Author Topic: 1st permafree + others KU = no boxed set? Help me understand the better option.  (Read 521 times)  

Online Benjamin Douglas

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Hi All,

Picture this scenario: you write a series, putting each title in KU as you publish them. After the first title reaches the end of the first 90 days, you pull it out and make it wide to go permafree. But you want to leave the rest in KU.

Seems like a potentially viable strategy to me, but something I keep getting hung up on is that it means no boxed set of your series that includes book 1. No trilogy set, no duo set, no complete set. Which sort of bothers me, because I tend to think of boxing up the first three as an equally viable strategy.

Obviously you can just go wide with everything, or keep everything in KU, and either way you can have a boxed set. But I'm attracted both to KU and to the permafree loss leader, even if KU is having some trouble right now and the golden age of the loss leader is fading. So you can see my dilemma.

But I'm speaking from observation, not experience (yet). So I put the question to all of you: which, in your experience, has proven to be the better option, and why? Discuss. The generic pros and cons of KU v. Wide can, I believe, be found elsewhere... but what about how it affects these two strategies?

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Offline Seneca42

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Just my 2 cents, but using "wide" as a method of gaming (I use that term in a positive way, not negative or illicit way) the Amazon system is the wrong way to think about going wide.

If you're going wide it should be because you want to tap into those readers. And if you want to do that, then you should be looking to service them with the same level of service you give Amazon readers.

If your focus is 100% on Amazon, then focus on Amazon. Stay in KU and use their 5 free days and pair it up with good promotions.

But that's just my 2 cents. 

Offline Kyra Halland

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I agree. With a series, you need to choose one or the other. Wide readers, who buy on other platforms than Amazon, will be mad that they have to go to Amazon to buy the rest of the books. These are mostly readers who for whatever reason can't or don't want to buy from Amazon. OTOH, KU readers, from what I've heard, tend to stick to KU. If book 1 is in KU and the rest aren't, they'll just go on to a different series. You're dealing with two very different segments of the market.

And yeah, when your series is half-in, half-out, you can't do a box set. Which is not good because (at least in my experience) box sets can be a good income stream. Ideally, you would have a long enough series that you can put the first 2-3 books in the box set at a value price (less than the books sold separately) then keep the rest of the books as individual titles. That's what I've done, with the box set of books 1-3 at $5.99 and books 4-6 priced at $3.99 each, and it earned pretty well for me (need to do something to bump up sales again). But even if you only have 3 books and you put them all in the box set, it's still better to have the money for the box set in hand than hoping the readers will read book 1 and go on to the other books.


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Offline ShayneRutherford

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Just wanted to second Kyra's point. Anyone who picks up the first book outside of Amazon and then discovers they can't get the rest from their vendor of choice is likely going to be rather brassed off.
     

Offline Bob Stewart

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I believe you can have the boxed set, but it would need to be exclusive to Amazon but not in KU.

That way you haven't broken the obligation of exclusivity for the KU books, and yet wouldn't be claiming the permafree first book is exclusive.

Online Steve Voelker

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I get exactly what you are trying to do.

Don't worry about the people discouraging you from having the first book wide. If you want it to be permafree, that is the ONLY way to do it.
Will people find it on other vendors? Probably. Will they be mad that the rest is only on Amazon? Maybe. Is there anything you can do about it? No. And if you are not planning on going wide, those diehard other platform readers will never be your audience anyway, so it doesn't really matter. It's not like you are ever going to push it or advertise it anywhere besides Amazon. So the number of readers who stumble upon you on other vendors should be pretty low anyway.

As far as box sets - You can totally make one. It just has to be exclusive to Amazon, but NOT in KU.

People will be able to buy it on Amazon, but not borrow it from KU.

Seems like an odd option, but it makes sense. Box sets are more geared toward buyers anyway. They are attracted to the savings vs. purchasing them individually. KU readers can just borrow the next one for free, so the box set doesn't really benefit them.

It is true that most people tend to either go all in or all out with KU. And like you said, the merits of each can easily be found in many threads here and elsewhere.

But the way you are doing it is a valid strategy. I have seen some people have success with it.

As far as the pros and cons -

The drawback would be that your first book won't show up on the KU lists and charts, where a LOT of the KU readers find their books. It will be harder to get KU readers into your series because of that.

