Going wide versus narrow....

February 24, 2017

Going wide versus Narrow

 

For every Indie author out there, one of the consuming questions is whether to go wide (Apple, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, etc) or narrow (Amazon KDP). I have seven books published in the Mystery genre. I'm a small time Indie with the most units sold in one month being 201 books (+ another 49 KENP book equivalents). Like other Indies, I've been concerned with a seeming drop in sales in December, 2016, and according to the Author Earnings report, a rise in the sales of Amazon's imprints. It feels like my small corner of sales are part of the sacrifice for those Amazon Imprints or maybe it's just the mysterious algorithm god is looking less benevolently towards my books.

 

For the past month, I've been wide with five of my seven books. From that wider distribution, my only sales have been Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Nothing from Apple or Kobo. Part of the problem is a lack of reviews in those other platforms. Unless you switch over to Goodreads (or Amazon), it appears that no one has ever read any of my books. That won't get fixed in the month. I suspect it will take a minimum of two years to make an impact on those book distribution sites.

So a side by side comparison on two thirty day periods (mid-December to mid-January and mid-January to mid-February 2017) revealed the following for me:

 

Book Sales                                18% decrease

Revenues                                   13% decrease

Pages Read                                57% decrease (to be expected)

Book sales during promotions  40% decrease

 

In first time period I ran a Bargain Booksy promotion with Amazon only as a purchase site. In the second time period I ran a Bargain Booksy and a Many Books Books promotion for two different books on two different dates two weeks a part. Unfortunately, my second period Bargain Booksy promotion was run for $1.29 rather than my usual 99 cents. I should have kept the variables equal. That promotion did poorly as I guess we're conditioned to book prices ending in .99. Although I included the links for purchase on iTunes and Kobo, both promotions netted me zero sales on those platforms and I did one sale for each promotion on B & N. I hadn't tried Many Books until this month but that promotion netted me about half of what I get on a Bargain Booksy promotion.

 

What's not clear in all my numbers is the impact of running a Kindle Countdown Deal in combination with other promotions. As I had gone wide in distribution, I couldn't use the Deal as an additional means of advertising, though I admit I'm not clear how Amazon promotes daily Countdown deals.

 

Before I go back to narrow distribution (Amazon only), I thought I'd see if I could get comments from other authors to see if I missed something in my analysis. Waiting one to two years to build reviews on other platforms will make too substantial a dent in my sales and revenues.

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