Author Topic: KU vs Wide - Great article by David Gaughran  (Read 16911 times)  

Offline antcurious

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KU vs Wide - Great article by David Gaughran
« on: October 25, 2017, 03:31:12 am »
This question comes up all the time, maybe (I'm too new to know) even more frequently in recent months. Here is David's take on it:

https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2017/10/23/a-tale-of-two-marketing-systems/

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    Offline Patty Jansen

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    Re: KU vs Wide - Great article by David Gaughran
    « Reply #1 on: October 25, 2017, 03:54:07 am »
    This is a great article.

    I'd recently seen some anecdotal evidence that authors who are all-in in KU see little benefit of a mailing list.

    Being all-wide, the mailing list is my primary form of advertising. I only buy ads when I can get a Bookbub and everything else I spend goes towards list building.

    I would even go as far as saying that not only does wide vs KU require different marketing tactics, they are two almost entirely separate markets of readers.

    I cringe when people advocate that new writers "launch in KU and then take books wide". You know what happens when you leave KU? You lose a really big percentage of your readers. That's OK if you have multiple series, but we can't all be Lindsay Buroker and I know for one that if I tried the tiniest little book in KU, my subscribers will send me proverbial death threats.

    My list is my life blood. KU readers get their books from KU and less often from lists.

    As double whammy for the author, not only does KU prevent you from securing your reader base by spreading it over multiple retailers, it actively discourages you from taking control of those readers.

    Offline Rick Partlow

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    Re: KU vs Wide - Great article by David Gaughran
    « Reply #2 on: October 25, 2017, 04:21:24 am »

    As double whammy for the author, not only does KU prevent you from securing your reader base by spreading it over multiple retailers, it actively discourages you from taking control of those readers.

    The other way to look at that where one isn't insistent on making it a negative, is that KU allows you to make a living as more of a writer and less of a marketer.

    Offline Patty Jansen

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    Re: KU vs Wide - Great article by David Gaughran
    « Reply #3 on: October 25, 2017, 04:23:53 am »
    The other way to look at that where one isn't insistent on making it a negative, is that KU allows you to make a living as more of a writer and less of a marketer.

    That's not what David says, and not my experience form being in KU. KU requires more precise, high-octane marketing.

    Offline ExtraT

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    Re: KU vs Wide - Great article by David Gaughran
    « Reply #4 on: October 25, 2017, 04:26:33 am »
    This is a great article.

    I'd recently seen some anecdotal evidence that authors who are all-in in KU see little benefit of a mailing list.

    Being all-wide, the mailing list is my primary form of advertising. I only buy ads when I can get a Bookbub and everything else I spend goes towards list building.

    I would even go as far as saying that not only does wide vs KU require different marketing tactics, they are two almost entirely separate markets of readers.

    I cringe when people advocate that new writers "launch in KU and then take books wide". You know what happens when you leave KU? You lose a really big percentage of your readers. That's OK if you have multiple series, but we can't all be Lindsay Buroker and I know for one that if I tried the tiniest little book in KU, my subscribers will send me proverbial death threats.

    My list is my life blood. KU readers get their books from KU and less often from lists.

    As double whammy for the author, not only does KU prevent you from securing your reader base by spreading it over multiple retailers, it actively discourages you from taking control of those readers.

    This thread is now essential reading for me...! I have two books, one finishing its editing cycle, the other just beginning. When it's all said and done, I have to choose between KU and wide. Ias a new author, I don't have a mailing list so I've been wrestling with this dilemma recently.

    I had thought about  going KU  for three months and then going wide; while building my mailing list simultaneously... but I think this thread will give me some serious food for thought...

    Offline antcurious

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    Re: KU vs Wide - Great article by David Gaughran
    « Reply #5 on: October 25, 2017, 04:33:11 am »
     
    This thread is now essential reading for me...! I have two books, one finishing its editing cycle, the other just beginning. When it's all said and done, I have to choose between KU and wide. Ias a new author, I don't have a mailing list so I've been wrestling with this dilemma recently.

    I had thought about  going KU  for three months and then going wide; while building my mailing list simultaneously... but I think this thread will give me some serious food for thought...

    I think the consensus was - and I'm in the same boat as you apart from a small list - to go three months with KU and then wide if there is no traction, but Patty is making me think twice :)

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    Offline Patty Jansen

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    Re: KU vs Wide - Great article by David Gaughran
    « Reply #6 on: October 25, 2017, 04:39:12 am »
    There is little harm in going in for a few months with a few books, as long as you realise that as soon as you go wide, you'll throw a really sizeable chunk of your audience out. It might still be working for your aims. But know what those aims are before you start.

