Home » Amazon, Ebooks, Royalties » Selling Out: Going Wide or Going Exclusive to Amazon

Selling Out: Going Wide or Going Exclusive to Amazon

24 May 2018

From The Book Designer:

When most new publishers think of selling ebooks, the first place they think of is Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program.

This makes sense — after all, Amazon represents somewhere between sixty and eighty percent of the world English market for ebooks. Who wouldn’t want to have their book sold in the biggest storefront of all?

Amazon has created a program — KDP Select — that rewards publishers for offering their titles exclusively through the Kindle Store. A lot of publishers — and not just new ones — decide to put all of their eggs in the Amazon basket. They make some compelling arguments for why they do so.

I don’t — do so, that is. With almost all of the books that I publish, I sell wide — that is, at as many retail and distribution outlets as possible, in addition to the ‘Zon.

. . . .

Before we discuss the relative merits of selling wide or sticking exclusively to Amazon, we need to look at what the KDP Select exclusive program actually entails.

First of all, it’s a fully voluntary, opt-in program — just because you’re selling on Amazon doesn’t mean that they get exclusive rights to sell your ebook. You have to enroll each title — just because you’ve got one ebook exclusively at the Kindle Store doesn’t mean you can’t sell another on the iBooks Store, the Nook Store, Kobo, Google Play, and hundreds of other retail sites.

. . . .

Once you’ve signed up, whether at publication time or after, the title is locked in for a term of 90 days. In order to have the title remain enrolled, you have to keep that box checked — which it will until you go in there and change something.

In order to remove your title, on the other hand, you have to uncheck the box, and then wait until the term expires.

. . . .

By the way, just in case I haven’t made it clear, unless you sign up your book for KDP Select, you get no benefit at all out of selling exclusively on Amazon.

. . . .

Back when I first started selling ebooks, eight years ago, there were some nice benefits to enrolling in KDP Select. Although Amazon has added and subtracted over the years, there still are.

The current list of benefits includes:

  • Making your title available through the KindleUnlimited (KU) subscription service
  • Offering promotions:
    • Free
    • Countdown
  • Increased royalties in some non-US markets

That’s about it.

. . . .

KindleUnlimited

This is Amazon’s ebook subscription service — a “Netflix for ebooks” setup.

The reader can “borrow” up to ten KindleUnlimited titles at a time, all for the low, low price of $9.99/month. For folks who read in bulk — the folks who are our bread and butter — this is a very nifty deal.

From the publisher point of view, here’s how it works:

  1. Amazon estimates the number of “pages” based on the wordcount of your book. (They call this count the title’s Kindle Estimated Normal Pages or KENP.)
  2. When a reader checks out the book, Amazon keeps track of the highest-numbered page that the reader has reached. — You can keep track of “page reads” on your KDP sales reports.
  3. Each month, Amazon announces how much money all of the KU-enrolled books will share. (It’s usually a bit over $20 million.)
  4. That war chest gets divided by the total number of KENP “read” during the month — that’s the share each KENP earns that month.
  5. Amazon multiplies your total number of KENP for all titles that month by the share, and adds that to your royalties.

. . . .

Because the total amount of money that Amazon splits for a particular month is fixed, this has made it particularly vulnerable to scamming, and particularly maddening for the honest publisher — your only recourse in order to earn more is to raise the total number of pages read, which means either marketing the heck out of every title you’ve got enrolled in the program (which you were hopefully doing already), offering more titles (possibly pulling them off of other retailers to qualify them for KU), or offering longer books. But as more and more and longer and longer titles go up on KU, the value of each KENP share goes down.

. . . .

There are two types of promotions — Free and Countdown. In either case, you can offer the title for up to five days in a 90-day enrollment period, though during that period you can only offer one or the other of these promotions — not both.

Also, you can only offer them (at the moment) on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (the US and British sites). These won’t help you on Amazon’s sites in Canada, Australia, or India, for example.

. . . .

