Author Topic: KU -vs- Other retailers  (Read 2105 times)  

Online Seneca42

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Re: KU -vs- Other retailers
« Reply #25 on: April 19, 2018, 10:04:53 AM »
You couldn't find anything on the hottest debate topic on this board? You didn't look very hard. This topic is a weekly bone of contention. For the con side, read S42's posts. He beats the dead horse on KU so strongly you would think he profits from others going wide.

Only because 95% of kboards beats the pro-KU side like a dead horse (to use your logic you must profit from people joining KU). And it's disingenuous because none of you really provide the necessary caveats to warn newbies about the negatives of KU, you simply tout it as the go-to-option for all new authors.

The notion that KU generates visibility is beyond ridiculous. It requires as much marketing spend as any other market, and I'd actually argue even more given the competition on AMS. And none of you KU junkies are disclosing your AMS spend or what it's taking to make KU work with a positive ROI for you; and while it works for some there are a ton of you that it ain't working for but that you won't admit it publicly. I suspect there will be a lot more "retirements" coming over the course of the remaining year. 

Instead of leading newbies off a cliff and getting them stuck in the same quagmire many of you are stuck in where you hold out your hands and await to see what King Bezos tosses into the crowd on any given month, be more vocal about the negatives of KU and I wouldn't have to.

Can KU work? ya. Can it make you rich? For some. Is it the land of lollipops and four-leaf clovers that most of you represent it to be to newbies? hell no.


Offline CathleenT

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Re: KU -vs- Other retailers
« Reply #26 on: April 19, 2018, 10:26:22 AM »
This doesn't directly address the OP's question, but I'll toss it out there anyway.

I've never been in KU, and it doesn't look like I will be. My reasoning is:

First of all, because of all the bookstuffer kerfluffle, it appears to be unwise to have any duplications in the back matter of your books if you're in KU. I already wrote one reader magnet and paid DDD for the font job on it. I'm not putting together a whole series of reader magnets, one for each book. And I want the email list sign-up in the back matter. That was the real last straw for me on KU. If it interferes with email list-building, I'm not interested.

I figure if I just stay wide, I won't have any income to give up. And yes, I know I could go KU for 90 days and then go wide. But I'm not good with too many details. Inevitably, one will get overlooked, and then cleaning up the mess is usually twice as bad. So this is also a way to streamline my mental focus. My house is usually kept quite clean for the same reason. Some people have more mental tolerance for what I would consider chaos.

I'm trying to streamline the publishing and promoting so that I have enough mental energy left to write. Finding a balance here is hard enough for me without adding complications. :)
« Last Edit: April 19, 2018, 10:35:40 AM by CathleenT »

Offline WyandVoidbringer

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Re: KU -vs- Other retailers
« Reply #27 on: April 19, 2018, 10:30:02 AM »
Only because 95% of kboards beats the pro-KU side like a dead horse (to use your logic you must profit from people joining KU). And it's disingenuous because none of you really provide the necessary caveats to warn newbies about the negatives of KU, you simply tout it as the go-to-option for all new authors.

The notion that KU generates visibility is beyond ridiculous. It requires as much marketing spend as any other market, and I'd actually argue even more given the competition on AMS. And none of you KU junkies are disclosing your AMS spend or what it's taking to make KU work with a positive ROI for you; and while it works for some there are a ton of you that it ain't working for but that you won't admit it publicly. I suspect there will be a lot more "retirements" coming over the course of the remaining year. 

Instead of leading newbies off a cliff and getting them stuck in the same quagmire many of you are stuck in where you hold out your hands and await to see what King Bezos tosses into the crowd on any given month, be more vocal about the negatives of KU and I wouldn't have to.

Can KU work? ya. Can it make you rich? For some. Is it the land of lollipops and four-leaf clovers that most of you represent it to be to newbies? hell no.

I write a book.

I put it in KU.

I spend about $500 on AMS to advertise the launch on the first weekend, and 1-5$ a day after that.

What's the downside?

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Re: KU -vs- Other retailers
« Reply #28 on: April 19, 2018, 11:17:40 AM »
Hey...noob here, so sorry if this topic has been discussed. I did a little digging and didn't see anything resent on the topic.

But, I was wondering what everyone's thoughts were about using KU in terms of exclusivity. Obviously, a full read (when the math is done) doesn't equal the royalties if the book was bought, but you're getting eyes on your book which is always a good thing.

