Author Topic: Kobo - Apple - Nook - worth it?  (Read 2556 times)  

Offline Redgum

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Kobo - Apple - Nook - worth it?
« on: November 13, 2019, 10:45:04 pm »
A quick question

I have published with Amazon for seven years, and have been exclusive with them across all my series for five. Over this time I have noticed they treat indies more and more shabbily. Recently, due to Amazon's increasingly contemptuous attitude to independent authors, I have started mulling the subject of going to these other formats. I understand the shift to subscription-based packages means the KU can be very lucrative, and that is my own experience too. Also, I have watched several authors try and move existing series across to these platforms and come crawling back with their tails between their legs.

I'm writing a brand new series and will be publishing it (at least 5 books) next year and for the first time I'm seriously considering moving them across regardless of impact on income stream because if we all did that Amazon wouldn't treat the smaller authors like a barrow of dung.

That's the love story. Does anyone have anything other than doom and gloom about going "wide"? Anyone.... is there anyone at all :'(
« Last Edit: November 13, 2019, 11:26:37 pm by Redgum »

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    Offline jb1111

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    Re: Kobo - Apple - Nook - worth it?
    « Reply #1 on: November 14, 2019, 07:15:39 am »
    My gut is that if you're making decent money on KU, why fix what isn't broken?

    It almost sounds as if you hope to shame the Zon somehow, while cutting your own income in the process. Seems a bit counterproductive.

    I am wide because I'm not in KU, and for a writer in my position it's probably a good thing to do, even if most of my sales are on the Zon. My philosophy is 'why limit yourself?'

    In your case, if you're making money, why limit that? One can always pull books out when their sales drop, go wide that way. Some authors here have apparently done that -- at least I think I've read such comments here.


    Offline Redgum

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    Re: Kobo - Apple - Nook - worth it?
    « Reply #2 on: November 14, 2019, 03:33:33 pm »
    Been wide for 3 years. Started in KU. Got 30-odd unique books plus box sets. Scifi, horror mix.

    It took awhile, but all platforms sell. Amazon can be anything from 15 - 80% of total sales. We can sell anything from 30 - 130 books a day across all platforms depending on advertising and time of year. We try to run a Bookbub each year and that sells 5,000 - 7,000 books in the first month across all platforms.

    We spend very little on marketing -- around $300 a month and never AMS.

    So, sure, you can do fine wide, but it really depends on what's in your catalog. Some books seem only suitable for KU readers. I don't know why. I don't think it's always genre or quality specific. Just some authors can 'sell' in KU, but never wide. I don't think you'll know until you try it.

    But it is certainly not all tragedy outside of KU. I don't see me going back to KU now. Never say never, but it's not on the horizon that's for sure.

    Thanks both for your replies - you actually gave me some hope here. I was very interested in your figure about 15% - 80% on Amazon sales - which end of that is more common, would you say? I read Amazon have 80% of the overall market, so I was expecting a higher figure. Also, I was intrigued about your "never AMS" comment. I have also found AMS to be entirely useless, except for extracting cash from my bank account. Where are your most effective adverts if not AMS?

    Why am I thinking about it?

    1. Amazon treat regular indie authors like dung, despite the fact they created and built the entire platform. This should not be rewarded.
    2. It is not wise to have all your eggs in one basket. When that basket goes over, you lose everything. In  my opinion, Amazon is now so insanely saturated that even established authors are seeing sales trending downward. The mega rich indies (the ones Amazon treats like gods, not dung) are setting up their own imprints or signing with commercial houses to get serious paperback distribution. This tells me a lot about the faith they have in Amazon's future.
    3. As Amazon becomes harder and harder to sell books on, indie authors will wise up and start to migrate to the other platforms. In time, these too will become saturated and useless. Getting in early and building a readership on these platforms seems like a very smart thing to do.

