Author Topic: Questions for those who have gone wide  (Read 1261 times)  

Offline Eskimo

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Questions for those who have gone wide
« on: December 19, 2016, 07:51:28 am »
I am considering whether or not to take the plunge and go wide in 2017, and would appreciate any feedback from those who have left KDP Select and gone wide. Specifically:

1. Are you glad you did it?
2. Would you do it again?
3. Do you see yourself moving back to KDP Select any time soon?

and perhaps most important....

4. What advice do you have for someone who is new to Apple, Nook, Google, or Kobo ?
5. Are there any issues I should be aware of with these non-Amazon services, and this could include formatting, payment, or anything else you deem important.

Even though I have been getting a nice, steady income from my KU page reads, it has become increasingly difficult for me to get picked by BookBub. From 2013 to 2015, it was fairly easy to get accepted, but that no longer is the case.  As I comb through Bookbub's featured titles, the biggest thing that jumps out at me is very few of their books are Amazon exclusive. The second biggest thing is very few of the BookBub titles are offered for free.

The benefits to being in Select are obviously the income from Page Reads, the ability to use the free days occasionally, and keeping the 70% royalty rate when I promote at 99 cents. But the biggest drawback is exclusion from the single best promotional vehicle in the eBook world.

So any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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    Offline A. N. Other Author

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    Re: Questions for those who have gone wide
    « Reply #1 on: December 19, 2016, 08:22:10 am »

    1. Are you glad you did it? - YES
    2. Would you do it again? - YES, although I'm back with KDP for a new pen name early 2017
    3. Do you see yourself moving back to KDP Select any time soon? - not with the series I have at the moment, but I'll see how the new pen name goes.

    4. & 5. follows:


    It took me a good 4-5 months to get a handle on the other stores, and that followed a Bookbub, but they're good for a few hundred dollars now. I never really connected with KU on the series I had in there in early 2016, so I'm happier wide.

    Random thoughts as they occur to me:

    For formatting, I use Caliber, which is free, and converts the exact same files from Word (.doc .docx .rtf, etc) to epub and that passes both Draft 2 Digital and Smashwords file checkers, as well as Kobo and Nook.

    I use Draft 2 Digital as the aggregator for Apple & Nook, plus Scribd and the other outlets on there. Nice dashboard, easy upload process, fast price alterations. I've gone through Smashwords for some of the more niche ones but never sold a single copy there.

    I go direct to Kobo because it's so easy, and after a while you can use their own advertising options.

    You can go direct to Apple but you need a Mac to do so. I haven't gone directly to them yet, but I hear it's tricky the first couple of times.  After that it gets easier. The big advantage of going direct is that if you're moderately successful they are likely to help you promote directly to their readers, which is another plus on top of the slightly higher royalty rate you get.

    Apple won't publish your book if it links to Amazon, so you need specific links in the back. I have links to Apple, Nook, Kobo and my website, which they don't seem to mind.

    You can also go directly to Nook, but I'm not sure how much benefit there is in it besides a slightly higher royalty rate. There WAS a Nook promotional tool if you're direct with them (NOOK First -- https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScsi3zjcLDcn2mAasN5yTzSk8Jc_DhlkGJtJm7rBpinAu5vVw/viewform and NOOK Price Promos https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfh5ZPyVSnRgP3npAuddtYFEq2PFpj_NjWz3B11EvjFFPDBhA/viewform), but I never saw a big increase through them, at least nothing that stuck. I pulled out of Nook direct and went through D2D because at the time you couldn't do permafree through them. I understand that's changed now, but you'd have to check. Again, slightly higher royalty rate, but it's another channel to keep control of.

    Ultimately, you need a lot of patience. I suspect a really hot mailing list helps, although I'm still in the low hundreds. A decent marketing plan, and if you get a Bookbub early on I'm sure that will accellerate the success or otherwise.

    Best of luck if you take the plunge.
    « Last Edit: December 19, 2016, 08:23:45 am by ADDavies »

    Offline Eskimo

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    Re: Questions for those who have gone wide
    « Reply #2 on: December 19, 2016, 08:48:07 am »
    Thank you A.D. -- very helpful insights!

    Offline Talbot

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    Re: Questions for those who have gone wide
    « Reply #3 on: December 19, 2016, 08:48:22 am »
    Here's another vote for Draft 2 Digital. Very simple system.

    Online GeneDoucette

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    Re: Questions for those who have gone wide
    « Reply #4 on: December 19, 2016, 08:56:08 am »
    If you have a Mac, Vellum is a great option for formatting. It will take care of site-specific back-matter.

    Offline Taking my troll a$$ outta here

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    Re: Questions for those who have gone wide
    « Reply #5 on: December 19, 2016, 09:02:39 am »
    I am considering whether or not to take the plunge and go wide in 2017, and would appreciate any feedback from those who have left KDP Select and gone wide. Specifically:

    1. Are you glad you did it? Yes, I was happy with the decision when I made it each time (I've been in and out a few times).

    2. Would you do it again? Yes, if things change and sales are not growing, I would definitely change things up and go in or out of Select again. It's about adjusting to the market and coming up with a new plan in the even that the original plan is no longer efficient.

