SSA #037: We're Removing Our Books From KDP SelectSep 16, 2023
Read Time: 5.5 Minutes
It's been a tough decision that we've been pondering over for weeks now.
But we've finally decided to bite the bullet and remove Lori's books from KDP Select (and therefore, Kindle Unlimited).
The reason it's been such a tough decision...
Half of Lori's monthly royalties come from Kindle Unlimited.
That's a big chunk of royalties to lose in one hit.
We understand it's a big risk, but we're making an Asymmetrical Bet.
Definition of Asymmetrical Bets:
A concept in investing that explains a situation where the potential gains from an investment are far greater than the potential losses. In other words, the risk of taking a slight loss is worth the potential substantial profits.
Today, I'll unpack our decision process in more detail, and how we've weighed up the pros and cons of removing Lori's books from Kindle Unlimited.
My hope is that, if you are on the fence about removing your books from Kindle Unlimited and selling the eBook versions of your books directly to readers, this newsletter will give you some food for thought and make the decision just that little bit easier.
I recently shared the 5 biggest lessons we've learned from selling Lori's books direct in a recent edition of The Saturday Self-Published Author.
Print Books Are Great, But...
Currently, we are only selling Lori's books on her Shopify Store in paperback and hardback formats, and sales are trickling in each day from our Facebook Ads, which is great.
But print books definitely come with a few drawbacks:
#1: Shipping Costs
The headline price of the books on Lori's store may look appealing, but in a world of free delivery (think Amazon Prime), many shoppers have been trained out of paying for shipping.
We have done our best to rectify this, by:
- Offering a standard shipping rate for all orders (displayed on the product page)
- Offering free delivery when people spend over $X
And I believe this has certainly helped improve conversions.
But shipping costs are definitely prohibitive in a customer's decision to purchase.
#2: Shipping Logistics
Thankfully, we haven't (yet) had any issues with shipping logistics, but there's always a chance that a customer's order may get lost in transit, and that is an issue we would need to rectify ourselves between our printers (BookVault) and the delivery company.
With eBooks, there are no shipping logistics to worry about!
#3: Instant Gratification
Today's society has become one of instant gratification (think Amazon Prime, Uber, Just Eat, etc.) and with print books, customers clearly need to wait for books to be printed (if using print-on-demand services such as Bookvault), then shipped and finally, delivered to their door.
With eBooks, however, people can place their order and receive their book within minutes, just as they do with Amazon Kindle or other eBook retailers.
BookFunnel For eBook Delivery
To deliver eBooks to readers, we will be using BookFunnel, which makes it an almost seamless process for customers to start reading the book they purchased within minutes.
BookFunnel allows customers to download the book in various formats, and even have an online eBook reader, just as Amazon do.
So, it will simply be a case of linking up BookFunnel with our email service provider (Klaviyo) so that when a customer places an order, they receive an email with a link to the book they purchased on BookFunnel.
Higher Earnings Per Sale
One of the big perks of selling eBooks directly to readers is that we'll keep a larger percentage of the sale price.
With Amazon, we earn 70% of each sale (with a $2.99 book, for example, we earn around $2.09), and then there's the delivery fee Amazon charge, which for us is around $0.10.
So, all in, we earn just over $2.00 per sale of a $2.99 book.
When selling direct, we'll earn the full $2.99, minus the payment processer fees (i.e. Paypal) and Shopify fees, which will leave us with around $2.30 gross-profit per sale.
Not a huge difference, but over time, that additional $0.30 or so adds up.
Collect Email Addresses of Each Customer
One of the biggest drawbacks to Amazon sales is that we aren't able to communicate directly with every reader who buys our books; Amazon keeps that information to itself.
When selling direct, however, every customer needs to enter their email address to complete their order.
And when we have this information, we can then (ethically and morally) nurture the relationship with each reader over time through a pre-written email flow (autoresponder):
- If we run a sale, we can let all customers or a segment of customers know
- If we launch a new book, we can let all customers or a segment of customers know
- If a customer has bought Book 1, but not Book 2, we can encourage them to buy Book 2
- We can send customers a special deal or even just a happy birthday message on their birthday (if we decide to collect their date of birth at checkout)
The options are endless.
Bring Readers Back To The Store
If a reader abandons the checkout before they complete their purchase, with their email address collected, we can automatically send them an email and encourage them back to the store to complete their purchase.
And if they have bought from us before (i.e. an existing customer), we can send them an email if the system notices that they looked at a specific book, but didn't add it to their basket, and entice them back to the store to order the book they were looking at.
These are known as Browse Abandonment Emails and are something that Amazon themselves send millions of each and every day.
Removing Dependancy From Amazon
Currently, we are very dependent on Amazon for Lori's royalties.
We have other avenues of income for her books such as Ingram Spark, Audiobooks, and some direct sales, but predominantly, Amazon is supporting Lori's career as an author.
In the beginning, this didn't worry us too much.
But recently, with all the horror stories we've heard and read about with author's KDP accounts being shut down on a whim, this reliance on Amazon feels a little... risky.
By selling eBooks directly on our own store (as well as continuing to sell the print books here too), we'll be able to remove a lot of that dependancy from Amazon and stand on our own two feet.
Continue To Sell Books on Amazon
Without a doubt, we will continue to sell books on Amazon; eBooks and print books.
Many readers enjoy the experience of purchasing from Amazon, just as Lori and I do ourselves.
But there are many readers who won't go near Amazon with a ten-foot barge pole, or would just like the opportunity to support authors more directly.
And by not offering these readers an opportunity to purchase books directly from Lori, we are not only missing out on a huge pocket of people but also, we are not giving these readers an opportunity to read Lori's books.
We're Going To See A Drop in Royalties - Guaranteed
Initially, there is no doubt that we will see a drop in royalties, with half of Lori's earnings coming from Kindle Unlimited.
We'll also see a decline in bestseller ranks, as each borrow through Kindle Unlimited is counted as a sale in the Amazon Algorithm.
However, we can always put the books back into Kindle Unlimited at any point in the future if we decide to do so.
Becoming Our Own Amazon
Ultimately, our goal is to become our own Amazon - for Lori's books!
With the email flows in place, the higher earnings per sale, the reduced dependancy from Amazon, and all the other benefits I've shared today, I have faith that this Asymmetrical Bet will pay off.
It's not going to be instant, by any means. It's going to take a few months and there are going to be times where we will want to put the books back into KDP Select, I'm sure.
At the same time though, I'm determined to give this our all and make it work, because I see the potential upside to succeeding with this far outweighing the downsides.
I'll be keeping you up to date with all of this over the coming months, the good and the bad, as well as sharing with you what we are learning, as we learn it.
I think we're in for a bumpy ride, and it's not going to be easy at times, but we're also excited about this new chapter.
I hope this has been a valuable read for you, and has given you some food for thought about your strategy moving forwards.
And that's going to wrap things up for today.
Thank you for reading and enjoy the rest of your weekend.
See you again next week for another edition of The Saturday Self-Published Author.
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