Hi there 👋,

Are you tired of getting emails about Amazon, KDP, Kindle Unlimited, etc? Well, today’s your lucky day: we’re starting a new series exploring the waters outside Amazon (heh).

By the way, if you’re a recent Reedsy subscriber, this is our weekly marketing newsletter, in which I try to shed some light on the complex world of digital book marketing. You can opt out at any point by updating your preferences. But... if you like them and want to share it with your friends and fellow writers, just use the buttons below!
Okay, let’s get started! I’m going to explore the “philosophy” and main principles around “going wide” — selling your books on more retailers than just Amazon. With that out of the way, next week’s update will dig deeper into how the main other retailers work and how to increase your sales over there.

"Going wide”: a long-term strategy

The first thing to say about going “wide” is that it’s not a quick buck strategy. It’s not like Kindle Unlimited where you can run price promos, blast your books with the famous advertising cocktail (Amazon ads, Facebook ads, Bookbub ads), and see instant results.

I know several authors who make as much money (or more) outside Amazon, but they all have one thing in common: they’ve been committed to “being wide” from the start.

Building a presence and garnering sales on iBooks, B&N, Kobo or Google Play takes time. It also takes a different kind of marketing. So don’t jump back into KU after a few months when you don’t see any sales coming in from these retailers. In most cases, it will take over a year to see decent sales.

How to distribute to non-Amazon retailers

To distribute your ebook to Kobo, iBooks, B&N or Google Play, you have two options:

  • Either you “go direct”, i.e. use each store’s own proprietary ebook publishing platform; or

  • You use an “aggregator” to reach all of them at once.

If you’re not familiar with ebook publishing platforms and aggregators, you’ll find everything you need to know in this post. I personally tend to recommend using Draft2Digital to avoid the hassle of logging in to every single publishing platform each time you want to publish a new book, update your metadata or run a price promotion.

The downside is that you’ll lose some perks by using an aggregator (on top of paying them a small percentage of your royalties). I’ll highlight those next week when we explore each retailer in more depth.

Discoverability outside Amazon

There’s one massive difference between Amazon and the rest when it comes to discoverability. While everything on Amazon is run by algorithms, the best visibility spots on iBooks, Kobo, and B&N are curated by humans.

For example, on iBooks, the offers you see featured in the top banners (yes, my iBooks is in French…) have been put together by iBooks’ merchandising team.

Similarly, Barnes & Noble lists categories in their Nook store sidebar which are almost all curated by their merchandising team: “NOOK Recommends,” “NOOK Daily Find,” “B&N Press Presents,” etc.

What does this mean? Well, selling more books on non-Amazon retailers requires a distinctly human approach.

Building connections with company reps

One of the most effective ways to get into special features and promos on these stores is to build an actual connection with someone from the company.

That’s where writer’s conferences can come in handy. You’ll find Kobo, B&N and sometimes Apple reps at most big writing conferences (think RWA, NINC, Thrillerfest, etc.). Go talk to them. Now, don’t stalk them and sneak in your book in their bags when they’re not looking. Instead, offer to buy them a drink (surprise: book people like to drink!!), ask them for tips to get more sales on their platform, and tweet/retweet them during panels.

Sending your readers to non-Amazon retailers

Making friends with reps isn’t a requirement, though, and it certainly isn’t enough to get features or promos on their stores. Merchandising teams all share the same goal: to drive more sales. So you’ve got to prove to them that your books can sell on their store.

How do you do that? Well, you actively promote your book specifically on these retailers. For example:

  • Include links to your book on iBooks, Kobo, B&N, etc. on your website

  • Set up pre-orders exclusive to iBooks and Kobo (I’ll tell you why next week)

  • Do cover reveals and exclusive sneak peeks on iBooks

  • Run Facebook ads targeted at interests like “iBooks,” “Kobo eReaders,” etc. (crossed with your usual interests) and promoting your book’s page on these retailers

  • Run price promotions and use promotion sites with a known non-Amazon readership (e.g., Bookbub and BargainBooksy)

The great news is that “wide” books have a much higher chance of being accepted for a Bookbub “Featured Deal” than KU books. A single “Featured Deal” will skyrocket your sales on all retailers, which will likely get the attention of the merchandising teams, who may, in turn, feature your book in their promos, driving even more sales… And THAT’S how you build yourself a presence on non-Amazon retailers.

Until next week, 

Ricardo, Founder @ Reedsy

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