The flip side is not everyone uses Amazon. How many readers am I missing out on by not offering my books on itunes or nook or others? Is that trade off worth it to stay on KU or should I branch out to other retailers? I have a fairly steady number of reads on KU, so I'm hesitant to pull my books and dip my toes in elsewhere.

What are your experiences?

I don't have experience wide but you asked for thoughts about using KU and I do have those. But on the matter of wide, my research (extracting data from this board exclusively) indicates wide authors get five to ten percent of their sales from wide sources, with a few achieving 20%. It seems a majority going wide after a stint in KU make less money.

Putting revenue aside for a moment--strategically, wide is more prudent in a general sense, but there's no need to rush into it. You can keep it in your back-pocket until such time KU is no longer lucrative. The learning curve for wide awaits you in either case, so I'd wait until it becomes a necessity (or just put a book or two wide now to learn the ropes now. That's my plan.).

If you're above all a writer hoping to build an audience and long-term career (and not strictly a marketer out to make a buck), don't worry about a single book's KENP, look at your shelf's KENP. When you capture a fan, it's likely they'll read all of your books. You'll make up for the shorter work's pitiful KENP haul with your longer books and, of course, actual sales.

KU isn't evil, nor is it perfect. At the moment it's half of my income (I write 40k-80k books and price at $2.99). If KU is considerably LESS than half of your current income, it could be your genre would do better wide. That's the only metric I've come up that makes sense to me.


Offline brkingsolver

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Re: KU -vs- Other retailers
« Reply #29 on: April 19, 2018, 11:29:54 AM »
Only because 95% of kboards beats the pro-KU side like a dead horse (to use your logic you must profit from people joining KU). And it's disingenuous because none of you really provide the necessary caveats to warn newbies about the negatives of KU, you simply tout it as the go-to-option for all new authors.

The notion that KU generates visibility is beyond ridiculous. It requires as much marketing spend as any other market, and I'd actually argue even more given the competition on AMS. And none of you KU junkies are disclosing your AMS spend or what it's taking to make KU work with a positive ROI for you; and while it works for some there are a ton of you that it ain't working for but that you won't admit it publicly. I suspect there will be a lot more "retirements" coming over the course of the remaining year. 

Instead of leading newbies off a cliff and getting them stuck in the same quagmire many of you are stuck in where you hold out your hands and await to see what King Bezos tosses into the crowd on any given month, be more vocal about the negatives of KU and I wouldn't have to.

Can KU work? ya. Can it make you rich? For some. Is it the land of lollipops and four-leaf clovers that most of you represent it to be to newbies? hell no.



Since no one knows whether you've ever written a book. or what kind of book, or where you sell it, it's difficult to debate you. To my knowledge, you've never offered any arguments for going wide or any advice as to how to be successful wide. All you do is bash KU and tell us that over the rainbow where you live is full of lollipops and cupcakes. As to the made-up statistic that 95% of us are in KU, I would hazard a guess that somewhere around 30-40% of this board is wide.

I hold no more loyalty to Amazon than it does to me. I make money. My AMS spend was under $1,000 last year, which was a small percentage of my writing income.

BR Kingsolver | Author website

Offline TwistedTales

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Re: KU -vs- Other retailers
« Reply #30 on: April 19, 2018, 11:37:08 AM »
Just to counterpoint some of the awesome assumptions in this thread.

Some authors (& it is more than a few) get more than 50% of their revenue wide and make 80+% margin.

Bookbub appear to favor wide books over KU and they are a unique marketing capability, in that they can put book after book into the top 50 - 100 in Amazon.com, and even higher on the other stores. They can achieve such impressive results that authors will leave KU just to try and get one of their Featured Deals.

Thanks to the over enthusiastic KU take up there is a lot less competition wide, which means our advertizing budgets go a lot further.

We also dont worry about exclusivity, or book stuffing, or scammers, or niche tropes, or length of book, or page rates to know what we earned, or monthly schedules so we are on the HNR, or our ranks because ours will always be shot on Amazon, which means we are free to create when we want, what we want, and give it to whomever we please. Makes life a lot simpler.

Many of us who are wide are profitable. Could we make more money if we enrolled in KU? Some might, some might not, it really depends on what you write, frequency of publishing, length of book, etc. I probably would make more in KU, for a while at least, but eventually Id be chasing the dragon, advertizing like crazy, giving Amazon most of my margin through AMS ads, while getting frustrated by how badly they run KU, not to mention the risk of being threatened because they think I cheated even if I didnt.

