Author Topic: You've Been Amazoned.  (Read 4408 times)

Shoe

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #50 on: December 01, 2018, 01:02:11 PM »
Can't get much better advice than what's already here, but I will remind folks that while, of course, you're free to spend on ads as you like, you really should view spending on ads as being the thing you do when you KNOW that what you're shining a spotlight on is ready for prime time.

It's hard to know if you're ready for the spotlight until you've put your book under one. How else can you know? For a newbie without a mailing list, ads are the only way to boost visibility aside from any new release push received from Zon. If you don't earn your money back and then some, it's time to retool or conclude self-publishing isn't going to work for you.
Publishing since May 2017. Writing full time since January 2018 general fiction and satire.
 

guest957

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #51 on: December 01, 2018, 07:53:41 PM »
It's hard to know if you're ready for the spotlight until you've put your book under one. How else can you know? For a newbie without a mailing list, ads are the only way to boost visibility aside from any new release push received from Zon. If you don't earn your money back and then some, it's time to retool or conclude self-publishing isn't going to work for you.

I had written a lengthier reply to this, but really, I'm not in a position to say what anyone should or should not do with their own personal finances. If it takes spending on ads to know if you're ready for that visibility, I think that's fair enough and it's really only something you can decide.
 

VanessaC

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #52 on: December 01, 2018, 09:50:56 PM »
Can't get much better advice than what's already here, but I will remind folks that while, of course, you're free to spend on ads as you like, you really should view spending on ads as being the thing you do when you KNOW that what you're shining a spotlight on is ready for prime time.

It's hard to know if you're ready for the spotlight until you've put your book under one. How else can you know? For a newbie without a mailing list, ads are the only way to boost visibility aside from any new release push received from Zon. If you don't earn your money back and then some, it's time to retool or conclude self-publishing isn't going to work for you.

Not saying I'm expert here, or this is the only way to go, but I got a couple of paid beta readers to go over my book 1 before it went out - without going into the long story, basically I wanted a reader perspective without the very public 1 star reviews on Amazon. I found that incredibly helpful, and reassuring that my book wasn't totally awful.

Very few of us have lots of spare cash to publish when we start out.  For me, one of the key decisions to make at the start is where you spend your money, bearing in mind you may never get it back.  I decided to spend my money on getting the book as good as I could, on the basis I could advertise later as and when I could afford to. 

I am not saying the book is perfect but I'm happy with what I have produced, and the response so far has been really good.

Other people will of course have their own views and go about things differently. And that's the beauty of being an indie author - there's no one-size-fits-all solution.
     

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Shoe

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #53 on: December 01, 2018, 11:39:01 PM »


And that's the beauty of being an indie author - there's no one-size-fits-all solution.

There is only one solution for writers--write books your audience wants to read. Nothing else will matter if the reading public dismisses your work, despite your pro cover, excellent editing, and enticing blurb.

We all know people who've nailed their covers, titles, blurbs, and editing and failed miserably, often after spending a great deal for pro services and in many cases expensive ad campaigns. What went wrong for them? There's a chance they never found the right audience for their books, but it's just as likely they did and received a pass.
Publishing since May 2017. Writing full time since January 2018 general fiction and satire.
 
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LilyBLily

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #54 on: December 02, 2018, 12:28:45 AM »


And that's the beauty of being an indie author - there's no one-size-fits-all solution.

There is only one solution for writers--write books your audience wants to read. Nothing else will matter if the reading public dismisses your work, despite your pro cover, excellent editing, and enticing blurb.

We all know people who've nailed their covers, titles, blurbs, and editing and failed miserably, often after spending a great deal for pro services and in many cases expensive ad campaigns. What went wrong for them? There's a chance they never found the right audience for their books, but it's just as likely they did and received a pass.

Okay, I disagree with the "one solution" idea. If I "only" sell a thousand copies of a book, has the reading public dismissed it? What if I "only" sell a million copies? Dismissed again? Some books have a huge natural audience--that is, people who want to read that kind of book--and some also have an enormous audience of people who want to read the big deal book everyone is talking about. Does anyone believe that every single purchase of Twilight was made by people who really wanted to read about a teenage girl and a creepy old sparkly vampire? No way.

