Decisions, Decisions

posted in: Various Musings | 37

My friends, what a journey this has been!  Next month—in April—I will have been publishing as an indie for three years.  It is a decision I have never regretted.  Not once.  I am doing what I’ve always wanted to do—create worlds out of words…and be read.

But I have had a different and tough decision to make this past week, so I want to give you some background, and then I’m going to tell you my decision and why I made it.  Let me first tell you that most publishing decisions I make are reader oriented.  That is why, for example, I don’t intend to charge more than $2.99 for my books…ever.

In February 2013, I published Bullet, the book that made me an Amazon bestseller.  I was in the top 100 Kindle books for five days.  That was when I finally saw that maybe, someday, I could retire from a job I have despised for a very long time so that I could focus on something I love with all my soul.  In fact, Bullet did so well that I (perhaps prematurely) quit my second job, the one as an adjunct professor at the local community college.  Yes, until that point in my life, I had worked two (and sometimes four) jobs at a time to support my family.  So I’m sure you can imagine the hope in my heart.  And I will tell you this as well—if I could have sales consistently like I did with Bullet (and even with Rock Bottom), I could quit the day job.

However, since that time, I have seen sales steadily decline, and I keep analyzing (and perhaps overanalyzing) the reasons why.  I’ve tried different things as well, because my thought was this­—I have more readers now than I did then, so doesn’t it make sense that they would continue reading my work?  Oh, I have no idea, and I’m done analyzing it.  I’d rather spend my valuable time writing, not overthinking things.  But I’ve spent time doing that because the numbers I’m seeing don’t make sense.  I have dozens of theories as well, but they’re not worth my time.  My time is best spent…you guessed it–writing!

A couple of weeks ago, I got the coolest email.  It was from KDP.  For those of you who don’t know what that is, the letters stand for Kindle Direct Publishing.  I opened it, thinking it was an automated message, because I get them once in a while, but it was from a real person, and she and I made arrangements to talk the next week.  So…I talked last week with from this woman from Kindle.  It was a fantastic conversation, and she answered some of my burning questions, while I told her about my experiences as an author, especially with Amazon.  If you don’t want to read about that part of our conversation, feel free to skip ahead four paragraphs.  Otherwise, here goes.

I have been writing for most of my life and have, over the years, experienced a modicum of success publishing poetry, short stories, academic pieces, and journalism (under another name).  The novel, though…that blasted animal had eluded me.  I’d gotten some encouraging letters from editors, ones that said I had a “strong writing voice” or that my work wasn’t “quite” for them, but even with those nice rejections, they were still that—rejections.   The sh*tty part about traditional publishing is that you not only have to write your book and make it as perfect as possible, you also have to write a synopsis (and I’m not talking a little blurb on the back of the book—synopses sent to editors are often three or more pages long) and a query letter, and then your manuscript will sit on the editor’s desk (or in their inbox) for months.  Sometimes you have to send a submission to that editor exclusively before you can pitch it to another.  And it comes down to what you saw me complaining about before—I just want to write!  I don’t want to spend agonizing days or weeks getting a pitch ready for a publisher or agent when all I want to do is write a story.

Anyway…someone very close to me had success.  Finally, after all her years of submitting, she got picked up by a publisher.  She was going to be traditionally published!  Of all the people I knew personally who deserved that chance, it was my friend.  I was so excited for her.  A couple of months after that announcement, she told me about Amanda Hocking (I’m sure you’ve heard of her; if you haven’t, Google her.  She is one of the first indie authors to have HUGE success).  I did my own research and discovered Kindle and haven’t looked back.  Yes, until that point, I knew all about ebooks but had never bought my own.  Well, after reading about Hocking’s success story, I invested in several ebooks and researched the hell out of indie publishing.  I’d already written Tangled Web and had four of my close friends beta read it for me.  Once I (kind of) knew the ropes, I designed my own cover, formatted my own book, and clicked Publish.  I continued to learn and grow, but I’m a fast learner.  Soon, I was publishing lots of books.  A couple of months later, I did more research and found Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.  But you know what?

I kept writing.

I kept learning too, because there was a lot to learn, but I’d say by fall 2012 I was pretty much in my element.  I knew the ropes and it was just a matter of writing.  I didn’t do too much marketing.  I interacted with my readers on Facebook and Twitter, but I didn’t pimp myself out in groups or anywhere I didn’t feel I wasn’t wanted.  I still don’t, by the way.  By this point in the game, I had published about fifteen books.