    Questions for example:
    Do you want to quickly earn back the cost of the production of the book? Yes = try KU
    Do you live in the US and/or is your book geared towards US readers? Yes = go in KU
    Do you want to build a loyal reader base who will buy all your books? Yes = go wide
    Do you expect your books will have international appeal? Yes = go wide

    There is nothing wrong with experimenting as long as you know what the consequences are.

    Offline Rick Partlow

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    Re: KU vs Wide - Great article by David Gaughran
    « Reply #7 on: October 25, 2017, 04:40:09 am »
    That's not what David says, and not my experience form being in KU. KU requires more precise, high-octane marketing.

    Well, I have my own experiences to draw from, and they aren't consistent with yours.  I have not targeted KU with precise marketing, yet KU page reads are consistently two thirds of my monthly income.
    « Last Edit: October 25, 2017, 04:41:47 am by Rick Partlow »

    Offline Elizabeth Ann West

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    Re: KU vs Wide - Great article by David Gaughran
    « Reply #8 on: October 25, 2017, 05:02:16 am »
    I did KU 1.0 for 6 months back in 2014, so I am someone who relaunched my career off a springboard of KU then went wide once my catalog was large enough (6 titles, 1 a novel). But was it really a springboard? I don't know as one of the reasons I got out was because the more books I put in the program, the less and less I made. It was early days and a completely different program.

    I like redundant systems. I like multiple streams of income. That's a big cornerstone of my "I want to still be here in 25 years," plan. Maybe I am giving up a huge windfall by being so long-sighted, but my data and other tests for shows in my genre KU absolutely cannibalize sales. And if you are writing in a genre where a sale = more than a full page read, it's silly for me to be in KU. Conversely, if I was in a genre where I HAD to price low or that was my strategy, then page reads could make sense as an income stream IF I personally could get over the 100% relying on Amazon.

    I think the theme for 2018 though is going to be whichever you choose, KU or wide, you better bring your A+ game. Because I'm seeing people drop out of the market left and right, including authors who've been here since 2009/2010, because they are pursuing other avenues of income. Maybe it's burn out, maybe they are bored, or maybe it just got to be too much adapting year in and year out.

    HAVE A PLAN. So you can execute it and gauge results. Don't rely on the vendors to do everything for you, KU or wide. Because your competition isn't going to.


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    Offline CassieL

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    Re: KU vs Wide - Great article by David Gaughran
    « Reply #9 on: October 25, 2017, 05:45:13 am »
    It was an interesting article, but I'm surprised he didn't mention AMS (for KU) or Pronoun (for easily making books free and getting 70% payout on 99 cent deals on wide books).

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    Offline It's A Mystery

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    Re: KU vs Wide - Great article by David Gaughran
    « Reply #10 on: October 25, 2017, 05:57:36 am »
    Great article.

    So are people using Pronoun for their first in series and then going direct for the rest?

    Offline Anarchist

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    Re: KU vs Wide - Great article by David Gaughran
    « Reply #11 on: October 25, 2017, 06:15:36 am »
    I'd recently seen some anecdotal evidence that authors who are all-in in KU see little benefit of a mailing list.

    I have a different perspective:

    It's doubly important to have a mailing list if an author is going to be exclusive to Amazon.

    Amazon could make changes that negatively impact an indie publisher's visibility, similar to Facebook's changes that reduce organic reach. A mailing list gives the author control over his audience. This is the main reason I've always advocated making the mailing list a top priority.

    Also, while Amazon gives some books marketing love (recommendation emails, Daily Deals, Prime Reading, etc.), it's sporadic and unpredictable. By contrast, the last time I mailed my list, I pushed a book into the mid 400s.

    I favor that kind of predictability.

    Moreover, I suspect a lot of Amazon's marketing love stems from evidence of sales. I use my list (and AMS) to keep my books selling, and Amazon takes notice and shows affection. The former begets the latter.




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    Offline Used To Be BH

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    Re: KU vs Wide - Great article by David Gaughran
    « Reply #12 on: October 25, 2017, 06:37:38 am »
    There is little harm in going in for a few months with a few books, as long as you realise that as soon as you go wide, you'll throw a really sizeable chunk of your audience out. It might still be working for your aims. But know what those aims are before you start.