The countdown promo is fun; it offers you one or more promotional price over the period of the promo — and keeps a countdown timer going that announces just how much time readers have before the price goes up. This is a classic marketing ploy to take advantage of customers’ fear of missing out (the famous FOMO effect).

One other nice thing about the countdown promo: it’s the only way you can get a full 70% royalty for a title priced (temporarily) under $2.99.

. . . .

The Benefits of Going Wide

Back in 2014, when Amazon instituted the new KENP system for calculating KU earnings, I had about 50% of my titles enrolled in KDP Select — most of them short stories that earned incredibly well per borrow, and that served as “loss leaders” that lost me, in fact, nothing. Folks would read a short story by one of my authors (earning us both a royalty), then read one of the longer works, netting us more. Nice.

This lovely symbiosis disappeared with the KENP setup and its emphasis on longer KU titles.

Since then, I’ve stopped enrolling titles in the program, and over the past year I’ve slowly been letting the enrolled titles lapse. At this point I have just one KDP Select title.

The rest of my titles — about eighty by twenty authors — are offered wide. That is, they’re available on Amazon, but also on Apple, Kobo, B&N, Google, Overdrive, ScribD and many, many more.

. . . .

Unlike the KDP Select program, the three benefits here are really simple:

  1. I can earn more money.
  2. I can please more of my readers.
  3. I’m not encouraging monopolistic behavior.

. . . .

Most “wide” indie and self-publishers report that sales on Amazon represent 60%–85% of their ebook revenue. Myself, last year, I earned 62% of my ebook royalties through Kindle sales. In my most Amazon-slanted years I’ve earned about 80% of my ebook income from Jeff Bezos’s company.

That’s a lot.

However, I do wish to point out that that leaves 20%–38% of my income that wasn’t earned through Kindle sales.

I’d also like to point out that, while Amazon holds all but a monopoly on US ebook sales, outside the country it is a far, far less dominant market. The more my sales have gone international, the more I rely on channels like Kobo and Apple, and on distributors like Smashwords, PublishDrive, and Draft2Digital.

Link to the rest by David Kudler at The Book Designer

PG excerpted more than he usually does from the OP because he suspects Mr. Kudler operates in a different manner than a lot of indie authors do.

That said, PG thinks it’s a good idea not to run any business on autopilot, so he will be interested in the comments of others about the decision between Amazon with additional benefits vs. using everyone.

Amazon, Ebooks, Royalties

50 Comments to “Selling Out: Going Wide or Going Exclusive to Amazon”

  1. Felix J. Torres

    I would take issue with the insinuation that (time-limited) exclusivity deals are monopolistic behavior.

    They are a common competitive tool that in most actively competitive businesses work to *restrict* monopolies. It does, however, require more than one player willing to offer viable exclusivity deals.

    Look to how exclusive content for Hulu, Prime Video, and (soon) Disney and DC Universe streaming services allow them to compete with Netflix.

    Or how the video game platforms use their First party exclusives to build up their user bases and how weakness in exclusives limits the appeal of their platforms.

    Amazon offers a viable exclusivity incentive; it is hardly their fault their competitors have never even bothered to try. In most cases they don’t even offer much of an incentive to list with them at all. (I.e., Google.)

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Felix.

      While Amazon hasn’t acted anti-competitively toward indie ebook publishers, they’ve definitely done so with regards to print publishers and retailers. Their dominance in the US market has put them in a position to undercut most prices and demand concessions. As I said in the original post, I don’t think that Amazon are acting monopolistically toward us ebook publishers, but the main reason for that (I believe) is the fact that they’ve got a lot of competition; I’d like it to stay that way.

      As PG says above, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing for folks to enroll titles in KDP Select — as long as they don’t go on autopilot.

      • Terrence OBrien

        A monopolist is anti-competitive, but being anti-competitive does not mean one is a monopolist.

      • Felix J. Torres

        Those print publishers and retailers started it! 😉

        More seriously: the price fix conspiracy isn’t the first, only (or even the last) time that the BPHs have acted in concert to try to hurt Amazon’s ebook business. A lot of what Amazon has done in response is turning the tables on them.

