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The Moral of the Story – Expanded Distribution’s Downside

Allow me to preface this by saying that I didn’t realize things would end quite this way. When I began discussing Expanded Distribution several posts ago, I had not yet actually experienced it firsthand. In fact, it was because of my own research into options for Expanded Distribution that the topic became of great interest to me, and I decided to submit both Duality and Vitae into the program AFTER I began discussing it here.

I had no idea when doing so that the “relationship” with Expanded Distribution, as offered by Amazon, would come to an end after less than a month. To be more exact, it lasted all of two weeks…and I’ll explain why.

The short answer is that I made a mistake. I put all of my eggs in one basket and that was not a good idea…at all. It allowed me to be undercut with my own book.┬áRegardless of what platform you use to sell your novels, it’s highly recommended that you keep an eye on sales as best you can. I’m not so huge yet that much can slip past me, and my friends regularly inform me of when they’ve made purchases because this is an exciting experience for all of us. It is because of my network of friends, and their resulting excitement, that I realized that something about the sales of Vitae during the first few days of publication didn’t add up.

I knew that copies had been sold, but they were not all accounted for in my sales dashboard. Why was that? I sent an inquiry to Amazon, and advised them that I wanted an audit of my account. I was advised via emailed response that when books are sold via Expanded Distribution, the transactions are not displayed as quickly as when sold directly through Amazon. Well, I knew that already. I’d done my research, after all. However, the transaction in question was for a copy sold and shipped through Amazon. I had proof of the sale. Surely, that shouldn’t have had anything to do with Expanded Distribution, right?

Wrong. Somehow, Amazon managed to sell a copy of my novel through its own Expanded Distribution program, which cut the amount of my royalty payment by 87%. Why? To be clear, I’ll say it again: The book wasn’t purchased through another retailer or platform – which is the intent of Expanded Distribution – yet I had proof that the sale was attributed to Expanded Distribution and royalties were restructured accordingly. How exactly does that work? It was then that I realized that I made a mistake, and it’s something that I caution other authors against.

Do not distribute all versions of your novel via the same source. Feel free to use Amazon (or even another company) for e-book distribution and standard paperback sales. However, enroll in Expanded Distribution through another platform – and I’ve already given a shortlist of options for you to consider on your own. I have since removed both Duality and Vitae from Expanded Distribution at Amazon, and will enroll them elsewhere. Moving forward, as long as I remain an independent author, that will be my business model.

Lesson learned.