Written By: Jackie Weger - Mar• 16•15


Are all of your books in one basket?

Are all of your books in one basket?

You have heard since the early financial crashes in the 19th and 20th centuries, “Don’t put all of your eggs in a single basket. Diversify!”  New  indie authors are stepping up their game~diversifying, and publishing their books across Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes/iBooks, Smashwords, Kobo and Google Play.  If an indie author began publishing in 2009 and added books to his or her list and promoted those books to build a reader platform, those authors may or may not be seeing sales across all venues. When Amazon unveiled Kindle Unlimited last July, and indie authors saw royalties sink to China over the next few months, many began reevaluating Amazon Select and moved their books to all venues.  I did some hard evaluation too.  I have learned a few facts about sales across all venues.

  • You still have to promote a title to find readers.
  • Amazon out sells all other venues.

How do I know? A best-selling indie author shared sales figures with me. I can’t tell you the author name or the title.  I could only get the info if I promised anonymity. I did. The indie author uploaded a title to all venues mentioned above. The book is professionally edited, formatted and covered. It has above 50 reviews. The book was promoted at .99 for five days.  Here are the sales stats for five days:

  • Amazon ~ 1300
  • Kobo  ~ 12
  • Barnes & Noble ~ 8
  • iTunes/iBooks ~ 14
  • Google Play ~ 5

Because the title is not in Amazon Select those 1300 book sales came in at 35%. All other venues paid 70%.  In Amazon Select, authors may engage in a Kindle Countdown Deal, price a book at .99 and reap 70% royalty.  In Select, Authors can choose to put a title in a FREE promotion to expose a book to new readers.  If a title is on all sales venues, the author has to game the system to get a title FREE on Amazon. Once the book is priced FREE on all other venues, then the author engages others to alert Amazon the book is FREE elsewhere in hopes of forcing Amazon to put the title FREE. In some cases Amazon refuses to match prices. Frankly, I don’t want to jump through those hoops.  Seeing those actual figures, I decided to hang with Amazon Select.

Indie authors have to make up their own minds concerning sales venues.

BUT! You need the real facts and figures to make the right decision.  And those are hard to come by.  One Amazon/USA Today best selling author shared her Barnes & Noble experience with me.  She moved several books out of Select and it took over a year of steady promotion to see sales of 1000 books on Barnes & Noble. That totals to selling less than three books a day! Thus, if you have more than five to seven books, a decent promotion budget and the patience to steadily build a readership on other platforms, moving your titles out of Select might be the way to go.

IMO putting your books all in one basket is not a risk if the basket is sturdy. The skinny is this: No matter the sales venue, an indie book has to be promoted.  Established blended authors who have books traditionally published see those books on all sales venues because the publisher markets on those venues. That author may then publish an indie book and perhaps has enough name recognition and branding to sell across all venues. That is a wonderful plus. But most indie authors are not blended. We are straight indie. Small online ebook publishers seldom promote a book beyond its own site. That is it. I have several books with a small online publisher and that publisher has not spent so much as five cents to promote my titles across all the sales venues on which it uploads its books. Those titles are sucking mud in stats on all sales venues and only a few are sold in crossover sales–and only when I promote my indie titles and that exposure brings the reader to my Amazon book pages.

I’ve decided to stick with Amazon Select. I always suggest indie authors think for themselves and make the best decision you can for your book. As a foot note: Indie authors have made so much noise about our dismay with Kindle Unlimited, Amazon sent out a survey.  If you missed the questionnaire, you can email Nader Kabbani, VP of KDP and voice your experience or opinion.

Jackie Weger

Jackie Weger

I’m Jackie Weger. Y’all have a good day.

Comments are welcome. And since indie authors always are scrambling for reviews I never like to sign off without suggesting you include this gentle plea for a review right after THE END in your book.

Thank you for taking the time to read [title]. If you enjoyed it, please consider telling your friends or posting a short review. Word of mouth is an author’s best friend. Thank you, [author name].

Does it work magic? I am a relatively unknown indie author. Readers posted more than 1000 reviews on my titles in 2014. That’s my answer.


eNovel Proud!

eNovel Proud!



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  1. Mike Markel says:

    Thanks for this information, Jackie. Good data about sales on retailers other than Amazon are hard to come by, but nobody disputes that Amazon sales for most authors make up a good two-thirds of total sales. For many authors, like the one you cite, the fraction is even larger. But, as you say, authors need to make up their own minds, factoring in not only their mix of titles and publishers but also their personal feelings about Amazon and the other retailers.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Mike! I would love to know where your figures come from: That Amazon sales are two thirds of books and other venues one-third. I don’t see that one-third across other venues. Perhaps one day. We are talking about indie authors with few titles. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. Much appreciated.

