Web dev at the end of the world, from Hveragerði, Iceland

Out of the Software Crisis Available on Kindle

One question every self-publisher needs to contemplate is “will I make my book available on the Kindle?”

If you’re writing fiction or non-fiction intended for a general audience, the answer is simple: yes, you probably should.

If your audience is specialised, the book is addressing specific and concrete problems, and your own effort is the primary driver of sales, then you probably shouldn’t. For any book that costs more than $9.99 USD, Amazon needs to, roughly, drive three times the sales volume as selling direct from your website to make up for the loss of margin. When I sell directly I get at least 92% of the cover price. Amazon gives me 35%.

In most cases, Amazon is extremely unlikely to be driving any sales unless you go exclusive to Amazon with KDP Select and even then only if you’re writing fiction or narrative non-fiction.

My background in publishing and web developmentmeant meant I could typeset, convert to EPUB and PDF, design the cover, design the landing page, and setup the sales page at Lemon Squeezy all by myself. If I had needed to pay for any of these services, selling via Amazon would have meant risking losing a substantial amount of money on the book.

Specialty ebooks should always be sold direct. A title that would normally turn you a modest profit will become a money-loser Amazon once you factor in those production costs.

But what happens when the book is in the black and you’ve managed to drive as many direct sales as you are ever likely to?

Once you’ve reached the point where a sale via Amazon isn’t coming at the expense of a much more lucrative sale via your website, the risk-reward calculation changes.

So, after seeing how well the first month’s sales had gone, I decided to Kindle Direct Publishing another go.

That’s another go because I already tried self-publishing there a decade ago in 2012. That attempt didn’t go well. I was never happy with the novellas I published: too much emotional self-censorship is catastrophic when writing fiction and I was pretty bad at asking for help back then. (Big thanks to all of you who helped with Out of the Software Crisis, by the way! So, many people helped me with feedback on the text, the cover, title, sales pages—everything, really. The book wouldn’t have done half as well without your help.)

But, turns out my first self-publishing experiment hadn’t done that badly. As soon as I set up the tax information and bank account in KDP I got a notice about a royalty payment, well before I had set up Out of the Software Crisis.

Back in 2012, the limit for international payouts was pretty high—this was before they set up automatic bank transfers—so KDP had been sitting on a royalty payment for a whole decade.

This was a nice bonus. And it made me laugh.

All of which is to say that Out of the Software Crisis: Systems-Thinking for Software Projects is out on the Kindle.

Of course, I would still prefer that you bought it directly from my website. After all, I make 3x more money from each direct sale.

But, you do you. No pressure 🙂

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