Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve detailed the beginnings of my journey to finally move away from being an Amazon-exclusive author. In many ways, it’s not all that difficult–once I got past the mental roadblocks that I put up, reasons that kept me tied to Amazon. In others, it has been a daunting and, at times, terrifying trip. The one thing I’ve learned is that there are a great number of details, some small and others large, I hadn’t anticipated along the way.
I’ll be honest. It would be a great deal easier to do if I either didn’t have as many titles to deal with or if I’d made the decision long ago. Each title has its own end date for KDP Select/KU. Like so many authors taking advantage of the Kindle Unlimited program, I simply signed a title up for it and then let the books automatically re-enroll. Now that is something I have to deal with. I’ve written some about this already. But there are two basic ways to deal with it. Either leave the books in the program but uncheck the auto-renew box and let them age off before you take the title wide or contact Amazon (after you uncheck the auto-renew box) and ask them to remove the book from the program immediately. As I noted in a prior post, I do this via email so I have a paper trail if necessary.
But other things that need to be considered–and dealt with–as I go along this journey deal not only with the books themselves but with my blog, my author’s website, getting a newsletter going, finding an easy way to have a webstore, putting together promotions and having something ready to give the readers to encourage them to buy the books and to keep reading.
Starting with the easiest first: the website. If you’ve done a better job than I have about keeping your website up-to-date, then you will have little to do here beyond updating your title links. Right now, all my links go to Amazon. Later this week, they will be changed to go to links generated through Books2Read. Here you can get a universal book link. Here’s what one looks like.
Each of the icons is an active link to the story’s product page in that particular store. So you embed the link and you’re all set. And, as you can see, the links look good, something I appreciate.
For my blog, it means redesigning the homepage where I have the Amazon links on the sidebar. It will take a little doing, but not that much. I can do it when I add the store page to the main website. And, yes, you can set up a “store” once you are no longer exclusive to Amazon. I’ll do more on that when I actually get it done.
Since I’m taking the books wide (starting with the Nocturnal Lives series), it’s a good time to do another readthrough to check for typos, etc. It is amazing what can be found after all this time. I swear, it doesn’t matter how many different sets of eyes and editors and proofreaders look at a book, mistakes still slip by.
Look at your covers. Does your branding still work? Do you still cue the genre/sub-genre right or have things changed since you released the book on Amazon? That includes taking a hard look at the fonts used. I’ll admit that I’ve spent the last couple of days researching covers in the NL sub-genre and deciding I needed to do a bit of rebranding. So new covers have been designed and are being tweaked. You can find the mock-ups (which are currently being tweaked) here.
Update your blurbs as well. Take a hard look at them not only for the new stores but Amazon as well. You want the blurbs to be universal, especially if you are loading direct to the various stores and not using sites such as Draft2Digital.
Then there’s the standard stuff:
- Are your interiors of each book of the series formatted the same way?
- Are your contents in the same order (copyright page, ToC, dedication, epigraph, book, etc.)?
- What are you doing to promote your mailing list in the book? (Do you have it linked in the front matter of the book? How about in the back matter?)
- Are you giving your readers something to hook them into the series beyond the book’s hook? (For example, are you offer a free book or story that would be an introduction to the characters or the series? This could be linked in the front of the book. For example, I’ll be offering “Wolf’s Prey”, a prequel short story that shows what happened the night Mac was attacked by the lycan, the night that really started her down the path we see in Nocturnal Origins and the subsequent books.)
- Are you going to offer a preview of the next book in the series? This would go at the back of the book and should only be a few pages. Remember, you aren’t adding pages for read counts any more. What you are doing with this is trying to convince the reader to immediately jump into the next book. So give them a taste (and it doesn’t have to be from the beginning of the book) followed by the universal link to it.
- Even if you don’t offer the preview, at the end of the last chapter and before you go into the back matter, (in other words, on the same page as the last page of the story), thank the reader and give them the link to the next book. That way, it is front and center for them and they can make that impulse buy we lose by not being in physical bookstores.
- List your other books and stories with universal book links.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. As you can see, it can be relatively easy but it can also be time consuming. But the time is right, at least for me, to do it.