      • Mike Markel says:

        Jackie, that two-thirds is just my informal extrapolation from a dozen or so articles/blog posts I’ve read over the past three or four years. But as I said, I think most authors get even more of their sales from Amazon. When I was writing for a small indie publisher, I often had my books on Smash but earned 80 percent from Amazon. (But my total sales were so small it was statistically insignificant.) For the moment, I’m only on Amazon because of their promo opportunities and because the prospect of managing a number of accounts for each book is too daunting.

  2. Julie Frayn says:

    I think most indie authors (heck, probably trad published authors too) aren’t prepared for the amount of promotion necessary to be seen. I wasn’t. Lessons learned. I am going KDP select for now. It’s been very good to me. Sales at other venues weren’t even 1% of Kindle.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Thank you, Julie Frayn. Since you are a CPA and I’m merely a writer, I trust your sales figures that sales venues other than Amazon are not even 1% of Amazon sales. This article is not meant to encourage indie authors to go exclusive with Amazon or not. What we try to do at eNovel, is share information an indie author can use to make the best decision for his or her book. Thank you so much for sharing that.

  3. Dale Furse says:

    Thanks, for your insights, Jackie. It’s hard to decide which is the best option. I’ve had lots of readers ask when my books will be available on other venues and being a non US author, I’m hoping to find readers in other countries like Australia who shop at stores like Kobo, Google Play and Apple. Most here use phones, tablets and Apple products like iPad.

    Having said that, Kindle readers are becoming more widely used now, but my books will still be available through Amazon stores worldwide anyway and with first in the series free, readers can try my stories and then decide whether they enjoy my writing.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Dale Furse, I get it that Apple products have a greater presence in Asia and Europe than a Kindle. I see the hype for iTunes/iBooks. But across all of those countries with millions of people owning Apple products, only 14 readers downloaded a book in promotion. I wrote for Harlequin for 18 years. Our books were translated and sold in 27 countries. Sales in foreign languages seldom reached above 2-5000 books because those markets are much smaller. English might be the emerging language in many foreign countries such as India and China, but those natives prefer their fiction in their own language. My Eastern Indian contact tells me Indians prefer print rather than digital. Stop in at the Arabic language pages on Goodreads. Tens of thousands of readers gather on those pages talking about books–in their own language. All the best to you and your books.

  4. Interesting data, Jackie. I think I misunderstood KDP Select: I thought that the minimum price you could charge for your book was $2.99 in order to earn the 70% royalty; and that if you wished to price your books at .99 or higher, you earned the 35% royalty. Could some kind member please clarify that for me?

  5. Mike C Smith says:

    Hi Jackie
    Thanks for sharing this article, i did not realize that amazon so far far ahead of the ball park. Most of the indie authors on our site (we promote Indie authors) are amazon fans and your figures certainly bear that out, still I’m surprised at the large gap.
    Thanks again
    Mike @beezeebooks

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Mike: Thank you for stopping by. Since authors promote with you, and you know which venue your subscribers click on, you perhaps have an idea about the click through to the various sales venues. All things being equal, I wish indie authors saw greater sales on all venues. Some well established authors do see nice sales on venues other than Amazon, but not a single one has ever retired a book on Amazon and promoted the title exclusively with any other sales venue. I notice a huge disparity in book stats on venues. A title in promotion on two or more venues may have an Amazon rank of say, 6,000 in paid on Amazon and show a sales rank of 48,000 on another. The book will often hold a rank above the fold, (10,000 in Paid) on Amazon after a promotion, but will dive into the 100,000 on B&N. The main thing for us indie authors is not get caught up in the rhetoric and do our homework. We have authors in eNovel who do sell well across most venues. They work incredibly hard for those sales and promote often. Too, they have exceptionally nice books and series in their genre. It costs to promote. It cost time and effort to gain exposure. Again, thank you for commenting. Appreciate it.

  6. Personally, I won’t budge from Amazon’s KDP Select for the unforeseeable future. As it is, there are not enough hours in the day to write, promote, AND to juggle with all the social media on a daily basis. I wouldn’t dare complicate things with other sales venues as yet. I am well aware Amazon gets the lion’s share anyway, and I’d have to be pretty successful to make my trouble worthwhile with other sellers. So… KDP Select suits me just fine for now 🙂

  7. Pete Barber says:

    I’m with Effrosyni. I’ve learned how to operate within Amazon. I use the free days and countdowns. I don’t have the bandwidth to learn how to market to the other venues, and I’m too old to start learning :-).

