PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2021
Erin Wright, USA Today bestselling author —
10 concepts that you need to accept and implement into your publishing strategy to succeed as a wide author.
It seems like every day authors are inundated with stories of the latest Amazon shenanigans: Page reads being stripped. Accounts being shuttered. Stern letters filled with dire warnings being sent out. It’s enough to terrify anyone straight … straight into the realm of wide publishing that is.
In 2019, I helped start the Facebook group “Wide for the Win” for indie and hybrid authors who were not exclusive to one vendor program. Everywhere I turned, it seemed like the focus of most groups was on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited, and I wanted to find and connect people outside of this vendor’s singular program. I’m not anti-Amazon, but I am anti-exclusivity. Today, we have over 7,000 members, ranging from full-time, seven-figure authors to writers who haven’t yet published their first book.
I quickly found after starting the group that many authors wanted to go wide but didn’t know how. They claim to use Amazon because it’s “easy.” As in, it’s easy to publish to one storefront. It’s easy to link to one storefront. It’s easy to focus on one storefront. But I realized that it wasn’t so much its ease that was keeping people exclusive to Amazon; these authors simply did not know there were other options. I’ve met countless people who thought their only option was Amazon, not realizing that Apple Books, Kobo, GooglePlay, or Barnes & Noble were open for them to publish on also.
I’ve come to realize that the biggest obstacle for authors succeeding on the wide storefronts is acknowledging their biases in how they look at the publishing world. What follows are 10 concepts that you need to accept and implement into your publishing strategy to succeed as a wide author.
1. Stop jumping in and out of Kindle Unlimited.
You might think this will help you increase your sales or page reads, but what it ends up doing is making everyone upset with you. KU readers get used to getting your books via KU and are now upset that they can’t every time you pull them to go wide. Wide readers get used to being able to buy your books on their preferred storefront and are now upset that they can’t every time you pull them and go into KU. Wide storefronts take one look at your record of coming and going and wonder why they should waste their precious audience on you; instead, they pick another author to promote who’s been consistently wide for years. (Apple, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble actually do pay attention to this, and it plays a significant part in their decisions of which authors to include in their in-house promos). Bottom line: Pick a lane and stay in it.
2. Stop giving away Amazon gift cards.
Give away prizes that work for all storefronts, not just Amazon. When I give away gift cards, I let my readers choose from any of the five major storefronts. This tells my wide readers that they matter. Instead of saying, “You only count if you get your books from Amazon,” say, “Every one of my readers matters to me, and that means you, too, GooglePlay reader.” This makes a difference to readers, and it also makes a difference to the wide storefronts.
3. Stop advertising in paid newsletters that only include Amazon links.
I’ve unsubscribed from all paid newsletter companies that only link to Amazon, and I sent them a note explaining why I was unsubscribing. I will no longer pay for an advertisement in a newsletter that only links to Amazon. I want to grow my sales on all storefronts, and that means advertising to all readers.
4. Stop linking to just Amazon.
This means on Facebook, in the description of a book trailer on YouTube, or on any other social media platform. People get frustrated by looking at an ad for a book and thinking, “Hey, that looks great!” and then when they click, they’re brought straight to Amazon. This means that either they have to take the time to look the book up on their preferred storefront (which they aren’t likely to do), or they just click away, and you lose that sale forever. Stop making your wide readers work harder to make a purchase than Amazon readers have to.
5. Stop focusing on how to optimizey our listings on Amazon and ignoring your listings on other storefronts.
How often have you gone to GooglePlay and looked at your books to see how they showed up? How often have you studied your listings on Kobo to make sure that all of the books in a series are linked? I do one-on-one consulting with wide authors wanting to up their game on wide storefronts and have found massive mistakes on book listings on wide storefronts again and again. Authors double-check to make sure their Amazon listings look good but don’t check to make sure their books are in the right categories on Apple or have the right author name on Barnes & Noble.
6. Stop cross-promoting with other authors who are KU exclusive.
Unfortunately, the cold, hard truth is KU readers are not loyal. If a reader finds you through KU and then you stop offering your books through that program, they won’t start buying your books. At least, not at full price. They might buy your books if you run them on a super sale, but otherwise, they’re dead weight on your newsletter list. Not all subscribers are created equal, and you only want the ones who are willing to pay you what your books are worth. Not to mention that if you promote an author in your newsletter who is in KU, you’re telling your wide readers once again that they don’t matter.
7. Stop targeting KU authors in your costper-click or cost-per-impression ads.
Again, this brings in the wrong audience. I will target someone who has part of their books in KU and part of them wide but never someone who is all in with KU. This is true no matter what platform I’m advertising on (Facebook, Amazon Marketing Services, or BookBub).
8. Stop spending money on Amazon Marketing Services ads.
I know this can be scary, but use Facebook or BookBub ads instead. They both allow you to target a wide audience. I get Amazon clicks. I get wide storefront clicks. I get them all. Instead of spending my money to grow my audience on one specific storefront, I spend my money growing my audience on all storefronts.
9. Stop having an advanced reader copy team that only reviews on Amazon.
As a wide author, you want reviews everywhere. Readers on Barnes & Noble or GooglePlay want to know that your book is awesome before they click “Buy” just as much as a reader on Amazon wants to know this. When I add new readers to my advanced reader copy team, I will only add readers who will reader on at least two storefronts. (And it can be any two storefronts that they want. They can review on Apple Books and Kobo. Or Amazon and GooglePlay. Whatever combination works for them.)
10. Stop trying to learn from authors who are KU exclusive.
There are authors who choose to teach classes, run Facebook groups, or even write books to help their fellow authors, and they have their own biases, just (or classes or groups) are applicable to all authors, but the strategies for success on wide storefronts is so diametrically different from succeeding on Amazon that this is not possible. Stop reading or learning from sources that are focused on the wrong thing.
If you can’t tell, being wide is as much of a mental shift as anything else. It simply isn’t enough to throw your books up on wide storefronts and call it good. If you’re putting your books up on all storefronts but are otherwise running AMS ads, giving away Kindle e-readers, linking to Amazon in social media posts or in your newsletters, and collaborating with a bunch of KU authors … well, don’t be surprised when your wide sales never really take off.
Erin Wright is a USA Today bestselling author who has worked every job under the sun, including library director, barista, teacher, website designer, and ranch hand helping brand cattle, before settling into the career she’s always dreamed about: author.