My Experience Self-Publishing with Amazon and Why I'm Backing Coil
When it comes to books, the big kid in the market is currently Amazon. Whether you decide to traditionally publish or self-publish, there is little to no chance you will succeed without listing an ebook on Amazon's Kindle bookstore.
Now, earlier this year, I took my first crack at self-publishing a novel. I'm not going to pretend I wrote the next Grapes of Wrath. It was meant to be a fun ride set in a fantasy world. Even reading through some of the earlier chapters now, I can already point out the areas of writing I could have improved upon; however, considering how many “first novels” get started and never finished, I can only be proud that I saw it through. Enough people downloaded and enjoyed it to the point where I'm crafting a sequel.
But I digress. I'm talking about the process of self-publishing, and why it is such a pain in the butt to utilize Amazon. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not going to cut out Amazon completely. My ebook is still listed there and a paperback copy is still available. (When it comes to paperback, you simply cannot beat what Amazon can do. They print to order, meaning the author does not have to hold any stock or spend a ton of money upfront).
What I'm really discussing is the KDP Select Program.
What is KDP Select?
The KDP Select program is Amazon's deal to an author. Basically, we'll open your book up to a ton of markets, offer you the ability to make some unique pricing choices for promotions, give you the option to earn 70% royalties for sales, and allow you to make money through the Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owner's Lending Library.
The trade off: Amazon owns exclusive digital rights to your book.
My Gripes with Amazon + the KDP Select Program:
Now, the first item that jumps out is that 70% royalty. Traditional publishers typically offer 30%. But you know there is a catch 😊.
You have to price your book above $2.99 USD, which does not seem like a lot, but that is limiting for a new author. I've learned through experience that the average reader is simply not willing to spend $2.99 on a new author. 0.99 cents is actually the sweet spot, as that is an impulse buy for most. There's a great write-up that convinced me that 0.99 cents was the right way to go as a new author. At this stage, the goal is to get eyes on your work rather than dollars in your pocket.
Fine, the Kindle Unlimited (KU) and Kindle Owner's Lending Library (KOLL) seems like a good deal though, and it was...before I discovered the potential of Coil. It functions in a similar way to Coil. Pages that are read through these subscription based services are recorded. Amazon determines how much the KDP Select Global Fund for that month will be in the following month, and divides that number out to authors based on how many pages were read.
Seems pretty straightforward, except it took me months to see the first payment. I self published in June of this year, yet I did not see my first payment from this program until August 29th (and the payout was crumbs to say the least). The system is far from efficient. Fortunately, I have a full-time job. Writing is a hobby for me, so I'm not reliant on sales to eat (though I understand the term starving artist now).
Below are the royalties I've earned through Amazon:
Unfortunately, my plans to buy a private island have been delayed.
Finally, the sheer amount of competition when it comes to books is mind boggling on Amazon. Even when I ran a free promotion, I still barely cracked the top 100 free downloads for that day, despite nearly 2,000 downloads over two days. I utilized Reddit, Twitter, and external sites to help market. There was a nice uptick for a while, but downloads and sales fell off a cliff.
I also have to be fair here, I didn't pump a ton of resources into marketing. This is a hobby for me. I have bills and a new baby. I really can't afford to sink a lot of money into pushing my book. Right now, selling a book is a very pay to play kind of game (unless you get lucky).
Coil is nearly instantaneous. Eyes on my work = instant payout. There is really nothing out there that compares. Payouts through the Coil boost program is monthly, which, while not as instantaneous as the micro transactions, is still a hell of a lot faster than pretty much every other system out there.
Now, I do not generally like to share how much money I've made doing something, but I think it is important to back this with real figures. I want you all to see that there is real money to made here.
Keep in mind, I write a few separate series on here (shameless plug ahead):
I like to stay busy...
The important number to pay attention to is the ILP & Coil box. I opt to be paid in XRP, because I have been a long time investor, and Coil has proven to be an incredibly effective way for me to increase my XRP bags. Understandably, a lot of people don't give a crap about digital assets and want cold hard cash. Fortunately, that option is available as well.
With what XRP is currently trading at, that's roughly $1200ish since May. Obviously, I'm not retiring, but I got 1200$ for a hobby, and if I opted for the cash payouts, that figure would actually be higher because some of the payouts were when XRP was trading in the mid 0.30 cent range.
I can't complain about that, and it is sure as hell a lot more than what I've made through Amazon (roughly 50$ USD).
Now, of course, this is not an apples to apples comparison. I'm writing a lot more varied content for Coil as opposed to one book, but I can attest that Coil appears to be superior to the KDP select program. That's why I've canceled my enrollment into the KDP Select program, and will be migrating my first novel over to Coil (It's going to be a tedious process). I'd rather Coil subscribers be able to read it, than let it collect digital dust over on Amazon.
Coil is not the only place where an writer/artist can make some money. There is Patreon, which requires users to individually pledge their money for access to the work. There is also the option to utilize ads on personal websites. There is even “Tipping” via the Brave browser, but all that honestly requires established followings before you can start making money.
Keep in mind, I really don't have that. I have 132 followers on Twitter and a personal sub Reddit with 188 subscribers at the time of writing. That's nothing if you want to make money doing this. Coil offers new writers and authors a leg-up that nothing else out there is currently offering.
I'm not the first to claim this either. RileyQ , one of Coil's first musicians, wrote a very similar post from the perspective of the music industry. The legacy systems are simply not built for newbies to break into. There is simply a lot of gate keeping in the art industry as a whole (this includes writers, musicians, painters, etc).
This is why I love Coil. It has become an equalizer of sorts. If I can inspire one artist to give this platform a chance, I'll consider this post a success!
Tweet me @SevenVengeful