    Offline J. A. Wallace

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    Re: Kobo - Apple - Nook - worth it?
    « Reply #3 on: November 15, 2019, 06:24:06 am »
    My sentiments exactly. it's important to note I'm retired, and I don't need the income. I can afford to experiment. I do not have an author website other than my Author Central page, Goodreads page, and Books2Read page. I also have no email list; however, I do monthly promotions, primarily with The Fussy Librarian and BargainBooksy. 

    I published my first in series in 2018, and went all-in with KDPS. I promoted the book through the KDPS free promotions program, resulting in approximately 1500 free book downloads, a few hundred page reads, and a few good reviews - mostly on Goodreads. I earned about $200 in royalties for 2018.

    I went Wide in 2019 through D2D and remained direct with Amazon through KDP (not Select). Initially, I sold the books for 1.99. I promoted one book each month for .99 and earned a few  hundred dollars. Recently I raised the price of my books from 1.99 to 2.99 (each book is approx. 50K words). I've just begun running promotions for 1.99. I sold less books with this first promotion at 1.99, but the fourth in the series is due out next month, and I hope that will increase sales.

    The bottom line for me is I believe Amazon is good to its customers, but not so good to its suppliers. And authors are suppliers. I don't see things getting better for authors with Amazon. I fully appreciate the current benefits KDPS offers some authors, but for the rest of us, going Wide can be a much better experience. And competition is always better than monopolies. I also believe that the authors who choose to go Wide will pave the way for a better author experience for all authors, including increased income. Time will tell.

    Offline anotherpage

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    Re: Kobo - Apple - Nook - worth it?
    « Reply #4 on: November 15, 2019, 06:26:36 am »
    A quick question

    I have published with Amazon for seven years, and have been exclusive with them across all my series for five. Over this time I have noticed they treat indies more and more shabbily. Recently, due to Amazon's increasingly contemptuous attitude to independent authors, I have started mulling the subject of going to these other formats. I understand the shift to subscription-based packages means the KU can be very lucrative, and that is my own experience too. Also, I have watched several authors try and move existing series across to these platforms and come crawling back with their tails between their legs.

    I'm writing a brand new series and will be publishing it (at least 5 books) next year and for the first time I'm seriously considering moving them across regardless of impact on income stream because if we all did that Amazon wouldn't treat the smaller authors like a barrow of dung.

    That's the love story. Does anyone have anything other than doom and gloom about going "wide"? Anyone.... is there anyone at all :'(


    No wide is death right now unless you have a MASSIVE following.

    Offline Some Random Guy

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    Re: Kobo - Apple - Nook - worth it?
    « Reply #5 on: November 15, 2019, 07:36:12 am »
    No wide is death right now unless you have a MASSIVE following.
    I just love people who make sweeping statements like that.  No, wide is not death unless you have a MASSIVE following.  But you will fail wide if you don't bother to study the behavior of readers who buy from other platforms and adapt your promotion strategy.  I don't have a massive following, and yet my income in September was 50% Amazon, 50% wide, and I'll earn six figures this year.  So wide might be death for you, but perhaps that's your own fault...

    Offline C. Gockel

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    Re: Kobo - Apple - Nook - worth it?
    « Reply #6 on: November 15, 2019, 07:39:22 am »
    There is life wide, even for midlisters. However, if I were you, I would release into Kindle Unlimited and then go wide. New releases always get more free algo juice from the "New Release" pages in every category. KU just adds to the juice. Especially for a new series, which has no intrinsic momentum, it is helpful. Also, when you go wide, releasing all your books at once is not a bad thing at all.

    You make the most in KU when your books are new and youre releasing constantly.

I recently pulled an old series that I had wide into Kindle Unlimited. The first month I did great--it was like there were a whole bunch of KU readers just waiting for me to put all my books into Kindle Unlimited before snapping them up. However, the next month things slowed down. I tried AMS--it works better for KU books definitely--but I found myself really only breaking even. Since "breaking even" still involved wasting a lot of my time, I stopped.