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Pete Barber! I’m laffin’. I am in 100% agreement with you and Effrosyni. Navigating the maze of indie publishing is difficult as it is. Learning the indie ropes with Amazon suits me and my available time and my budget.

  8. KJD says:

    Excellent post as usual, Jackie.
    I have to agree with you, Amazon represents about 90% of my sales. Try as hard as I might, I generate very little traction in the other venues.
    Again, I have to agree that KU royalties stink, unless the author is selling their books at $0.99.
    Thanks for sharing and thanks for posting NK’s email address.


  9. RP Dahlke says:

    Thanks, Jackie. At some point I may, or may not, split off from Amazon. However, like Frossie and others here, the thought of keeping up with promotions, logging in and out of multiple sales venues, and trying to write my next book is at this time is too big of a headache to consider.

  10. Amy Vansant says:

    Great piece Jackie. I was just thinking about Kindle Unlimited and how some established authors believe it is eating their profit. It probably is, compared to what they once made. But for me, every day I sell many more KU books than full price. What if I wasn’t in KU? Would enough of those readers bought them at full price to make up for it? Or would the people who downloaded through KU just decide not to buy at all?
    As more and more people realize they can subscribe to Bookbub and other promotion sites and download an almost endless number of FREE books, I feel grateful to get what KU gets me. I’m sticking with Amazon for a while.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Amy, I’m with you. I just looked at my sales stats. For the first 16 days in March I see 454 borrows and 201 sales. All but a few on Thus, 655 e/units downloaded on paid with no promotion since the end of January. + 275 new reviews since the end of January. Since January 10, 2015 when you launched Slightly Stalky, the book has earned 74 reviews. And you are just getting started! That is your first contemporary comedy. That is amazing.

  11. Traci Hall says:

    This really helps me make a decision regarding promotion for my by the sea series…thank you!

  12. Mike Bove says:

    I decided on Amazon exclusive several months ago because that’s where the majority of my sales came from. The other venues may not have been a complete waste of time, but but took a lot of it. At least for now, for little me, I’ll stay exclusive, and try to learn how to do that better. I say I work for Amazon.

  13. Jackie Weger says:

    Mike Bove, thank you for stopping by. One disadvantage I see on sales venues other than Amazon is how difficult to find a title. A reader has to know the title of the book or the author name to locate the book’s buy page. I am told Nook and iPad owners often search for books first on Amazon, cut and past the info and only then can locate the book on B&N. Another item: Few Nook readers write reviews. Right this minute a book on Amazon with a sales rank of #1,588 Paid in Kindle Store and 92 reviews ranked 4.7/5.0 has a B&N Sales rank of 33,920 and not a single review. I think that is telling.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      It takes time to do our homework and research where we might best market our books. The fact is: All sales venues are not equal for all indie authors. Making corrections to our books for something as simple as a dropped quotation mark or a formatting error is utter misery when our titles are on all sales venues.

  14. When I received my 1099s, my income from Smashwords (ie. all the other vendors put together) was about 20% of my income ~ Amazon Kindle, CreateSpace and Audible made up the other 80%. Call it the mutinous side of my nature, but I disagree in principle so strongly concerning giving control to one company. Not to be overly dramatic about it, but I think we’re on the verge of a modern day Robber Baron situation. I think keeping other outlets alive is extremely important. But, that’s just me!
    Thanks for another thought provoking article Jackie!

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Marsha Roberts, thanks for commenting. Amazon is a global grocery store. We can put our books on it’s shelves or not. B&N, iBooks and others are virtual stores, too. But, those online stores don’t have the readership Amazon does. I don’t fault a business man for building a business I like. Apple’s agenda is to sell it’s products globally. It does. If iBooks/iTunes moved books, I’m all for it. I’m an indie author so it behooves me to put my books where they get the most traction. Good luck with your books.

      • Jackie Weger, all the points you make are valid, of course. I respect the amount of research you do and your professional approach to selling your books. I hope that being Amazon exclusive works for you big time! Like you said, every writer has to decide for themselves what they feel comfortable with. Exclusive is just not for me. But, that’s just me!

  15. Rosie Dean says:

    Thanks for the useful info, Jackie. It seems such a minefield – especially when I only focus on the marketing aspect when I can. I’m currently reviewing options planning my strategy for the coming months. As you know, with another book to write and life to deal with, it’s hard keeping all those balls in the air.

    It’s good to have this site and ‘library’ of info to dip into.

  16. […] Here to read a comparison of actual sales figures on a book  sold on all […]

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