An experiment and an apology

It’s now a little over six weeks since The Unbound Man was released. My original plan for distribution was to simply make the book available as widely as possible — ebook and print, Amazon and everywhere else. After all, the more channels a book is available in, the better the sales. Right?

Well, maybe. I’ve had a handful of Nook sales, and a few from iBooks. I’ve had no sales at all on Kobo. And now, with the initial excitement of the release fading, it’s time to take a step back and look at what other options there might be.

I say options, plural, but there’s really just one big one: KDP Select, which opens the opportunity for inclusion in Kindle Unlimited (among other things), but which also means making the ebook edition exclusive to Amazon.

Yuck.

As a consumer, I hate retailer exclusivity. The idea that I can buy something only from one particular store just because of some deal cooked up between the retailer and the supplier leaves a bad taste in my mouth. When it happens to something I especially value — like, say, a book by a favourite author — I feel like my love for something is being used against me, to compel me to shop with that retailer even if, given the choice, I’d rather go somewhere else.

Like I said: yuck.

But the hard fact is that right now I’m nobody’s favourite author. And whatever the odds of that changing might be, they’re even more remote if hardly anyone comes across my book in the first place. I want to look out for my readers — but first I need some readers to look out for.

So, in the spirit of experimentation, I’m pulling the ebook edition of The Unbound Man from non-Amazon retailers and enrolling in KDP Select. I’m approaching it as a three-month trial period, to see what difference (if any) the promotional and other benefits make to sales and to general visibility. When the three months are up, I’ll assess the results and decide whether to sign up for another three months, or whether to end the experiment and republish the book on other distributors. The print editions will remain available in all outlets while this is going on — you’ll still be able to get paperbacks and hardcovers from online retailers like the Book Depository, and order them through your local bookstore.

I fully expect that before too long, quite possibly as early as three months from now, I’ll call an end to this exclusive arrangement. I don’t see myself staying with KDP Select in the medium to long term. I want to make my books as easy to find and to buy as possible, and that means wide, non-exclusive distribution. But in these early days, I have to find a balance between distribution and discoverability — and today, that means trying out KDP Select.

To anyone who shops for ebooks somewhere other than Amazon: my apologies. I hope to make The Unbound Man available on your preferred platform again soon. Until then, please bear with me as I give this different approach a shot.

And to anyone on Kindle Unlimited: look out for The Unbound Man to become available there in the next couple of days. I’d love for you to give it a try!

UPDATE (Jan 2015): I’ve decided to extend the experiment by another three months. Here’s why.

UPDATE 2 (Apr 2015): The experiment is now over. Here’s why.