    3. Do you see yourself moving back to KDP Select any time soon? I just went back all in to Select in late September and I am very happy with the results so far.

    and perhaps most important....

    4. What advice do you have for someone who is new to Apple, Nook, Google, or Kobo ? Either pay someone to format your ebook or take your time to learn the differences and requirements of each distributor. Even if you are using a program to convert your books or paying someone to do it, it is good to understand why and how things like the TOC and links and stuff work in each version. Also, research what kinds of promotion works best for each distributor; sometimes it is tough to get traction and different methods are required to get visibility on distributors outside of Amazon.

    5. Are there any issues I should be aware of with these non-Amazon services, and this could include formatting, payment, or anything else you deem important. If you are fine with spending time with each individual service and their specific requirement, you can go direct and see better royalties. Going with Smashwords was a huge timesaver for me and they handled things in the event of any issues with the individual distributors. The only downside was the quarterly payments, but D2D pays monthly and many authors love D2D.

    Even though I have been getting a nice, steady income from my KU page reads, it has become increasingly difficult for me to get picked by BookBub. From 2013 to 2015, it was fairly easy to get accepted, but that no longer is the case.  As I comb through Bookbub's featured titles, the biggest thing that jumps out at me is very few of their books are Amazon exclusive. The second biggest thing is very few of the BookBub titles are offered for free. I'm at a loss for what BB is looking for. I just had a new KU release with less than 10 reviews accepted for a paid spot. I was shocked, but it looks like quite a few boards members are reporting similar things. So, hard to say on that.

    The benefits to being in Select are obviously the income from Page Reads, the ability to use the free days occasionally, and keeping the 70% royalty rate when I promote at 99 cents. But the biggest drawback is exclusion from the single best promotional vehicle in the eBook world.

    So any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
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    Offline Small Town Writer

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    Re: Questions for those who have gone wide
    « Reply #6 on: December 19, 2016, 09:14:39 am »
    1. Are you glad you did it? Absolutely, I hated being exclusive.
    2. Would you do it again? If my KU borrows were basically non-existent like they were before, then yes. Loading everything took a long time, though.
    3. Do you see yourself moving back to KDP Select anytime soon? I might launch a new series or standalone in Select, but I'd likely eventually go wide with them in the future.
    4. What advice do you have for someone who is new to Apple, Nook, Google, or Kobo? Save yourself the trouble of having unique links and send people to a "Books" landing page on your website where they can find all your books on all retailers. Use PrettyLinks or some other plugin that allows you to create a custom link and modify it's location.
    5. Are there any issues I should be aware of with these non-Amazon services, and this could include formatting, payment, or anything else you deem important. If you use both Smashwords and Draft2Digital, make sure they're not double-posting your book. I use Draft2Digital to post to the smaller retailers because they pay monthly versus quarterly like Smashwords. But D2D doesn't send to every minor retailer, so I use Smashwords for the rest.

    I just went live in August. I'm still not selling outrageous amounts of books, but the number sold have certainly increased. (I still celebrate 100 books sold a month -- which, except for November, I've hit every month since going wide.)

    Kobo's promotions tab is awesome. Email them and ask for it. Nook seems to respond well to ads that spike sales on Amazon (though Amazon's are understandably higher). I still have yet to figure out Apple. I've sold two books there total. Google Play is also kind of a mystery, though I've sold books there every month since going wide.

    I go direct for the big ones (Kobo, Nook, Apple, Google Play) and use Draft 2 Digital and Smashwords for the rest.

    One thing I've noticed with Kobo and Nook especially is that readers tend to buy all the books in my series, whereas I just see spikes on the books I'm promoting on Amazon.

    Like I said, I'm not making a ton of money by going wide, but I'm definitely making more than I was being exclusive. Before I averaged around 50 books sold a month, now I'm averaging 75-100 books sold. Of course, I now have more books in my catalog to sell than I did before, but most of my sales are for Book 1, which is at $0.99. Later this week and next week I'm going to make it permafree, so we'll see how that does with sell-through.
    « Last Edit: December 19, 2016, 10:06:13 am by David Neth »

    Online GeneDoucette

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    Re: Questions for those who have gone wide
    « Reply #7 on: December 19, 2016, 09:46:26 am »
    Regarding the Bookbub part of your motivation, there's a sort of chicken-egg argument to be had here.

    Do you have the kind of books that do better in KU than wide? (I don't know this answer, and probably you don't either.)

    Does Bookbub take the kind of books that do well wide over the kind of books that do well in KU?

    Or do they take books that are wide over KU because they are wide?


    Offline Jonathan C. Gillespie

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    Re: Questions for those who have gone wide
    « Reply #8 on: December 19, 2016, 10:43:02 am »
    I was wide, and found Select worked better for me. But lately things have been very, very slow, so it's definitely a YMMV issue.

    Also, it's really easy to trip up Select's TOS. For example, I'd love to be able to use Instafreebie as a promo tool, but from what I can tell, I'd violate the Select TOS doing that.