    Between page reads and sales I'm basically making what I was before now, but I'm doing it in a way that makes advertising more difficult--my permafree first in series was easy to book promos for, and I was running low budget FB ads on it that worked pretty well. Also, it is possible to target iBooks readers with FB and my sell-thru is better there than on Amazon. Finally, since Im not making any more money in KU than I was wide, it simply doesnt make sense to put all my eggs in the Kindle Unlimited basket. (Or even half my eggs, as the case may be.)

    Unless I get a BookBub miracle--a 99-cent 'Bub on a KU book is a wonderful thing, it's not so awesome on a wide book--I'll be going wide at the end of the next cycle.

    I will say, some books do better wide than others. My sci-fi usually sells about 55% wide and 45% on Amazon. Since I took it wide it has been this way. No. Idea. Why. My Urban Fantasy book has good sell-thru wide, but it has always done better on Amazon.


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    Offline Redgum

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    Re: Kobo - Apple - Nook - worth it?
    « Reply #7 on: November 15, 2019, 05:15:41 pm »
    Thanks everyone for some excellent advice and anecdotes. I'm going to give this some real thought over the next few months (my series will be ready to go in March). I think I'll feel a bit defeated if I end up clicking "enrol in KU" to be honest. I have a lot of novels on Amazon KDP, and a reasonable following (not sure what constitutes a "MASSIVE" following or even what makes a midlister, but I suspect I'm more the latter than the former - but I think keeping them on KU while experimenting wide with the new series might be a good idea, from a data gathering perspective at the very least.

    I am a FT author and make a good income, but it's trending down for the reasons we mention and Amazon have grown too fat off of indies to care about us anymore, so these are important decisions for me. My instinct says go wide and see what happens, but this also means more time in management, admin and advertising strategies, etc. Very interested to hear about 50% Amazon / 50% Wide by timesgone by (thanks, btw :) and six figures. I often get six figures (not every year), but as I say, saturation in KU is pushing this down. It's becoming a bear pit. As far as KU is concerned, I feel a bit like I'm standing on the deck of the Titanic at 2:15 in the morning. We're all standing around looking at the lifeboats thinking, is this thing going down or not? The NY agent comment by TwistedTales was *very* intriguing, too.  :o

    Anyway, have a great weekend everyone.
    « Last Edit: November 15, 2019, 05:17:48 pm by Redgum »

    Offline anotherpage

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    Re: Kobo - Apple - Nook - worth it?
    « Reply #8 on: November 15, 2019, 06:38:37 pm »
    Lets just put it this way....

    Mark Dawson went into kindle unlimited from going wide.

    He details his reasons and believe me he would have stayed wide and he has a large following.

    Plain fact is, KU right now is where to be and this is coming from someone who is over the 500,000 threshold this year. Yeah suck on those grapes "Some random guy" You're not the only beast in town LOL

    Offline C. Gockel

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    Re: Kobo - Apple - Nook - worth it?
    « Reply #9 on: November 15, 2019, 07:08:06 pm »
    Lets just put it this way....

    Mark Dawson went into kindle unlimited from going wide.

    He details his reasons and believe me he would have stayed wide and he has a large following.

    Plain fact is, KU right now is where to be and this is coming from someone who is over the 500,000 threshold this year. Yeah suck on those grapes "Some random guy" You're not the only beast in town LOL

    Mark Dawson writes in a genre I don't write in. He also has published 9 books so far this year. He gets a lot more visibility on Amazon than I can get strictly from his release schedule. I do know a big sci-fi author who recently put his wide books into KU, and I believe he says he lost out on tens of thousands a month by being wide. But he also publishes about once a month (with cowriters.) I'm not in that league. I publish twice a year with an occasional short story in between. (Although I aspire to 3 times a year!)

    I tried KU and found the results to be meh--probably because that series is older. I originally released my sci-fi in KU, and I think it was a great way to start out in what was then, for me, a brand new genre. But when I went wide I made more money immediately, before I did permafree or a BookBub. So well I didn't even bother to put the new books in Kindle Unlimited when I decided to continue the series.

