There are a few things happening here. The Omnibus Edition of My Wildest Fantasy containing all 8 installments is now available. The paperback version is almost ready to go. I’m just waiting on a cover to finish it up.
Obsessed is going to be reworked. I had initially intended it to be another 8 part serial like MWF, but I’ve changed my mind. Instead it will be a 4 part serial with substantially longer installments. There will still be steamy, sweaty sex, but so many people seemed to like the relationship between Callie and Blake in MWF that I decided I wanted to focus more on that aspect of the story in Obsessed. I’ll be re-releasing it in the longer format as a romance priced at 99 cents, rather than as erotica priced at $2.99. That ought to make a lot of people happy.
Now for the part that’s not going to make a lot of people happy – I’ve pulled both series from all the distributors except Amazon, and enrolled them in Amazon’s Select/Kindle Unlimited program. While I prefer to publish my works everywhere and give them as broad a distribution as possible, this has become less tenable in the last few months because of actions taken by the other distributors.
Google and Kobo have both taken steps to minimize the effectiveness of free books. Most of you probably found me in the first place because of my free titles, so you can imagine the effect that has had on my sales on both of those outlets. The stupid thing is that both distributors know it as well – Kobo actually used to actively promote free books that were the first in a series back when they were first courting indie writers. In addition, Google appears to be doing the same kind of suppression to paid indie books in both the browse categories and search. My sales on Google Play have declined 75% from their high, and Kobo is down 66% from theirs.
Barnes and Noble’s market share is eroding month by month, largely due to their own incompetence and short-sightedness. Their customers know that they have been actively trying to unload their ereader onto another company, and who wants to buy a Nook and a bunch of books tied to that platform when you have no idea if the company is even going to support it in a year or two? So my sales on B&N have been steadily dropping despite new releases and adding in my entire Olivia Blake catalog over the last few months.
iTunes? No one seems to know how to make money on ebooks there. For some unknown reason my Olivia Blake books shot to the moon there in May. I was selling almost as much as on Amazon. And then on May 30th it stopped, literally shut down overnight. I was getting over 50 free downloads of Winter’s Heat every single day in May. After May 30th I was getting 4 – 5 a week. Needless to say, sales went straight to zero. As for my Kelli Wolfe books… *sigh* Apple recently yanked a large number of my books from iTunes and forced me to remove the catalog in the back which lists all of my books. No reason was given, and the fact that all of the books listed were available in the iTunes store was apparently irrelevant. Then they decided that I couldn’t so much as include a link in the back to my publisher website which has all my books listed. As you can imagine, that led to a steep sales decline.
Kobo and iTunes have also begun blocking books as “pseudo-incest” even when there is no relationship between the main characters. Best friend’s dad/dad’s best friend stories are now apparently fair game, even though this is a popular, perfectly acceptable trope in romance. Spring Break with My Dad’s Best Friend (which is one of my favorite stories I’ve written) and Stealing Dad’s Best Friend were both delisted from iTunes in 2015 because they decided to reinterpret what pseudo-incest meant. Stealing had been published there since 2011. The My Wildest Fantasy series was blocked from publication on iTunes for the same thing until the staff at Draft2Digital went to bat for me and finally got it pushed through. Kobo decided to retroactively yank the series for the same reason, after it had already been published there for over a year. And of course there’s no arguing about the silliness of any of this, because the content review teams don’t give a damn about what the content policies actually are. They simply block things because they personally find them distasteful, and then make up some kind of justification for it. This kind of arbitrary nonsense has cost me quite literally weeks of time and cost me the income from one of my top selling series on two platforms.
I’ll give you one guess as to where my sales are actually increasing.
Sales on my Kelli Wolfe catalog on Amazon are up 50% from January. Every single other outlet has seen a 20-50% decline over that same period.
Sales on my Olivia Blake catalog on Amazon are up 1000% since January. Yes, that’s right. Olivia Blake is selling 10 times as much on Amazon now as in January. As of now, my Olivia Blake sales on Amazon make up 1/3 of my total writing income. My Olivia Blake sales across all of the other distributors put together don’t add up to even 10% of that.
So, from a business perspective – and this is a business, I haven’t had a day job for over a year – this is a no-brainer. You go where the money is. You go where the readers are. You put your main effort into the one company that actually seems interested in placing your books in front of those readers. The companies that seem bent on making it as hard as possible to succeed on their platforms get whatever is left over. That means I need to shift my focus to Amazon, which means putting as much as I can into Kindle Unlimited. And if you think I’m the only writer considering this move, think again.
I did a trial run of this already, pulling down Cinderella and my six stepbrother romances and enrolling them in Select. They’ve all made significantly more money in KU than they made when they were published everywhere else. Seeing the precipitous dip my sales took with all the other distributors in June while Amazon continued to rise was the last straw. Between now and Christmas I’m going to be pulling more of my older titles down and enrolling them in Select, and all of my new releases are going into Select right off the bat. They’ll stay in at least 90 days. If they continue to do well, they’ll stay in forever. I’ve got 5 years of sales data that give me a pretty good indication of how much money a title can make published outside of Amazon. If I think a book can make more by keeping it exclusive to Amazon, I’ll do that.
To my readers on the other platforms, I’m sorry. I really am. I published everywhere when I started in 2011, and I’ve been one of the loudest opponents of Select and Kindle Unlimited since Amazon rolled them out. I’m really not a huge fan of Amazon or the way that they treat authors. But for the last five years I’ve waited and hoped that the other guys would get their act together and make even a minimal effort to improve their ebook sales businesses, and it’s just not happening. If anything, they’re going in the opposite direction and making things worse. Eventually most of my books will probably make it to wherever you are, but I’m not even going to pretend to offer timelines on that any longer.
The only way to change that is for you, the reader, to start screaming at the companies that control the platforms you buy books from. They don’t listen to the writers, but they might listen to you. Insist that they make it easier for you to find the books that you want to read. Tell them you want more book categories to make browsing easier, and searches that actually work when you try to find “historical urban fantasy vampire.” Tell them that you don’t want indie books pushed to the back of the search results in favor of more expensive traditionally published books. Tell them that their job is to help you find the books that *you* want to buy, not the books that *they* want you to buy.
And if that doesn’t work, well, there’s always Amazon.