        As for competitors, isn’t it a bit hypocritical of B&N to lead an industry wide boycott of APub titles (eagerly joined in by the “sainted Indies” of the ABA) when they own Sterling and when they tried to monopolize pbook distribution by buying Ingram?

        Whatever power Amazon has in the pbook space was given to them by the publishers volume discount practices. They could take it away tomorrow by giving the same discount to every Indie bookstore in the land.

        They could also “Agency” pbooks.

        “Methinks they do protest just a wee bit too much”, mostly to shift the blame of declining tradpub author income away from their predatory contract practices.

        If Amazon is an evil monster it is a monster the BPHs created and sustain.

        Me, I think they are simply competent businessmen/women p!aying in a field of incompetents.
        (Look up some of my comments here on “save B&N” threads. I’ve been around a while, I’ve seen a lot, and I remember a lot. Corporate spin doesn’t work too well with me.)

        As for Audible: they are independently run within the Amazon federation, just as APub, Lab123 and KDP. What they do to turn a profit isn’t necessarily a guide to what Whole Foods or any other Amazon unit can be expected to do; they’re all different markets with different constraints. And they’re run by different people.

        If there is a big disconnect between Amazon business practices and traditional publishing it is only because traditional publishing business practices are the ones out of line with 21st century business norms.

        • Just to be clear — I don’t think Amazon is evil. They’ve done well by me. I say that in the post, and I’ve said it again here.

          But I do think their main reason for treating us relatively well (review-destroying bots and occasional random banning notwithstanding) is that they’re not the only game in town. I like it that way.

  2. I roll my eyes whenever I see this criticism of KENP. Yes, it was wonderful for some authors to be able to put a short story in KU and get as much for it as a full novel. Not so wonderful for us readers who like novels. The mention of monopolies also fails to impress me. I suspect a hidden dose of ADS may be at play.

    Yes, there is the potential to earn more money by going wide, and some authors will, but that is far from guaranteed. They will lose KU revenue for a start, and also the opportunity for discovery that that provides. Are they going to get enough revenue through these other channels to make up for this? And for the loss of promotional opportunities on Amazon. I have little doubt some authors are better off going wide. However, I suspect that most are probably better off with Amazon. Authors need to do their homework and constantly review their decision. To really understand their market they need to engage in the odd experiment. It is a very dynamic environment.

  3. I roll my eyes whenever I see this criticism of KENP. Yes, it was wonderful for some authors to be able to put a short story in KU and get as much for it as a full novel. Not so wonderful for us readers who like novels. Or for the long or even medium term future of KU The mention of monopolies also fails to impress me. Not to mention “selling out”. I suspect a hidden dose of ADS may be in play.

    Yes, there is the potential to earn more money by going wide, and some authors will, but that is far from guaranteed. They will lose KU revenue for a start, and also the opportunity for discovery that that provides. Are they going to get enough revenue through these other channels to make up for this? And for the loss of promotional opportunities on Amazon. I suspect that most authors are probably better off with Amazon. Authors need to do their homework and constantly review their decision. To really understand their market they need to engage in the odd experiment. It is a very dynamic environment.

    • Felix J. Torres

      I suspect that going wide will most benefit established authors and hybrid authors with true fans and name recognition.

    • “I suspect that most authors are probably better off with Amazon.”

      Taking novels out of Kindle Unlimited does not mean taking them off Amazon. You are still ‘with’ Amazon.

      There are a number of reasons for leaving KU. Scammers aside, the page read payout has dropped significantly. There have been an alarming number of authors in KU who have had accounts permanently banned for behaviour they had no control over. And the fact is if you are not selling on other retailers while their sales in the US are smaller, you are leaving any money from sales there on the table.

      No, money going wide is not guaranteed. Neither is money in KU. Making money either way takes work and promotion.

  4. When he says he had mostly short stories in KU, what he means is… he had a bunch of ten-page stories going for 4.99 so when someone borrowed his story, he immediately was paid for the entire amount. As did MANY authors back then. That was the scam. It cost Amazon a lot of money and forced KU 2.0 that so many authors find repellent. They scanned the system, then got pissed when Amazon changed the rules on them. I have no sympathy.