    OP's mileage wide will vary.



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    Offline Joe_Nobody

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    Re: Kobo - Apple - Nook - worth it?
    « Reply #10 on: November 16, 2019, 07:01:44 am »
    I have been wide since 2011 with 30+ full-length novels.
    I did stick a toe in the KU program when it was initially announced, just to test the results.
    Not counting Audible, which is essentially a "wide" program, Apple, Google, KOBO, B&N, and Smashwords account for 40-50% of my monthly revenue.
    Aside from income potential, I like not having all my eggs in one basket. Every so often, I read a story about author accounts being suspended for unknown reasons. Most of these tales enforce the fact that you don't have many rights when it comes to Amazon (or any other distributor) if something goes wrong. If KOBO gets mad at me, deserved or not, I have the other outlets to fall back on and feed my family.
    It is also my opinion that Apple readers aren't as price sensitive as the other platforms. Same for B&N. While I can't back up that statement with any hard facts, it is a place I've landed after a lot of experience in this game. This may, or may not, be due to the fact that there are less indies on these other platforms and the fact that KU isn't competing for the reader's eyes.
    There are also people out there who don't like Amazon, who won't do business with them. Some of these folks like to read. I've done well serving their needs.

    Offline Redgum

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    Re: Kobo - Apple - Nook - worth it?
    « Reply #11 on: November 18, 2019, 04:28:46 pm »
    Lets just put it this way....

    Mark Dawson went into kindle unlimited from going wide.

    He details his reasons and believe me he would have stayed wide and he has a large following.

    Plain fact is, KU right now is where to be and this is coming from someone who is over the 500,000 threshold this year. Yeah suck on those grapes "Some random guy" You're not the only beast in town LOL

    I hear you, but Mark Dawson has the financial resources and profile to ensure his books are heard above the KU white noise, which is not a typical experience for 99% of ebook writers. I believe he drops into this forum from time to time so perhaps if he sees this he might share his experiences of moving from wide to KU. I'm not sure it's wise to look at writers like Mark and their experiences and try and apply it to yourself, to be honest. Many of these "indies" have more punch than a lot of publishing houses - national TV air time, massive six-figure marketing budgets. I have no problem with that and fair play to them, but looking at what works for them and thinking it will work for you might not be the best play.

    I'm still planning on making my new series wide. My logic is, sooner or later Amazon will reduce their royalties, or treat their authors shabbily in some other way and then the herd will stampede over to Kobo etc. Better to have a readership on there first. Also, as you have done (looking at Mark as a role model) what happens if he announces he's going wide? Thousands of authors will deduce that's where the money is and go wide. This is a precarious business!  8)






    Offline C. Gockel

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    Re: Kobo - Apple - Nook - worth it?
    « Reply #12 on: November 19, 2019, 08:34:53 am »
    I hear you, but Mark Dawson has the financial resources and profile to ensure his books are heard above the KU white noise, which is not a typical experience for 99% of ebook writers.

    Exactly. Also, he publishes very fast.

    Quote
    I'm still planning on making my new series wide.

    If I were you I'd release it in KU for six months and THEN go wide publishing several books wide at once. You'll recoup your costs faster. Also, you don't have a wide mailing list, so it will be best if you put it out there all at once. Wide readers are hard to reach, and tend to just "stumble" on your works. If you publish the whole trilogy (or whatever) at once, there is more to stumble on.

    Quote
    My logic is, sooner or later Amazon will reduce their royalties, or treat their authors shabbily in some other way and then the herd will stampede over to Kobo etc. Better to have a readership on there first.8)

    Your logic is fine, but putting it in KU for the first 3 months or 6 months or whatever is probably a better idea for reasons stated above.


