“Publishing wide is an attitude, not just a technical choice”
– Joanna Penn
One of the biggest questions indie authors face is, “should I go wide or go exclusive?” For the newer indie authors out there (welcome!), “going wide” is making your books available on a variety of platforms, rather than sticking with only one that makes you publish exclusively with them. Obviously, we here at Kobo Writing Life are huge fans of going wide. We believe that authors should be able to reach readers wherever they are, however they buy books, which is why we have never asked for any exclusivity. However, we know this isn’t a decision that authors make lightly, because exclusivity can work for some authors. But if you have decided to make the jump, take the plunge, and go all in on going wide, here are some things we think you should know.
1. Do your research
There are countless storefronts that you can make your books available on when you make the move to wide. It’s up to you to decide how you’re going to get them there. This is where the research comes in. Before you make the move to wide, it’s a good idea to know the benefits of uploading direct at each retailer (such as KWL’s promo tab, which is only available to our direct authors), and to know where each retailer distributes to (for example, in addition to Kobo storefronts all over the world, KWL also distributes to many other global partners). Uploading direct to every possible storefront would not only be a herculean task and an organizational nightmare, but in some cases it’s virtually impossible. So, before you go wide, research and make your distribution plan. Where will you go direct, and where will you go through aggregators? The goal is to figure out how you can get your book in front of as many potential readers as possible.
2. Treat Going Wide as a New Release
If you’ve been exclusive for some time, or if you’re moving a book out of exclusivity for the first time, treat it like a new release! Moving a book onto new platforms has the potential to reach new readers, or existing readers who haven’t had the chance to read this book yet due to exclusivity. Tell the platforms you’re releasing the book on that it’s the first time out of exclusivity! If you’re releasing your book on Kobo for the first time let us know so we can try and give your “new” title a little extra coverage. Have a marketing push! It’s the first time you’re releasing your book into the wild, make sure it’s getting the support you give your other new releases.
You can also use the move to wide as a chance to revitalize your backlist. Tighten up your blurbs and metadata, maybe give your covers a refresh; use this opportunity to utilize everything you’ve learned about indie publishing while exclusive to put out the best product you can as you reach your new readership.
3. Personalized Back Matter
It’s pretty common practice to include “Other Books Written By” at the back of every book. One thing to consider when you’re going wide is creating a different list for every retailer you’re uploading to directly. When you do this, you can include hyperlinks to your other books on the storefront your reader already shops on. For example, when you’re creating your ePub to upload onto KWL, make the hyperlinks direct your reader to your other books on Kobo.com. Chances are they already shop there, so you’re eliminating steps between your reader finishing one book and buying the next.
4. Rethink your Marketing Plan
When you’re exclusive, chances are you’re focusing a lot of your marketing time and money on gaining readership on that one platform. As you make the move to going wide, make sure your marketing and publicity makes the move too. Use different ad platforms, such as BookBub or Facebook ads, create a universal book link on Books2Read and include it in your newsletters and on your website, and make sure your reviewers are posting reviews for your books on as many different storefronts as possible. And remember that when you go wide you’re reaching a global audience, so make sure your ads have that same global reach! It’s not just your books that need to adjust to going wide, it’s your whole indie publishing business.
5. Be Patient and Be Ready to Commit
Taking your books out of exclusivity and moving them to wide is a commitment, so make sure you’re ready, especially financially. Gaining traction when you go wide can take some time – you’re reaching a whole new readership after all. Make sure you have enough security to help you through the beginning of being wide so you don’t panic and go back to being exclusive!
Pulling books in and out of exclusivity will not only confuse your readers – a reader could be halfway through a series on their Kobo and suddenly it’s only available in an exclusive program – but it can also confuse store algorithms. Every time a title is delisted on KWL, it loses it’s ranking and reviews. Be ready to be in it for the long haul, and be patient as you build your new readership.
Going wide isn’t for everyone. Some authors prefer the ease of only managing one storefront and that’s totally ok! Just remember, publishing wide means you’re not only reaching a ton of more potential readers (exclusive platforms aren’t necessarily global platforms), but you’re also giving yourself more opportunities for revenue and putting your proverbial financial eggs in a lot more baskets. Going wide can be a bit of work, and can take a bit of time, but we personally think it’s worth it.