Anyway, without giving you way too much history (too late, right?), I discovered what worked and what didn’t.  I became very familiar with the different platforms I was utilizing to publish my books.

And one of those companies was far and above a clear winner as far as sales go.  Far and above.

So, this is what I was telling the lovely (and I mean that sincerely) KDP lady over the phone.  Sure, KDP had its issues, but it was a fairly easy platform to use and I was often able to find the answers I needed quickly when I wasn’t sure about something.  Representatives were usually responsive to questions.  I’m no techie either, but I found the platform easy to maneuver and understand.

But there’s more to it than that…there’s an ugly truth that some folks may not want to hear.  But I’ll get to that in a moment.

Let me start by saying that Amazon has been very good to me.  My sales on Amazon far outweigh sales I get from any other venue.  Without naming names, let me just say that Amazon accounts for over ninety percent of my sales.  The second highest venue is around nine percent and the final is about one percent.  I’m not including print books because I don’t sell enough of them each month for those sales to matter.  I am strictly speaking about ebooks.

So my KDP rep asked me if I would consider going exclusive with Amazon again.  First, I told her why I didn’t.  And what was cool?  I was able to be completely honest with her.  I told her I didn’t like how Amazon made it that an author can only utilize certain features—like sales or offering free books or having her books in the Kindle Lending Library—if she has committed to exclusively offering her book on Amazon for a minimum of three months.  I chose in August of 2012 to not ostracize my Nook readers and I didn’t feel like any additional sales I made through the perks Amazon offered would make up for that.

Fast forward to last week.  My KDP rep and I had a long, heartfelt conversation about my future.  Remember earlier in this post where I told you that further success has eluded me, that it seems that no matter what I try, sales keep slipping?  Folks, I don’t want or need to be rich.  I don’t.  But I do want to retire from my godd*mn soul-sucking day job.  I see the potential in my writing to do that and, as I said earlier, if I could sell a book like Bullet or even Rock Bottom, something that successful?  I could do it.  And guess what?  I offered both books the same way—one week introductory priced at $1.99, followed by the capped price of $2.99.  I didn’t have to be greedy to make money.  I want my readers to be happy and I don’t want to break their banks.  And that’s why my next paragraph pains me a little, but I wanted you to know the whole back story.

My KDP friend made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.  I don’t feel like I can share the details, because it was just between her and me, but if I offer my next book (Be Careful What You Wish For) exclusively with Amazon for three or more months, she has promised that they will make it worth my while.  She told me (and I trust and believe her) that they can help me push to that next tier, get my book in the hands of readers who are new to me.  Yes, I want to keep all of you, my faithful readers, happy, but I will never get to retire from that sh*tty job if I don’t get new readers as well.  So I am going to trust her.  My next book will be exclusive to Amazon for three months.  I have agonized over this decision, because I tend to put you, my readers, first when I make decisions, and here’s what ultimately helped me make the final decision—even Nook and other pad readers can download a Kindle app onto their computers or phones or other devices, and that app costs nothing.  I know, because I used the apps when I first started publishing.  I have a Kindle app on everything I can put one on.  Please know that this was a difficult decision to make because I had to weigh all of you (okay, not all of you, because most of you use Kindles, but some of you!) against my desire to write full time.  So, I guess, if you love my writing, the decision will help you in the long run as well.  But I have to put my faith in Amazon.  Over this three-year journey, they have not let me down yet.  Not once.  Their customer service—both as an author and as a reader—has been consistently stellar and that they reached out to me says it all.  Thanks to that conversation, I now have my first Amazon pre-order (Fake—Nicki Sosebee), and I predict that many other good things are coming.

Please know that this decision has weighed heavily on my mind for the past week, and it is one that I have not made lightly.  That is why I felt the need to share it with you.  Also know that the rebel in me wanted to reject it outright, but when I took a long, hard look at it and weighed the pros and cons, I had to ultimately make this decision.  Now time will tell if I made the right one, but I wanted to explain it to you now—before I make that actual step—because I want you to know why I made that decision. 

Peace, love, and ROCK ON!!!  ~Jade

37 Responses

  1. Thank you for letting us know. As a Kobo user I’m not at all concerned. As you mentioned, I have the Kindle app on my phone and on my Kobo and I use it just as much as my Kobo app. I hope you can quit the “day” job sooner rather than later. You deserve it!!!

  2. I’m behind you 100%! =)

    • Thanks, Nancy. It was a tough decision. 🙂 I appreciate your support.

