Wide versus Exclusive
I’ve explained how I learned to self-publish. I originally published wide, meaning that my books were on multiple platforms. So I set out to learn it all. (That’s an enormous task.)
I didn’t slack on any of the major platforms except Apple Books. As I’m a Google girl, I’d have to use an aggregate publisher to get onto that platform. That wasn’t happening immediately for all the financial reasons I’ve alluded to in my blogs often. I also didn’t understand aggregate publishing, and with my day job, I didn’t have time to delve into it.
I’ll take this opportunity to remind you of my total lack of extra money and the fact that some aggregate publishers charge an upfront fee while others take their fee from the sale. It’s likely a fair fee from Ingram Spark, Draft2Digital, or Publishdrive. Still, a lack of funds always equals no money, and a lack of time for proper investigation meant I shied away.
I’ve since spent years investigating things in my spare time and am now convinced that publishing wide is the better position to take. I’m 100% pure Indie. It’s a one-woman operation, so forgive me for being slow to understand all this.
I pay for character art occasionally, but that’s hard-to-come-by money. Everything else I’ve learned to do on my own and bought the programs to help me. I avoid subscription services in favor of free posting and paying a percentage of the royalties to the platform.
Art by WeDesign Studio
I now use Draft 2 Digital and Smashwords as aggregate publishers. That means the books are available to libraries and bookstores, as well as on many digital sales platforms.
Many of those platforms would be difficult to get access otherwise. Not being direct also limits the promotional opportunities, so I’d counsel anyone looking into it to do their homework. For me, time is always limited by the day job, so aggregate was a good idea. I do still have direct accounts with Kobo, Google Play, and Barnes and Noble.
I want to learn it all. Sometimes publishing feels as interesting to the analytical, business side of my mind as the entertaining writing feels to the reader in me. But back to the books, specifically, the one that has always been published on multiple platforms and is FREE. I like Free so I hope you do too!
It's FREE. 100%. No strings attached. You read that right. You can read it on all the following platforms and many more.
I published it wide rather than include it in Kindle Unlimited, so I could make it a perma-free book. It’s the prologue to A Pack Forms. In it, you can meet Luke and Eli before they meet each other and learn a bit more about each main character’s backstory. It’s always been published wide, on purpose. The other stories haven’t been so lucky.
If you like it, there’s a link to continue with A Pack Forms at the end. I hope you consider reading in the dream if you haven’t yet.
Before someone asks, yes, every story has an accompanying paperback and hardcover whenever it's possible. I know many prefer to read ‘real’ books. So I have well over 65 independent published titles and counting. There are collections and boxed sets as well. The size of your bookshelf and all that.
To me, there’s only one story in the saga, but it’s unpublishable that way except as serialized fiction. So I broke it down.
To balance this out, I’ll admit that after about a year and a half, and publishing the first six volumes, the day job got super intense. I wasn’t able to keep up with publishing wide, so I pulled the books from the major platforms they were on and added them to Kindle Unlimited. It’s an exclusive program with Amazon, which allows subscribers to check out books and pays the author for every page turned.
I made a bit of money at first (gas money for the truck each month for about three months), once I figured out keywords, but it wasn’t long before Amazon altered their pay-to-play algorithms, and new authors needed to buy ads to promote their books. True to the way my life functions, I didn’t have time to learn the new advertising platform, and I still haven’t figured it out. That belongs in another post.
What I’ll say is, I’ve made more money being completely wide for the last year than I ever made in over two years, being exclusive with Amazon. So I’m wide and will stay wide.
There are other exclusive programs on sites like Radish, but I don't have to be exclusive there any more than I do on Amazon. So I'm not. Even KOBO once had an exclusivity clause on their subscription program, but I can’t say I was ever tempted. The thing that pushed me away from exclusivity, even more than the money, was the limitations placed on what you can do with your work.
The different programs have different rules for how much of any work may be available in the same or different formats. That limits the ways a creative can use the work in promotion or marketing. For example, with Kindle Unlimited, no more than a certain percentage of the book may be available in a digital format anywhere else. So what if I offered a few free chapters on a blog post, and that exceeded the limit? I would be in trouble right away.
You can publish as a paperback, hardcover, or audiobook on other platforms, but the e-book, no. What about the grey area of videobooks? That gets weird, and what about NFTs? Are those considered an ebook? I don’t think so, but I don’t want to do it and learn I violated the rules and lost my account.
At about the same time, I decided I wasn’t writing a series or even a saga, rather; I was building a world and an experience, was about the same time, I realized exclusivity was too restrictive for me. I enjoy playing with new ideas, and I like building videos and crafting things with materials from the saga.
So while platforms that want my books have approached me, I refuse any attempt to grab any rights or restrict what I can do with my stories. In a way, many of the reasons I didn’t pursue traditional publishing are similar to the reasons I finally chose against exclusive programs.
You’ll find my stories on Radish as a wide backlist, but not on Kindle Vella, nor in Kindle Unlimited, because the exclusivity and restrictions were too much.
You can find my books as ebooks on over fifteen different e-tailers, apps, and libraries, and my paperbacks are distributed by both Amazon and Draft 2 Digital.
The only exclusivity I tolerate is on my website or connected to my newsletter, where readers can get titles they can’t buy anywhere else with added features I often can't include anywhere else. Dark Mystic is coming soon, but only for my Newsletter subscribers. It's going to be an exceptional experience.
(Subscription services appeal to me. I use several, but that’s a different thing altogether and you should read the post on that sometime.)
Behind the Scenes
I've looked into BookFunnel. It was expensive. So I set up a KO-FI to raise some funds. I wanted to post Mystic Dark through BookFunnel so subscribers can easily download it. I need about $150 to get that accomplished. Maybe it will happen by the time I get the book finished. I've begun part 2. I hope to finish it by Christmas.
Grey Dragons, the miniseries, is publishing on Radish. Rising Kingdom, the miniseries, is publishing on Laterpress (A Pack Forms, but a change in jobs may forestall that after volume 1).
I've been updating the website and redoing covers as I edit with ProWritingAid and format with Atticus. It's a slow process. I found Twitter shops recently, but I can't get the images right so I'm still on the fence about it.
I'm excited about a possible short story being published in an anthology in the future with Feed my Reads. Keep up with the blog for more on that in the future.
I'm slowly adding things to Ko-Fi, but it's slow going. Payhip is still home for Draoithe and Ophelia Kee.
Blooper Reel: I accidentally set up the Newsletter last week to release on Wednesday rather than Tuesday. I didn't realize I messed up, until I woke up on Wednesday and realized I never received the newsletter. Laugh, it's funny, but I hope that doesn't mean my subscribers are upset. Sorry about that. Too tired.
I have to get on with something else. Thanks for reading. As always, please be kind and leave those amazing reviews when you read.
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