Author Topic: Further pondering of the results of going wide  (Read 7638 times)  

Offline JRTomlin

  • Status: Agatha Christie
  • *********
  • Posts: 16966
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • J. R. Tomlin on Writing and More
Further pondering of the results of going wide
« on: April 13, 2018, 07:50:18 PM »
I pulled my Black Douglas Trilogy out of KU and went wide with it in mid-October. As I posted earlier, I have seen no increase in sales, so that answer one question, I believe. KU was not cannibalizing sales, which is very difficult to tell while you're in. I expected it to take a while to start seeing sales wide. I made the first novel in the trilogy 'perma-free' although it's not my favorite strategy in the world. I have done some advertising all along, a few BB ads (as opposed to promos) and a few ads elsewhere.

On Wednesday I ran a BB promo on the first novel. It had about 16k downloads on Amazon, about 8k total on Apple & B&N and no idea on Kobo since their reporting on free downloads seems to be broken. That day I had 5 sales on B&N, 3 on Apple, and 12 on Kobo - almost all in Canada. On Amazon I had 84 sales of the other novels in the trilogy. So at the end of the day the promo had nearly paid for itself and any tail will mostly be RoI, but looking at the comparison of results of a BB promo are very concerning.

Frankly, I like having the novels wide, but I also have a mortgage payment to meet every month, etc. There is no way that sales on that level is making up for the KU read income. I'm not putting them back in KU any time soon, certainly not for a few months, but... Unless this promo does something I haven't seen yet, that looks inevitable. I was planning on putting my one stand alone novel wide later this month when it ages out of KU. At the moment, I don't see much point.

So... for what it's worth, that's what I'm seeing. Of course, it is only one person's experience in one genre.

Saor Alba
J. R. Tomlin

Offline CathleenT

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 165
    • View Profile
Re: Further pondering of the results of going wide
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2018, 08:31:16 PM »
Thanks so much for sharing this, although I'm sorry you didn't get the results you were hoping for. :)

Offline Becca Mills

  • Moderator
  • Status: Emily Dickinson
  • *****
  • Posts: 9356
  • Gender: Female
  • California
    • View Profile
    • website
Re: Further pondering of the results of going wide
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2018, 08:42:51 PM »
Thanks for sharing, JR. I prepared for excitement when you mentioned 8K downloads on Apple, but three follow-up sales is about as deflating as it gets. :( Hopefully that'll pick up in the coming days and weeks.

Offline JRTomlin

  • Status: Agatha Christie
  • *********
  • Posts: 16966
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • J. R. Tomlin on Writing and More
Re: Further pondering of the results of going wide
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2018, 08:49:38 PM »
My wording was a bit off. That was the total of downloads at both B&N and Apple. I was trying to keep it brief and instead kept it confusing. But. yeah, I keep hoping that reporting is slow or something. Sales that low are discouraging. 8 sales for 8k downloads is hardly a wonderful result. There is still time for it to turn around, but at this point, you can imagine I'm not counting on it.

I am not going to jump the gun and go back into KU before I give it at least a few more months however.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2018, 08:53:35 PM by JRTomlin »

Saor Alba
J. R. Tomlin

Offline joesmithx

  • Status: Madeleine L'Engle
  • **
  • Posts: 75
    • View Profile
Re: Further pondering of the results of going wide
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2018, 08:56:01 PM »
I pulled my Black Douglas Trilogy out of KU and went wide with it in mid-October. As I posted earlier, I have seen no increase in sales, so that answer one question, I believe. KU was not cannibalizing sales, which is very difficult to tell while you're in. I expected it to take a while to start seeing sales wide. I made the first novel in the trilogy 'perma-free' although it's not my favorite strategy in the world. I have done some advertising all along, a few BB ads (as opposed to promos) and a few ads elsewhere.

On Wednesday I ran a BB promo on the first novel. It had about 16k downloads on Amazon, about 8k total on Apple & B&N and no idea on Kobo since their reporting on free downloads seems to be broken. That day I had 5 sales on B&N, 3 on Apple, and 12 on Kobo - almost all in Canada. On Amazon I had 84 sales of the other novels in the trilogy. So at the end of the day the promo had nearly paid for itself and any tail will mostly be RoI, but looking at the comparison of results of a BB promo are very concerning.