I have written fiction that I know only will interest a small audience. It can be a challenge to find that natural audience, but small press publishers courageously do it all the time. If the audience for a book is a certain size and no more, and one sells well to that audience, I don't call that being dismissed by the reading public. Believing that every book has natural audience of millions is a mistake, often a beginner's hopeful mistake, but there's literally no viable way of finding out in advance of publication if a book has a huge audience or a small one. One can guess, and traditional publishers guess all the time. They also fail more often than indie authors do. Think about that. They fail all the time. They publish 100 books and only 1 becomes a breakout bestseller (actually, the numbers are far worse than that). Their goal, then, is to safely publish 99 other books that don't lose a lot of money. Self-publishing authors have a similar challenge. We also can do everything right, as you say, and the readers don't come en masse.     

But is a mass audience the be-all-and-end-all of creative success? In the big era of network TV, a successful show could easily be watched by 10-20 million people every week. The 1 million people who watch a cable channel today are a miserable failure by comparison (dismissed by the public?)--and yet careers are made on those networks, millions of dollars change hands, and by most standards of success other than sheer numbers, the cable channels are successes. Also, Sharknado is a thing.

Numbers alone don't tell the whole story. Did the book get a wonderful review in a respected publication? Did a reader write the author a heartfelt letter about how wonderful the book was? Has the author completed a book of the heart and seen it professionally produced? Is the author's mother proud to show off that book to all her friends? All these are successes, and numbers have nothing to do with them.
 
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Shoe

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #55 on: December 02, 2018, 01:22:09 AM »


And that's the beauty of being an indie author - there's no one-size-fits-all solution.

There is only one solution for writers--write books your audience wants to read. Nothing else will matter if the reading public dismisses your work, despite your pro cover, excellent editing, and enticing blurb.

We all know people who've nailed their covers, titles, blurbs, and editing and failed miserably, often after spending a great deal for pro services and in many cases expensive ad campaigns. What went wrong for them? There's a chance they never found the right audience for their books, but it's just as likely they did and received a pass.

Okay, I disagree with the "one solution" idea...

You're not disagreeing. You're quibbling. I didn't say anything about audience size. Maybe you only want to please your family, in which case, write a book they won't dismiss as tripe. Whatever your target audience, the solution is the same--write a book that audience would like to read.
Publishing since May 2017. Writing full time since January 2018 general fiction and satire.
 

LilyBLily

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #56 on: December 02, 2018, 02:07:01 AM »


And that's the beauty of being an indie author - there's no one-size-fits-all solution.

There is only one solution for writers--write books your audience wants to read. Nothing else will matter if the reading public dismisses your work, despite your pro cover, excellent editing, and enticing blurb.

We all know people who've nailed their covers, titles, blurbs, and editing and failed miserably, often after spending a great deal for pro services and in many cases expensive ad campaigns. What went wrong for them? There's a chance they never found the right audience for their books, but it's just as likely they did and received a pass.

Okay, I disagree with the "one solution" idea...

You're not disagreeing. You're quibbling. I didn't say anything about audience size. Maybe you only want to please your family, in which case, write a book they won't dismiss as tripe. Whatever your target audience, the solution is the same--write a book that audience would like to read.

I quibbled at length!  Grin

I really don't know who my audience is from book to book. I can guess who buys and reads, but I don't know. That's why I write for myself. I figure if I please myself, I'll please people at a similar life stage and with a similar mindset and maybe some other random people.
 
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Bill Hiatt

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #57 on: December 02, 2018, 02:25:49 AM »


And that's the beauty of being an indie author - there's no one-size-fits-all solution.

There is only one solution for writers--write books your audience wants to read. Nothing else will matter if the reading public dismisses your work, despite your pro cover, excellent editing, and enticing blurb.

We all know people who've nailed their covers, titles, blurbs, and editing and failed miserably, often after spending a great deal for pro services and in many cases expensive ad campaigns. What went wrong for them? There's a chance they never found the right audience for their books, but it's just as likely they did and received a pass.
Ah, but there's the problem--knowing what your audience wants to read. There are a few genre conventions that serve as useful generalizations. For example, it does appear that romance readers want a happy ending. But beyond those kinds of statements, it's hard to know. Yes, we can look at what's selling now--but that may not be what's going to be selling tomorrow.