    • Amazon set how KU 1.0 would pay out, and didn’t say “only novels, please.”

      I’m pretty sure most people didn’t get their regular price per read in KU 1.0. I know I didn’t when I had titles in the program back then. Think I received anywhere from $1.07 to $1.97 per.

      ANY LENGTH story was welcome (and still is).

      There are authors who can price a 2k word story for $2.99 or a 12k one for $4.99 and readers will pay that. Readers aren’t paying that with KU (and weren’t then, either).

    • Actually, I was pricing the short stories at $0.99 or $2.99 — depending on length and genre — but was getting a full “borrow” share each time someone read more than 10%. This meant that I was making as much as 160% royalty but no less than about 45%.

      It was kind of a ridiculous setup, and I totally understood why Amazon changed it.

      However, the current setup is still subject to abuse and the rate of return is steadily shrinking. My numbers no longer made sense. For me, that was reason enough to get out of KDP Select (almost) completely.

  5. It’s not a hard call for me. I earn more from KU in a few months than I have earned from Apple, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble all aggregated together for all of the past decade or so.

    And that’s the name of that tune…

    • Absolutely, Jake! I recognize that my numbers don’t mirror everyone’s. But I get asked about going Amazon-exclusive versus going wide a lot, and so I answered as best I could — trying to make my rationale clear and show that it was very much based on my own experience and returns.

      My non-financial reasoning behind staying wide — that it allows me to reach a wider audience outside of the US and that it’s my small personal way of discouraging Amazon from deciding to act toward KDP publishers the way they have toward ACX producers (unilaterally lowering royalty rates) — remain valid, I would like to think. However, ultimately, the bottom line is the most important decider for most of us.

  6. 20-38% of a much smaller pie isn’t necessarily better.

    • I repeat what I said above and what the author of the article pointed out: Leaving KU does NOT mean not selling on Amazon. Not being in KU means being able to reach the entire pie, including that 20-38%. Being in KU means you only reach a portion of it.

      Until a few months ago, I had all my fairly considerable backlist in KU. I am gradually removing it and putting it wide. I made a lot of money in KU but it is a very volitile market at least in part because of unpredictable behaviours from Amazon and to a lesser degree from other retailers. What worked a year ago may no longer work now.

      • You’re wasting your time. Amazon exclusivity has good measure of faith. Got some backlash some years ago when I suggested having some titles outside Amazon to test waters. Apparently I didn’t know what I was saying. Stopped reading several writers because of that.

        Take care

        • Unfortunately, this is true. Too many indie writers make business decisions based on emotion, not logic. I suspect this is true of most small businesses, and is why most small businesses (and indie writers) fail.

          • True, Joe — though I have to say one of the delights of ebook sales is that there’s almost no fixed cost, and so it is possible to keep selling even at relatively low levels without getting swamped by warehousing and shipping costs, for example.

            Ferran, I would suggest that if you got backlash from your mailing list about going wide, it was probably because you got most of them on Amazon. As J R said above, just because you’re not exclusive with Jeff Bezos & Co. doesn’t meant that you won’t still be there; I have always suggested that clients who wanted NOT to sell on Amazon (for whatever reason) that they were being, at best, idealistic and, at worst, self-destructive and silly. While Amazon isn’t the whole ebook universe (especially outside of the US), it certainly is the largest single player in ebook sales globally, and so not having your titles in the Kindle Store seems suicidal.

            That doesn’t mean that you can’t sell elsewhere, however!

    • I’m not sure I understand this comment, Dave.

      My non-KU sales on Amazon generally stayed the same after I removed titles from KU — a few KU members buying the title making up for a loss in discoverability.

      So the math for me (and I’m using my real numbers from last year) runs something like this:

      Books that I sell on Amazon made up 62% of my total ebook revenue. Those that were in KDP Select made about 16% of their royalty through KU. (That number has been steadily dropping as the value of each KENP has dropped.)