While I am and always will be grateful for Amazon for what it has done for indie authors, I’m becoming increasingly uncomfortable being in only one storefront. No, I’m no more convinced of B&N’s long-term viability than I have been, they are still a player and the new CEO does seem to be making inroads back to survivability. Apple will always have its followers. Kobo is, well, Kobo. But through sites like D2D, we can now get our books easily into library lending programs. We can offer pre-orders on sites other than Amazon. There are other perks as well. And, frankly, with Jeff Bezos stepping down from Amazon in the near future, I’d rather diversify now, before that happens. It will be easy enough to reverse the decision later if this experiment doesn’t work the way I think it will.
Now I’m off to submit some titles to various promotion sites. But before that, I have to make the final decision of whether to take Nocturnal Origins perma-free (something else difficult to do on Amazon) or list it at $0.99. But all that’s after coffee.
The library thing is a *big* one.
While the last time I looked at how ebooks are “sold” to libraries it was a huge money sink (Something like 10 checkouts for the life of the book, then you have to buy again.) being able to get into a library is a Big Deal.
Yeah. What I like about D2D’s version is you can choose how you charge the libraries, so you have a bit more freedom there.
I hadn’t heard of some of those other eBook sites.
And those aren’t all the sites you can get through via D2D or other aggregators. Note also, you don’t have to release through the aggregator to get the B2R universal links. I upload direct to Amazon and, for this title, I also did a direct upload to BN. You simply paste in a single link and it will search it out on other sites.
When you do the store, a couple requests from an avid reader.
1. have a ’email to kindle’ option besides just being able to download the books (ideally keeping the email on file so it doesn’t have to be entered each time). Ideally supporting more than one email so that I can send it to amazon to put on the kindle account and send it to my personal email for archiving, but I could see good reasons to be reluctant to do this.
2. have a ‘auto-purchase new books’ option so that when there is a new release, it can be auto-purchased (and ideally auto-emailed, it’s nice to open my reader and discover something new ready to go). during the transition you need to be careful that existing books being added (and in the future, simple reformats, new covers, etc) don’t trigger this.
Always another adventure. . . .
Congratulations and good luck! Going wide is no small task, especially after being on Amazon for so long. Here are a couple of tips that I’ve personally found helpful:
If you mention Amazon anywhere in your book, Apple won’t allow it onto their store. In the author’s notes I write at the end of my books, I sometimes talk about the publication process, and have had to go back and tweak them after forgetting that Apple doesn’t like you mentioning their big competitor.
You should definitely put links to your newsletter signup in the back (and front) of all your books, but you can save yourself a lot of trouble if you link to a page on your blog that contains the newsletter signup form, rather than the signup form itself. That way, if you ever decide to change which service you go to for emails, you don’t have to go back and change all of those links. I followed that tip early on, and it was a real lifesaver!
Books2Read is really convenient because it remembers which retailer each reader prefers, and automatically redirects there. As a consequence, you don’t need to format different ebooks for each retailer in order to make sure that “buy my next book!” link goes straight to the buy page for the next book. If they also allow you to add your affiliate tags, that’s golden (correct me if I’m wrong, but I think they divide up 50% of the clicks between you and them for affiliate purposes).
You definitely want to get in on Amazon’s affiliate program, as a good month can bring in $100 or more—and when you’re wide, every income stream counts. However, they will send you a nastygram if you include your affiliate links directly in the emails you send out. It’s stupid, but hey. Instead, you can use your Books2Read links, or you can redirect to a blog page that has all the links. I use a WordPress plugin called MyBookTable, where the professional version allows you to add all of your affiliate tags. It basically does what Books2Read does, but you get 100% of the affiliate links. Adds an extra step that readers have to click through, though, which can be annoying.
As for the rest, you seem to be pretty savvy about going wide, which isn’t a surprise if you’re following Mark Leslie LeFebvre’s book. He’s been in this space for a very long time, and knows what he’s talking about. Another good resource I’ve found is the podcast Six Figure Authors. Joe Lallo and Lindsay Buroker have also been self-publishing since forever, and offer a really great perspective.
Again, good luck!