Don't get me wrong--I think considering what readers want to read is important. Most self-pubbers don't have the data to do detailed analyses, though, and even agents and publishers often guess wrong about market trends. It took JK Rowling seven or eight shots to find a publisher. (That's not a lot, but considering how successful the books were, you have to wonder a little about the publishers that took a pass.) And even then, Bloomsbury didn't seem to know what it had. Apparently, one of the editors told Rowling she'd still need a day job, because she'd never make a living on that kind of book alone. How's that for market analysis? Then there's the example of the fourteen agents who told Stephenie Meyer that Twilight was unmarketable. They were wrong, too.

I'm inclined to agree with this Writer's Digest article: https://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/excellent-publishing-advice/ready-player-one-3-painful-lessons-writing-successful-stories In a nutshell, the writer argues that writing what you love will make it more likely the readers will love what you write. Ready Player One is the example used in the article. Though many of the elements in the book have been used many times, the specific combination is pretty unique, so it would have been hard to predict its success in advance. Yet it was successful.

It's also the people who write what they love who drive innovation in literature. By its nature, writing to market essentially produces more and more of the same. I'm not saying all such works are going to be bad or even unoriginal, but their originality is bound to be circumscribed by whatever the perceived market trends are. The problem is that some formulas wear themselves out. Certain kinds of YA fantasy that used to be hot aren't as hot anymore. I read somewhere that some publishers are increasingly turning thumbs down on that kind of material. The same publishers would have snapped it up a few years ago. In that kind of scenario, people who aren't trying to write to match what the trend was would be at an advantage when the market shifted.

Obviously, write what you love carried to extremes would be just as far off the mark as writing to market. Probably, a successful writer needs to be mindful of both.


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Shoe

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #58 on: December 02, 2018, 09:10:38 AM »

Ah, but there's the problem--knowing what your audience wants to read. There are a few genre conventions that serve as useful generalizations. For example, it does appear that romance readers want a happy ending. But beyond those kinds of statements, it's hard to know. Yes, we can look at what's selling now--but that may not be what's going to be selling tomorrow...
Obviously, write what you love carried to extremes would be just as far off the mark as writing to market. Probably, a successful writer needs to be mindful of both.

I'm not referring to satisfying genre expectations or market trends. I'm referring to writing talent and storytelling talent only. I realize the former isn't essential. An ingenious plot can overcome weak writing, which is good news for many indie writers, but not for terrible writers who may have good ideas but no talent to pull them off.

I suspect there's been some topic drift here... What I'm aiming to say is, you can't really gauge your talent (for writing or storytelling or both) and prospects for success until you've put your work on the market and tested it.

I do think writers should write what they love, but I'm speaking at the sentence level. Love your words and phrases and sentences. Do that, and the topic doesn't really matter. You can write about anything.
Publishing since May 2017. Writing full time since January 2018 general fiction and satire.
 
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EB

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #59 on: December 03, 2018, 11:24:39 PM »
And it doesn't matter one bit what income level you're at, since this is a neuropsychological phenomenon. The 1K author, the 100K author and the 1M author all have their own baseline expectations and desires, built out of the success of the past.

It happens in other realms all the time. Think of the aging/declining sports figure or politician or movie star, chasing just one more big win and destroying themselves in the process, or living above their means because they can't stand to downsize their lifestyle. Look at CC and other banned authors trying to sneak back into the KU tent and doing themselves even more damage instead of simply taking their lumps, picking themselves up and moving forward legitimately.

To me, the big key is living well within your means. WELL within. If you can't survive a 50% drop next month, you're living beyond your authorly means. I'd even say a 75% drop. I can. Not because I'm more virtuous or smarter than anyone else, but because I've made a deliberate choice to do it. To delay gratification. To keep debt low. To view my average income as still above my means, and to view my means as far less than my average income.

If you do that, you'll likely survive and prosper through the ups and downs, survive to write and publish and be positioned to catch that upturn that gives you an unexpected bonus, rather than be out of position where one downturn will wipe you out.


