanding exclusivity for better perks. I don’t buy into the prediction that self publishing is going to take over from traditional, but even if it were true, it would mean that Amazon are currently the only retailer who are bothering to take advantage of it. Why are other retailers not coming up with reward schemes for us self-publishers if they consider us the future? Smashwords to their credit offer an 80% royalty, which the highest I’ve heard of, but it’s of little use to me if the book I’m selling doesn’t appeal to their clientele, and I’m fast beginning to think that Shadow’s Talent simply doesn’t. It would be hard for people to find it amongst the sheer amount of erotica that gets uploaded to Smashwords every day just to begin with!

Amazon choose to reward self-published authors with better perks than anyone else. So they demand a price for this, because there always is give-and-take in a business deal. If B&N, Apple, Kobo or any of the others have a proposal they think is better then I’d be all ears, but I can imagine them all being silent on that front for the foreseeable future.

Of course, this is an experiment. Exclusive publishing on Amazon works for some and not for others. If Shadow doesn’t fair well on KDP Select then I rethink and try a different tactic and I’ll be big enough to upload to the retailers I’ve just removed it from and say ‘Please give me a second go.’ For now though, if you’ve passed up my book because of reluctance to pay its price tag or if you’re simply new an use Amazon, give it a shot and I’d love to hear from you.

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