Frankly, I like having the novels wide, but I also have a mortgage payment to meet every month, etc. There is no way that sales on that level is making up for the KU read income. I'm not putting them back in KU any time soon, certainly not for a few months, but... Unless this promo does something I haven't seen yet, that looks inevitable. I was planning on putting my one stand alone novel wide later this month when it ages out of KU. At the moment, I don't see much point.

So... for what it's worth, that's what I'm seeing. Of course, it is only one person's experience in one genre.

Thanks very much for sharing your experience. I, too, went wide with a couple of my series for nearly 7 months last year only to see abysmal results. The sales I was getting across all non-Amazon platforms in those 7 months didn't even equal a month in KU via page reads. And you had a Bookbub. I can't get a Bookbub to save my life.

Yeah, I'd love to be wide as well, but like you, I have bills to pay. I don't care how many times the usual suspects pop up into the KU threads with their tongue-wagging emoticons to declare "Nyah nyah nyah" when something bad happens in KU. All I know is that I haven't made less than six figures a year in all the time I've been all-in with Select through its various iterations.

I wish I could have gone wide years ago and built up a following in the other platforms, but alas, I wasn't bright enough to do that and frankly, I think it's too late. Maybe a Bookbub would help, but BB doesn't seem interested in any of my books. I read in another thread where an author casually dropped that she's already had 3 Bookbubs ALREADY this year and I just want to bang my head into my keyboard.

Offline JRTomlin

  • Status: Agatha Christie
  • *********
  • Posts: 16966
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • J. R. Tomlin on Writing and More
Re: Further pondering of the results of going wide
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2018, 09:09:29 PM »
I have always been luckier than most with BB promotions. I am a bit dismayed at what I have seen with this one. I honestly thought BB would probably turn things around. I suppose it still could happen but it isn't looking good.

Saor Alba
J. R. Tomlin

Offline Becca Mills

  • Moderator
  • Status: Emily Dickinson
  • *****
  • Posts: 9356
  • Gender: Female
  • California
    • View Profile
    • website
Re: Further pondering of the results of going wide
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2018, 09:16:37 PM »
8K at B&N and Apple combined sounds great to me. If there's no significant sell-through from that ... well, that's rotten. :(

Do you have the book up at Google? Perhaps oddly, that's been my second-best platform.

Looks like the book's holding free rank well at Amazon. There's that, at least.

Online David VanDyke

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1909
    • View Profile
Re: Further pondering of the results of going wide
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2018, 09:32:31 PM »
If you're wide, get on all channels you can. Write to Google Play and/or access them via an aggregator, otherwise you're leaving money on the table.

You should see some sales off your downloads soon. My permafrees generally yield 4-10% sell-through for the next book but it takes a few days to start seeing them show up, as most people will finish their current book (or series) before starting another one.





Futuristic Thrillers, Mysteries and Science Fiction
David VanDyke | Blog | Website | Facebook | Twitter[/

Offline munboy

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 159
    • View Profile
Re: Further pondering of the results of going wide
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2018, 09:34:09 PM »
I pulled my Black Douglas Trilogy out of KU and went wide with it in mid-October. As I posted earlier, I have seen no increase in sales, so that answer one question, I believe. KU was not cannibalizing sales, which is very difficult to tell while you're in. I expected it to take a while to start seeing sales wide. I made the first novel in the trilogy 'perma-free' although it's not my favorite strategy in the world. I have done some advertising all along, a few BB ads (as opposed to promos) and a few ads elsewhere.

On Wednesday I ran a BB promo on the first novel. It had about 16k downloads on Amazon, about 8k total on Apple & B&N and no idea on Kobo since their reporting on free downloads seems to be broken. That day I had 5 sales on B&N, 3 on Apple, and 12 on Kobo - almost all in Canada. On Amazon I had 84 sales of the other novels in the trilogy. So at the end of the day the promo had nearly paid for itself and any tail will mostly be RoI, but looking at the comparison of results of a BB promo are very concerning.