Yes, yes, this, so much! ^^ I think sometimes it's easy to get dazzled by the possibility of being the next Big Thing in this business and live a life of luxury. Yes, we've all watched plenty of self-pubbed authors hit the market on fire and make unheard of amounts of money. The fact is that it can be done, and it does get done by more and more self-pubbed authors all the time...but it's still the outlier in this industry, the same as it was ten years (or twenty years) ago. It's not the norm for authors to make a living at simply being an author. On this board (and our former hangout), I think seeing so many successful authors in one place makes it seem like write book=make living, when we're really just a unbalanced concentration of authors that doesn't accurately represent reality of the whole population.

I've heard that Louisiana and North Carolina are both good, low cost places to live. NC will actually pay you to move there, if you're a skilled worker. Back during the oil boom, North Dakota was also a place you could write your own ticket. It may still be.

Funny you mentioned that, I've been looking at houses in NC. After living in New Jersey (highest property taxes in the nation), I am soooo ready for a little relief. Been looking at the comparables in NC and I'm floored and feel like a fool for staying in NJ for so long.
Property taxes in NJ= $12500/year (modest home, tiny lot, too many neighbors)
Property taxes in NC= $1500/year (much bigger home, huge secluded lot, not terribly far from civilization)
(Insert me, counting down the days to leave NJ)

 

Maggie Ann

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #60 on: December 03, 2018, 11:29:40 PM »
And it doesn't matter one bit what income level you're at, since this is a neuropsychological phenomenon. The 1K author, the 100K author and the 1M author all have their own baseline expectations and desires, built out of the success of the past.

It happens in other realms all the time. Think of the aging/declining sports figure or politician or movie star, chasing just one more big win and destroying themselves in the process, or living above their means because they can't stand to downsize their lifestyle. Look at CC and other banned authors trying to sneak back into the KU tent and doing themselves even more damage instead of simply taking their lumps, picking themselves up and moving forward legitimately.

To me, the big key is living well within your means. WELL within. If you can't survive a 50% drop next month, you're living beyond your authorly means. I'd even say a 75% drop. I can. Not because I'm more virtuous or smarter than anyone else, but because I've made a deliberate choice to do it. To delay gratification. To keep debt low. To view my average income as still above my means, and to view my means as far less than my average income.

If you do that, you'll likely survive and prosper through the ups and downs, survive to write and publish and be positioned to catch that upturn that gives you an unexpected bonus, rather than be out of position where one downturn will wipe you out.


Yes, yes, this, so much! ^^ I think sometimes it's easy to get dazzled by the possibility of being the next Big Thing in this business and live a life of luxury. Yes, we've all watched plenty of self-pubbed authors hit the market on fire and make unheard of amounts of money. The fact is that it can be done, and it does get done by more and more self-pubbed authors all the time...but it's still the outlier in this industry, the same as it was ten years (or twenty years) ago. It's not the norm for authors to make a living at simply being an author. On this board (and our former hangout), I think seeing so many successful authors in one place makes it seem like write book=make living, when we're really just a unbalanced concentration of authors that doesn't accurately represent reality of the whole population.

I've heard that Louisiana and North Carolina are both good, low cost places to live. NC will actually pay you to move there, if you're a skilled worker. Back during the oil boom, North Dakota was also a place you could write your own ticket. It may still be.

Funny you mentioned that, I've been looking at houses in NC. After living in New Jersey (highest property taxes in the nation), I am soooo ready for a little relief. Been looking at the comparables in NC and I'm floored and feel like a fool for staying in NJ for so long.
Property taxes in NJ= $12500/year (modest home, tiny lot, too many neighbors)
Property taxes in NC= $1500/year (much bigger home, huge secluded lot, not terribly far from civilization)
(Insert me, counting down the days to leave NJ)

I have relatives still living in NJ. I don't know how they manage. I love the state, but I'll never live there again.

