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Could you survive without KDP?

by Nick Stephenson in Books and Writing

A short post this week, while I’m gearing up for a big launch later this month (more on that soon – it’s going to be pretty epic). I wanted to talk a little bit about diversification in this post, and what I’m doing to lessen my reliance on the KDP platform when it comes to selling books. In short, the ebook retailer options for authors can be summed up pretty easily:

  • Amazon is awesome. Most of the time. Unless you’re published with Hachette. 
  • Kobo is the most helpful retailer, like, ever.
  • iTunes moves in mysterious ways and take forever to do anything.
  • Smashwords is a formatting nightmare and difficult to use, but I like the community over there.
  • Nook is generally just awful to work with, especially when they forget to pay me.

More importantly, at least from my point of view, Amazon accounts for anywhere between 80% – 90% of my sales. Which is kinda worrying. Forgetting the political nonsense surrounding KDP Select and the horrors of exclusivity, and forgetting all those authors who continually tell you you should be on every platform possible (even if the only market served is a tiny island principality in the arctic sea), I think the easiest way to frame the issue is this:

If Amazon’s Kindle platform went belly up tomorrow, would you still be in business as a writer?

I’m guessing the answer is probably “no” for most of you. I know it is for me. Yes, I may have books out on multiple platforms, but if Kindle dries up, I’m pretty screwed either way. That is, until I figured out I could actually make money without using an ebook retailer in the first place. Here’s a few pretty graphs that will hopefully show you what I mean:


See how that “affiliate” income is growing each month? See how Nook + iTunes + Kobo account for a pretty small percentage? This is the main concern for me – I know being in KDP Select has its advantages when it comes to ease of promotion, but I also don’t want to give up the side-earners (especially Kobo) as I do think they can be grown over time. That’s why I have some books in KDP Select and some not – it’s hopefully the best of both worlds.

But I don’t think the non-Amazon retailers are ever likely to represent enough of a revenue stream by themselves to keep me entirely free of risk. That’s why I wanted to open up a new revenue stream – one that doesn’t rely on these retailers at all (and it pays instantly!). I’ve called it “affiliate” for the sake of accounting purposes, but it’s actually very little to do with Amazon’s Associate Program.

I’m going to be talking more about this in a couple of weeks, so check back soon. I hate to leave you hanging, but I’m gonna hold off on giving you the full skinny until I’ve got some more results to share with you. But I’m pretty psyched about the whole thing – it’s gonna be good. Remember to sign up for email notifications when the next post comes out – you’re not going to want to miss this!

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from anyone who’s selling on multiple platforms – what sort of sales split do you see? Those of you in KDP Select, are you happy with the exclusivity and the bonus extras that brings? Drop by and leave a comment – I want to hear from you!


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