So you’ve decided to self-publish, rather than pursue a traditional publishing deal, which means you need to decide where you will publish your books. Now, this is more of a decision than you’d think. The simple answer is that you want to publish them everywhere, in as many places as possible, so it can be found by as many readers as possible.
The sticking point with that is that Amazon allows authors who publish exclusively with them to put their books into Kindle Unlimited. For the reader this is a monthly subscription to as many books as they can read, while for authors they are paid by the number of pages read rather than the list price. Kindle Unlimited is only available in certain regions, so not everyone is able to sign up for it. As an author it is called KDP Select (I have no idea why this is a different name), and you need to agree that the ebook version of your book is not available elsewhere for the period of its enrolment in the scheme. Print books and audio are not covered by this exclusivity clause, so they can be available wherever else you choose.
The benefits of publishing your book through KDP Select are that you have a large group of readers regularly looking for new books who are generally willing to try a new author as it costs them nothing. For some authors a considerable part of their income comes from KDP Select.
The downsides are that you are tied to Amazon. If anything happened to it then you will have lost all of your income. And any change in their algorithm could mean a severe impact on your business. Your books are only available on their platform, so readers on other devices can’t access your books. There are also a lot of scams by unscrupulous authors to gain more of the shared pot that the payments come from. #Tiffanygate being one that got fairly high profile and actually got a response from Amazon!
If you don’t make your book available for Kindle Unlimited readers through KDP Select then you are publishing wide.
The benefits of this are that you reach people who use other platforms that Amazon, and you aren’t tied into just one vendor. As the saying goes “don’t put all your eggs into one basket”.
The downsides are that you lose out on the page reads, and for many genres (romance for example) a large number of the readers seem to only read books through their Kindle Unlimited subscription. So if you’re not in it then you lose out on those readers. Especially as they are less likely to take a risk on a new author if they have to pay for the book.
Now, this choice isn’t a one-off thing. You can change your mind. KDP Select requires exclusivity, but only for a 90 day period. When that’s over you can choose not to renew it and then push your books wide. And vice versa, at any time you can unpublish them through other vendors and make them available to Kindle Unlimited readers.
What you do need to think about is not upsetting people. Don’t have some books in a series in one place and not another. And make sure that you give your readers a warning if you’re going to be switching it around.
The choice is yours.
Personally, I am planning to publish all my books wide, as the saying goes: “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. Amazon have a history of switching round payment models and how their algorithm works, which can have a serious impact on your likely income from them. Which is a big risk if you’re reliant on just them. So I would rather build my reader-base slower, but in a more sustainable way, by spreading it across more vendors. That’s my plan anyway!