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    Offline Some Random Guy

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    Re: Kobo - Apple - Nook - worth it?
    « Reply #13 on: November 19, 2019, 11:20:22 am »
    Yeah suck on those grapes "Some random guy" You're not the only beast in town LOL

    Meh... My income wide still beats that of 95% of the people in KU.  And I fly to the Caribbean in business class three times a year.  ;D  If I don't visit my bank account in Grand Cayman on a regular basis, my money gets lonely.
    « Last Edit: November 19, 2019, 05:02:47 pm by Some Random Guy »

    Offline chrisstevenson

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    Re: Kobo - Apple - Nook - worth it?
    « Reply #14 on: November 22, 2019, 03:56:52 pm »
    Going wide got me nothing. Zero sales. At least KU and a price drop gave me a sales rank, finally, but nothing to pound my chest over.
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    Offline Patty Jansen

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    Re: Kobo - Apple - Nook - worth it?
    « Reply #15 on: November 22, 2019, 04:27:18 pm »
    Going wide by itself is not a strategy. Nothing works without a strategy. Hating Amazon is also not a strategy.

    Amazon tends to favour new releases, so going in KU and then releasing a lot is a strategy.

    So is going wide, putting your book 1s in Bookfunnel (because you can't do this when you're in KU) and collecting a lot of readers who don't have KU (because if they did, why would they choose to get their freebies from Bookfunnel?).

    No going wide or going into KU will be successful unless you do something with it.

    Offline notjohn

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    Re: Kobo - Apple - Nook - worth it?
    « Reply #16 on: November 23, 2019, 08:03:07 am »
    Interesting how people are ranking the other-store stores, because they have certainly changed over the years. Barnes & Noble used to be my top seller after Amazon, but a couple years back was displaced by Apple, and for all or most of 2019 Apple has given way to Kobo. I suspect that's because of Walmart, which is looking better and better as an online alternative to Amazon.

    Still, the breakdown between Amazon and the other-store stores hasn't really changed for me. It's always been 75-85 percent Amazon, 15-25 percent everyone else. I use Draft2Digital, plus Google Books (now called, ugh, Play). That's counting numbers of sales. When it comes to actual money, Amazon is a bit less important, perhaps because of the occasional Overdrive library sales on D2D. They're very lucrative.

    For me, ebook publishing was very lucrative for five years, until the effect of Kindle Unlimited began to manifest itself. I now earn about a quarter of what I did at the peak, which was January 2012. Jeff Bezos is a great man: he invented a platform where authors got paid for what they do, and in time he transformed it into a platform where authors get to pay Jeff Bezos for what they want to do. Good for him, tough on us, but it is, after all, his platform.
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    Online Lydniz

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    Re: Kobo - Apple - Nook - worth it?
    « Reply #17 on: November 23, 2019, 08:30:06 am »

    So is going wide, putting your book 1s in Bookfunnel (because you can't do this when you're in KU) and collecting a lot of readers who don't have KU (because if they did, why would they choose to get their freebies from Bookfunnel?).


    A Bookfunnel noob writes: do you mean you put a permafree in and then do promos? I put a reader magnet in there recently, but I don't really know what to do with BF otherwise.

    ETA: to answer the OP's question - I dabbled with KU for a while but I couldn't maintain the pace of output required to do well there, so I went wide two years ago. It's more work, because I go everywhere direct, but sales stay much more steady. Also, I recently crunched some numbers and discovered that while Amazon accounts for 69% of my unit sales, it only accounts for 63% of my income (and I plan on reducing that further). That's because you can charge higher prices on the other platforms.

    « Last Edit: November 23, 2019, 08:33:05 am by Lydniz »

    Offline C. Gockel

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    Re: Kobo - Apple - Nook - worth it?
    « Reply #18 on: November 23, 2019, 08:47:37 am »
    A Bookfunnel noob writes: do you mean you put a permafree in and then do promos? I put a reader magnet in there recently, but I don't really know what to do with BF otherwise.

    I like permafree, but lots of folks do promos of $2.99 or less. Multiple authors join, and then everyone promotes to their list, social media, etc.

