If you follow me over at my personal blog, you know I’ve been wrestling with and finally decided it is time to once again try going wide with my books. So, for the rest of the year, I’ll be widely releasing everything already out at least three months. But that doesn’t mean I’m completely abandoning KDP Select (or KU). It just means I’m going to be doing things differently to see if it impacts my income stream.
What led to the decision?
Call it Covid. Call it realizing it was time to shake things up. Call it whatever you want. But I’m seeing more and more authors who have been Amazon only going wide and finding they are making as much–if not substantially more–now even though they don’t have the “page reads” we get from the KU “borrows”.
But there’s another reason. Other than the Kindle Unlimited “borrows” and associated page reads, there’s not much difference between what the various platforms offer now from what you get with Amazon. For one, some of the platforms now allow for pre-orders. That is especially true if you use a service like Draft2Digital.
Unlike Amazon, these other platforms (again, on the whole) allow you to put a book on perma-free. No more of this having a limited number of days when you can put the book up for free and then it reverts back to full price. When you’re like me and you have several series that are starting to have more than a few books in it, having that ability is very enticing. In a way, it reminds me of Baen’s Free Library where they hook you with a free taste.
However. . .
You knew there had to be a “however”. I’m not giving up on KU either. For the series that I’ve been writing, new releases will be Amazon exclusives for three months. That gives those fans who use KU the opportunity to read my new books. I’m still considering what to do about any titles that aren’t tied to a series or the new series I’m writing right now.
So how is it going to work?
As the first book in a series goes off of KU (okay, it’s really KDP Select, but KU is actually more accurate since it is impacting the book’s enrollment in the Kindle Unlimited program), it will be released either directly or through D2D to Apple, B&N, Kobo and other outlets. It will also go onto Overdrive and other library lending services. I’m still debating whether to publish directly to any of those stores or not. I have the first title direct to B &N but, as of last night, even though they said the title was available, it wasn’t showing up.
Besides, D2D has gotten a lot easier to use than it used to be–and even then it was fairly easy to use. It is also a great deal faster with uploading to the selected stores. Which brings me to an observation. The first titles being released are the three short stories set in the Honor & Duty universe. I ran them back through Vellum, removing the Amazon links because I knew the other stores would choke on them. But I added a note that the books in the series were currently available through Amazon (yes, I named but didn’t link to the ‘Zon) and noted the date when Vengeance from Ashes (first in the series) would be available wide. Two of the stores choked on that–Apple and Kobo. They objected to “Amazon”. So that brings up the question of it is does so even in the body of the text. Anyway, it was an easy fix.
There is a really awesome benefit of using D2D now. They offer you an UBL (universal book link) for your books distributed through them. Here’s the one for Taking Flight, the first short story in the Honor & Duty series. Click on the title and it will take you to a page where it shows where the title is available (it is still being generated in some of the stores, like Apple, some of the Kobo stores, etc.). Then you just click the store icon you want to go to. So no more listing multiple links for stores, etc. Frankly, it makes building web pages and doing promos much easier.
Aw, B&N did finally come through with Taking Flight and it is available through there as well.
Anyway, the three short stories, Taking Flight, Battle Bound and Battle Wounds, are available wide today. Note: these are the original short stories, not the expanded versions that make up the novella Battle Flight.
Those are the only titles going wide this month. Next month will see Hunted going wide. Witchfire Burning might as well, but I may hold it until July when Slay Bells Ring goes wide since they are both related and start the the overall story arc of the Eerie Side of the Tracks series. July will see Sword of Arelion, Nocturnal Origins, Nocturnal Serenade, Nocturnal Interlude, Tracked, Slay Bells Ring and Wedding Bell Blues going wide.
As I noted on my blog yesterday, I’ve already got the schedule down for wide release titles through August. I will also be releasing the new titles A Call to Honor (Honor & Duty) in the second half of June and Fire Storm (Tearing the Veil) in the second half of July. The first will definitely be an Amazon exclusive for the first three months. I still haven’t completely made my mind up about Fire Storm.
One last thought before I go wandering off to find my next cup of coffee. Time. How much time is this going to take to get the books ready to go live? For the newer books, less than 10 minutes a title. All I have to do is run them back through Vellum and tell it to convert to a generic ePub file, make sure the Amazon links are scrubbed and making sure the “also by” section is updated to show all my current releases, wide or not. For the older books that didn’t go through Vellum, it will take longer. For one, I’ll run them through new editing software just to make sure I haven’t missed anything. That can run on one computer while I’m working on a tablet, my ReMarkable or on the other laptop. Then I’ll run it through Vellum to update the formatting to match the other books in the series. The only real time consumer will be where I have to update covers. But I have time and this shouldn’t interfere with writing new projects at all. (In other words, I’m going to maintain a schedule where I work on new material during the “work day” and do the other at night when I’m watching TV with Mom.)
