What Does It Mean to Publish Wide? | NY Book Editors
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Is It Time to Publish Wide?

FEATURED IMAGE New York Book Editors 03 14 22 Is It Time to Publish Wide

Pop quiz time! When self-publishing your book, should you go wide or opt for exclusivity?

Truthfully, there isn’t a “one size fits all” answer. But there is a response that is just right for you.

Not sure which one to choose or what “going wide” even means? Below, we'll explain the two main publishing paths you can take as a self-published author. By the end of this post, you’ll have a better understanding of which path will work best for you. Let’s get started.

What Does It Mean to Publish Wide?

“Publishing wide” or “going wide” are interchangeable terms that both mean the act of publishing your book to a variety of outlets.

When you self-publish your book, you can publish exclusively with Amazon (arguably the most popular platform for self-published works) or “go wide” and publish across multiple platforms, which can also include Amazon.

Confused? Let’s keep going. It’ll all make sense in the end, I promise.

You may be thinking, why not publish “wide” and gain more exposure for my book? I like the way you think. But there are pros and cons to both going wide and going exclusive.

To understand self-publishing exclusivity, let’s start with Amazon.

Amazon has changed the self-publishing game. In 2007, Amazon launched Kindle Direct Publishing, or KDP for short. KDP is Amazon’s free self-publishing service. Before Amazon, self-publishing was a difficult and expensive endeavor that almost guaranteed a basement filled with unsold boxes of one’s self-published book. But Amazon made it so much easier for authors to publish their works. All the author needed was a formatted manuscript, a book cover, and the ability to upload their work onto the KDP platform. And what made Amazon so incredible was that it was (and is) free to use.

In Amazon’s early days, self-published books were produced in the form of eBooks, which were used to populate its Amazon Kindle device, a series of eBook reader tablets. Since then, KDP now allows self-published authors to create paperbacks and hardcovers.

While there are other platforms an author can use to self-publish, Amazon remains king of the hill. It’s easy to self-publish using the simple and intuitive KDP platform. I can personally vouch for this because I’ve done it before. The process takes as little as 10 minutes to upload and 48 hours or less to publish. And, once published, your book gets immediate exposure to Amazon’s huge customer base. Amazon’s model is print on demand, which means no books collecting dust in your basement. Instead, your book is printed when someone orders it.

Plus, it’s 100% free. It’s really difficult to argue against using Amazon to self-publish your book. There are no downsides.

But the question is, should you use Amazon exclusively or should you allow your book to be made available on other platforms as well, such as Barnes and Noble?

To answer this question, let’s talk about Amazon’s exclusive Kindle program.

Should you use Amazon exclusively or should you allow your book to be made available on other platforms as well, such as Barnes and Noble?

In addition to KDP, Amazon has a program known as the Kindle Direct Publishing Select program. With KDP Select, authors have the choice to make their books exclusive to the Kindle platform. This means that you can’t publish or sell your book anywhere else, including your website.

This can present quite the conundrum for an independent author.

If you’re self-publishing because you want freedom, then publishing exclusively with Amazon will only imprison you. Enrolling in the KDP Select program takes away a lot of your freedom.

But there are benefits to enrolling in the KDP Select program. Plus, partnering exclusively with Amazon doesn’t mean that you’re not self-published and fabulous. It simply means that you’ve decided to invest everything into Amazon. And it’s an investment that will pay off.

Amazon is the number one destination for books online. One could argue that there’s no reason to publish with the other guys if you’re on Amazon. Let’s look at the benefits and top considerations for both going wide and for remaining exclusive to Amazon.

The Pros of Going Wide

When you go wide, you can publish your book on multiple platforms. By the way, you can self-publish through Amazon KDP, or you can use another service, like Apple Books, Barnes and Noble Press, or BookBaby. Why bother with making your book available on multiple channels? Here’s why:

More Control Over on Your Book

When you go wide, you decide where your book is available, including on your website. This option is useful if you already have a fanbase.

Keep More of Your Earnings

Instead of splitting earnings with a middleman (such as Amazon), you can sell directly to your readers from your site. You’ll get to keep all of your earnings.

