The Elements series is officially out of KDP Select, to which I can only say a loud, heartfelt THANK GOD.
After a couple years of slow output on my end, the sales of the Elements books had plateaued a bit, so I decided it was time to shake things up. A fellow writer swore up and down that Kindle Unlimited was a godsend for a series that had begun to stagnate, so I shrugged, said what the hell, and gave it a try. It was only three months of being exclusive to Amazon. Ninety days in which KU subscribers could discover the series and read it for free, all while I was paid for every swiped page. It couldn’t hurt, right?
I’m pleased to report that it did not work. No, that’s not a typo. While I would have been perfectly happy to spend the last three months rolling in money, I always felt a bit squicky about the whole thing. I have very Strong Feelings about encouraging Amazon’s dominance of the ebook market. Mainly, that no one should encourage it. I felt guilty enough when I abandoned my Nook for the superior Kindle.
The three-month experiment wasn’t a failure. I picked up some new readers. The money was okay, but I was actually making more per month on Amazon before I went Select (those fractions of cents per page read take a damn long time to add up). And now that I’m out again, I’ve noticed no decrease, either. I suspect the results would have been better if I’d done lots of promo aimed at KU readers, but that wasn’t where I wanted to spend my time and energy.
And while I was in KU, I lost traction at the other vendors. I’m not starting at the bottom, but I’m not picking up where I left off, either. It will even out eventually, but damn is it a pain in the ass right now. It turns out I may have to do promo, after all. Cue world-weary sighs.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about publishing–and it may be the only thing–it’s that there is no one way to do this. It changes not just with every writer, but with every genre, every series, every year. KDP Select has been great for some writers. It was recommended to me by a romance writer who throws her backlist into KU every few months and usually gets results. Her way wasn’t my way. (And really, if all writers/creatives/humans just tattooed themselves with that variation of that phrase, we could save a lot of time.) KU wasn’t my way, and I’m rather relieved about this. Now I can move on to the next strategy.
Spoiler! I’ve already chosen the strategy: I’m going to publish the (final!) Elements book this year.