    Questions for example:
    Do you want to quickly earn back the cost of the production of the book? Yes = try KU
    Do you live in the US and/or is your book geared towards US readers? Yes = go in KU
    Do you want to build a loyal reader base who will buy all your books? Yes = go wide
    Do you expect your books will have international appeal? Yes = go wide

    There is nothing wrong with experimenting as long as you know what the consequences are.
    I'd add "Are you a prawn?" to the questions to be answered.

    Plenty of people do well by going wide--but the ones I can identify or am already familiar with seem to have large fan bases and, if they were in KU, already had a good following before making the jump.

    I tried wide twice, for several months in both cases, and I got crickets on the other venues. When I tried promotions targeted at one or more of the other venues, I got no sales. When I tried promotions targeted everywhere, all my sales were on Amazon. Even with all the wackiness in KU, I make more in a bad month than I made in a year wide. Even the international angle didn't make a difference. For instance, what few sales I got on Google Play were all US sales.

    That's too bad, actually, because with KU in such a mess it would be nice to go wide. (I have two dreams--one that Amazon will fix KU, or at least minimize the problems, the other that Amazon will drop the exclusivity requirement. I know, fat chance! I said they were dreams...)

    Now that I think of it, another good question would be, "Are you trying to make writing your primary income?" I'm not sure if either answer would lead automatically to KU or wide, but the answer does definitely make a difference in terms of how high the stakes are. As a prawn with a good income from other sources, I don't have to worry as much about the long-term implication of my choices. Sure, I'd love it if my books really took off, and I try my best to do a professional job on them, but I'd be all right financially even if self-publishing vanished tomorrow. Something like being dependent on one retailer would worry me a lot more if I were dependent on my income from book sales. I'd weigh a lot of things differently in that scenario. I confess that right now, I'm looking at reaching the largest audience I can. Half my readers are in KU. Past experience shows me that, at least in the short term, I could only replace about 10% of that audience with wide readers. No one trying to make a living at writing could focus so narrowly on that one variable, though. If I were in that situation, I'd almost certainly start my next new series wide and try a split model, with at least one series in KU and at least one wide. As it is, I'm still going back and forth on where to put my new series.
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    Offline Seneca42

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    Re: KU vs Wide - Great article by David Gaughran
    « Reply #13 on: October 25, 2017, 06:45:32 am »
    I think we're almost approaching a period where instead of KU vs. Wide it should be KU vs. Direct.

    I say this because it's a genuine consideration that even if you are NOT going wide, you may still choose direct on amazon versus direct + KU on amazon.

    If you believe that KU cannibalizes you (whether that be on sales or on price power / margins) then just on zon alone it's a questionable choice once you reach a certain point in your career.   

    To me the other vendors are just gravy on my decision to go direct. They enable permafree (which I don't use now, but did and might again), they offer some revenue (which for me offset my KU revenues), they don't interfer with pricing high, etc.


    Offline Not any more

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    Re: KU vs Wide - Great article by David Gaughran
    « Reply #14 on: October 25, 2017, 06:47:39 am »
    I'd recently seen some anecdotal evidence that authors who are all-in in KU see little benefit of a mailing list.

    I still have a small mailing list, though I'm trying to build it. One thing about it is that I've built it entirely organically. The one benefit I can quantify is pre-orders. I've had three very successful launches due to large pre-orders coming from my list.
    This post remains on KBoards over my objections.

    Offline CassieL

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    Re: KU vs Wide - Great article by David Gaughran
    « Reply #15 on: October 25, 2017, 06:47:54 am »
    So are people using Pronoun for their first in series and then going direct for the rest?

    There are still reasons not to use Pronoun such as lack of access to AMS ads and the fact that they're Pronoun and trade pub affiliated. But two of the issues he mentions related to being wide, lack of predictability for setting a title to free and receiving less than 70% on 99 cents runs, can be fixed by using Pronoun. If you care about having a series listing on your Amazon page, though, you need all the books in a series through one or the other.

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    Offline amdonehere

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    Re: KU vs Wide - Great article by David Gaughran
    « Reply #16 on: October 25, 2017, 06:51:08 am »
    Bill H, always the voice to wisdom. I totally agree with everything you said.

    I've been toying with the thought of going wide when my next series is out. My genre doesn't do well in KU anyway and I suspect KU does cannibalize my sales. But David's article is scaring me about wide. The work it takes to be successful wide is so overwhelming.

    Offline Laran Mithras

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    Re: KU vs Wide - Great article by David Gaughran
    « Reply #17 on: October 25, 2017, 06:51:42 am »
    I think we're almost approaching a period where instead of KU vs. Wide it should be KU vs. Direct.