There is a lot more to being in or out of KU than making money versus not because both paths can do that depending on your books and talent, but you wont understand it by reading the board, you really need to live it and draw your own conclusions.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2018, 12:24:24 PM by TwistedTales »

Offline JRTomlin

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Re: KU -vs- Other retailers
« Reply #31 on: April 19, 2018, 12:09:21 PM »
As a new author, IF KU is paying less (and significantly less) for a full read than a sale

AND IF you are being paid on pages turned rather than proper borrow units

It makes sense that an author would VASTLY prefer someone BUY their ebook than BORROW it.

Which makes me conclude, it makes sense to not allow that option.

The consensus that you will do better in KU rather than out, relies on a crowd of readers picking your book up some way at a discounted rate of payment. I mean, isn't $2 from a 2.99 sale discounted enough? We have to have KU borrowers reading our books for a few chapters for 5 cents or whatever? When did this become an attractive option for authors?

I think Amazon bait and switched us with KU1 and KU2, and they keep on making KU2 worse in terms of what you get paid vs better.

Of course there will be many situations where KU is still better, but I doubt it will last.


There are indie authors wide selling extremely well with permafree and series and their royalties must be so good vs books ranked higher but in KU and exclusive. If I couldn't find them as examples, it would be hard to start a career wide, but with them as examples there's a map to follow
But you are assuming that if people do not borrow it, that they will buy it. I can speak from experience that that is not necessarily true.

Nor is going wide an easy path, even when you have a career already built. Again I speak from experience.

ETA: To be clear, I am neither pro nor anti-KU. I am pro-doing what works for you to earn a living as an author. KU worked well for me for a long time. Giving wide a try for part of my catalog is so far less than wildly successful, but that doesn't prove much.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2018, 12:26:39 PM by JRTomlin »

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Online Bill Hiatt

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Re: KU -vs- Other retailers
« Reply #32 on: April 19, 2018, 12:14:32 PM »
...you really need to live it and draw your own conclusions.
That's sound advice.

It's apparent that some people are doing well via KU, and some people are doing well wide. Results vary so considerably that experimentation is probably the only way to know for sure.

In almost every thread on which there is a difference of opinion (not just the KU ones), it's easy to find posters taking their own personal experience and assuming that it's universal, or at least quite common. Unfortunately, none of us have the data to know one way or the other, and we probably never will.

As to which side of the rainbow the cupcakes are on, I'm probably better off not knowing. I'm overweight enough as it is!


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Offline TwistedTales

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Re: KU -vs- Other retailers
« Reply #33 on: April 19, 2018, 12:22:48 PM »
Also, some of us have been in KU and wide, so our comparisons are based on real life experience. Some people left a few years ago, others more recently, and that changes their assessment. For some people it takes time to get traction wide, and others not so much. There are also people who have been in KU, wide, back in, and some still have a foot in both camps.

As is often the case in this business, its difficult to get a one size fits all solution, or a simple do this and that will happen answer. There are just too many dynamics at play.

Just be aware this subject is fraught with people who want to prove theyre doing the right thing by being in KU or out of it. It skews their assessment because theyve made a call and want to believe its right, so proving it to other people can build confidence in their own decision. The truth is there is only whats right for you, which is likely to take some experimentation. Go ahead and be in or out because you can always change you mind later.

Offline WyandVoidbringer

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Re: KU -vs- Other retailers
« Reply #34 on: April 19, 2018, 12:25:43 PM »
I would love to be out of KU.

I don't like being so dependent on Amazon, and I don't like that my books have to be sold exclusively through them while in KU.

But at this point of my self-publishing career, I don't think it makes sense to go wide.

Although, I hope to do so someday.

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Offline TwistedTales

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Re: KU -vs- Other retailers
« Reply #35 on: April 19, 2018, 12:37:44 PM »
I would love to be out of KU.

I don't like being so dependent on Amazon, and I don't like that my books have to be sold exclusively through them while in KU.

But at this point of my self-publishing career, I don't think it makes sense to go wide.

Although, I hope to do so someday.

It helps to have a bigger catalog. A single series is like having one book because you must choose to be all in or all out. I knew when I left KU that I could, at a push, drop a series back in. In fact, I did enrol one book after I left (Amazon made a mistake and unenrolled it after about ten days and I never renrolled because I sort of regretted chickening out yeah, yeah, I get its not PC to call it that, but its how I felt at the time).

