Recently I've been talking to a couple of authors unsure whether to take books off Amazon KDP Select and go 'wide' (ie, publish across many retailers), or whether to move from 'wide' back to KDP Select.
In the interests of research, I ran a poll on Twitter to see how other authors felt about the two options. I also invited comments; see lower down for the results.
For new writers not in the know: one massive advantage of publishing exclusively to Amazon is that your books can be made available on Kindle Unlimited. This works, for the reader, like a library; they pay £8/$10 a month to read any books on KU, free of charge. The author gets paid per pages read; the royalties for a whole book are roughly equivalent to one sale.
- Advantage for author: it's a great way for new readers to discover you, at almost no cost to them.
- Disadvantage: if they don't like it, and abandon it early, you will earn little, or nothing (you get paid for any pages read after 10%).
I couldn't vote as it's my poll, but I've always been Amazon KDP Select only. I make more in royalties via Kindle Unlimited that I do with actual sales, and have had some very successful free promotions and Kindle Countdown offers.
The advantages of going 'wide' probably speak for themselves - i.e., reaching readers who don't use Amazon Kindle. I don't know anything about this but I hear Draft2Digital is the best and easiest way to go. Read FAQs about this HERE.
Writer Georgia Rose (see below), who has chosen and been most happy with this option, told me:
'D2D is a distributor. You load up your files to them and they can distribute to sites such as Barnes & Noble, Apple, Playster and Scribd, including libraries. The will distribute to Amazon, though this is not recommended. The advice from those in the know suggest you go DIY to Amazon, Kobo and Google (if you can get in there - it can be tricky), and let D2D cover the rest. On their dashboard it is easy to deselect the platforms to which you don't want them to distribute.'
|Well, not quite...|
'Tried both (only with 1 book, so pretty limited) but have come down on the side of KDP - the KU promo side of it seems unbeatable at the moment.'
'Have got one on KDP and one wide, most of sales for both are on Amazon...have only recently moved onto KU, sales have dropped off, but pages read seem to be doing well. My first book was on lots of platforms, but the vast majority of sales were on Amazon. Made it a no-brainer to put next book on amazon only.'
'KDP. Kindle Unlimited makes me more than sales. I think if you write bigger historicals like I do, it's a no-brainer. And so much easier to just push your marketing to one avenue than eight or ten.'
'Kindle Unlimited seems, at the moment, the best way for me to reach readers.
'I think Kindle Unlimited seems to work on my Indie books.'
'As to your question, I used to be wide but the tried KDP Select on one book and saw how much better that did with the page reads, so I’m off wide now completely. About half my income comes from page reads.'
'I have done much better by staying exclusively with Amazon in the past, with all of my books.'
..and a last comment! 'I didn't see this in time, but I'd have voted for KU too'
'I’m wide. Have been for a while. I don’t like exclusivity and can still do all sorts of promos, including free ones if I want to...I think a good idea is to keep a first book in Select then once you put the next one out make the first one wide, and so on.
'...what I do is distribute direct to Amazon, Kobo and Google then to all the others via the magnificent Draft2Digital, and PublishDrive (early days there!) D2D provide a universal link to all sites (incl. The Zon) so just the one link needed...I do very little promo as I don’t have time. But via distributors like Draft2Digital you load up your files once, they distribute for you.
'.... but you are totally beholden to Amazon. All your eggs in one basket as it were, when they could change anything at any time.'
'I tried KDP Select back in 2013 but it just failed - I gave up after 6 months. I broke out in 2015 on Kobo Canada'
'I prefer wide. I sell more on ibooks, followed by Barnes & Noble and Overdrive.'
'I'm wide because the opportunities for promotions with Kobo means I make about 25% of my money from there each month, sometimes more. It's my 2nd most successful site after Amazon. Also, I don't like the idea of being tied to Amazon in case anything goes wrong with KDP.'
'You can also go wide by using Ingramspark publication and distribution service'
'I have an e-book publisher who does the work of getting my books out wide, they do print and audiobook as well so I like them. Still, most of my sales are Amazon. & I have a few indies that are KDP. Don’t want to do the going wide work myself'
'..personally I would recommend: KDP exclusive for 3 months for exposure and then go wide'
'I’ve tried wide and it’s hard to make a dent. Even with KU pages read fluctuate a lot.'
(About doing audio books) 'My audiobooks are a 3-way contract with me, publisher & Amazon. Voice actors get same royalties as author. It’s a way for Amazon to fill their Audible catalog for the freebies. Maybe pitch to Amazon/Audible?'
Which is why I write these posts!
If you are new to the game and are looking for a bit of mentoring/support from the wise, you might like to take a look at Shelley Wilson's Writer Mentoring Programme. Shelley is one of the most approachable people I've ever met, and is so easy to get on with, positive and practical.
I can also recommend Georgia Rose's Three Shires Publishing - self-publishing support services that may be of use to anyone wary of going it alone. Georgia is very helpful and really knows her stuff!
Shelley and Georgia are two of the most generous people I've met during my writer and Twitter years. 😀
I hope this has been of help to anyone not sure which way to go - as you can see, there is no 'right' way, and it seems to depend on so many issues like genre, how much work you are prepared to do where marketing is concerned, if you are willing to spend out on advertising, how many books you have, etc. Comments welcome, of course :)