Publish wide

The Big Con of Going Wide

Going wide may not be the right choice for every author. Here’s why:

Increased Time and Effort

When you publish on Amazon or enroll in KDP Select, Amazon immediately takes over and begins to market your book on its site. While Amazon's free marketing may not be enough to boost your book to bestseller status, it does take a lot of the pressure off of you having to do it all.

However, when you publish wide, you do it all. First, self-publish your book (which you can still do through Amazon KDP). Then, you need to make a list of channels where you'd like to share your book. Finally, you need to distribute your book to each of these channels. That takes a lot of steps, especially when compared to Amazon's upload and done strategy.

You can make it easy on yourself by using an aggregator service, like Draft2Digital or Smashwords. An aggregator will upload your ebook files to multiple retailers for you. But this service isn't free, which makes it less attractive when you’re hoping to make as much out of your book sales as possible. Book aggregators usually take a percentage of each sale.

The Pros of Amazon KDP Exclusivity

Now that we’ve discussed the pros and cons of going wide, it’s only fair to do the same for Amazon KDP exclusivity. Here are some of the major benefits you’ll gain from partnering exclusively with Amazon:

Higher Royalties

One of the benefits of choosing KDP Select is that you'll earn higher royalties from every purchase. When your book is purchased by customers in Japan, India, Brazil, and Mexico, you'll earn 70% royalty.

Ability to Run Promotions

When you enroll in KDP Select, you can run two promotions: the Free Book Promotion, which allows Kindle readers to grab a free copy of your eBook for a limited time, and the Kindle Countdown Deal, which is a special discount you can add to your book for promotional purposes. Both of these tools allow you to generate more excitement around your book and attract new readers that may not have noticed your book otherwise.

Greater Exposure From the Amazon Community

When you enroll in KDP Select, your eBook becomes available on Kindle Unlimited. Kindle Unlimited is a special subscription service that gives members access to over a million Kindle titles (including eBooks, audiobooks, and magazines). Your book will be available to these readers but it will also be available to anyone who is shopping on Amazon.

Because Kindle Unlimited is Amazon's subscription service, you'll earn a share of the KDP Select Global Fund whenever a Kindle Unlimited member reads your book.

Amazon’s customers tend to be engaged and eager to buy.

The Cons of Amazon KDP Exclusivity

So we’ve discussed the benefits of partnering with Amazon. Now, let’s take a look at why you may not want to do that.

Limited Income

While Amazon is practically a sure bet, it's still risky to limit yourself to one stream of income. You'll only have one source to depend on, and not even yourself because you can't sell your book while enrolled in KDP Select. You'll have to depend on Amazon to do all of the selling.

Locked Into Exclusive Agreement with KDP

When you enroll in KDP, you have no option to distribute your books elsewhere. And that's not only for selling purposes. You also cannot give away free copies of your book, either. If you'd like to share a sample of your book, you are limited to less than 10% of the book's content. Otherwise, you'll violate Amazon's terms and agreements.

Publish wide

Limited Exposure

Yes, Amazon has the potential to expose your book to a huge audience. But by enrolling in KDP Select, you’re limited to Amazon’s customers. Although Amazon does have millions of customers worldwide, there are still billions of customers who don’t use Amazon that you could be missing out on when you narrow your scope.

This is especially important if you’re hoping to reach a global audience, especially if Amazon is not available to your target audience.

Remember that Amazon isn't the only place where people shop for books. In addition to bookstores like Barnes and Noble, Apple Books, and Google Play Books, there's also the local library. Think of all of the readers who don't have Kindle or prefer to use a different type of eReader device. Or those who prefer to discover new writers in their bookstore or library. When bound to Amazon, you'll miss all of these potential readers.

Final Thoughts

Should you publish wide or stick with Amazon?

Ultimately, the answer depends on if you think your book has a better chance of reaching your target audience through Amazon alone or by being distributed to a larger audience. The good news is that you’re not stuck with one choice. If you enroll in the KDP Select program, you can opt-out after 90 days and then publish wide.

Generally speaking, new authors should stick with KDP Select and then, as they build up a fanbase, go wide with publishing future books. If you’re stuck on which to choose, consider doing KDP Select first and then moving on to publishing wide if you’re not getting the traction you were hoping for.

Best of luck!

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