I just clicked on a ten minute video by a guy named Derek Murphy on why book marketing is a waste of time. It was quite informative, and it does make me wish I had the money to get a website up and running for myself. It makes me wish I had covers uploaded for my paperbacks. It makes me wish I had more money to do what I need to do with this publishing career that is simply invisible to me right this moment. I am taking my writing career quite seriously, but when your income is decreasing and you're forced to choose between buying promotional items to get the word out there and making your car payment, well, you make your car payment.
I, however, digress.
As I watched and listened to this guy speak, I noticed he had another video posted about how he had gotten kicked out of Kindle Unlimited or some other exclusive Kindle thing (KDP Select does require self-published authors to be exclusive through them in order to gain the perks of having a book enrolled in Kindle Unlimited) and he lost $50,000 because of him being kicked out of that particular program. I don't know the reasons why he was kicked out. I'd have to watch the video, and, quite frankly, it's just something I don't understand.
Mind you, I get the perks behind being exclusive to Amazon's Kindle program. Enroll your book into the Kindle Unlimited program, readers enrolled in the Amazon Prime program get the book for free, but you, the author, get paid for every page read. Doesn't matter when the enrolled reader reads the book. You still get paid from a pool that increases as each month goes on, regardless of whether or not you stay in KDP Select. It's how many indie authors are actually making their money with Amazon at this point.
At the same time, this exclusivity can bite the self-published author in the hind-end. A falsified report or review can suspend an author's Kindle account (but not CreateSpace) and have all digital books removed from Amazon's website. Claims of manipulating the review system will have the same effect. Reviewing an author in the same genre as you write will have the same effect (if you persist on reviewing books in your preferred reading and writing genre). Amazon doesn't have real life people looking into claims and reports of abuse nor into the authenticity of reviews. They only do that when the author questions the reasons and demands an investigation.
I originally was exclusive through Amazon . . . for all of a few months after I'd published Portal to Gaming. I didn't like the idea behind exclusivity. I felt, for myself, that I was denying myself readers who prefer other platforms over Kindle. (It also took me a couple of years to get my books into paperback formats because I didn't have the money to purchase ISBNs. Yes, I know CreateSpace gives out a free one, but, if you're looking at using multiple sites for selling your books, it still costs you to purchase the ISBN from CreateSpace to use it wherever you wish. In the long run, if you're going to purchase ISBNs to use on other sites like Barnes and Noble's Nook Press or Lulu or any other website that helps with paperback/hard cover printing and distributing, you're better off buying a block of ISBNs in one go because it does eventually add up. My advice to self-publishing authors when it comes to ISBNs is this: Determine up front if you're going to solely use CreateSpace for all of your paperback publishing needs or if you're going to expand beyond CreateSpace and use other sites that offer similar services. Do your research into the costs and go from there.) Exclusivity just didn't feel right, even to do promotions, and there are other online sites that can do ebook publications for free and that will distribute to Kindle as well (though not for the same royalties as publishing directly through Kindle).
Seeing that Derek Murphy had a video about being booted out of Kindle Unlimited also raised another . . . thought for me. Traditionally published authors are not asked to be exclusive to any one retailer. To a publishing house, yes. That makes sense since the authors are signing a contract with the publishing house. But the publishing house doesn't necessarily have exclusive contracts with bookstores. I'm also presuming that they don't have exclusivity contracts with Amazon. I'm basing my presumption on the following: I've done a quickie search on both sites using The Lord of the Rings as my search criteria. Both sites advertise having the books in their digital libraries, and, yes, Amazon Prime members can download the ebooks for free over paying $9.99 for the NOOK equivalent. Clearly, the publishing company handling The Lord of the Rings and any of Tolkien's other works is not being punished for not being exclusive through Amazon yet Amazon wants indie authors to be exclusive through them.
Note: Amazon does not require indie authors to be exclusive through them upon publishing a book through Kindle. It's just that, if you want the perks of getting paid per page read and handling ebook promotions and sales events, that they actually do require you to be enrolled in KDP Select, which states upfront that you can't have your ebooks uploaded anywhere else during the time you have your books enrolled in KDP Select. KDP Select is entirely optional. However, as I stated above, KDP Select is where most indie authors make their money because Amazon Prime members get to download the ebooks for free for paying for the membership, and the Kindle/Kindle app keeps track of how many pages per reader are being read during any given time frame.
Back to my point about the publishing companies - their objective is to reach as many readers as humanly possible. Exclusivity denies them that. That's why we see The Lord of the Rings on sites like Amazon, like Barnes and Noble, and in pretty much every bookstore that's in existence, be it a chain retailer like a brick and mortar Barnes and Noble, smaller chains like Horizon Books in Northern Michigan, or a local bookstore in your vicinity.
This is, overall, why exclusivity makes no sense to me. Yes, a vast number of people shop Amazon. Amazon does offer some rather nice royalties for the indie author but can revoke those benefits, remove the books in question on a whim or based on an algorithm designed to see if you're actually trying to cheat the system and not realizing when you're not.
At the same time, people still visit bookstores, big and small.
I encourage all indie authors to do what's best for them when it comes to publishing books. I encourage all indie authors to weigh the pros and cons of exclusivity through any online self-publishing site. If the pros outweigh the cons and the risks, by all means, be exclusive through a particular retailer. For myself, exclusivity through Amazon is just too huge of a risk. It reminds me of the old adage, don't put all of your eggs into one basket. Not entirely sure how that came about, but clearly it warns about laying all of your hopes into one facet of something is clearly multi-faceted. (Or maybe someone actually did put like a dozen eggs into a single basket and all of them broke by the time they reached home.) I will still definitely use Amazon - I would be crazy not to utilize their services. I just plan on utilizing as many online retailers and ebook publishers as I possibly can. It's the best course of action that feels right to me.
Finally, I'm taking this moment to point out the following: Of all of my stories I've published, only ONE is currently a free download. That is Sigyn's Flowers, and it's available directly through Amazon and Barnes and Noble, with uploads to Smashwords and Draft2Digital for expanded distribution. If you are not being given a list price of $3.99 for The Sons of Thor, $3.49 for Portal to Gaming, or $2.99 for The King and Queen of Wands, it's an illegal download and needs to be reported as theft. I do not get paid for sites beyond what I've listed having downloads of my books. The same will hold true for Ravensrealm and any other book I self-publish.