    Absolutely. Even if an author refuses to go wide, they should experiment with being direct-only.

    Thus, 3 choices. It's a bit tiring to see the assumption that if you aren't wide, then you need to be in KU.

    Offline Jim Johnson

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    Re: KU vs Wide - Great article by David Gaughran
    « Reply #18 on: October 25, 2017, 06:52:38 am »
    Great article.

    So are people using Pronoun for their first in series and then going direct for the rest?

    I wouldn't use Pronoun until they sort out their reporting issues with Amazon. Up to you, though. Adding a middleman between my books and Amazon doesn't fit what I want to do. Each writer's MMV.

    Offline Justa Nobody

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    Re: KU vs Wide - Great article by David Gaughran
    « Reply #19 on: October 25, 2017, 06:54:45 am »
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    Offline GeneDoucette

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    Re: KU vs Wide - Great article by David Gaughran
    « Reply #20 on: October 25, 2017, 06:58:46 am »
    I love it when an article shows up at exactly the time I need the information.

    I'm in an odd situation right now. It's a GOOD odd situation, but it's odd anyway. I did really well with a wide-appeal standalone book for my first self-published full length novel, so well that sales from that book carried me through 2016 until i was able to get the rights to my other novels back and re-release them, in the third quarter of 2016. In 2017, I'm living off bookbub promos and Audible promotions, neither of which I have much control over... and I'm wide, and I have almost no mailing list to speak of.

    The problem going forward is I can't rely on any of those things sustaining. i certainly can't rely on an evergreen standalone carrying my sales forever. I can write new books (like a sequel to it, and more books in my series) but what I really need is that mailing list.

    It's a really good situation to be in, to be honest. I'm doing it all backwards: success first, mailing list second. But the mailing list has to happen in order to sustain that success.

    Offline 69959

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    Re: KU vs Wide - Great article by David Gaughran
    « Reply #21 on: October 25, 2017, 07:59:21 am »
    I thought this was a fantastic article too. It helped me to see a few ways I've been marketing wide wrong, even though I know the other retailers aren't Amazon. It also reminded me of some marketing I'd stopped doing but really need to start again. I'm inspired to get to work!

    Offline Rose Andrews

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    Re: KU vs Wide - Great article by David Gaughran
    « Reply #22 on: October 25, 2017, 08:23:27 am »
    Thank you for this article! I'm off to read it right now!

    As an aside, I spent most of this year in KU until I pulled out just a few days ago. At the early part of summer I did good but things really dropped for me even after 2 new releases. My graphs only stirred back to life if I ran free promos. Otherwise, I wasn't selling or getting reads. So I put my books wide. I woke up this morning to check D2D and noticed that I'd already sold 7 books (3 of one title, 4 of another) literally overnight. I still can't figure out which platform I sold those on since everything with D2D is still new to me. Also saw that I'd gotten 5 free downloads of another title on Kobo. My husband said this morning that it was a good thing I spread my wings. All I know is that I feel liberated to finally be able to sell my books elsewhere and find readers elsewhere.

    Offline Travelian

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    Re: KU vs Wide - Great article by David Gaughran
    « Reply #23 on: October 25, 2017, 08:29:28 am »
    Terrific article. Thanks for posting, Antcurious.

    Offline ibizwiz

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    Re: KU vs Wide - Great article by David Gaughran
    « Reply #24 on: October 25, 2017, 09:09:14 am »
    I think we're almost approaching a period where instead of KU vs. Wide it should be KU vs. Direct.

    I say this because it's a genuine consideration that even if you are NOT going wide, you may still choose direct on Amazon versus direct + KU on Amazon.


    If by Direct you mean not in KDP Select, but not necessarily taking full advantage (for whatever reasons) of "wide" distribution, you raise a very good point, IMO. My medium-term distribution strategy is the same as yours, I'd guess. In addition to your own good points, I reached this conclusion from these considerations:

    OOPS wrong key, LOL

    Continuing:

    1  Only one of my four targeted reader audiences are likely to be heavy KU subbies
    2  My unique genre won't appeal to Romance, Thriller, Para-whomever, SciFi, Fantasy, Mystery, or any of the "nice" genre readers
    3  I need to build a site, community, and list that can withstand either Amazon's perfidy OR "wide" sites failure to perform
    4  I need much more control over pricing than Select allows
    5  I need to be able to sell "direct" without violating Amazon's TOS

    David Gaughran's article is mandatory reading, along with its sister articles on his blog. Thank You, David!     
    « Last Edit: October 25, 2017, 09:19:57 am by ibizwiz »

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