In continuing from my last wide posts about print and my personal strategy, let’s dive a bit more into the thick of things. This week, we’re talking about going wide with your ebooks.
This information has been gleaned from my personal research, trial and error, some amazing posts in the Wide for the Win Facebook and Circle Groups, and consultations with both Erin Wright and Skye Mackinnon.
Erin and Skye both offer consultations and courses to help you with your specific approach, and if you can swing it, I highly recommend them! They were invaluable to me in getting set up for success out of the gate.
You can use affiliate code JESS to save on your first class or consult with Erin, too.
This isn’t going to be like my normal posts, with sentences and witty paragraphs. This is a bullet point brain dump, and eventually, I’ll go through and sum it up. But due to the sheer volume of information, paragraphs would be too overwhelming, and I don’t want any information getting lost.
And a final reminder, wide means Amazon AND other places. Just because Amazon isn’t included in this post, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t publish on KDP still. If you’re coming out of Kindle Unlimited to go wide, Amazon will be a slightly different beast BUT not unfamiliar. At least, not as unfamiliar as these other platforms.
MY Top TIPS
- Be patient. Give it at least a year before you decide it’s not working for you.
- Go slow. Learn one new platform at a time. Don’t try to jump in and go everywhere all at once. That’s just a recipe for overwhelming yourself.
- Get organized. There’s a lot more moving parts now, you need to be organized.
- Have a plan. Work the plan.
- Never stop learning. There’s all sorts of strategies for wide authors, and if you tried something and it didn’t work, there’s about 50 other things you can try instead.
- BE PATIENT. BE PERSISTENT.
- Don’t go below $2.99-$1.99 in pricing until you have at least 4 books out, otherwise you’ll lose money and won’t be able to make it back through read-through
- If you have long series, or lots of books, first in series free is a great option for wide
- Or for shorter series (3-4 books), do $0.99 or $1.99 first in series
- Series name should not be the same as any of the book title’s names, especially at Amazon
- Series name is always a search indexed metafield, so it’s important to leverage it
- If the series name and book 1 name is the same, it won’t have (series Book #) after the title in Amazon
- Don’t try to keyword pack here, make it a person, place, or thing relevant to your books
- Include ONE keyword if you can
- Subtitles – use them to your advantage where you can, they are searchable
- GP, Amazon, Kobo, BN don’t require subtitle to also be on your cover (as long as they’re not ridiculous, Amazon will sometimes ding ridiculous ones)
- D2D (i.e. Apple) does require the subtitle to be on your cover
- Subtitle should be keyword heavy, describe main trope, main genre
- Keep them SHORT; 3-5 words MAX
- Add a summary/keyword paragraph at the end of your blurb but make it READABLE, don’t just keyword pack
- Summary sentence (bold and italics)
- Actual blurb
- Summary/keyword paragraph (bold)
- Example (GP): https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=V9B0EAAAQBAJ
- Example (GP): https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Skye_MacKinnon_Scratch?id=RXeZDwAAQBAJ
- Example (Apple): https://books.apple.com/us/book/meow/id1543265311
- Keep a list/document of your book details
- Book, Title, Distributor, ISBN/ASIN, keywords, prices, links, last updated date
- Keep a file of just backmatter that you can use for each book so you’re not remaking the wheel every time
- Back matter considerations:
- Something to drive to your newsletter that can be read and enjoyed BEFORE, DURING, or AFTER reading the book (or series)
- No spoilers, still engaging and entertaining if they’ve already read the main story
- If you have connected books, use the same magnet for every book’s back matter (easiest way)
- You can do different magnet for each book, but just keep track of it well
- 10-15k words is good for a back matter magnet
- Get a professional cover (for BookFunnel landing page) that matches the branding of the rest of the books
- Do not put your backmatter magnet up for sale anywhere, make it exclusive to joining your NL
- Update backmatter on backlist titles every couple books or so as needed, keep a record of when you last updated and what you updated
- Something to drive to your newsletter that can be read and enjoyed BEFORE, DURING, or AFTER reading the book (or series)
- If you have large boxsets, put them Wide but NOT on Amazon and charge more than the $9.99 limit on KDP 70% royalties
- Some boxsets sell for $25-30 for 10+ book series, and they sell immensely well outside Amazon
- Ebook pricing has to be the same across retailers, so if you get a promotion in one that requires you to lower the price, you must lower it everywhere
- For conversion rates, this applies as well. Use the same conversion prices for each country’s marketplace.