There is also the worry about leaving the mothership. Mommy is bad tempered, a bit of a drinker, and shouts a lot, but you know her quirks and shes predictably p*ssed most of the time. Without all the unwritten and barely written rules in the TOS, you do feel a bit untethered, but that passes fairly quickly and I was surprised how much changed for me. Little things like release cycles and relaxing launch activities to suit my personal schedule.

Being wide is very different to being in KU, and I suspect both experiences are worth having, even if its just to know for absolute sure what each side looks like for you. That way you are not relying on third-party and potentially skewed versions of a truth that isnt yours anyway.

Online kw3000

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Re: KU -vs- Other retailers
« Reply #36 on: April 19, 2018, 12:41:33 PM »
Can KU work? ya. Can it make you rich? For some. Is it the land of lollipops and four-leaf clovers that most of you represent it to be to newbies? hell no.

You just described self-publishing in general. Everything else is just noise.

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Offline Kessie Carroll

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Re: KU -vs- Other retailers
« Reply #37 on: April 19, 2018, 12:42:07 PM »
I've got some books in wide and some in KU, but the genres have to match the audiences. For instance, I'm doing the Chris Fox Write to Market thing on superhero fantasy. The other retailers don't even have a category for it. It's a pretty small category on Amazon, and all the books that are remotely selling are in KU (not counting the trad pubs like Bardugo's Wonder Woman). I can't even find equivalent books on Kobo or ibooks, because searching "superhero" only turns up books with "superhero" in the title. Without a good Browse category, there's no way to even tell what's out there. Other retailers, geez, get your act together! You might earn some actual moolah!

Anyway, it depends on your genre. Do your market research, and see if the other retailers even have a category for what you're writing. If it only sells on KU, then plan to put that book in KU.
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Re: KU -vs- Other retailers
« Reply #38 on: April 19, 2018, 12:58:46 PM »
Everything else is just noise.

I'm seeing that. Just a lot of bickering between people with strong opinions but none have given sound reasons for those opinions. Makes it hard to shift through to find the good advice/experience story. I was just looking for what people have experienced. Kind of regretting opening this (apparently numerous) can of worms. ::)

« Last Edit: April 19, 2018, 01:02:25 PM by munboy »

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Re: KU -vs- Other retailers
« Reply #39 on: April 19, 2018, 01:01:56 PM »
Side note: I think I gave the wrong impression when I said "noob here".... I'm not a noob to self-publishing. I have been publishing for 3 years and have 5 books out. I meant I am a noob to this board.

I have a growing reader base and I was just looking for tips and tricks for growing it even more. Pros and cons for KU and wide, including a better chance of getting on Bookbub by being wide. I'm still learning, figuring out what works for my books and what doesn't, but definitely not a noob. lol

Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: KU -vs- Other retailers
« Reply #40 on: April 19, 2018, 01:16:04 PM »
Side note: I think I gave the wrong impression when I said "noob here".... I'm not a noob to self-publishing. I have been publishing for 3 years and have 5 books out. I meant I am a noob to this board.

I have a growing reader base and I was just looking for tips and tricks for growing it even more. Pros and cons for KU and wide, including a better chance of getting on Bookbub by being wide. I'm still learning, figuring out what works for my books and what doesn't, but definitely not a noob. lol
In that case, take a series wide, support it, and see. That is what I did (with 3 series). It gave me a much better picture of what being wide required for *my books* vs KU. People in the same genre can and do have absolutely opposite experiences wide and in KU, so you really have to see for yourself.

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Re: KU -vs- Other retailers
« Reply #41 on: April 19, 2018, 01:22:26 PM »
I'm noticing how much you rely on hyperbole when you talk about this issue:

Only because 95% of kboards beats the pro-KU side like a dead horse

Quote
none of you really provide the necessary caveats to warn newbies

Quote
And none of you KU junkies are disclosing your AMS spend

Quote
there are a ton of you that it ain't working for but that you won't admit it publicly

Quote
Instead of leading newbies off a cliff and getting them stuck in the same quagmire many of you are stuck in where you hold out your hands and await to see what King Bezos tosses into the crowd on any given month

Quote
Is it the land of lollipops and four-leaf clovers that most of you represent it to be to newbies? hell no.

The problem with hyperbole is that, when it's what your entire argument rests upon, you don't actually have an argument.