Frankly, I like having the novels wide, but I also have a mortgage payment to meet every month, etc. There is no way that sales on that level is making up for the KU read income. I'm not putting them back in KU any time soon, certainly not for a few months, but... Unless this promo does something I haven't seen yet, that looks inevitable. I was planning on putting my one stand alone novel wide later this month when it ages out of KU. At the moment, I don't see much point.

So... for what it's worth, that's what I'm seeing. Of course, it is only one person's experience in one genre.

If I'm reading this right, the BB was the first in a series for free and got a bunch of DLs? I'm interested to see how things progress over the next few weeks for you as people finish reading the free book and want to move on to the rest of the series. I hope you start seeing those sales jump like crazy!

Online Patty Jansen

  • Status: Harvey Chute
  • *********
  • Posts: 12324
  • Gender: Female
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Destroyer of Science Fiction
    • View Profile
    • Patty Jansen Author of SF and fantasy
Re: Further pondering of the results of going wide
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2018, 10:10:02 PM »
You won't see any tongue-wagging here (not about this subject at least).

If going wide was easy, everyone would be doing it. It's hard work. It's a lifestyle rather than a method, and Joanna Penn is right in saying that KU vs wide cuts a deep, deep dichotomy through the self-publishing world.

Before you consider what you write, who your audience is etc. comes the question KU vs wide. Because the audiences may over lap some, but not as much as you'd think.

Wide requires a completely different approach.

I started out wide and was lucky in retrospect that I couldn't sell in KU to save my life. I'll be trying again soon, because you you should always try everything multiple times.

I built an audience that was wide (through default, I couldn't sell in KU and haven't been in KU for over 3 years). I built a strong mailing list. I used services that were likely to get me readers who don't have KU. I advertise on Facebook for subscribers in non-KU-dominated countries.

I've done these things for 3 years. I've been very very lucky with Bookbub and have snatched 13 of them. But, as noted, Bookbub is strongest in the US and for Amazon. They are working on the other platforms, but a Bookbub gives you disproportionately a bigger kick on Amazon. You tend to lose that spike much more quickly on Amazon, too.

Because of the Bookbubs, my Amazon percentage of sales is 41%. This is quite high for me. Amazon US is 26% of my sales.

If you're in KU wondering if you can get a kickstart by going wide, consider these metrics:
- what percentage of your sales are on Amazon US?
- How big is your mailing list and have you done any listbuilding that does not involve people signing up from the back of your book?

If like 80% of your Amazon sales are in the US and you have a list that's from back-of-book signups only, you are very likely to have a much harder time out of KU that someone who has done some Instafreebie/giveaways and whose sales are not so heavily skewed towards the US.

If you plan to go wide, want to make it part of your lifestyle, or have just uploaded your books to other stores and are waiting in trepidation, I'd say a good place to start building an audience is a permafree in combination with some joint author promo giveaways to collect subscribers (aka "your potential wide audience").

On Kobo, make sure you go direct and register for their monthly promos regardless of previous results. When you first start doing these, you're likely to have more duds than hits, but eventually you'll start to get things rolling. Don't make books permafree on Kobo. They become 100% invisible.

Also make box sets of your entire series, sell them for a higher price and don't put them on Amazon.

Offline CoraBuhlert

  • Status: Emily Dickinson
  • *******
  • Posts: 8242
  • Gender: Female
  • Bremen, Germany
    • View Profile
    • Cora Buhlert
Re: Further pondering of the results of going wide
« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2018, 11:04:28 PM »
Actually, J.R., I think you're an ideal candidate for going wide.

Your novels are historical fiction, i.e. not a typical KU genre, and their appeal definitely extends beyond the US. But as Patty said, going wide takes some patience and effort.

I've always been wide and Amazon.com only makes up about 23.5% of my total sales now. My biggest Amazon market is actually Amazon Germany, which makes up 36.6% of my total sales. But in general, I get a large spread of sales at the smaller retailers.