The advantage would be the usual with a free loss leader. You will get a ton more eyes on your freebie. It might lead to more sales of the rest. And if you make that box set, they will have a cheaper option to go all in.

In the end, you will do what feels right to you. And you can always experiment a little to see which option brings in more income.

Good luck!
« Last Edit: July 17, 2017, 05:12:31 PM by Steve Voelker »

Offline ShayneRutherford

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Actually there is something else you can do. Publish the first book free through Pronoun and set it to free that way.
     

Offline Jeff Tanyard

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With a series, you need to choose one or the other. Wide readers, who buy on other platforms than Amazon, will be mad that they have to go to Amazon to buy the rest of the books. These are mostly readers who for whatever reason can't or don't want to buy from Amazon. OTOH, KU readers, from what I've heard, tend to stick to KU. If book 1 is in KU and the rest aren't, they'll just go on to a different series. You're dealing with two very different segments of the market.

This.
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Online Benjamin Douglas

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Thanks everyone! Lots to chew on here. I think the takeaway about not confusing readers about whether the series IS on a given platform or not is a big one, and it's pushing me in the direction of "wait and see" on boxed sets, because I definitely want each title to at least run one 90-day cycle before leaving KU... and maybe many more, depending on how things look in 90 days. The genre (mil scifi) seems to do well in KU based on anecdotal evidence.

But Bob and Steve, thanks for pointing that option out to me--I sort of forget that once could be exclusive on 'Zon without being in KU, and I can see how, in this particular instance, that might actually be a viable option. Not sure if I'd want to do it or not... still hemming and hawing. But it's great to have that clarfied!

Shayne--not sure how using Pronoun would address the issue in the OP. But separately, I am finding Pronoun and like models increasingly interesting.

Thanks for your insights!

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Offline Victoria LK

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I'm sorta in the same position. Here is what I plan on doing...
write a shorter novella and make it permafree.
make a box set of 1-3. (great advise from Steve about not using KU for box-sets)
keep remaining and future books selling in KU as individual books in the series.

Online PermaStudent

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Shayne--not sure how using Pronoun would address the issue in the OP. But separately, I am finding Pronoun and like models increasingly interesting.

Not to put words in Shayne's mouth (Shayne please correct me if this wasn't your point), but by going through Pronoun you can elect to publish it free to Amazon *and nowhere else*.  So, you remove all of the readers who found it elsewhere and got cheesed off that the rest of the series isn't available on their platform.

I believe you can have the boxed set, but it would need to be exclusive to Amazon but not in KU.

That way you haven't broken the obligation of exclusivity for the KU books, and yet wouldn't be claiming the permafree first book is exclusive.

Yes to the above, and I have done exactly what the OP describes.  I had a first book permafree, the rest in KU, and a box set that was exclusive to Amazon and not in KU.  It didn't work out great for me, but I've heard it has worked for others.  (In my case, the works were novella length, and they're a harder sell in general to my audience.)  As with all things, it's up to the individual author to figure out what strategy works for any given book, series, or audience.
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Offline Tulonsae

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Speaking as a reader, you could also just have the first book be a $.99 loss leader. I know that less people will pick it up if it's not free, but they'll be more committed to it.

When I'm trying out a new author/series, I'm just as likely to buy a .99 book as download a free one. And to be honest, I'm more likely to read the .99 book (sooner) than the free one, because while the .99 cost doesn't stop me, it does make me pause a moment and think if the book really appeals to me. I don't always take that moment with free books, and then I sometimes download books I'm really not as interested in so I never get around to them.

Offline ShayneRutherford

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Not to put words in Shayne's mouth (Shayne please correct me if this wasn't your point), but by going through Pronoun you can elect to publish it free to Amazon *and nowhere else*.  So, you remove all of the readers who found it elsewhere and got cheesed off that the rest of the series isn't available on their platform.

PermaStudent, it's like you read my mind. :) 

So, yeah, exactly what PermaStudent said. If you publish through Pronoun you can set the price to free, and publish it only on Amazon, thereby removing any need for going wide.
     

Online Jim Johnson

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I'd posit that book one will be the most read book in the series, so putting it permafree and the rest in ku may deprive you of a lot of ku income. That first book would have to be strong enough to encourage readers to go on to borrow or buy the other books, and you'd probably need a lot of books in the series to offset the potential loss of income from number one.

Maybe a permafree prequel to the series and then all the main books in ku? I'm considering that for my upcoming series.