In the last couple of weeks, Amazon experienced a glitch that has many authors concerned about the visibility of their books. So, this last week, I asked two very important questions of authors. While many authors contacted Amazon and we did receive notification that the issue was being examined, the “white out” of many books across a range of geographic regions (and the fact the white out seemed to vary from Amazon site to Amazon site) meant many authors were financiallynegativelyimpacted. Some had booked promotional opportunities with specialist marketing sites such as Book Bub or Facebook/Amazon ads which were ineffective. Others with pre-orders were unable to make the requisite sales. It also appears this wasn’t simply an Indie Only phenomenon with some traditional authors also feeling the pinch.
The first question was are you Wide? (This basically means are your books distributed on every platform?) or are you KDP only? KDP for readers is Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon only) and authors have the ability to choose to only distribute to Kindle only through a range of channels.
The results that came in from my poll (which I ran through my facebook profile) were interesting. Over a 7-day period I received 63 responses.
I also asked a secondary question, just for those who are KDP only. Are you planning to continue with KDP only or has this caused you to decide to take your books Wide? This question received 16 responses.
So, let’s deconstruct the information received.
It’s very clear that more authors are moving to the Wide stance – for some because of the ongoing issues with Amazon and for others simply because they want to be accessible to as many readers as possible.
With 73% already “wide” and a further 27% only using Kindle (Amazon) for distribution and/or publication of their titles.
“I have some that are wide and some that are amazon only because some types of stories sell better wide and others are preferred by the amazon crowd.”
"My box set has completed its KU time frame, very soon it will be making its way over to the wide digital world. Still debating if to go through smashwords, as the original books or go via D2D for the first time. Oh, plus google play of course. Seems they had been out numbering all the free downloads over amazon in the last two months. Well up until yesterday, when my book made an appearance in a well distributed newsletter bringing my old trusty first book up to the top 10 in the US, Aus & UK. How short I lived the excitement, now as the book is slowly drifting on its way back out.
But yesterday morning, amazon had it as unavailable!"
Wide. But with my indie novellas, I've only sold one or two copies in the last couple of months on Apple and Kobo. The vast majority of my sales are with Amazon US and UK.
There were also some responses that weren’t counted as I couldn’t offer a third option of some & some.
I've got some books that are wide, and some that are Amazon only.
The outcome however of the latest glitch has caused some destabilization and concern among some authors who are currently KDP only. Of those 16 who responded to the survey 31% have indicated they plan to either petition or wait out their unlimited enrolment and for those without those barriers, they will take their books wide.
"Have been in the process of withdrawing from KU and moving wide for the last short while. The constant and current debacles only support my reasons to do so."
"I have been KU with the first book in my series but am just waiting for the expiry date in a couple of weeks so I can go wide again."
I also attempted to gain some feedback from readers, but was unable to gain a large enough sample.
One interesting piece of feedback I did receive was:
"Authors are such drama queens against Amazon--you'd think they were selling the cure to cancer!"
So, all in all, while I can’t claim this is an exhaustive view of publishing and the relationship with Amazon, it’s certainly sobering for all of us.
Bear in mind too, that on November 22, Amazon announced a major backflip in its policy on selling to and shipping to Australia, so on the strength of this, it seems that there may be the opportunity to see other wholesale changes dependent on the stance of readers and authors combined. (Amazon to resume shipping to Australia after online GST change news.com.au 22 November 2018 bit.ly/2Dzy9lM )
However, given this is a third party site — and one who we have experience of changing direction without discussion with their main customers — we’ll just have to sit back and wait for the drama to unfold.