Since this is an experiment, I’ll keep you guys apprised with how it goes. For now, however, you’d be doing me a big favor if you’d spread the word about the short stories.
First link goes to Joanna Penn’s blog, is that where it was intended to go??
Sigh. No. That’s what I get for having too many links open. Thanks, fixing it now.
But I do recommend reading the post on Penn’s blog. It had some interesting takes on plotter vs pantser in it.
For those who didn’t see the post referenced in Reziac’s comment above, here’s a link. https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2021/05/24/discovery-writing/
That was interesting. A lot of what they’re saying about discovery writers rings true for me, including getting the first 20,000 or so words for free. Then I have to work and do some measure of planning/plotting, but it’s awfully vague.
I tend to bounce between plotter and pantser, depending on the project. Right now, I am closer to the discovery writer. I’m not sure I like it. Grumble.
I’ve become a just-in-time plotter. For about 5 to 30 minutes before I start drafting, I write what has to happen or is going to happen in a very truncated synopsis. I then bold the action words, since much of the pre-writing is a bit of a babble. When I finish, I check the prep work and see if I left anything out that I still agree needs to go in. I can’t do this weeks in advance for love or money, but I can do it that same day.
Sarah taught me to do it the night before. The only problem with that is my subconscious percolates on it overnight and that can lead to me going down some very weird roads because Myrtle has a free rein then. VBEG
Yeah, that’s too soon for me.
I pants my outline. Except that some ideas I’m trying more structure because they need some help — usually in the middle, not the end.
The one lady was saying almost word for word what I said the other day, she writes to get all those people out of her head. I’m relieved to not be the only crazy one. ~:D
Thanks for sharing this, Amanda. I hear it can take a while to gain traction wide as readers wait to see if you mean it, so I’ll be interested in any updates you have. My short stories (novelettes) are wide, but it didn’t work for my novels. However, I tried long ago, so wish you good fortune with this.
Laura, it was some years ago when I last tried it. But I’m hearing more and more from others about how they are doing better now wide than they used to. I also think being able to put out a number of titles in a fairly short period will help. It’s just frustrating trying to figure out how and when to release what since I write several series. I had to–gag–resort to using an Excel sheet to help me put everything in order.
One thing I didn’t mention here is that it does take planning. I have some books that are middle or end of series books that go off of the KU plan before the first book in the series does. So I am leaving them in the program for one more cycle, possibly two depending on how far they are down the series and where the other books fall when it comes to timing off of KU. Hence the Excel sheet and alerts set on my calendar (which I am setting up today).
Heh. That’ll teach you to be so prolific.
Not really. Just been doing this since Amazon opened the doors to indies.
How do the alternative platforms compare from a reader point of view? I’d like to reduce my Amazon footprint, but overall they did a really nice job with the Kindle ecosystem.
Since I don’t have a lot of time to read, for e-books I’m skipping KU and buying them — that way I spend about the same, but more money goes to the author.
I still need to see if Apple is putting DRM on their books–even though I told them no DRM when I listed through D2D. As for storefronts, all of them (except BN) look like they have improved not only the look but the search capabilities since I last went wide. BN’s website/store is still a mess. All of them except Amazon use ePUB as their format. They should all have either a reader app or can be read using one of the free ePub reading apps like Adobe Digital Editions.
I buy from Kobo quite often. Their algorithms and store are different which can feel off if you’re used to Kindle, but I’ve discovered I find books I might want to read faster in there, even withoutknowing what key words they like. As always, your mileage may vary. Can’t speak much to b&n or iBooks since I don’t use them
I’m also thinking about taking at least some of my stuff wide. I’m going to focus on marketing and discoverability in the next few months, so I’m going to take a look at just what strategy for doing that would work best.
And thanks for mentioning the ReMarkable tablet. I was really impressed with your earlier posts about how it was working out for you. Although right now it’s out of my budget (even a used one on eBay is still too much for my pocketbook), I was able to snag an inexpensive Android tablet that can do handwriting to text. It’s still writing on a glass screen, but this way I can write longhand and not have a pile of pages that all need to be typed into the computer (something that is all too easy to keep putting off).