There are two significant downsides to deciding to go it alone as an independent author. First, is getting discovered. Second, is getting someone who knows you exist to spend their money on your basically unknown book.
Now, let’s be honest here. The vast majority of people are lazy. The problem is that we always assume that means THEM and not US. But, before you pushed the button to publish your book, how much effort did you really put into it?
Did you spend money on a cover? More than $50? Did you have an editor look at it? I’m not even talking about someone who charges $0.25 per word. Even those low-cost student editors are better than nothing. What about beta readers? Critique groups? Writing forums? And when they ripped it apart (because they always do, if they are helping at all) did you ignore what they said? What draft is your book in? Did you write “the end” and toss it up for sale? Did you go through it once or twice? Have you edited that thing until you can’t stand looking at another gladiator – er, uh, sorry. Was that out loud?
Most of us will answer no to at least ONE of those questions, and there’s so many more I could add to it. For me, I don’t DO critique groups. That means people, and I’m freaked out enough by people. I’m a very happy hermit, thank you very much! I can get away with it, because I have a beta group made up of enough professionals that they WILL catch everything, and they understand that the meaner they are with the book, the more I adore them. Tell me “it’s great!” and I will never EVER send you another copy.
And so, of the “Published by Amazon Digital Services” books out there, so very many are, well, CRAP! Head hopping, verbs that can’t seem to agree on a tense, detail swaps throughout the story and more. From formatting issues to crappy covers, the entire package matters. There’s never one thing that a reader will “just forgive”. With that said, there’s always going to be at least one typo that makes it to print. Always. Even with traditionally published works.
So, as a reader, I’m a bit skeptical about paying real, hard-earned money for a book. Yeah, maybe it’s two bucks, but so is a damned good coffee. Often, the coffee will give me more enjoyment, since I quit after the tenth mistake. If that’s the second paragraph? Well, I’m pissed at the author, and you just lost a potential fan.
Now, that’s where Kindle Unlimited comes in. It’s a flat fee. You can have up to 10 “borrowed” books on your devices at any one time. Because Kindle syncs between reader applications (like phone, tablet, desktop, kindle reader, etc) you never lose your place. For just ten bucks per month, you can take as many risks as you want. Book lovers are much more likely to press the “read for free” button as a KU subscriber than they are to press the “buy with one click” button to bill their credit card.
And thus, we as authors get a free chance to make their must read list. We get a low-risk method to build our fan base. With most books priced at $2.99, it takes just four books to make it a better deal than buying outright. As an author, I get paid almost the same amount – more if you consider the comfort level of the buyers.
Oh, I heard the whining when KU changed from a flat rate to only paying for actual pages read, but is this really bad? If you’re writing short stories, then it takes LESS time than it does for a thicker book. It also encourages authors to write more complex novels. It drives the art of literature from both sides. What shocks me the most, is that someone is actually taking a chance (Amazon) and bringing more people to ebooks.
And before anyone starts sending me hate mail about how the previous version was better… Sorry, I simply do not agree. The crap that authors were almost forced to pump out, just to make a living wage was pathetic. Short, crappy, underdeveloped works that left a bad taste in my mouth and turned me to cinema over literature – and I HATE movies. Plus, if your readers are stopping about a quarter through the book, it kinda means YOU, the author, screwed it up and need to either fix it, unpublish the book, or learn to write before trying again. There’s no harm in failing, if and only if you can improve on your mistakes.
And so, I proudly have all of my books available on Kindle Unlimited. The only time one won’t be, is if I list it for perma-free (which I’m debating at the moment). I want to make it easy for people to find my stories, to enjoy them, and to feel like they’re getting their money’s worth. We all work hard for what we get, and I certainly do not expect my readers to throw those few bucks away haphazardly.