    Here is an example: https://books.bookfunnel.com/worlds-of-wonder/k4u21q5caf

    Also, I recently crunched some numbers and discovered that while Amazon accounts for 69% of my unit sales, it only accounts for 63% of my income (and I plan on reducing that further). That's because you can charge higher prices on the other platforms.

    How much more do you charge on the other platforms? I've been hemming and hawing on this.


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    Offline C. Gockel

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    Re: Kobo - Apple - Nook - worth it?
    « Reply #19 on: November 23, 2019, 08:57:49 am »
    For me, ebook publishing was very lucrative for five years, until the effect of Kindle Unlimited began to manifest itself. I now earn about a quarter of what I did at the peak, which was January 2012. Jeff Bezos is a great man: he invented a platform where authors got paid for what they do, and in time he transformed it into a platform where authors get to pay Jeff Bezos for what they want to do. Good for him, tough on us, but it is, after all, his platform.

    I had a steep drop in income, too, although not quite as dramatic. (Although maybe I never reached quite as high.)

    I relied on paid newsletters for a lot of my advertising. However, paid newsletters have dropped in effectiveness. I think this is largely because big email platforms like gmail and hotmail segregate email by personal and promotional now.

    As they lost effectiveness I think people stopped using them. As people stopped using them, I think the newsletter services got less selective. As they started offering more and more junk books, or books outside the genres readers originally selected, readers either unsubscribed, or just didn't open them. They then became less effective--and its a downward spiral.

    I don't feel comfortable talking about which newsletters don't work, although some have dropped in quality so dismally I really want to. I can't believe they advertise/charge anymore in good conscience.

    However, I will say BookDoggy, MyBookCave, FussyLibrarian, Freebooksy, ENT, RobinReads, and BookBarbarian are still provide excellent value for the money. I'm going to give the LendleMe / BookGorilla crossover a shot. I also want to try Booksends again. EbookDiscovery has worked well. Some of the free sites can offer a great value--but they don't give you any certainty that they'll pick you up. On the plus side, that means they do look for quality.


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    Re: Kobo - Apple - Nook - worth it?
    « Reply #20 on: November 24, 2019, 03:44:36 am »
    I like permafree, but lots of folks do promos of $2.99 or less. Multiple authors join, and then everyone promotes to their list, social media, etc.

    Here is an example: https://books.bookfunnel.com/worlds-of-wonder/k4u21q5caf

    Thanks!


    How much more do you charge on the other platforms? I've been hemming and hawing on this.


    Only about a dollar more. I don't want to go mad ;D

    Offline D. A. J. F.

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    Re: Kobo - Apple - Nook - worth it?
    « Reply #21 on: November 24, 2019, 08:24:52 am »
    But you will fail wide if you don't bother to study the behavior of readers who buy from other platforms and adapt your promotion strategy.

    How do you go about doing that?

    Offline C. Gockel

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    Re: Kobo - Apple - Nook - worth it?
    « Reply #22 on: November 24, 2019, 09:17:32 am »
    How do you go about doing that?

    You put a series out there, and then play with it. There are Facebook groups dedicated to wide. You can search here, also. It's easier once you have more than one series under your belt. You can play more and experiment.


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    Offline D. A. J. F.

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    Re: Kobo - Apple - Nook - worth it?
    « Reply #23 on: November 24, 2019, 09:33:03 am »
    You put a series out there, and then play with it. There are Facebook groups dedicated to wide. You can search here, also. It's easier once you have more than one series under your belt. You can play more and experiment.

    Thanks for the reply C. Gockel. :)

    Offline Patty Jansen

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    Re: Kobo - Apple - Nook - worth it?
    « Reply #24 on: November 24, 2019, 01:30:39 pm »
    How do you go about doing that?

    How about just actually, you know, visiting those sites, seeing what sells there are for what price? Then finding out what sort of promotions they run and how you can get into them. Then finding out how they index books and how their category system works?

    Just the same as everyone is always doing for Amazon. And only Amazon US at that. Some of the other Amazon stores also behave profoundly different.

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