Should You GO Wide or Stick with Kindle Unlimited?

by Kerry Kerr McAvoy

You have a book you will soon publish: will you go wide or stay with Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program?

In the last few years, Amazon has made it easy to publish ebooks. All of this isn’t surprising since they introduced the Kindle and forever changed the publishing landscape. The digital market is the one they created and now clearly own. 

That’s good news for us indie authors, but it also means we face a choice. 

As you begin to plan your book’s release, you must decide if you will enter an exclusive partnership with Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited (KU) program. And please don’t wait to make this decision at the very end of the writing process. It must be made early on or, at the latest, midway since you want to tailor your work to your market. This decision is paramount as you settle on a book cover style, title, and back cover description. 

KU has made it easy to stick with them by offering a better split of the royalties. Who wouldn’t want to earn 70% versus 35% of each sale? But what are you exchanging for these rate differences? 

It is exclusivity for 90 days and believe me; it is a monogamous commitment. Amazon has a rigorous monitoring system to catch violators.

This means it is vitally important you know your market and their shopping habits. You need to know if your reader prefers ebooks or paperback. Are they likely to have a KU subscription, or are they someone who avoids shopping on Amazon? 

If you choose to go with KU, it will limit your reach to the US digital market. This decision is the exact right choice for some of us, but not so much for others. You must know where your reader shops.

Then there is the challenge of promoting your books with Apple Book, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble, the other competitors. Each has slightly different requirements and methods that you must understand to sell your book successfully. Of course, they also have a different algorithm and promote the book to their audience. It will take time to learn each platform to use it well. Do you have the stamina and determination for such an undertaking? 

These are serious drawbacks to consider, so what are the benefits of going wide? 

Well, there are several. These three other self-publishers have a better international reach, fewer competitors, and longer sales duration. For some of us, that will be the exact right decision. Our audience is broad and might not be regular users of Amazon.

Regardless of the decision, it comes back to knowing your audience. So, have you done the work of identifying your typical reader? Are you hanging out where they are? Are you building credibility or brand recognition with them? 

The keyword here is engagement. It is easy to sell your story to someone who admires, likes, or is invested in you, but much more challenging to sell to outright strangers. Are you actively building a fan base? 

Once you’ve identified your ideal reader, you will know if going wide is the right decision for you.

This week’s worksheet: Should You Go Wide or Stick with Kindle Unlimited?

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