  3. Congrats! Since reading Bullet, the first book I read of yours’, I have been a fan. It led me to buy and read every book that I could find that you have written. I love your writing style and tell everyone I know about you and your books. I am so happy for you, please keep writing and I will keep spreading the word about Jade C Jamison. So Happy for you again.

  4. I have no complaints. The way I see it, if you quit your day job we will probably get more books from you 🙂

  5. I’ll follow you anywhere, Princess! A great decision and one that hopefully works for you. Congrats on the pre-order too. <3

    • Thank you, Kelly!!! Much love, Princess. Yes, that was exciting and so many other cool things to come!!! I can’t wait!

  6. Elizabeth

    Woooooo Princess! We luv you!! especially the fact that you care soooo much about your readers!! If this is a step in the right direction for you then of course we are all happy for you!!! Kindle apps are free for everything… Sooo…. All is well in book fantasy land!! Xoxo

    • That was what I thought too! Thanks for your support, lovely Princess!

  7. You’re awesome Jade, and we all respect your honesty and integrity. But, if there’s anyone who deserves to be rich, it’s you sister! At the very least, I hope the day job goes bye, bye. 🙂

  8. Congrats to you Jade!! I stand behind whatever you decide to do and I understand that this is the big decision for you as a writer. You are a very talented writer and I know there are only good things in store for you and for us as your readers! Besides, quitting your day job will allow you even more time to write 🙂

  9. Linsey Taylor

    Go for it! You deserve the success, and if Amazon helps in any way to get your books to a wider audience, then that’s great news!

  10. Haven’t read any of your books. As I going through the postings from different authors, when you mentioned having trouble with FB I stopped to see what was going on. I have been following several authors who are also having problems with FB. I read your Decision blog (all of it) and when you said that you were keeping your books cheap (less expensive, being more pc) I decided that you might be just what I was looking for. On social security and I read a lot books–so I looked at your books and decided to try GOT A LIFE. The description sounded like something I would enjoy so it will be my next book. I started with a Nook Color, but B&N stopped making them and other things were said that led me to believe that I should branch out. I bought a Kindle Fire for my Christmas present to myself and have been enjoying the free books as I found authors (new to me) I liked. Thanks for thinking about us and I hope you will be able to say ” See ya” to your job very soon. Good luck.

    • Thank you, Barbara! I hope you enjoy Nicki. I know what it’s like to be a reader too, but I also know that I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for awesome readers, so I always try to keep them in mind!

  11. Diana Brenneman

    I resigned up. Also, I love amazon. That is where I get my ebooks

  12. Like you said, the kindle app is free for everything, so those who don’t want to wait the 3 months can still get it on release. You have to do what is right for you!

    • Thanks, Janeane, and that fact is what made the decision a little easier to make!

  13. I have a samsung tablet 2. I got it knowing zero about e-readers. To read a Lori Foster book she only did in e-book form. I was able to get library app. So didn’t open kindle right away. But love it. I also have others. But I find kindle app way cheaper.And if you don’t have a lot of money. To spend on books. It gives you a lot of books. For that money. So I completely understand why you would do this just makes sense

    • Thanks, Jessica! The support I’m getting for this decision is amazing! 🙂

  14. Kim Box Person

    Jade,

    I just know this had to be very hard for you but I believe this is going to work wonderfully for you! I can’t wait for new readers to discover your amazing talent!!! You’re books where one of the first Rock Star Romance I read way back when! I can honestly say you’re one of the few authors I know who truly puts the reader FIRST!!! I’m so excited for more amazing reads from you and I can’t wait for the day you announce that writing is your only career! I will always support you!!!

    • Thanks, Kim!!! It was a hard decision to make, but I hope it pays off. And I do hope to make that my only career soon!!! 🙂

  15. Jennifer Brantley

    That so amazing Jade! I’ve had your back since day one and I will forever. Love you lots!

  16. I honestly regret ever getting a nook. Now that I have a kindle again I love it. Most deals happened on Amazon only.

    The kindle app is great.

    I ain’t mad atcha!

  17. More power to you! You go girl. Congrats and best of luck. I hope you get to retire from your day job soon and start writing full time.

  18. Hi Jade, I’m a new reader/fan and just happen to have a Kindle. I’m retired now and I want everyone to have this same opportunity. I understand even though you’re doing something you love, it’s still a business and you need to take care of yourself. I will never fault anyone for doing that. Good Luck with Amazon and I hope you can cut back to just writing.

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