Wow. This has been one of the most difficult business decisions I’ve made yet.
If you’re a reader who prefers to read on Apple Books, Kobo, Nook, Google Play, or Christian Book Distributors, please accept my apologies. The decision to remove all my titles from those stores and go “all in” with Amazon Kindle was not taken lightly. I have considered and prayed over this for nearly a year, first making the decision to release the Montana Ranches Christian Romance series directly into Kindle Unlimited. These are the only books of mine that have never been for sale on the other stores.
When the Arcadia Valley Romance author group separated in January — as we’d planned to do from the beginning! — it was right on the heels of the second cowboy romance’s release. It was doing pretty well in KU (as well as I could expect from a non-Christmas book released in December) so I thought I’d move the newly unlinked Garden Grown Romances into KU as well, so readers would have something besides the two cowboy stories to read. This four-book series found more readers in three months than it had in the previous two years.
In May, I analyzed my remaining four series. The Riverbend Romances, five novellas released in 2015, were selling quite poorly everywhere. I had nothing to lose moving them into KU. And, since it was the off-season for Christmas romances, I decided to try the Christmas in Montana series as well.
Evidence mounted all of 2019 that the move was a good one financially. I’m not sure whether it’s the Canadian in me, the Christian in me, or what it is, but I feel like I should apologize for wanting… needing… to make a living with my writing. It feels mercenary somehow, and yet, don’t we all have bills to pay? Don’t we all expect to get paid for the work we do? In 2016, 2017, and on into 2018, I was struggling with my health at the same time the independent publishing market was drastically changing. Yes, I continued to write stories and publish them, but dealing with the business side, the marketing side, the selling side fell by the wayside.
I couldn’t keep doing that. I was spending too much time and money writing and publishing (paying for covers, editing, etc) for too little pay. I’m thankful my boss didn’t fire me! 😉 But as I prayed over the situation and deliberated over the repercussions, it became clear to me that I was only delaying the inevitable. It was time to quit dragging my heels and just do what I’d been resisting for so long… enter everything into Kindle Unlimited.
If you’re a reader, you may not know that for books to be in KU, Amazon requires exclusivity. Independent authors aren’t allowed to sell their books on other ebook platforms while enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. It’s an either-or proposition. For five years, I’ve been a staunch advocate of “wide,” meaning casting a wide net to all distributors. I was “in it for the long haul” and determined to increase my market share on the other sites. And I did that. When I made the decision to pull back, I was earning about 40% of my income from the other stores. Why then would I cut that off? Because the over-all pot had shrunk considerably on all stores. I couldn’t market effectively anywhere, and the entire stream was close to drying up.
And so, here we are. At the end of June, I removed the Farm Fresh Romances and Urban Farm Fresh Romances from all the other retailers and enrolled them in Kindle Unlimited. That’s thirty titles, total, and five series bundles — soon to be seven, as I plan to release two more soon (Urban Farm Fresh 1-3 and Montana Ranches 1-3).
Things can change. In a year or two, I might reopen my storefront on other platforms, but at this time, I’m not planning on it. It will take all the spare time/money I can muster to keep abreast of what’s happening on one platform for now.
Has it been worth it? Yes, it has. I’m able again to contribute to household needs and to justify the many hours a week I spend writing and marketing. I hope and pray my stories will continue to find new readers.
I’m excited to contemplate new series to begin when Montana Ranches and Urban Farm Fresh are complete — don’t worry, I’m committed to following through on those before getting lured into something new. Meanwhile, thanks for reading and for understanding… or, at least, trying to.