Why you should consider going wide in self-publishing
I have written before about the pros and cons of Amazon KDP Select but let’s talk about the advantages of going wide in self-publishing.
For many authors, it is a difficult choice to make, as, on the one hand, Amazon is by far the largest online book retailer, but it demands exclusive rights to ebooks to be able to gain access to Kindle Unlimited and a few promotional tools.
While many authors opt to self-publish exclusively with Amazon and do so successfully, there are many others who dislike the lack of independence it demands.
These authors understand that having all your eggs in one sales basket is restrictive, and if something goes wrong, everything goes wrong.
The ability to access multiple sales channels, to be free to use a range of pricing strategies and be able to access a range of promotional tools and opportunities is attractive to those authors who value their independence and see self-publishing as a business.
While it is a given that book sales on Amazon often make up a high percentage of an author’s income, there is no need to cut off this income stream to be able to go wide in self-publishing.
Stick with Amazon, but don’t be restricted
Amazon places no restrictions or draconian rules on self-publishing through its KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) service, other than what is noted in its standard KDP Terms & Conditions. As long as you don’t enrol in KDP Select, you are free to offer your ebooks in any manner you choose. There are, of course, no restrictions at all on print versions.
The only difference will be that the Kindle ebook version will not be available on Kindle Unlimited or the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL), and 70% royalty for sales to customers in Japan, India, Brazil and Mexico will not be applicable.
However, apart from these few restrictions, a Kindle ebook published via KDP will be available for sale on every Amazon store and marketplace and will show alongside the print versions if they are available.
In other words, you can leverage the selling power of Amazon, but be free to open new sales and income opportunities.
Going wide with your self-publishing choices
There are many avenues to publishing nowadays, however, the most popular and convenient means for most self-publishing authors is to use an aggregator. The most recognised aggregators are Smashwords and Draft2Digital.
Aggregators allow you to self-publish with their respective services and then they do all the work of publishing your ebook on a range of online retailers, ebook subscription services and libraries.
While there are slightly different advantages with these two aggregators, both offer a high standard of service and easy manuscript publishing. If you are unfamiliar, you can read my comparison review of Smashwords and Draft2Digital.
The advantage of this is that you can publish different versions of your book metadata and tailor your book to each retailer.
However, for most authors, it is much easier and convenient to use an aggregator to access these retailers.
Going wide means having greater flexibility
Smashwords and Draft2Digital both offer quick and easy book price changes, and with Draft2Digital, you can even change a book price for individual countries.
Because of the ease, and freedom, to change an ebook’s price, it opens up endless opportunities to find new markets and book buyers.
For example, you could run a free promotion on iBooks for a month, while offering a discount on Nook, or offer an ebook for free only in the UK on Kobo. All of these possibilities and almost any ebook pricing strategy your can think of, will not affect your Kindle ebook on Amazon at all.
Think of it like this. Yes, Amazon will probably continue to sell a large percentage of your ebooks, but there are many other markets out there, and with a little trial and error, experimentation and imagination you can gain access to a lot of new readers.
Going wide gives you absolute freedom to promote your ebook
If you are locked into Amazon exclusivity, your freedom to use your ebook for giveaways, competitions and to be able to send to book reviewers is very limited as Amazon state in its KDP Select terms.
When you enroll a book in KDP Select, you’re committing to making the digital format of that book available exclusively through KDP while it’s enrolled in the program.
All content enrolled in KDP Select must remain for sale through the Kindle Store only. If the digital version of your book appears to be available for pre-order, for sale, or for free elsewhere (such as on your website or blog, or a third party’s website), then it is not eligible for KDP Select. Adding new content (such as bonus content, author’s commentary section, etc.) to a book that is available elsewhere will not satisfy the exclusivity requirements. See the KDP Select Terms and Conditions for complete exclusivity requirements.
However, you may choose to make up to 10% of your book available on other sites as a sample, as well as continue to distribute your book in physical format (including print on demand books), or in any format other than digital. 10% is roughly the length of the Kindle Free reading sample.
You may also provide professional reviewers with a copy of your book via email for the purpose of editing, proofreading and helping with other quality improvements. See the KDP Select Terms and Conditions for more information. When you enroll a boxset in KDP Select, none of those books can be offered on another platform.
If we remove your book from KDP Select due to violation of the exclusivity requirements, you may re-enroll your book as soon as you ensure it is no longer available elsewhere in a digital format.
Free from these restrictions, you can take back total control of your book promotions and in how you use your ebook to gain more market penetration, exposure and book reviews.
On both Smashwords and Draft2Digital, you can download copies of your ebooks and distribute them as you wish. This means that you can send the published version of your ebook in a range of formats such as .epub, .mobi or .pdf to book reviewers, contests, competitions or even use them to offer to your blog subscribers.
If you would like to offer a free series starter, you could do so on your website or blog, as well as with your aggregated retailers. Why not use your Facebook page to entice readers with a free series starter?
No restrictions whatsoever, and you are only limited by your own imagination and business acumen.
All of the freedom that going wide with self-publishing offers will not have any negative effect at all on ebooks that are also available on Kindle.
In fact, with the huge amount of book promotion opportunities that become available, it may very well have a positive spin-off effect on your Kindle sales.
By extending your promotion and marketing reach, you open the opportunity to find new readers on new retailers, while dedicated Kindle users who see your promotions will almost always go back to Amazon to buy.
Will going wide increase your book sales?
Yes, but don’t expect miracles. Amazon is the biggest, and nothing is going to change in that regard the foreseeable future.
However, there are a lot of other ebook buyers out there, and, believe me, they do buy ebooks on Apple, Nook, Google Play and Kobo in particular.
In the end though, going wide is about being a truly independent author and being in total control of your self-publishing business.