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    Offline Sara C

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    Re: Questions for those who have gone wide
    « Reply #9 on: December 19, 2016, 11:49:35 am »
    1. Are you glad you did it?

    I've been wide since mid 2014, and no regrets.

    2. Would you do it again?

    Yes, although I recently released a series into KU. I'll eventually put it wide once I have four or five books, then release the next new series into KU. I like to have my fingers in all of the pots.

    3. Do you see yourself moving back to KDP Select any time soon?

    I don't ever plan on putting any of my older series into KU unless sales totally tank. Nook and iBooks have always been pretty consistent for me, so I don't forsee me pulling them any time soon.

    4. What advice do you have for someone who is new to Apple, Nook, Google, or Kobo ?

    -Give it time. Pay attention to which promo sites do well on other vendors (Bookbub, of course, but also Freebooksy and a few others).
    -Go direct if you can handle all of the uploading, etc. I went with D2D in the beginning, and wish I hadn't. Now if I want to switch the books to direct, I'd lose all reviews, rankings, etc on each site.

    5. Are there any issues I should be aware of with these non-Amazon services, and this could include formatting, payment, or anything else you deem important.

    I format with Vellum, which makes it super easy to upload to all of the sites. Before I switched to Mac, I would format on D2D, and use the epub sample to upload direct to each of the sites. Also, not relevant at the moment unless you already have a Google Play publisher's account, but they heavily discount, so if you do get on there, be sure to price accordingly.

    Offline dorihoxa

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    Re: Questions for those who have gone wide
    « Reply #10 on: December 19, 2016, 12:25:45 pm »
    I was wide, and found Select worked better for me. But lately things have been very, very slow, so it's definitely a YMMV issue.

    Also, it's really easy to trip up Select's TOS. For example, I'd love to be able to use Instafreebie as a promo tool, but from what I can tell, I'd violate the Select TOS doing that.

    I use instafreebie by offering sample copies of my first-in-series (the first 10%). I checked with Amazon and this doesn't violate any of their TOS.

    Offline Eskimo

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    Re: Questions for those who have gone wide
    « Reply #11 on: December 20, 2016, 07:06:54 am »
    Regarding the Bookbub part of your motivation, there's a sort of chicken-egg argument to be had here.

    Do you have the kind of books that do better in KU than wide? (I don't know this answer, and probably you don't either.)

    Does Bookbub take the kind of books that do well wide over the kind of books that do well in KU?

    Or do they take books that are wide over KU because they are wide?



    Gene,

    I never had a problem getting any of my books accepted by BookBub until this year. My sense is that they are giving preference to titles that are wide. They still have some Amazon exclusive books, there are just fewer of them.

    Given that I write in a popular genre (mysteries), I am pretty sure that they will have appeal beyond KU. But I guess I'll find out soon.

    Offline Cactus Lady

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    Re: Questions for those who have gone wide
    « Reply #12 on: December 20, 2016, 09:58:01 am »
    Can you choose which retailers you submit to on Smashwords? I've considered switching to Smashwords for digital, but I don't know much about it.

    Yes, you can. There's a Channel Management page where for each book you can select or deselect the retailers you want it to go to. Default is to distribute; if you don't want to distribute to a certain store, you have to deselect it.

    Like a lot of others, I use Draft2Digital for most of my wide distribution. I distribute through all the stores they have listed. I'm also on Smashwords, for their own storefront (where I do reasonably well from time to time, especially during their site-wide sales) and the other platforms that D2D doesn't cover, like Overdrive and some smaller stores. Note: Whatever you do, do not select to distribute through FlipKart! It's a site in India, I don't think they even sell ebooks any more and that Smashwords ended their distribution agreement with them some time ago, but just in case, don't go there. It used to take FOREVER to get any kind of changes, price or de-listing if you want to go back into Select, to go through.

    But yeah, on both D2D and Smashwords you can individually select for each book where you want to sell it. Just be careful not to duplicate stores between the two distributors.
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    Offline Eskimo

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    Re: Questions for those who have gone wide
    « Reply #13 on: December 20, 2016, 10:31:44 am »

    4. What advice do you have for someone who is new to Apple, Nook, Google, or Kobo ?

    -Go direct if you can handle all of the uploading, etc. I went with D2D in the beginning, and wish I hadn't. Now if I want to switch the books to direct, I'd lose all reviews, rankings, etc on each site.


    Sara -- Why do you wish you hadn't gone with D2D in the beginning ?

    Offline Jonathan C. Gillespie

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    Re: Questions for those who have gone wide
    « Reply #14 on: December 20, 2016, 10:35:35 am »
    I use instafreebie by offering sample copies of my first-in-series (the first 10%). I checked with Amazon and this doesn't violate any of their TOS.

    So the first 10% of the first book, correct?

    Has that worked out well for you?


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    Offline katrina46

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    Re: Questions for those who have gone wide
    « Reply #15 on: December 20, 2016, 10:56:02 am »
    You absolutely can go permafree direct to Nook now. I recommend it because my sales increased there as soon as I started going direct. They give you five categories to increase visibility and it seems more effective than if you put them up through D2D.

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