Monday, March 24, 2014

Finding Traction in Other Markets

Good Morning. I've been watching my sales figures since the day I first published (Sept. 28, 2011). I have spreadsheets galore, tracked sales numbers incessantly, checked my stats two, three, four times a day. Yes, I am somewhat OCD about this. (I wish I could say the same for housework, but that's another post.)

I found my footing at Amazon back in the hey-day when indie/self-published authors were given the same algorithms that every one else had. If more than 10 people bought your book on any given day, you shot up in the ranks, and if you made it into the top 100, you were SEEN and BOUGHT and all was glorious in your little world.

I'd also published on Smashwords, not wanting to limit myself to only Amazon. Once I figured out how to format properly, it was just a matter of uploading. However, back then, they weren't a major player. Smashwords was considered an upstart and would fail within the year. (HA!)

Then in February of 2013 all that changed. Amazon changed its algorithms, pushed the indies out and concentrated on the BIG 5 books. I had just released THE EARL'S ENGAGEMENT and watched it go from #19 on its debut to #3,798 in a matter of days. I was crushed, floored, and had no idea why. Then I read a blog where an insider told us all that the Mighty Zon was pushing us indies out. We had done our duty to the megalith by giving them cheap books to fill the coffers of their e-readers thus giving them the monopoly on e-reading.

Okay. Well, it's business. People ranted and raved how unfair it all was, how the Zon was going to destroy publishing, destroy indies, destroy the universe. I got over it. It's business. Jeff can run his business any way he sees fit. He's a smart man, did what he had to do, and is now a multi-billionaire. Good for him I say. He had a clear vision of his company and knows how to make his machine work.

On the other hand, I am a smart woman. This new e-publishing thing has a long tail. We've all heard that at one time or another. What you publish today may not find readers for two years, or ten years. What you publish today is just the beginning of, hopefully, a long and fruitful career.

When Amazon changed its algorithms, I changed my tactics. I had also published on Smashwords and gotten into Barnes & Noble through them. However, I wanted more control over my books. (Not that Mark Coker isn't as brilliant as Jeff Bezos -- more so I think because Mark gives us more venues to publish with, more international stores, more of pretty much everything us indies need -- and if you're not publishing on Smashwords, well, you're losing out). However, I opted out of B&N through Smashwords and published through B&N PubIt!

Sometime late last year, PubIt! went through a restructuring and became Nook Press. Same store, only better. They built a model for uploading, with the added bonus of being able to correct mistakes in your book right there on the page -- instead of fixing the ms. uploading through various epub machines, and then reviewing everything all over again and waiting the required 48-72 hours for the book to publish. I just used this feature the other day when I found the last (I hope) mistake in the Captain's Coincidence. I went to the page, fixed the mistake, and voila, the book was reviewed in less than an hour and the new version uploaded. No fuss, no muss, and I sold a copy the same day.

Nook Press has also just expanded its market share and gone global. Not only are they selling in the UK, but now they have stores in France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, and Belgium. (I've always wanted to go to Belgium.) The outlook for this expansion is phenomenal. I've been reading about Barnes and Noble's imminent demise for years, but this expansion shows they're not going anywhere.

In thinking about all this, and looking at my numbers for the last few months, I've found that I've sold just as many books on Nook, as I have on Amazon. (US only). On some days, quite a few more. I don't know if they have algorithms. I don't know if they feature new books on their website or flash "new releases" in front of your face. (I've never bothered to actually go to the Nook Store and look.) I don't really care. All I know is the margin between both stores is closing in. And that, my friends is the name of the game.

The way I look at it is, if I can't keep my traction at Amazon, then I need to find someplace else to get it. This is business. Kobo is going through another major restructuring with the takeover of Sony. (I am installed over there, but haven't published through them as yet.) Apple is great if you can get through the Mac hoops to publish. Smashwords is a great aggregator for other markets, (Apple itunes and Kobo, not to mention B&N, FlipKart, Oyster, and Scribd, and I think six more) and they have a nifty gadget on their dashboard that tells me how many times my 15% sneak peek has been downloaded.

Therefore, for me, Nook is the up and coming place to be. I remember the Barnes and Noble store at the mall when I was a kid. I'd go through the stacks, wishing and hoping someday I'd be published. Okay, fast forward 30 years, and there I am. Yes, I understand it's only virtual reality, but hey, if it pays my electric bill, I'll take it.

Tell me -- Do you publish through other companies or are you only at Amazon? And if you are, why? Do any of you keep track of your sales figures or do you just not care as long as the money flows in?

I have not been endorsed by any company. This is strictly business opinion/observation. .

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014


Liza said...

You always teach me things! :)

Donna Hosie said...

I stopped checking rankings the moment the algorithm changed and realised the sale of 15 books to one mass distributor caused my sales ranking to drop! I don't understand the working and so I don't try. I have a monthly target which increases every year and I'm hitting it. Right now I'm happy to stay with Amazon.

Em-Musing said...

I haven't pub'd yet so I can't really comment, but self publishing seems even scarier now. You sure do know your algorithms. I'm impressed. And intimidated.

R. Mac Wheeler said...

(just a note to say I was got nuttin to add *smile*) ...oh...I'm just focusing on B&N and Amazon.

Anne Gallagher said...

Liza -- Yes, I may, but I still don't really know what I'm talking about half the time.

Donna -- Yeah, that algorithm killed me. Good for you and your target, that's great. I never thought about one before because I just only want to stay above water. If I think about sales too much I start to sink.

Bish Denham said...

I'm going to have to seriously look into B&N.

notesfromnadir said...

Good post about all the changes at Amazon over the past 2 years.

I also publish ebooks here: