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.
Best places to use: Smashwords of Draft2Digital.
I've used both of the aforementioned sites either in the past or currently to distribute books! They are 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!
Here is my personal opinion based on using both platforms: if you're looking for the easiest way to distribute your book...
Go with Draft2Digital.
Signing up for their service will only take a few minutes.
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 to ask 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 Draft2Digital 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...
If I go with Draft2Digital 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 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 Smashwords
- Opt-in and out for stores that are duplicates
- The order is: D2D and then 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 Draft2Digital to do the top stores, 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 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.
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.
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.