Cora Buhlert | Blog | Pegasus Pulp | Newsletter | Author Central | Twitter | Instagram | [url=http://www.pint

Offline Lilly_Frost

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 289
    • View Profile
Re: Further pondering of the results of going wide
« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2018, 11:26:32 PM »
So Kobo doesn't have a cow if your book is permafree everywhere but there?

On Kobo, make sure you go direct and register for their monthly promos regardless of previous results. When you first start doing these, you're likely to have more duds than hits, but eventually you'll start to get things rolling. Don't make books permafree on Kobo. They become 100% invisible.

Also make box sets of your entire series, sell them for a higher price and don't put them on Amazon.
The Philadelphia Experiment: 80%
Leroy Nichols | Square Root of Time

Online Patty Jansen

  • Status: Harvey Chute
  • *********
  • Posts: 12324
  • Gender: Female
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Destroyer of Science Fiction
    • View Profile
    • Patty Jansen Author of SF and fantasy
Re: Further pondering of the results of going wide
« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2018, 11:32:10 PM »
So Kobo doesn't have a cow if your book is permafree everywhere but there?


That ridiculous checking, pricematching behaviour is native to Amazon. The other sites don't care. Apple forces prices to end in .99 which means that they may be more expensive. Google Play routinely discounts by 30%, so you really want to hoik up your prices there.

Online Lydniz

  • Status: Edgar Allan Poe
  • *******
  • Posts: 5583
  • Gender: Female
  • UK
    • View Profile
    • Credentials
Re: Further pondering of the results of going wide
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2018, 12:54:10 AM »
That ridiculous checking, pricematching behaviour is native to Amazon. The other sites don't care.

Actually, I seem to remember that B&N says you can't price a book higher there than anywhere else, although I might have got that wrong.

Offline LeonardDHilleyII

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2292
  • Gender: Male
  • Marietta, OH
  • Author of Sci-fi Thrillers/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy
    • View Profile
    • Leonard D. Hilley II Author
Re: Further pondering of the results of going wide
« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2018, 01:02:23 AM »
My wording was a bit off. That was the total of downloads at both B&N and Apple. I was trying to keep it brief and instead kept it confusing. But. yeah, I keep hoping that reporting is slow or something. Sales that low are discouraging. 8 sales for 8k downloads is hardly a wonderful result. There is still time for it to turn around, but at this point, you can imagine I'm not counting on it.

I am not going to jump the gun and go back into KU before I give it at least a few more months however.

I went wide last year with my novels and never had any success, even with a strong ad via Barnes & Noble. I have moved all my novels back to KU.


Join my subscription list at: http://leonarddhilleyii.com/ for a free digital copy of Forrest Wollinsky: Vampire Hunter.

Offline TwistedTales

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1278
    • View Profile
Re: Further pondering of the results of going wide
« Reply #15 on: April 14, 2018, 01:02:57 AM »
Actually, I seem to remember that B&N says you can't price a book higher there than anywhere else, although I might have got that wrong.

B&N price matched us this year while we were trying to get the discounts off. Its a bit crazy because Amazon can be slow, which sends the platforms into a loop where they price matched one another. Ended up having to write to both asking them to cut it out.

Offline LilyBLily

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2247
    • View Profile
Re: Further pondering of the results of going wide
« Reply #16 on: April 14, 2018, 05:49:07 AM »
I don't think I've ever sold a single copy of anything on Kobo, even my most non-U.S.-centric book. It's a dead zone for me.

The other stores at least responded to a BB CPC ad with a few sales, but not Kobo.




Offline TwistedTales

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1278
    • View Profile
Re: Further pondering of the results of going wide
« Reply #17 on: April 14, 2018, 05:55:55 AM »
I don't think I've ever sold a single copy of anything on Kobo, even my most non-U.S.-centric book. It's a dead zone for me.

The other stores at least responded to a BB CPC ad with a few sales, but not Kobo.

I barely sell anything on Kobo, but you made me look and I sold one book today. Booyah! Thats a whole $4 Ive got to spend.

Offline Anarchist

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2603
  • Methodological individualist
    • View Profile
Re: Further pondering of the results of going wide
« Reply #18 on: April 14, 2018, 06:08:46 AM »
OP, it couldn't hurt to buy Patty's Going Wide Unboxed.

