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.