      That 62% tells me that 38% of my ebook sales were from retailers other than Amazon.

      38% > 16%

      (I recognize that not everyone’s numbers mirror mine. But that was the financial part of my rationale.)

      (Oh — and I also recognize that the 16% was part of the 62%. Forgive me; I’m a publisher not an accountant. I’ll re-visit the numbers next year.)

  7. Amazon is not a monopoly. For one, there is no restraint of trade. Granted, there are conditional platforms (Select v. Non-select) but these are voluntary choices users make. No one has ever been forced to be in KU; it doesn’t work that way. It bears mentioning, too, that monopolies are not per se illegal. What is illegal is monopolistic behavior. Amazon is competitive maybe beyond anything we’ve seen before. But competitive and monopolistic behavior do not equate.

    • While Amazon certainly doesn’t hold a monopolistic position in the ebook market, it has acted anti-competitively in the past. In a section from the original post that wasn’t included in the excerpt above, I mentioned that, as an audiobook producer on Amazon’s ACX platform, I had watched the royalty drop from 50% to 40% overnight. Oh, sure, I still had the option of offering my titles elsewhere (for a 25% royalty) — but at the time there was, for all intents and purposes, no where else to sell audiobooks. (This isn’t quite true any more.)

      I don’t think Amazon is a bad company. But I’d like it to keep playing nicely with us. And based on my own experience, I feel that the best way to ensure that is to have a thriving ebook retail scene — including but not exclusive to Amazon.

      • Critical point, David. And one I think is missed by a lot of writers.
        There was no competition for ACX, so Amazon could drop pay rates. Healthy competition keeps the inevitable capitalist impulse to squeeze the supplier at bay. Those who have gone exclusive with Amazon are benefiting and will benefit from from the writers and publishers who go wide with their markets, supporting Amazon’s competition.

        Despite what it felt like to so many in 2010, Amazon is not a fairy godmother. It will continue to make business choices in its own best interests, and these will not always align with writer’s.

        • Yes, Teri.

          Like all corporations, Amazon’s job is to maximize profits for its shareholders. While it doesn’t hold a monopoly on our ability to sell ebooks, it has to compete for our goodwill. I like that. 🙂

      • Total agreement.

      • While Amazon certainly doesn’t hold a monopolistic position in the ebook market, it has acted anti-competitively in the past.

        Amazon doesn’t hold a monopoly on anything. There is no reason to use the word “monopoly” when one means “anti-competitive.”

        • This is why I will never give up my sturdy steel desk for a flimsy Blue Light Special.

          When, when, when will writers (and I am one) get it through their heads that We. Are. Not. The. Customers. We. Are. The. Suppliers.

          “Anti-competitive practices” are those which drive other vendors out of business by use of financial (or legal rent-seeking) advantage. Now, one can call ACX paying a 50% royalty to their suppliers when competitors could offer no more than 25% an “anti-competitive practice” – an attempt to monopolize the supply – but, if you do that, lowering the royalty for their suppliers to 40% is an “anti-anti-competitive” practice. It permits other possible buyers to enter the market for purchasing from the suppliers and still turn a profit.

  8. After being wide with my fiction from the start (with some shorter work in Select for promo purposes) I began late last year moving my full-length work into KU. The past few months I’ve made more by a factor of 3 (compared to earnings from B&N, Kobo, and iBooks) by being exclusive. Since this is how I earn a living, it is the right choice for me.

    • That’s great, James!

      I recognize that my numbers don’t mirror everyone’s. But I get asked about going Amazon-exclusive versus going wide a lot, and so I answered as best I could — trying to make my rationale clear and show that it was very much based on my own experience and returns.

      I’m glad that KU has worked for you.

      I will say that my two other reasons for going wide are that 1) Amazon is nowhere nearly as dominant in the non-US ebook market (which is growing faster than the US market) and 2) I would like Amazon to keep treating us indie ebook publishers well. I went into those reasons in the original post, but understand why they weren’t reposted here.

