The Indie Author's Simple Guide to Leaving Kindle Unlimited and Taking Your E-Book Wide
Fed up with Amazon?
Ready to bring your book to a wider audience?
It isn't as hard as you might think!
Step One: Set Your Goals/Expectations
When you talk about taking a book wide, that can mean a lot of different things. It can mean taking your book to ALL stores and reaching as many readers as possible, or it can mean just taking your book to the biggest markets and making sure most readers can purchase it.
For example, here are some of the top e-book stores that you MUST have your book in if you go wide:
Here is a list of stores that you SHOULD distribute your book to if you go wide:
Finally, here are some extra options of places you CAN have your book when you go wide:
And, to be perfectly, honest, that isn't even the entire list of places you could release your book to if you really wanted to hit them all.
Phew, looks like it's time to start making tons of accounts on all of these different websites, putting in payment information, loading your books, and figuring out how to market on them!
Here's the thing...
A lot of those places that I mentioned above don't even take indie author submissions directly. On top of that, can you imagine trying to track and maintain all of those different online stores with all of your books? It would be a nightmare!
What if you have to make a correction or type in one of your books and need to load a new file on each individual site?
What if you publish a lot of books?
How on earth do you actually track sales?
**Creeps back over to KU**
Don't do that quite yet, though...
Some companies will do the work for you! You load your book one time and they will distribute it to a lot of different websites for you! Fantastic!
Except, most of the time they take a cut.
It isn't usually a big cut, and they all offer different terms, but that is a cut of the profits you would be seeing if you went directly with the companies. If you are a new author just trying to make a name for yourself, then this might not be a big deal, but if you are well-established and sell a ton of copies each month these fees can quickly add up.
A few companies of note that will distribute your books include:
- Pronoun - Click here to read my review of their service.
- Draft2Digital - Review coming soon!
- Smashwords - Review coming soon!
I've used all of the aforementioned sites either in the past or currently to distribute books! They are all great, unique, and really easy to use. Each has its advantages, and each has disadvantages. You would have to decide for yourself after a lot of research which one is going to be the best, and which one will be the easiest to switch to.
Just tell me which one is best already!
In my personal opinion based on using each platform: if you're looking for the easiest way to distribute your book...
Go with Pronoun.
They offer the best terms for distribution in the US, and they give you incredible power of distribution (including setting a price at 99 cents on Amazon and maintaining the 70% royalty rate rather than 35%, which Amazon won't do for indies on KDP. You can also set a price of free right away), and they have a sleek and easy to use interface with some truly amazing features!
They also distribute to all of the top players, including Google, making it a one-stop-shop to hit pretty much every major retailer you can't afford to miss, plus libraries.
Signing up for their service will only take a few minutes, they pay through PayPal (which you should have an account for by now), and they do daily number tracking that is almost accurate!
No matter what, go direct through Kobo
Kobo's platform isn't great: they are perpetually fixing one issue or another with their number tracking, loading books, or interface, but once you make an account and post a book the first thing you can and should do is send them an email toask if they can turn on the promotions tab for you.
The Promotions gives you direct access to submit your books for free or paid Kobo promotions in their store that are pretty awesome. I ran a free promotion that costed only $5 and it got hundreds of downloads over the course of a week (maybe more...I don't know since their free download tracker is broken!) and spiked my rank really high!
If you go this route of using Kobo direct and Pronoun for everyone else, then you'll only have to maintain two platforms, and you'll be able to distribute to a lot of different places to reach many more readers than you ever could have found in KU.
But, I'm a completionist video gamer!
If I go with Pronoun I will lose out on some of the stores mentioned above!
There is a secret about distribution that many authors ignore: you can opt out of different stores. Each platform lets you choose the specific stores you want them to sell through, which means you can use all three of the above platforms (Smashwords, Pronoun, and Draft2Digital) simultaneously to distribute books to the widest possible reach you can find.
Just, be careful that you don't distribute to the same store multiple times. One cool little thing you can do if you want for the experience to be the same:
- Use Draft2Digital to build your ePub file
- DO NOT have them add their custom pages
- ...just uncheck them all!
- Download that e-book to 'sample' it
- Upload that e-book to Pronoun/Smashwords
- Opt-in and out for stores that are duplicates
- The order is: Pronoun, D2D, Smashwords
Draft2Digital's system is top notch for building e-books and if you put a little work into it they will come out looking stunning. It might take a little bit of trial and error, but doing this method means you only have to format your word document ONE WAY.
If, on the other hand, you try to do each store individually you'll need to make tons of changes/fixes/corrections to get it to work in each place, but if you load to ePub or MOBI on the other stores that was already packaged, then it's going to be beautiful each and every time!
This is how I've been distributing books, and it means my books are available virtually everywhere.
Note: You have to be careful with Smashwords (they will try to push out information about the book immediately, so make sure you opt-out of stores really fast!) but the rest are super easy. I use Pronoun to do the top stores, Draft2Digital to hit what it misses, Kobo directly, and then Smashwords for all of the other options those two don't have.
With this method, I can reach like twelve to twenty stores by only using a few distributors. I also just put my first in series through Kobo and the rest through Pronoun to make things easier for me.
I buy my own ISBNs from Bowker directly and put them in the requisite fields all of the stores. This will (hypothetically) help for tracking/maintaining sales and ranks across all of the stores, but for me it just means I know the books are interlinked and I can use my own publishing imprint everywhere!
If you use a different ISBN at each store, then you are effectively saying each book is different, and if you use the free ISBN that different stores will supply you with, then you cannot use it on the other stores. It's worth getting your own!
Note: Make sure you are out of your KU contract before you go wide. Also, if your book is faltering on Amazon and has a bad rank, consider re-distributing through Pronoun even if you already have a KDP account.
Why, you might ask?
Let's say you have over 100 reviews on your book, but it's been out for two years and ranks in the millions. If you publish through Pronoun, the book gets a new ASIN number and starts over in the ranking, but the books will be LINKED which means all of the reviews will count for this 'second edition'.
Basically, this means your book is once again eligible for the 'new and popular' lists Amazon puts out for all of the newest books, but it also has a huge head start in reviews. Couple this with some great launch promotions and it gives your book a second chance at life.
Just make sure to unpublish your Amazon book about a day BEFORE you list the new Pronoun title.
And, if you have a paperback version (which you should...check out this post to learn about POD if you aren't already doing it or want to know more!) you can just put that ISBN number of your paperback in when you build the Pronoun listing and they will link the two editions. It happens almost immediately, which means your book doesn't skip a beat and gets all of the huge new advantages of being 'new' again!