Earlier this year I mentioned Bibliocracy, a small ebook retailer, in passing when adding multiple sales links to increase ebook sales. After I submitted three ebooks for sale, the submission page shut down. I periodically checked to see if the submission page re-opened (nada) and any sales were made (nada). An email arrived yesterday that ebook retailer has closed for business to transform itself into a social media darling called Bibliocracy Nation.
That saves me the trouble of sending a withdrawal notice for my ebooks.
After I halted my ebook publication for another summer break, I made a series of decisions to simplify my life as a writer and ebook publisher. One of those decisions was to withdraw from smaller ebook retailers like Bibliocracy and eBookPlus, especially if they can’t carry my entire ebook catalog, and focus on publishing ebooks for the big three: Amazon, Scribd and Smashwords.
As much as I want to see my ebooks break into new markets, I don’t want to deal with the hassle that comes from formatting the ebooks for each particular market. With my catalog at 50 titles this year, adding another 25 titles next year and perhaps 25 titles every year after that, I need to streamline this process as much as possible.
Focusing the top three ebook retailers has advantages and disadvantages.
Since Amazon introduced their exclusive KDP Select program in 2011, sales for all indie authors have fallen off the cliff. Those who left other ebook retailers to join Amazon at the hip are hurting the most by relying on a single shrinking income stream. Whereas Amazon was 20% of my sales for the last few years, it’s 10% or less this year. If Amazon sales keep sliding into the abyss, I may abandon the world’s largest market by the end of 2014.
Making money on Scribd remains something of a mystery. I never had a direct sale in the three years that I published my ebooks there. That may change with the new “all you can read” subscription plan. The reading engagement time on my ebooks have gone up across my available titles (the remainder of my catalog will become available next month), suggesting I might have an audience on Scribd. But… I’m still waiting to see the money. If that doesn’t change by the end of 2014, I’ll abandon this market as well.
Besides being 90% of my sales, Smashwords ranked as the number one producer of indie ebooks, continues to expand into new third-party markets (i.e., the Oyster subscription service and Flipkart in India) and added new features (i.e., author interviews, pre-order distribution and series manager). If Smashwords ever has a third-party distribution agreement with Amazon and Scribd, that would streamline my process significantly.
If I do return to smaller ebook retailers, it’ll be after I published my first 80,000-word short story collection next year. A single full-length ebook will sell better than a flood of short ebooks in a smaller market.