  9. My books are in KU, which means I’m leaving the potential 20% of the market from “going wide” on the table. In place of that I’m getting the KU revenue. Should I stick with it? Here’s how I decide.

    The monthly royalty reports divide the income between sales and KU. If the ratio of sales income to KU income is more than 4:1 then it’s time to go wide.

    My actual ratio varies from 1:1 to 1.5:1. So I expect to stick with KU for a while. (If you think Amazon has only 60% of the ebook market, the critical ratio is 2.5:1.)

    I don’t worry about scammers. Walmart doesn’t shut down a store because somebody shoplifted there if it’s still making a profit.

    • As far as I know, Walmart also does not ban the accounts of products which shoplifters steal. Unfortunately, at times Amazon does.

      I used different parameters for deciding whether or not to go wide, but where I absolutely agree is deciding on the right parameters for you. It is important simply to keep an open mind.

    • Thanks, Karl — as I said above, I recognize that my numbers don’t mirror everyone’s. But I get asked about going Amazon-exclusive versus going wide a lot, and so I answered as best I could — trying to make my rationale clear and show that it was very much based on my own experience and returns.

      The scammers bother me partially because, as J R points out, Amazon has occasionally targeted publishers who have legitimately popular books because black-hats have used “reader farms” to inflate their numbers in the past.

      Mostly, though, I got tired of watching the monthly value of one KENP go down… and down… and down…

      • I ran the numbers on the per page payout. It hit bottom at $0.004035 in July 2017 and came back up to $0.005064 in December. Since then it’s come down but is still close to the two year average of $0.004687.

        (Your friendly neighborhood Excel jockey regrets the inability to embed a graph, but PG is probably happier to not have us meming at each other.)

        • Well said. (This Excel jockey can do the graph himself, so don’t feel bad.)

          Now, the actual algorithm for the page payout rate is undoubtedly kept in Jeff Bezo’s secret hideaway buried deep under the South Pole – but it is quite obvious that the two variables are 1) Revenue in, or how many subscribers pony up their money every month, and 2) Product out, or how many total pages are read.

          More subscribers, while pages read stays the same – page rate goes up. Same subscribers, while pages read goes up – page rate goes down. (I think this pretty much is the cause for the “bump” that seems to hit every December – people get a gift Kindle with a KU subscription attached, but aren’t using it very much at first – then they do start using it as the year unfolds.)

          The page rate is essentially meaningless – what matters is how many pages of your book are being read in comparison to how many total pages are being read throughout the whole of the KU offerings, and how many subscribers there are. That the rate stays so steady says to me that subscribers are keeping pace with page reads – which is a good thing. If, say, KU were to be swamped with just a few voracious readers, the rate would truly drop precipitously; conversely, if there were many subscribers and very few actual readers, it would be sky-high – and, for most writers, the actual revenue would stay the same.

  10. As non-fiction authors, my wife and I have found it to be kind of a wash in terms of how much we make from KU versus going wide. So we tend to split the difference and keep about a third of our books in KU. I get the sense that KU is a better option for fiction authors, but by having some books on there, we still catch some readers that we might not otherwise reach.

    It does seem a little easier to get Bookbub promotions for our books that are available wide. Bookbub seems to assign importance to a book being available on more sites than Amazon.

    • Thanks, Nirmala. I think that it’s definitely a very individual set of decisions — individual to the publisher, but also the individual title.

      Yes — I had almost no luck with going the KU route for non-fiction. The Joseph Campbell Foundation, with which I work, has a number of full-length titles signed up with KDP Select. I just looked — and for those titles in the KU program, KENP income accounted for about 5% of the royalties. That’s… not much.

      And again, yes — I had absolutely no luck ever getting a BookBub promotion for a KU book (though I know others have). To be honest, some of my most successful BB promos have been non-US-only — and have netted (slightly) more from Kobo, Apple, and Google than from Amazon.

  11. Terrence OBrien

    In most markets, sellers use whatever venues work best for them.

    Since the advent of Kindle Select and especially KU, many authors thinks what works best for them should guide every other author.

