(Proper post later)
I am, as you will know, about to put out a short mystery novel, The Basilisk Murders — it should be out early next week, and it’s the first in a series of three featuring the same protagonist (the other two will be out over the next few months — they’re both in various stages of work).
Now, normally, I make my books available on every platform, but I am *debating* with myself as to whether to make this book only available digitally on Amazon, at least for three months (I would of course still email Patreon backers their free copies).
The reason I’m debating is simple — my fiction doesn’t sell. At all. I’ve made about four hundred quid this month from ebook sales of my non-fiction, and probably another fifty from physical book sales (I won’t know exact numbers for a little while, as different online shops take different times to report, but it’s about that). I’ve made under a tenner from sales of my fiction titles.
Now, there are various reasons for that, but I think a *big* one is that *sales* of independent fiction by less-known authors have been almost completely cannibalised by Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited programme, which allows Prime members to read books for free and pays the authors anyway. Now, I think this programme is *utterly evil*, for a variety of reasons, but sadly this seems now to be the primary — and in many cases sole — way that independent novelists are making their money. Especially in mystery and romance, it seems that people have almost entirely moved over to the Kindle Unlimited service (or the similar Kindle Owners’ Lending Library)
So I’m *considering* balancing my ethical qualms against my desire to actually get paid for something that took a great deal of work for me. The main problem as far as readers are concerned, though, is that getting on Kindle Unlimited requires exclusivity — I would not be able to sell the ebook through any channel other than Amazon for three months. (The upside for readers would be that any of you with Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited would be able to read the book legally for free while still getting me money — quite possibly as much money as if you’d bought a copy). Anyone who buys physical books, or who buys Kindle ebooks, would still pay the same and so would be unaffected. (And the books would still be DRM-free, so you could buy the book from Amazon, download the file, and convert it to an epub easily enough).
After that three months I would, of course, make the ebook more widely available. My question is whether anyone (who wouldn’t be getting a free copy from Patreon) was actually planning to buy this book from a non-Kindle ebook store. I seriously dislike participating in a fairly disgusting monopolistic practice, but am more inclined to do so if it doesn’t directly harm a reader.
I should note as well that this will not ever apply to my non-fiction. Those books sell enough, and through a diverse enough set of channels, that my ethical and financial goals align perfectly there. But what I do with my fiction is very much up in the air.