And just like that, Amazon isn't my primary sales channel

4 February 2014 12:57

It’s a bit of a bad habit of mine to check my sales stats multiple times each day. This is normally limited to Amazon, since it is easiest to load on my cell phone. While checking sales that often doesn’t make my books sell faster, each new sale or download makes me smile (whereas not seeing any changes has no noticeable effect).

Today, however, I decided to also check my other sales channels (in addition to Amazon, this means Lulu, Kobo and Brave New Books).

  • Kobo: No changes
  • Brave New Books: No changes, and who cares
  • Lulu: 31 items sold (Barnes Noble: 28, iBookstore: 3)

Wait, what?

I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing. While I have seen this amount of sales before (on Amazon, after a massive promotion with Bookblast and Kindle Fire Department), seeing it with little to no promotion (aside from the giveaway with I Read Fantasy)� is quite another thing entirely. And what’s more: this means that Barnes and Noble outsold Amazon by a factor 3. I also had a bunch of new reviews on Barnes and Noble, all of them very positive (if that was you: thanks!).

So what does this mean for me?

Assuming Barnes and Noble keeps outpacing Amazon in terms of sales, it means I need to seriously up my ante when it comes to how I handle Barnes and Noble. Up until now, the books released through Lulu and Kobo have been more of an afterthought. It’s probably a good idea to change this stance, and give them at least as much care as my Amazon editions.

That said, I will soon re-release all books I have published through Lulu. This will mean improved formatting, and a few other helpful bits such as references to my mailing list and a list of books written. In addition, the EPUB versions will also feature a sample chapter from the next books in the series.

And what about future releases?

That is probably the most tricky part. While Amazon and Kobo usually have my books online within 12-48 hours, distribution from Lulu to Barnes and Noble and the iBookstore takes several weeks. If I upload a book to Lulu on the same date as I upload them to Amazon and Kobo, my Barnes and Noble readers will still have to wait several weeks. If Barnes and Noble becomes a more viable channel, then the most logical conclusion for me would be to cut out the middle man (Lulu) and publish to Barnes and Noble directly.

Except, Barnes and Noble does not accept non-US authors (I just checked, I can make an account, but I cannot enter my payment information), despite the fact that their competitors do allow this, and there are very clear tax rules on how to handle such situations.

Then again, maybe this is just a one-off fluke, and sales will drop like a brick tomorrow (and the fun part: I won’t know until two weeks from now). But even so, any additional effort I put in my other editions won’t be wasted.