No, I’m not talking about the Covid-spread, which is sort of like the freshman-spread but includes masks. What I’m actually talking about is moving away from being an Amazon exclusive author. I wrote a little about it last week. Today I want to expand–and expound–on it some more.
First off, this wasn’t a decision I made lightly. I gave it a great deal of thought. Did my research and made the best-informed decision I could. I even put a plan in place. But, like with most plans, it changed before the end of the first day. Shrug.
Originally, I planned on taking books out of KU (KDP Select) as they aged off, taking care to do it in series order. It was a sound plan, at least on paper. But as I got deeper into the process and started learning more about how to best go wide with a backlist, I realized that while this process might be easier on me, it wasn’t necessarily the best when it came to making headway into the new marketplaces.
So. . . the plans changed. That meant figuring out how to take more than one book in a series out of KU at a time. I had a feeling I knew how but I did some more research and confirmed my answer. All I had to do was contact Amazon and ask them to remove the books.
Two points to make here: 1) contacting Amazon about anything when it comes to the KDP Select program can be tricky. There’s no easy number to access. You have to click the “Contact Us” button at the bottom of the help page, select a topic (none of which really fit but I chose “KDP Promotions”, then I clicked Kindle Unlimited and got the window that allowed me to either email them, call them or ask the community). I emailed them. It is a little slower than a phone call but it gives you a paper trail, something I prefer having. You provide them then with the ASIN and title of your book(s) and ask them to remove the titles from the KDP Select program.
It took all of a couple of hours to get the books removed. I now have not only an email confirming the books have been removed (without having to wait for them to age out of the program) but I have the ability to release the books wherever I want.
So what’s the next step?
First, remove all links to Amazon except in the books remaining for sale through Amazon. That means multiple upload copies of the books. Okay, no biggie. That’s as easily done as clicking a box in Vellum. But it also means making some other, more time consuming changes–at least it did for me because I’m going to try more than just taking the books wide.
Next, and this can be done at any point but since I hadn’t really set anything up before, I set up a mailing list. There are a number of different programs and sites out there you can use. You can also use subscriptions via your blog or other sites. Me? I chose to go with MailerLite. It’s easy to use. I set up the “newsletter” signup on my blog in minutes. I did make sure to talk to others who are using it to see if they were satisfied and signed up. The only thing I have to decide is if I want to stick with the free option or go to the paid, which does have some benefits I’ll probably want to take advantage of as the list grows.
Oh, I guess this is where I say you can sign up for my newsletter here.
The third thing I did–well, to be honest, it was the first, but who’s counting–is decide where I wanted to release my books and through what process. After trying with Apple and B&N to upload directly, I gave up on Apple and I’m about to make the decision to pull the single title I managed to get up on B&N. Instead, I’ll probably go straight through Draft2Digital to them. I’m already using D2D to get into the other major storefronts as well as into library lending programs. D2D is easy to use, reputable and I still had an account with them from when I went wide once before.
After that, I set up an account with BookFunnel. Think of BookFunnel as your one stop promotions venue. This is where you can upload ARCs or freebies to offer your newsletter readers. It is where you upload special outtakes or additional scenes from a book. You then link to these in your book in either the front or back matter. A reader follows the link and come to what can best be described as a landing page. Once they enter their email address (and any other additional info you want), they get access to the freebie.
And–and this is the big point to remember–you now have a new email address to add to your mailing list.
But this means work on the front end for me. I’m going to be releasing the first three books of three different series. For each of these I need something new. So I’ve spend some time each day for the last week deciding what to offer and, in two cases, writing it. Last night I finished the rough draft of a prequel short story for the Nocturnal Lives series. The story, still untitled, is a prequel that let’s the reader finally see what happened to Mac the night she was attacked by the lycan.
The second short story, “A Call to Duty”, is a prequel story to the Honor & Duty series. It covers the mission that led to Ashlyn Shaw and the survivors of her team being court martialed and sent to the penal colony where we first see Ash in Vengeance from Ashes. The final freebie will be for the Eerie Side of the Tracks series and I’m still trying to figure out what it will be. Right now, I’m leaning toward a short story to bridge between Slay Bells Ring and Witchfire Burning, mainly to tie the two together a bit more.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a great deal of behind the scenes work that has to be done. Making sure you have a clean manuscript copy. Updating covers if they need it. Choosing release dates and then making sure you have everything ready to go. Do you want to release all the books freed up in a series at one time or stagger them?
Oh, and making sure you update the front and back material to make sure you have the freebies listed with active links.
And don’t forget updating your websites and/or blogs to reflect the change in where your books are available. (And here’s the upside to using BookFunnel. You can set up a “webstore” on your site–which actually consists of universal links they provide. So you get one more option there as well.) Then there’s the whole adding the sign-up option for your newsletter.
I really hadn’t anticipated how much time would be spent getting ready to release my work into the wild. That’s my fault. I did my research but I didn’t do enough. However, there is a good side to the time that’s it is taking. By focusing on this right now, it’s forced me to put aside the two manuscripts I’d been working on. So when I go back to them later this week/the first of next week, I will do so with fresh eyes.
Better yet, so far I don’t see the time I’ve taken to prep for the release of the first set of books into the wild impacting my release schedule for new titles.
It’s a great deal of work and I hope it will be worth it. But, with Bezos stepping down from the head of Amazon before long and with sites like D2D now giving writers the ability to offer ARCs and pre-orders and more, I’d be a fool not to test the wide waters again. In other words, it is time to become proactive when it comes to the business end of my work and not just reactive.
Wish me luck. I’ll keep everyone updated and will be announcing here and elsewhere when I start getting the novels released into the wild once again.