FL taxes, 4/2/2, 1700 SF = $1,100/yr

           
 
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Bill Hiatt

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #61 on: December 04, 2018, 01:09:03 AM »

Ah, but there's the problem--knowing what your audience wants to read. There are a few genre conventions that serve as useful generalizations. For example, it does appear that romance readers want a happy ending. But beyond those kinds of statements, it's hard to know. Yes, we can look at what's selling now--but that may not be what's going to be selling tomorrow...
Obviously, write what you love carried to extremes would be just as far off the mark as writing to market. Probably, a successful writer needs to be mindful of both.

I'm not referring to satisfying genre expectations or market trends. I'm referring to writing talent and storytelling talent only. I realize the former isn't essential. An ingenious plot can overcome weak writing, which is good news for many indie writers, but not for terrible writers who may have good ideas but no talent to pull them off.

I suspect there's been some topic drift here... What I'm aiming to say is, you can't really gauge your talent (for writing or storytelling or both) and prospects for success until you've put your work on the market and tested it.

I do think writers should write what they love, but I'm speaking at the sentence level. Love your words and phrases and sentences. Do that, and the topic doesn't really matter. You can write about anything.
Yes, I confess I misunderstood your original point. It's quite true that one can never know how something will be received until its market-tested. I also agree with everything else you said in your last post.


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guest1038

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #62 on: December 04, 2018, 03:47:26 AM »
I must admit, for all the negatives I see/hear about Amazon I can't bring myself to leave the KU ecosystem. Wide looks much more daunting to me - to the point where I'm thinking it'd be largely a waste of my money/time if I were to compare my ROI being in KU and what it might potentially be outside of it. I do realize though, everyone's mileage is different.
 

Bill Hiatt

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #63 on: December 04, 2018, 05:02:48 AM »
I must admit, for all the negatives I see/hear about Amazon I can't bring myself to leave the KU ecosystem. Wide looks much more daunting to me - to the point where I'm thinking it'd be largely a waste of my money/time if I were to compare my ROI being in KU and what it might potentially be outside of it. I do realize though, everyone's mileage is different.
Yes, everyone's mileage is different. That's why it pays to experiment at some point, but there's no rush. Save it for some time in the future when you feel more comfortable. I also think it's easier for a writer who already has a following and/or who's been wide for a long time to promote to a wide audience.

I have experimented twice, (several months each), and both times my wide income for a year was below what I can make in KU in a single month. That said, I have a few titles wide, mostly niche books that don't attract KU readers anyway, but I also have the beginning book in what will be a wide series. That's because I want to start building a presence on other sites. That doesn't necessarily mean I will move everything wide. It's another way of testing the waters. If the wide series gains momentum over time, that will tell me something. If it doesn't, well, there's a message in that as well.


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Rick Partlow

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #64 on: December 04, 2018, 10:37:20 PM »
I must admit, for all the negatives I see/hear about Amazon I can't bring myself to leave the KU ecosystem. Wide looks much more daunting to me - to the point where I'm thinking it'd be largely a waste of my money/time if I were to compare my ROI being in KU and what it might potentially be outside of it. I do realize though, everyone's mileage is different.

I am doing an experiment, putting a single series, four books, wide.  I just put the final book out into the wide wild a week ago or so and I am going to start marketing them.  So far, without anything but an international BookBub on the first book in the series for 99 cents, I have made maybe $150 in about a month.  Which isn't much, and most of that is from Kobo.  I have already decided my other series are staying in KU for now.
Author of Glory Boy, Last Flight of the Acheron, Seeds of Gaia, Merchants of War, the Birthright trilogy, the Recon series, The Tales of the Acheron series, the Psi War trilogy, Duty Honor Planet trilogy, and the upcoming Wholesale Slaughter series.
 

dgcasey

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #65 on: December 05, 2018, 03:35:06 AM »
I am doing an experiment, putting a single series, four books, wide.  I just put the final book out into the wide wild a week ago or so and I am going to start marketing them.  So far, without anything but an international BookBub on the first book in the series for 99 cents, I have made maybe $150 in about a month.  Which isn't much, and most of that is from Kobo.  I have already decided my other series are staying in KU for now.