- Keep a spreadsheet of your prices at each retailer, in each market to ensure they’re all correct and the same across retailers
- Print pricing does not have to be the same across retailers
- Don’t target only US readers, optimize your content for international audiences
- Kobo and Google Play are the biggest retailers outside of the US, so target those
- Make it easy for international readers to buy or to find your books
- Pretty prices for all formats in all markets (end in .99)
- Start in the major markets making them pretty and then if you start to see sales in smaller countries, then you can change those
- Keep an eye on them, sometimes as the exchange rate changes, your prices will change without your input
- Use universal links or landing pages and give as many options as you can to cater to readers everywhere
- NEVER give just the Amazon link, that’s the literal worst one for international readers because Amazon doesn’t keep you on the same product when you change countries, it just takes you to the home page
- Kobo and Apple → remove /us/ from the link and boom, universal link that will have them pick their country
- Books2Read linker is free
- Genius Link is another option but is paid based on clicks to your link
- Target Bookbub ads for international stores
- Use one ad campaign for each store, to put the whole budget towards that store and track results better
- Bookbub ads work best on discounted books, not full price
- Don’t use bookbub ads for continuous ads, leave that to FB or AMZ
- Use Kobo to also get to Overdrive, you’ll make more than going through D2D
- Sign up for all promos you can/qualify for
- Email Writinglife@kobo.com to ask to be added on the general promo, overdrive promo, and audiobook promo newsletters
- They take time to build traction on, just keep applying and sharing
- They take time to get accepted to, but more likely to get in if you 1) keep trying and 2) have reviews on your Kobo books
- Human made decisions, all of kobo merchandising and promo is human done
- Kobo loves authors and the writing life team is small. So if you have questions or need help, just email them and they’ll be very responsive and helpful
- Once you have more than 7-10 books, they do offer 1×1 consults to review your page and make recommendations for how to sell more
- Kobo offers free giveaway codes for your books, just have to email them and request some (good for giving away copies in newsletters, on social media, etc.)
- They like this because it often pulls new readers to Kobo platform
- New dashboard shows preorders and audiobooks, email and ask for that too if you want it
- They like when you tag them on socials, and their merchandising (home pages) are human-decided (If you get in a promo, tag them on social when you share it)
- If you do audiobooks, go direct to Kobo. The earlier you jump on this feature the better chances you’ll be heavily featured in merchandising decisions
- Email and ask for the audiobook tab if you don’t already have it automatically
- Update all marketplace prices to end in “pretty” numbers like .99 or .49
- It’s a marketing psychology thing that’s been proven time and time again
- People are more likely to buy your book if the price looks professional. Having a random number like $3.37 isn’t professional.
- Kobo Plus is great, but understand the payment terms to decide if it’s for you or not. You get paid per minute read, don’t get paid for reads done in a free trial, get paid out every 300 minutes read. Similar to KU but not exclusive.
- Can select which markets you’re available in, so if the free trial bugs you, leave that off the new markets (US, UK) for a bit until the free trials run out for initial subscribers in the new markets
- Fill out the new release/preorder form for a chance to get featured on merchandising home pages
- Other Kobo promotion opportunities:
- Ation Items: Email Kobo to request:
- Promotions tab
- Audiobook tab
- New dashboard (to view audiobook sales and preorders)
- Add to promo newsletters (ebook, audiobook, overdrive)
- Kobo Writing Life Blog has a TON of resources and recommendations for how to succeed on their platform: https://kobowritinglife.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/categories/360005918751-Selling-Your-Books
- Account set up and approvals can take a long time. Be patient and prepare for this.