It's $0.99, which is kinda surreal. And it's short; you can read it in an hour.
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

"Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." - Sun Tzu

Offline Bill Hiatt

  • Status: Dostoevsky
  • ******
  • Posts: 3464
  • Gender: Male
  • California
    • View Profile
    • Bill Hiatt's Author Website
Re: Further pondering of the results of going wide
« Reply #19 on: April 14, 2018, 06:34:17 AM »
Actually, I seem to remember that B&N says you can't price a book higher there than anywhere else, although I might have got that wrong.
I think many of the other booksellers have rules similar to Amazon's in that regard. They just don't enforce them in the way Amazon does.


Tickling the imagination one book at a time
Bill Hiatt | fiction website | education website | Facebook author page | Twitter

Offline Bob Stewart

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 576
    • View Profile
    • Street Car Mysteries
Re: Further pondering of the results of going wide
« Reply #20 on: April 14, 2018, 07:28:35 AM »
I've been in KU for my last two free BBs and the difference is very measurable, and I'm speaking just of Amazon sales per download.

KU people borrow the book even when it's free so my paid rank was way higher when I came out of the free days than when I went in.

But now it's been over a year since I had a BB, and it seems to me they're running fewer and fewer Amazon-exclusive books. So it's kind of a catch-22.

What's pushing more toward going wide right now is Amazon's way of handling things. For instance, the nonsensical contrivance of not telling us what the KU payment will be until well after the month is out.

Offline Puddleduck

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1129
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
Re: Further pondering of the results of going wide
« Reply #21 on: April 14, 2018, 07:39:50 AM »
Speaking of sell-through after a free promo... I think people on here put way too much emphasis on immediate sell-through. Personally, as a reader, I might grab a free (or 99-cent) book when it's on sale and then not read it for a long time, but that doesn't mean that there's no sell-through once I do get around to reading it. As a tradpub example, I grabbed "Monster Hunter International" when Audible had it on sale once, didn't get around to listening to it for like a year or more, and then once I did, soon bought everything that author ever published. I know this sort of delayed sell-through isn't measurable to the author/publisher, especially if the reader ends up buying them through a different store later, but when I see people talk about the efficacy of sales, I feel like the fact that sell-through often doesn't happen immediately is totally missed. Instant results are not the only results.

Offline Seneca42

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1197
    • View Profile
Re: Further pondering of the results of going wide
« Reply #22 on: April 14, 2018, 07:48:42 AM »
Instant results are not the only results.

I've done no promos (literally nothing, no ams or anything) since my last BB in october and am still seeing a tail. I think the more intellectual the book, the more people wait to read it until they are in the mood. A glowing hands book will get read very fast because those readers don't wait to be in a "mood", they are consuming that stuff daily.

OPs books seem like the type of thing you'll read when you're in the mood for historical fiction. So he'll probably see a more shallow, yet longer, tail.

Also, it's been widely reported that when zon is down the other retailers will be up. Never made any sense to me, but I do find that tends to happen. If zon goes dry for me, kobo and itunes tend to pick up and vice versa.

So you need at least a month to assess what the sell-through picture really is. 

Offline VanessaC

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 318
  • Gender: Female
  • UK
    • View Profile
Re: Further pondering of the results of going wide
« Reply #23 on: April 14, 2018, 08:10:56 AM »
Just wanted to add my thanks for sharing your experience and sorry that it's not been a better one so far. 

Offline JRTomlin

  • Status: Agatha Christie
  • *********
  • Posts: 16966
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • J. R. Tomlin on Writing and More
Re: Further pondering of the results of going wide
« Reply #24 on: April 14, 2018, 10:20:07 AM »
If you're wide, get on all channels you can. Write to Google Play and/or access them via an aggregator, otherwise you're leaving money on the table.

You should see some sales off your downloads soon. My permafrees generally yield 4-10% sell-through for the next book but it takes a few days to start seeing them show up, as most people will finish their current book (or series) before starting another one.




I could be just spoiled. On Amazon I start seeing substantial sell through on the day of the promotion.


Saor Alba
J. R. Tomlin