    • Thanks, Terrence. I tried to write the post not as a prescription, but as a roadmap, laying out my reasons for selling wide. I get asked about going Amazon-exclusive versus going wide a lot, and so I answered as best I could — trying to make my rationale clear and show that it was very much based on my own experience and returns.

  12. I just finished my 31st novel and have written over 200 short stories (and compiled the resultng collections). I also have several poetry collections, one of which was nominated for a major award. So I’m not a novice.

    I would never think of enrolling any of my works in KDP Select. I respect prospective readers far too much to even think about hacking away those who prefer to read ebooks via epub or other formats. For me, it’s just that cut and dried.

    • Thanks, Harvey. Obviously, I agree with you — but I know that not everyone does.

      • Absolutely, to each his/her own. I’m an old retired Marine. What doesn’t affect my paycheck or my time off doesn’t matter to me in the slightest. Just putting in my two cents.

        I’m also a child of the ’60s. If writing ever became about nothing but the money (again, for me personally), I’d find something else fun to do.

        As for Amazon, I don’t like them. I don’t care for their cutthroat tactics. Leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Amazon makes as much money per book selling my books as they do selling for people who go KDP Select, but those folks get added perks for not selling through any of Amazon’s competitors.

        Do those who go exclusive with Amazon have anything against selling through B&N or Kobo or any of the others? I can’t believe they do. They’re just bowing to the will of Amazon. And again, that’s fine, but not for me.

        I understand I have a small business here, but my own sense of what’s right and wrong just won’t mesh with me, personally, going KDP Select. I have no concerns and no arguments regarding what others do. Not my job.

  13. I have 10 novels in KU. I have twice gone wide and lost 30% of my income each time. I follow the money and stay exclusive to Amazon.

    • Thanks, Alec. That is obviously your call — I too was just following the money, though I tried to lay out as much of a larger rationale in the post as I could.

      I have a pair of questions about your experience of going wide: how long did you run the experiment, and how did you market the titles? After all, if you’ve built up mailing list of KU members, they won’t necessarily follow you to iBooks or Nook. It can take time to build up a readership on other platforms — and other markets, where Amazon is far less dominant.

      • Overall is was a 6-month experiment. My books have different entry dates into KU, so I took 4 out then added more the next month and so on…

        I know it takes time to build up on other platforms, but that’s lost income each month. I can’t afford a 12 to 18-month wait to find new readers. I already have worldwide sales so I’m not sure how big or little the rest of the pie is out there.

  14. Different strokes for different folks as they say.

    Some think there’s more discoverability in KU, some think there’s more money/readers in going wide.

    Unlike a trad-pub contract you can always change your mind and try the other trick just to see what all the shouting is about.

  15. It is not as simple a decision as some people make out. How well you will do in KU depends on factors such as what your genre is, how fast you produce new work, and the regular price on your novels. It can be very tough to know which is better. For one thing, going wide means garnering new followers who don’t shop at Amazon. This is likely to take at least six months, possibly even a year depending on what promotions you can run. You have to be able to take a substantial financial hit in the meantime. But who ever said that making a living as an author was going to be easy? If anyone did, they were lying.

  16. [posting to follow]

  17. There are thousands of books, both print and e that are not on KU.
    Many of the non-KU books are very good reads.
    But, KU has more than enough “good enough” books for me to read.
    So, it has been 4+ years since I purchased a new printed book and 2+ years since a non-KU e-book has been purchased. (both by Peter F. Hamilton)
    Last week I did buy a paperback, First Lensman from E.E. “Doc” Smith.
    It was well used and cost a whole dollar at the local used book store.
    Guess, that all this means is that I am cheap and satisfied with KU’s selection of books and authors and if a author is trying to get and keep me as a customer their books have to be on KU.

  18. The total sales percentage of Amazon compared to the world market keeps dropping for me. Little by little. Yes, it does take time to build the world-wide market of fans, but it is very possible. For a sustainable long-term busines, it gives me (the business owner) a lot of comfort.

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