Online munboy

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Re: KU -vs- Other retailers
« Reply #42 on: April 19, 2018, 01:26:05 PM »
In that case, take a series wide, support it, and see. That is what I did (with 3 series). It gave me a much better picture of what being wide required for *my books* vs KU. People in the same genre can and do have absolutely opposite experiences wide and in KU, so you really have to see for yourself.

I'm considering that. I have a trilogy I might try taking wide. I don't have the first book in KU so I can have it basically on permafree to build readers and newsletter subscribers. I do have it wide through Smashwords, but I don't support it (ads and such). So, I might just take the next 2 books wide and toss some support at it, see if it sticks.

Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: KU -vs- Other retailers
« Reply #43 on: April 19, 2018, 01:39:29 PM »
Ar the moment all my indie stuff is in KU. It is not always. i am spending $3 a day on AMS right now. Last year my total marketing spend (including newsletter and images and so forth) was about 5% of gross. I spent much more on advertising when I was fully wide as I found I needed itup to 7% of gross just on ads. And it still did not do enough. Afterwards others told me I should have spent 50% of Gross to get known. To be fair that is what the Mastermind group is spending on AMS ads I believe.

Also note that non exclusive authors use AMS also, many at large spends.

There truly is not one path. It is so individual. I hate to figure out marketing so I mostly just do the paid newsletter ads still, typically clustered around a price promo every 2-4 months. I am sure I could be earning more if I marketed better, but I hate it. Another individual circumstance. Others love the game and challenge of it, KU or wide. I mostly rely on cover, blurb, and book to stir interest, and was an early mover in audio, German translation, and a trad series. Things that did not require marketing. :)
« Last Edit: April 19, 2018, 01:41:21 PM by Usedtoposthere »

Offline brkingsolver

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Re: KU -vs- Other retailers
« Reply #44 on: April 19, 2018, 02:18:07 PM »
Ar the moment all my indie stuff is in KU. It is not always. i am spending $3 a day on AMS right now. Last year my total marketing spend (including newsletter and images and so forth) was about 5% of gross. I spent much more on advertising when I was fully wide as I found I needed itup to 7% of gross just on ads. And it still did not do enough. Afterwards others told me I should have spent 50% of Gross to get known. To be fair that is what the Mastermind group is spending on AMS ads I believe.

I know one mid-six figure fantasy author who spends 25-33% on ads and marketing.

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Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: KU -vs- Other retailers
« Reply #45 on: April 19, 2018, 02:28:58 PM »
I know there are people in KU making six figures a month who spend 10K a month or more on AMS ads. I know others, in and out of KU, who spend 1K a month and make that much. I know people who are killing it releasing monthly (in and out of KU), and people who are killing it releasing much more slowly (every 3-4 months). Certainly either a big ad spend or fast, high-quality releases (or both) can help a lot. Or you can be like me and do neither and just sort of lumber along.

I know authors who do extremely well who say they have no choice but to be in KU, because that is where their genre's readership is. Cozy mystery is a big KU genre, as is space opera. In my genre, most of the indies who do very well seem to be out of KU, because that's where the get-rich-quick folks are clustered (romance).

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Re: KU -vs- Other retailers
« Reply #46 on: April 19, 2018, 02:45:57 PM »
Seneca, "KU junkies"? Seriously? No more vitriol and swearing. It's almost impossible to edit your posts to bring them within our forum decorum while preserving even vaguely the ideas you're trying to convey. Do that work yourself before hitting "Post" or move along.

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Re: KU -vs- Other retailers
« Reply #47 on: April 24, 2018, 09:01:56 AM »
Well, after reading this thread (and others on the same topic) I've decided to dip my toes in the wide market with my trilogy...mainly because it's my older books and don't generate a ton of KU reads. My newer books get enough reads for me to keep them where they're at for the moment.

So, once their KU is up in June, I'm going to spread them like a virus. The next question, and I've seen many opinions on this so I'm hoping to get solid reasoning, how should I go about going wide? Have complete control by doing it myself or lose a little profit by using a distribution service like smashwords and others? If I use a distribution service, what do you use and why?

Thanks for all the advice!

Offline CathleenT

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Re: KU -vs- Other retailers
« Reply #48 on: April 24, 2018, 12:41:55 PM »
Patty Jansen has a book on going wide that's only $.99. I've skimmed it, and it looks pretty good, but I'm not in a place where I can use most of the info yet. Might be a place to start.

About the only advice that applied to me at this point (thus I remembered it), is to advertise at places that are more international in readership. She recommended Instafreebie and Facebook ads for that reason. There were probably others, but that's what stuck. :)