I'd doing something similar. All of my books start in KU, but after one or two cycles, most of them will come out and go wide. I am, however, writing a series that will remain in KU exclusively. At least it will for the time being. If it ever looks like it isn't worthwhile I'll reconsider.
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Shoe

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #66 on: December 05, 2018, 03:53:25 AM »
All of my books start in KU, but after one or two cycles, most of them will come out

That makes sense... I have a year and half old title that's been slipping for a while and doesn't earn much KENP. I may as well put it wide to get a foot in that door.
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guest1038

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Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #67 on: December 05, 2018, 05:38:22 AM »
I am doing an experiment, putting a single series, four books, wide.  I just put the final book out into the wide wild a week ago or so and I am going to start marketing them.  So far, without anything but an international BookBub on the first book in the series for 99 cents, I have made maybe $150 in about a month.  Which isn't much, and most of that is from Kobo.  I have already decided my other series are staying in KU for now.

That's anecdotal, of course, but does confirm my suspicions somewhat.

I don't know, going wide to me seems like swimming against the tide. Sort of like setting up your shop in a low-traffic area of town. If 70% of buying readers buy from Amazon why wouldn't I be exclusive to them, i.e. set up shop where most everyone's walking? I want to be where the predominant amount of the wallets are.

I get that, yes, Amazon can/perhaps will pull the rug out in some way and then you're boned because all your eggs were in that basket, but really if that kind of nuclear-level event happened on Amazon where you'd be forced to go wide, it wouldn't matter if you were wide to begin with or not because even a lot of the wide folks in that dire scenario would be boned too as a lot of them derive the bulk of their income from the big A as well. Sure, you'd be starting from scratch on multiple sales fronts, but such is life - cross that bridge when you come to it.

And if the worst did happen (whatever that is), I'd go wide at that point, once I'm forced to move to the low-traffic part of town. But to purposefully do that right now, to fight and claw to establish some arbitrary beachhead 'just in case', seems a bit nonsensical to me from a business standpoint - ROI on the money/time required to do one vs. the other and all of that. But, again, that's just me. Everyone's gotta do them. Everyone's business is different, I suppose, or at least in terms of a business ethos. I can't justify the money/time investment I'd be required to make to make wide work vs. my ROI by being exclusive. Doesn't mean you couldn't/shouldn't do it, I just know it isn't worth it for me. Hey, maybe I'm the grasshopper in this little fable, who knows?
 

Arches

Re: You've Been Amazoned.
« Reply #68 on: December 05, 2018, 06:08:22 AM »
I am doing an experiment, putting a single series, four books, wide.  I just put the final book out into the wide wild a week ago or so and I am going to start marketing them.  So far, without anything but an international BookBub on the first book in the series for 99 cents, I have made maybe $150 in about a month.  Which isn't much, and most of that is from Kobo.  I have already decided my other series are staying in KU for now.

That's anecdotal, of course, but does confirm my suspicions somewhat.

I don't know, going wide to me seems like swimming against the tide. Sort of like setting up your shop in a low-traffic area of town. If 70% of buying readers buy from Amazon why wouldn't I be exclusive to them, i.e. set up shop where most everyone's walking? I want to be where the predominant amount of the wallets are.

I get that, yes, Amazon can/perhaps will pull the rug out in some way and then you're boned because all your eggs were in that basket, but really if that kind of nuclear-level event happened on Amazon where you'd be forced to go wide, it wouldn't matter if you were wide to begin with or not because even a lot of the wide folks in that dire scenario would be boned too as a lot of them derive the bulk of their income from the big A as well. Sure, you'd be starting from scratch on multiple sales fronts, but such is life - cross that bridge when you come to it.

And if the worst did happen (whatever that is), I'd go wide at that point, once I'm forced to move to the low-traffic part of town. But to purposefully do that right now, to fight and claw to establish some arbitrary beachhead 'just in case', seems a bit nonsensical to me from a business standpoint - ROI on the money/time required to do one vs. the other and all of that. But, again, that's just me. Everyone's gotta do them. Everyone's business is different, I suppose, or at least in terms of a business ethos. I can't justify the money/time investment I'd be required to make to make wide work vs. my ROI by being exclusive. Doesn't mean you couldn't/shouldn't do it, I just know it isn't worth it for me. Hey, maybe I'm the grasshopper in this little fable, who knows?

You're sure to be schooled soon on the blessings of going wide, but I think it comes down to individual situations. Some books do real