Now that my first books are out, I have to learn more about self-publishing. How to do it in a way that works? I used to think hitting the ‘publish now’ button would be the end of my work on a book. It’s not. Unless I want it to just sit there and not be sold. It’s been a while since I wrote tip #4. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about marketing self-published books. My main take away? It would have been better to learn this before From Do it Later to Do it Now in Ten Days went live 🙂
… deciding on “wide” versus Amazon only
I do things the experimental way. I try out something, see how I like it, then make adjustments. So From Do it Later to Do it Now in Ten Days started as a paperback on Amazon, before I even realised there were other options too. Meer dan wat het oog ziet (English edition coming soon!) started on Blurb, because it needed great print quality to show the intense beauty of the pictures. The drawback? Most people buy there books in other places.” Acting experimentally, these first books are now wide, or wide-ish. Which means you can buy them on more than one platform.
My experiences in self-publishing wide
First of all: it’s fun. Second: it’s chaotic. Third: you need to learn about every platform to make it work. Four: it leaves lots of room to experiment. Five: each platform brings it own frustrations.
Wide is fun
It’s great to see your book in different places. It tickles that happy sense of ‘look, I’m an author!’ It makes your book available in the most places and the greatest variety of devices. You can tour your own book: Look, it’s on Amazon! Cool, the Apple store. Yay, Kobo. Yes, the Google Play store! Not to mention Scribd… or print on demand world wide through Ingram Spark (I’m not on there yet).
To summarise: it brings joy.
Wide is chaotic
One of the reasons why I’m listing all the places above, is that I totally lose track of where my books are. What links I can share with people if they’re interested. Where I can promote. Where I might need to track prices. Amazon demands to be the lowest price provider, and makes a problem of your prices being lower anywhere else. But a platform like Google Play Books might make a promotion for your book (lowering the price) without you even knowing it.
To summarise: It’s hard to keep track of everything and make you sure you do things the right way on every platform.
Tip: I’ve made a spread sheet with the links for every book, so that I’m able to find all of them.
Wide takes a lot of learning
I’m not sure if I’ve already figured out all the things that are different on the different platforms. Technique and requirements vary. Promotional opportunities? Completely different in their ways and availability. Filling out their different forms to set up your book is not simply copy-paste. I could go on. This can put you off, or it can turn you on. I happen to like learning, so for me it’s okay.
Side note: There are intermediaries who solve part of this problem, like PublishDrive. They can get your book in many platforms in one go, and help in promoting it. Even then, most experts seem to agree that it’s STILL wise to do Amazon yourself, unless you don’t mind losing money.
Tip: start the learning as soon as you can. Through podcasts, Facebook groups, YouTube… There’s a lot of great, free content out there.
Wide leaves room to experiment
I get curious around a lot of the opportunities, like the promotional feautures. On Amazon, for e-books you can choose the be part of the Kindle Unlimited Program, which means your book is not allowed to be sold anywhere else. Will that benefit the sales of More than meets the I, or not? In the Google Play store you can promote your book by lowering the price, which I like because it feels like gifting a present to potential readers. On Kobo… I think I’ve found out how I can promote on there, but I need the English version of my poetry/photography book before I’m eligible for their campaigns.
For me, the main thing is that curiosity helps me get things done. I want to play with the different opportunities and see how they work for me. Both when it comes to sales, but also in enjoying the process. In the Google Play store, I sometimes do count-up campaigns for my procrastination book. (There’s one running now!) It starts one day at 0.99, and the prices increases one by one everyday for nine days, until it’s back at full price. I do believe 0.99 is way too cheap for what the book has to offer, but doing it this way makes me chuckle.
Tip: Find what works for you. You’ll be less likely to procrastinate.
Different platforms bring different frustrations
Don’t get me started. This post is long enough already… I think it’s fair to say that self-publishing is a frustrating process, but that it’s worth it 🙂
How to decide on publishing wide versus Amazon only?
Some experts swear by Amazon only. Others by wide. And there’s people who go wide for a short while, then go KDP unlimited to create a great ranking, then go back to wide. Anything is possible, and it depend on what you want. To learn the ins and outs of one place and get really good at it? To not be dependent on one platform? Here’s some info that might help you decide:
Tip: Choose a strategy now, and work towards that. You can always change it later.