Sales Channels–When to Stay and When to Go
So, I’m on a little “how is this pub thing done” kick at the moment, and wanted to share something about distribution. Or, to quote my Grandma, “Lawd, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, Kendra. What if you drop it?”
Country cliche (but in this case, true, as Grandma raised chickens and has literally dropped a basket of eggs), but one that stays with us because of the very important truth it contains: never rely on one source. Whether that’s for income, a business venture, research or chocolate, relying on one source can leave you high and dry if that source evaporates.
That’s also true when you’re selling something, whether that’s chocolate (I’m obsessed, I know), sofas, or books. Getting into the right channels creates sales. Which is why, despite having a lion’s share of my sales coming out of Amazon for Kindle, I won’t enter the KDP Select program. A lot of people have written about this better than me, but I’d like to add a unique spin.
I’m no longer selling on Apple’s iBooks.
Weird for an iPad owner to say, right? But here’s my rationale. First, unless you go through Smashwords, you have to own a Mac that can support the OS version required to post directly to the iBooks site. I don’t. Second, while I use Smashwords and like the platform, and despite the fact that they boast a daily feed to iBooks, it can take days (or weeks) for new content or price changes to filter through. When you want to be nimble with your pricing strategy, that’s an unnecessary hurdle…and kind of a bummer. Finally, at least for me, my iBooks sales routinely lag behind Kobo and B&N. So, because that channel isn’t doing any heavy lifting, and it’s kind of a pain to update versus the other, more direct, channels, I’m leaving. But there’s one more reason why, and the only reason I even considered it: iPad/iPhone users can get their content anywhere.
You can download the Kindle or Nook apps to your device, sure. But even more interesting? If you go to Smashwords (via Safari–their mobile site is quite good) and purchase a book, when you click on the .ePub link–the Apple OS will automatically ask you, via popup box, where you want to download the content. You can put it in iBooks just that easily. Or into the Nook app. Or you can click on the .Mobi link and drop it into your Kindle app. I’ve used Smashwords many times to purchase books for my iPad, and I haven’t found it to be a hindrance at all.
Given the challenges of keeping my content updated in iBooks directly and the ease of getting the content elsewhere, it made sense to drop this channel. Are my eggs now in one basket? Nope. I publish eBooks four places: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Smashwords. My content is available on Scribd and Oyster, too. My paperbacks are available on Amazon and CreateSpace. I’m just making a business decision that will give me more power and control over my content and pricing by moving out of one channel. This might not work for everyone, but it’s working for me so far.
What about you? Any sales channel best practices to share? Are you happy with iBooks as a channel, or have you found a different way?