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Monday, January 21, 2013

How Exclusivity Affected Hugh Howey

For those of you who may not of heard of him, Hugh Howey is the amazingly successful author of Wool, a dystopian short story that has captured the attention of millions of readers.  So much so, that they demanded Howey write more of the saga. (You can download Part 1 from Amazon for free. I, Zombie is pretty good, too, though it's $3.99.)

In a recent article on Digital Book World, Howey spoke of the reasons he and his agent Kristin Nelson refused to give up his e-rights to the publishers who came courting in the beginning of 2012. (A six figure income had a lot to do with it.) By the end of the year, Simon & Schuster was willing to cough up a seven figure advance for the print only rights.

Howey attributes part of the success of Wool to using Amazon's Kindle Select program, where the book is sold exclusively on Amazon in return for it being placed in the Kindle Lending Library and having five days where Howey can set the price to free.

Here's the thing: Amazon promotes their exclusive books because it's in THEIR best interest to do so. This is something a lot of indie writers don't seem to understand.

But in Howey's case, he began getting complaints from readers because they couldn't purchase his book on other platforms. In May of 2012, he took Wool out of the Select program in order to pubish it on Barnes & Noble's PubIt! and other retailers.

Howey was disappointed at first. But a couple of weeks later, he noticed that sales were picking up on B&N and Apple.

So is exclusivity worth pissing off your readers? Does it pay off in the long run?

It really depends on who you talk to. Some folks, like Howey, found it very useful to get his story off the ground. For some others I know, it's done nothing.

I've considered playing with it, but if I do, I plan on having two books: one exclusive on Amazon and one that's exclusive on the other retail websites. It might be an interesting experiment to try.

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