To go wide or exclusive – that is the question

As I get ever nearer to publishing my first book, I keep encountering important decisions which must be made! A particularly vital one which I need to make soon is whether to go wide or exclusive in the distribution of my historical fiction novel, A Class Apart.

Going wide means making sure that my book is available on every platform I can think of. I can upload my book to Amazon as well as a variety of other retailers such as iBooks, Barnes & Noble and Kobo (or I can use websites such as Smashwords or Draft2Digital to distribute to those retailers for me).

Going exclusive means uploading my book to Amazon and nowhere else.

At first glance, it seems like an obvious choice – I should be trying to reach as many potential readers as possible by offering my book in as many different places as possible.

But there’s more to consider.

Amazon offers certain rewards to authors who go exclusive on their platform by enrolling in KDP Select. These rewards help to increase visibility for titles that might otherwise be swallowed by the sheer volume of books out there.

To help in making my decision, I’m going to lay out the pros and cons of each option.

KDP Select

Pros of going wide:

  • It makes your book available to as broad a readership as possible
  • You have greater control over pricing
  • It encourages healthy competition in the industry

Cons of going wide:

  • It is difficult to make your book visible if you’re an unknown author
  • If you need to make changes to your book, such as fixing a typo or altering the price, you have to do it on each of the platforms if you are publishing directly to each one

Pros of going exclusive:

  • Your book is made available in Kindle Unlimited, which is Amazon’s subscription service for readers
  • Your book is enrolled in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library
  • You can participate in KDP Select’s Countdown Deals
  • You can offer your book for free for a total of 5 days during a 90-day period
  • It’s easier to make changes to your book when you’re working from one platform

Cons of going exclusive:

  • You are tied into it for three months at a time
  • It confines your readership to only those who have a Kindle or make purchases on Amazon
  • It helps to increase Amazon’s market dominance
  • Amazon can change the rules at any time

There appear to be more restrictions with KDP Select, but there are more benefits too. Amazon helps new authors to be discovered, which can be so much harder on other platforms. It also has the largest share of the ebook market. Furthermore, this article mentions a report done on Kindle Unlimited subscribers: “They found that KU subscribers are avid readers, with 71% reading more than five books per month. They are more likely to review books they’ve read than non-KU subscribers and 77% purchase books outside of KU if they like the author.” These are the kinds of readers I need to reach most of all, especially if they leave reviews, which are of crucial importance when self-publishing.

The opinion that has probably clinched it for me is that of Joanna Penn. She’s an entrepreneur who is well-known in the industry and is a self-published author herself. She states that KDP Select is not always helpful, especially if you have an established series, but that it’s good if you’re selling one book and have no platform. In that case, it seems like the best option to choose for me – even though I am trying to build up my platform, I’m still hardly a blip on the publishing industry’s radar screen. So I’m thinking of signing up for the first 90 days to see how it goes and then possibly switching to wide distribution after that.

But I’m only 85% sure of that plan, so if there are any authors out there who can offer advice, I’d be very grateful! I’d love to know if you’ve tried either or both options and how they worked for you!


4 thoughts on “To go wide or exclusive – that is the question

  1. TL Harty says:

    You are not joking about it being a big decision. I went exclusive and I don’t regret it. Not to say that the other platform isn’t good too, but it eats up a lot of time. Something you didn’t list that has been of huge importance- is that being on Amazon requires less time. It gives you more time to write (for various reasons), but it’s not something you’d even notice until after you’re published. It’s 90 days. It’s a good start. And you can order author copies now. So, if you’d like to purchase a box or two to market- you can. There are also 5 days during the 90 where you can offer the book for free. That can be an amazing marketing tool if you plan it right…landing you on the top 100 free books on Amazon and giving you visibility you couldn’t acquire otherwise. Good luck to you!!

    Liked by 1 person

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