Go wide or stay KDP

I’m an Indie Author with barely any readership.  I’m not well known, and don’t advertise much.  I’m just writing, and trying to expand my body of work.  I know readers will find my books in time.  Right now I have to focus on my day job, and my family.  I write more for fun, and only during my free time.  I move a couple copies a week, so I’m not too worried about it.

When I published my first book, I uploaded it to Amazon KDP and went KDP Select.  I did the same with my second book, and my first novella.  I move a few units, and have a lot of KENP pages read.  Some weeks I may not sell a copy, but I’ll have enough pages read to equal the sale of a copy or two.

I’ve read plenty of pages, and spoke to others about going wide.  I’ve been told that limiting my books to just Amazon means I’m losing out on all the other big eReader markets.  Nook, Apple, Kobo, etc.  I have friends who don’t use Kindle as well, so I thought about trying to expand my readership.

I didn’t pay attention to the KDP Select renew check box for my 1st book.  My 90 days came, and renewed automatically.  When the 90 days was finished for my 2nd book, I decided to try going wide with that.

My 2nd book is book 2 in a series, but its mostly standalone.  I don’t write books that end at a cliff hanger or in the middle of the climax.  Its a story that takes place years after where the 1st book ends.

So I decided to upload it to Apple iBooks.  The document needs to be converted into ePub.  You also have to upload it through iPublisher.  Which is only found on Macs.  I had to go and rent remote access on an Apple Server to do this because I don’t have a Mac.  I tried to manually correct each error in my document, but it took hours.  I gave up on Apple iBooks after that.  I didn’t want to lose that market though…

That’s when I found out about Smashwords.  Smashwords has a ton of affiliate sites it can upload the eBook to.  They’ll put it on Gardners, Blio, Apple, Kobo, Nook, and a ton of others.  They even offer it to library providers.  It seems like a no brainer.

The thing is, formatting is crazy when it comes to Smashwords as well.  Amazon accepts HTML and you can have errors.  Since Smashwords sends the eBook to ePub readers, you then have to deal with XHTML.  XHTML isn’t as forgiving as HTML.  You see, you can upload a word document to a site.  Download it.  Reupload it.  Convert it to MOBI or HTML.  Or PDF.  The lines of code tend to gather errors in your document.  That’s fine for HTML docs, but XHTML docs?  Not so much.  Apple will reject a document with even one error.

Smashwords offers a free novella on how to format a document for Smashwords…  I thought that was crazy, but followed it.  After a few hours, I had a new document, and it was up to Smashwords’ standards.  It still had an error for the ePub doc though…  I had to download calibre and fix the ePub that way.  Once it was done?  I had all of the needed formats!

Smashwords approved me for the premium catalog, so my book was for sale through Smashwords and on all of the affiliate sites.  It was awesome.  My eBook was still on Amazon, but it wasn’t exclusive.  I was now wide.

I went and did a bunch of promoting and advertising.  The same, if not a lil more, amount that I’ve usually done.  I left my book up for a month or so, and tracked the results from going wide.

With the advertising, I had 1 book sold on Smashwords right after it was uploaded.  Then nothing.  Not one unit was sold through any affiliate site.

At the same time, I sold units on Amazon even though it wasn’t part of Kindle Unlimited.  I had no KENP pages read for it though.  So I counted the loss of pages read to be a significant detail I can’t ignore.

There are probably tons of variables and factors in play that led to my book not selling.  I’m not saying that it was anybody’s fault other than my own.  I’m not bashing Smashwords or any of the affiliate sites.  I just think that as a Indie Author who just started self publishing this year, that going wide isn’t good for me at this time.  I will try to do it again when I gain a larger body of work and more of a readership.  I think my target audience is probably not that large either.

I unpublished my book on Smashwords, and waited for it to get removed from affiliate sites.  Kobo and Apple was almost overnight.  It took almost a week for it to be taken off of Barnes and Noble.  It took a few more days for it to be taken off of Blio and other sites.  I emailed Smashwords twice, and they had me send the links of the eBooks for sale still. Their customer service was polite, and quick.  After the 2nd email, the sale links were deactivated.

I even emailed Amazon to let them know I was unpublishing and going back to KDP Select with the book.  They said ok, just wait until the book is removed from all sites, and then I can enroll in Select.  That’s what I did.  I verified it was taken down, and enrolled.

That was my experience with going wide.  Its just not my time.  Right now, I’m doing well with readers who use Kindle Unlimited.  Going wide probably works for many others.  There does not seem to be a silver bullet or sure fire method to get people to read your books.  If you’re not famous and come out with a book after you have millions of fans?  You gotta find a method that works for you, and just grind out as many words as you can in the meantime.

 

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