Self-Publishing: Should You “Go Wide” With Multiple Retailers? | Self-Publishing Relief

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Self-publishing offers great opportunities for savvy authors, but it also means tackling challenging production, marketing, and distribution decisions. The experts at Self-Publishing Relief know that one of the most vexing decisions is whether you should self-publish on one retailer, such as Amazon, or “go wide” and publish across many.

The Pros And Cons Of Self-Publishing With Multiple Retailers

The Pros:

There are lots of advantages to having your self-published book show up on as many retailer sites as possible. The wider your distribution, the more likely you’ll catch interested eyeballs—and make more sales. Fortunately, self-published authors can set up accounts directly with these major book retailers to help achieve this goal:

Alternatively, authors can use an eBook distributor as a one-stop book distribution shop. These companies offer indie authors opportunities to reach the major retailers as well as smaller book retailers, closed-off ones, and subscription services, such as:

  • Google Play
  • Playster
  • Scribd
  • Inktera
  • 24Symbols
  • Overdrive
  • Odilo
  • Baker & Taylor, etc.

EBook distributors charge a percentage of royalties for their services, but the ease of keeping track of sales across all platforms, as well as access to many smaller eBook retailers, may well be worth the cost.

The Cons:

Obviously, the multiplication of book retailers does add complications in terms of book tracking, production, and marketing:

  • Production: Best practices suggest you should use vendor-specific hotlinks in your eBook’s back matter to encourage a reader, once finished with your story, to one-click buy your next book. If you are distributing wide, you’ll need multiple vendor-specific formats if you wish to keep up with this recommendation.
  • Tracking: If you set up individual accounts on the major book retailers, keeping tabs on sales will require more effort unless you use a paid service such as to automatically accumulate the information.
  • Marketing: Coordinating price-drop sales across all vendors can be tricky.

The Pros And Cons Of Sticking With One Book Retailer

The Pros:

Sticking to one retailer definitely makes accounting much easier. It also makes production and marketing efforts simple, as you’re dealing with one audience and one vendor. But the retailer you choose makes all the difference, and the only retailer who makes this option worth your while is Amazon.

Amazon provides perks to those who sign up their books to their KDP Select program, which requires exclusive rights for distribution.

The pros of Amazon’s KDP Select:

  • Exclusivity allows you to earn 70% royalties from Japan, India, Brazil, and Mexico. Non-KDP Select authors earn 35% in these markets.
  • For up to five days per 90-day period, you can choose between running a Kindle Countdown Deal (promotional discounting), or running a Free Book Promotion. Non-KDP Select authors can discount to 99 cents but for free promotions must rely on price-matching or the kindness of an Amazon representative.
  • Your book or books are added to Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s eBook subscription service. You’ll be paid for borrows based on pages read. Every month, you’ll receive your share from the KDP Select Global Fund. Non-KDP Select authors don’t have access to this avid book-reading audience or this fund.

The Cons:

  • Your distribution reach is limited. More and more folks are reading on their smartphones. Having your book available on Apple iBooks (for iPhones and iPads) and Google Play (for Android-run devices) can give you exposure to the fastest-growing e-reading platforms as well as more international markets.
  • You’re more vulnerable to changes. Amazon can adjust their terms at any time, potentially upending all the eggs in your one basket.

What If I Go Exclusive And Then Change My Mind?

One of the wonderful aspects of self-publishing is that no decision is permanent. If you sign on to KDP Select and then decide that you want to go wide, all you have to do is wait until the end of the 90 days to be released from the exclusivity obligation. (Just make sure you don’t have the box checked to automatically renew.) Then you’re free to open new accounts with other vendors and enjoy the benefits of “going wide.”

Though it has been well-established for nearly ten years, self-publishing is still a nascent industry, subject to turbulence. If you’re venturing into the wilds of indie-publishing for the first time, be sure to connect with other self-published writers to network, share experiences, and keep up with changes in the industry.


Question: Where do you prefer to read eBooks: on your Kindle, Nook, desktop computer, on an app on your smartphone or tablet, through a subscription service, or several of the above?

One Response to Self-Publishing: Should You “Go Wide” With Multiple Retailers? | Self-Publishing Relief

  1. Hi,
    I am an indie author. I took the broader distribution route. Your article was very informative and I have personally experienced the frustration of dealing with Amazon. Keep up the great articles!
    Warmest Regards,
    Mark Bierman

    Answer to your question: I prefer to read ebooks on my laptop.

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