What are the advantages of going wide in self-publishing and becoming an independent author?
I have written before about the pros and cons of Amazon KDP Select. For many authors, it is a difficult choice to make.
On the one hand, Amazon is by far the largest online book retailer.
But it demands exclusive rights to ebooks to gain access to Kindle Unlimited and a few promotional tools.
Many authors opt to self-publish exclusively with Amazon KDP Select and do so successfully.
But many others dislike the lack of independence it demands.
These authors understand that having all your eggs in one sales basket is restrictive. And if something goes wrong, everything goes wrong.
Open publishing gives the ability to access multiple sales channels.
You are free to use a range of pricing strategies and access many promotional tools and opportunities.
It is attractive to those authors who value their independence and see self-publishing as a business.
It is a given that book sales and especially digital books on Amazon often make up a high percentage of an author’s income.
But there is no need to cut off this income stream to be able to go wide in self-publishing.
Stick with Amazon Direct Publishing, but don’t be restricted
Amazon places no restrictions or draconian rules on self-publishing through its KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) service.
Other than what is noted in its standard KDP Terms & Conditions.
As long as you don’t enroll in KDP Select, you are free to offer your ebooks and apply your book marketing in any manner you choose.
There are, of course, no restrictions at all on print versions.
The only difference will be that the Kindle ebook version will not be available on Kindle Unlimited or the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL).
The 70% royalty option for sales to customers in Japan, India, Brazil, and Mexico will not be applicable.
However, apart from these few restrictions, a Kindle book published via KDP will be available for sale on every Amazon store and marketplace and will show alongside the print versions if they are available.
In other words, you can leverage the selling power of Amazon. But still, be free to open new sales and income opportunities.
Going wide with your self-publishing choices
There are many avenues to publishing nowadays for an independent author.
However, the most popular and convenient means for most self-publishing authors is to use an aggregator.
The most recognized aggregators are Smashwords and Draft2Digital.
Aggregators allow you to self-publish with their respective services. Then they do all the work of publishing your ebook on a range of online retailers, ebook subscription services, and libraries.
While there are slightly different advantages with these two aggregators, both offer a high standard of service and easy manuscript publishing.
If you are unfamiliar, you can read my comparison review of Smashwords and Draft2Digital.
The advantage of this is that you can publish different versions of your book metadata and tailor your book to each retailer.
However, for most authors, it is much easier and convenient to use an aggregator to access these retailers.
Going wide means having greater flexibility
Smashwords and Draft2Digital both offer quick and easy book price changes. With Draft2Digital, you can even change a book price for individual countries.
Because of the ease and freedom to change an ebook’s price, it opens up endless opportunities to find new markets and book buyers.
For example, you could run a free promotion on iBooks for a month while offering a discount on Nook, or offer an ebook for free only in the UK on Kobo.
All of these possibilities and almost any ebook pricing strategy you can think of will not affect your Amazon Kindle ebook price.
Think of it like this. Yes, Amazon will probably continue to sell a large percentage of your ebooks,
But there are many other markets out there. With a little trial and error, experimentation, and imagination, you can gain access to a lot of new readers.
Going wide gives you the freedom to promote your ebook
If you are locked into Amazon exclusivity, your freedom to use your ebook for giveaways, competitions and to be able to send it to book reviewers is very limited, as Amazon state in its KDP Select terms.
When you enroll and publish a book in KDP Select, you’re committing to making the digital format of that book available exclusively through KDP while it’s enrolled in the program.
All content enrolled in KDP Select must remain for sale through the Kindle Store only. If the digital version of your book appears to be available for pre-order, for sale, or for free elsewhere (such as on your website or blog, or a third party’s website), then it is not eligible for KDP Select.
Adding new content (such as bonus content, author’s commentary section, etc.) to a book that is available elsewhere will not satisfy the exclusivity requirements. See the KDP Select Terms and Conditions for complete exclusivity requirements.
However, you may choose to make up to 10% of your book available on other sites as a sample, as well as continue to distribute your book in physical format (including print on demand books), or in any format other than digital. 10% is roughly the length of the Kindle Free reading sample.
You may also provide professional reviewers with a copy of your book via email for the purpose of editing, proofreading, and helping with other quality improvements.
See the KDP Select Terms and Conditions for more information. When you enroll a boxset in KDP Select, none of those books can be offered on another platform.
If we remove your book from KDP Select due to violation of the exclusivity requirements, you may re-enroll your book as soon as you ensure it is no longer available elsewhere in a digital format.
Don’t be restricted
Free from these restrictions, you can take back total control of your book promotions. You decide how you use your ebook to gain more market penetration, exposure, and book reviews.
On both Smashwords and Draft2Digital, you can download copies of your ebooks and distribute them as you wish.
You can then send the published version of your ebook in a range of file formats. These include .epub, .mobi (for Kindle app), or .pdf. You can send them to book reviewers, contests, competitions, or even use them to offer to your blog subscribers.
Would you like to offer a free series starter? You could do so on your website or blog and with your aggregated retailers.
Why not use your Facebook page to entice readers with a free series starter or free ebook download?
There are no restrictions whatsoever, and you are only limited by your imagination and business acumen.
The freedom that going wide will not have any negative effect on your ebooks on Kindle.
In fact, with the huge amount of book promotion opportunities that become available, it may very well have a positive spin-off effect on your Kindle sales.
Extending your promotion and marketing reach opens the opportunity to find new readers on new retailers. But dedicated Kindle users who see your promotions will almost always go back to Amazon to buy.
Will becoming an independent author and going wide increase your book sales?
Yes, but don’t expect miracles. Amazon is the biggest, and nothing is going to change in that regard in the foreseeable future.
However, there are a lot of other ebook buyers out there. They do buy ebooks on Apple, Nook, Google Play, and Kobo in particular.
In the end, though, going wide is about being a truly independent author. It’s about being in total control of your self-publishing business.