- Bold and italics “count more” in your blurbs, so use them often for formatting it
- Add a summary sentence at the beginning, so it’s the first thing people see. Google Play hides nearly all of the blurb behind a see more button.
- Add a subtitle to explain your two biggest keywords for the algorithm (most titles aren’t conducive for natural search results)
- Use the search bar to find your keywords, include a list of “search terms” at the bottom of your blurb
- Use your keywords and then any synonyms for them (i.e. romance – love story, etc.)
- Only do this for GP, it will hurt you at other retailers but it will help you here
- Avoid including other authors and other book titles in your blurbs. If people are searching those terms, they’re looking for something specific and won’t click on your book and it’ll tell the algorithm that you’re not relevant and move you down in the results
- There’s a lot of factors at play on Google. What works for one book might not work for another, so keep trying strategies every so often if not getting traction
- Title, subtitle, series title are the most searchable, so if your title and series title aren’t keyword-able, put it in a subtitle
- Pick your two most relevant keywords and use them in your blurb 2-3 times
- Need custom pricing to rank in algorithms, so don’t just use USD and let it convert for each market
- At the very least, update the same markets as D2D for pretty prices
- Research what a “good” price is for ebooks in each market. Sometimes, USD conversions are entirely too expensive for the market
- Promo codes
- You can offer codes to give away books
- You can select which books the code can apply to and then readers can choose which book to redeem and GP makes a landing page for it
- They’re not public, so you can use them just for your readers and giveaways
- Recommends doing one for Kobo and GP in newsletter giving away some copies to get new readers there
- When you have a series (2+ books), use the series bundle to offer discounts for buying the whole series
- Different from a boxset
- 20%-30% discount does the best
- Still do a boxset as well for other sites
BARNES & NOBLE
- B&N has unique categories that D2D doesn’t offer, so to correctly categorize your books in their store, you have to go direct
- Otherwise, you get stuck in large and generic categories and have almost no visibility
- When you submit your documents, it will take a while for them to verify. Plan for this. Keep it on file too because they might ask for it again later. They tend to “lose” them.
- Don’t bother going direct for print, and check out this post for my thoughts on why
- Email and request “merchandising tab” to gain access to their in house promos
- Don’t ask for “promotions tab” because they’ll say you already have it, but that one is just for coupon codes
- Will probably have to request more than once before you get it. It depends on which rep reads your email. Be polite, be patient, keep trying.
- Best “merchandising” promos are Free Friday and the Top 100 Indie releases
- Just keep applying often, it’s very competitive
- Regardless of HOW you get to Apple, you have merchandising/promo options available
- Submit your preorder to the promotion form from D2D
- If you do an exclusive preorder, note that in the form to let them know, you might get pushed
www.tools.applemediaservices.com will give you marketing images, widgets, etc. for your books
- Sign up for the Apple affiliate program
- Tag them on social media when you use their marketing tools
- Only the first category gets pushed to Apple, so make sure it’s the most important one
- This doesn’t matter for other platforms, just Apple
- Library price should be the price of your paperback or 3x your ebook. If it’s any lower, you’re leaving money on the table and will only make cents on per user checkout royalties.
- Recommend only doing individual books to libraries, not box sets
- Custom update your pricing to make the conversions “pretty” for international readers
- Shows you care enough to think outside of the US
- Email to request being added to the promotion newsletter.
- Keep signing up for any promos your qualify for, they make a huge difference if you get them
- Sometimes formatting of blurbs don’t push to Apple, double check and re-push if the formatting didn’t take
- Apple algorithm does better the more books you release, so don’t expect to have a ton of Apple sales yet, that’s normal
- Fill out the form for preorder announcements for chance to be featured
This was a lot, I know. Again, I’ll reiterate that going wide takes TIME and PATIENCE and ORGANIZATION. Take it one platform at a time. Draft out a plan of attack, and slow and steady wins the race!
If you can afford it, I’m again emphasizing how absolutely valuable the consultations with Erin and Skye were. I highly recommend it and encourage doing at least one with either of them.
You’ve got this!