Back in 2014, I wrote a blog post at the advent of Kindle Unlimited, the then-new program by Amazon. And I'll be honest: I was skeptical. I was skeptical about it. I didn't think it would work, but then again, it's Amazon. Bezos had struck gold with Kindle, and I must admit that lightning struck pretty hard with KU.
Suffice it to say, I balked. Even though I had trumpeted ebooks and Kindle in particular since 2010, I personally felt that I had no right to tell readers that they needed a Kindle or a Kindle app in order to read my books. Seriously, who was I to tell anyone who read ebooks how they should read them? I felt that if you had a Nook, a Kobo reader, or an iPad with Apple iBooks already downloaded, you had enough to read me.
How wrong I was!
Over the next few years, like Mark Coker had predicted, my sales and the sales of other authors not in KU started to slip, and slip hard. I went from 4,000-plus books sold in 2012 to 336 last year; shit, I only sold 193 in 2019. I really didn't understand it: I had all these new books, from Travel Agent to Scouring Agent and the Ricky Madison books, books with even better writing than books like Model Agent and Rogue Agent that sold really, really well, and I couldn't get a sniff of a sale, or reach the numbers that I once had before KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited entered the fray. Are readers by-passing my books because they aren't in KU? Quite
possible; I've never received a single piece of email telling me to get
into KU or else, though. But even though I had plenty of evidence to the contrary, I steadfastly -- read: stubbornly -- refused to go narrow... until as late as December 2020, when I considered putting Incoming Private Show into KU.
That refusal has come to an end.
As of this morning, I have started the process of de-listing all of my books on Nook, Kobo, iBooks, and all the small ebook sites. While I'm sure that Kobo, Nook, and iBooks will be instantaneous, it will take a while for Hoopla and OverDrive, etc, to de-list me and take me off their sites. Once that happens...
Once that happens, I can put all 30-something of my books and short stories into KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited.
As I've said before, I crave the success that my friends have. And when I look at the stats they post in certain Facebook groups, all from KU, and I see the amount of money they are making -- life-changing money -- and the amount of books they are pushing out the door, it makes me wonder why I can't get that.
But alas, I can get that. I can get that by succumbing to KU and finally embracing all it does for authors. My writing skills are superior to what they were. I'm doing everything right, and yet I feel that I'm losing because I'm not selling, because I'm not in KU. As a wide author, I'm not making enough to make fiction writing a full-time profession any longer, I'm not making enough from it to put food on the table, to pay my mortgage, to pay my bills; I've scaled back since 2017, and my hope is that I can make enough through my fiction by going narrow with KU to grow my audience and get back to a full-time status.
Time to do just that. Hopefully lightning will strike for me like it has so many others.
KU, here I come. See you there.