Are You Indie Publishing Fiction?
Will You Choose KU or Wide?

9 aspects that will make you rethink your options.

The Wide vs KU Debate has been around for a great many years. Indie authors used to step to either side with their sleeves rolled up, righteousness steaming from their ears.

Monica Leonelle wrote a great post about this nearly fifteen months ago; “Should You Go Exclusive in Kindle Unlimited or Publish Your Book Wide?”, suggesting that the debate is out of date now, and she is right. Monica is also a polymath who publishes copious amounts of both long and short fiction and non-fiction, gives workshops, teaches and coaches…and I feel exhausted just listing the areas she works in.

For all formats other than ebook, the sky’s the limit (with one peculiar exception, which I’ll get to). If you properly understand copyright, you can find more and more markets every day: Print, large print, hardcover, library editions. Foreign language editions (in every language there is, if you choose). Audiobooks. AI Audio. Reading app editions. Serialized editions.

However, when it comes to your ebooks, you do have to make the Wide/KU decision. I want to outline for you the options you have as an indie fiction author, which is the area I know best.

Also, in the fifteen months since Monica’s post, the indie publishing scene has shifted once more.

I’ve been all-in with Kindle Unlimited twice since the program was launched and both times lasted less than a year. I am now committed to distributing as widely as possible and taking advantage of all the options Wide distribution gives me.

Here’s 9 aspects of Wide versus KU for you to think about.

You can’t hedge your bets

I frequently see authors reach for the best of both worlds. “I’ll put the book in KU for the first 90 days, then go wide.” “I’ll only put a couple of series into KU and be wide with all the rest.”

You must understand that KU readers and Wide readers have next to zero cross-over. As do the systems you use to publish and market KU and Wide books. All the marketing you put into the book while in KU and the readers you find there will be gone when you pull the book out of KU.

KU readers will not buy the rest of your series, just because they didn’t finish reading it before you pulled it out of KU. And if you go in the opposite direction, from Wide to KU, Wide readers will not sign up for KU just to read your books. Nor will they buy your book from Amazon because it’s no longer available at their bookstore.

Having some books in and some out will deliver the headaches of both approaches and more than twice the work.

Pick Wide or KU and commit to it. Your future self will thank you.

Choosing KU will limit your distribution

There are compensations to offset the exclusivity, although with ever more books being subscribed to the KDP Select program (which is the author-facing side of Kindle Unlimited), it’s questionable how effective Amazon’s boosts will be. If you can’t launch hard and spike high in the ranks in twenty-four to seventy-two hours, Amazon won’t help you. You lose. And these days, the odds against you winning are increasing with every new book uploaded to KU.

KU will exclude you from the new AI Audiobooks

I’ve separated this out from the previous point, because it’s a unique and very new twist. Google Play Books recently launched a free AI-generating audiobook service, but the only way you can access it is to publish your ebook through Google Play.

If you’re in KU, you can’t publish your ebook through Google Play, which means that Amazon’s exclusivity demand is not just impacting your ebooks, but your audiobooks, too.

If AI narrated audiobooks take off (and there’s already hints that for some genres, such as non-fiction and the uber-price-sensitive Romance market, they will), you won’t be in a position to capitalize on it.

KU requires fast, consistent releases

If you’re not writing approximately a book a month, the Amazon algorithms will drive your books down the ranks and reduce your visibility. Visibility is critical for KU authors, while Wide authors are independent of rank wars.

If you’re not a fast writer, KU is probably not for you.

Wide requires building a platform to reach your readers

Authors using the KU program don’t have to bother much with platform. KU readers rarely wander outside the Amazon walls. Amazon will inform them when you have a new release. And as long as you launch big and gain early traction, your readers will find you.

Wide authors, though, must have a way to reach their readers, who are scattered around the globe, and buy from dozens of different outlets. Most Wide authors use email lists for this. So do savvy KU authors, by the way, but it’s not critical for them. If you choose to go wide, a solid author site and associated email service isn’t optional.

On the positive side, you own and control that list, which can never be lost because a social network or program shuts down.

Wide distribution brings slower growth, but stable revenue

It takes time to build up readers and momentum when you’re wide. You can take the time to build up, if you want. As your readers are scattered across dozens of marketplaces, progress is incremental, but it is steady. You don’t get the heart-stopping peaks and valleys that KU authors suffer through. If you have a bad month on Barnes & Noble, Apple Books could be picking up the slack with stellar sales.

I’ve also found that some genres and books do consistently well on one book site, while a completely different series or genre does better with another. If you’re spread around, you can capture those quirky market preferences.

Wide distribution takes more work

No lie, distributing Wide takes work. Especially setting it up. Everything you do to upload to KU, you have to do multiple times as a Wide author. And you must keep track of the metadata and buy links for all booksellers and venues.

There are ways to decrease the work, if that’s your preference. Aggregators like PublishDrive and Draft2Digital will reduce the management load. I go direct to every bookseller who’ll let me, though, because I prefer the fine control it gives me.

Also, having good checklists and being organized will take a lot of the stress out of it.

No matter which way you choose to go, you will have to market your books

No matter which choice you make for your ebook distribution, you will have to market in some way. But Wide marketing and KU marketing are unrelated species.

Wide distribution gives you a huge amount of flexibility in your promotion efforts. There’s thousands of strategies and tactics to attract more sales. If you don’t like PPC advertising, don’t do it (I don’t). Plus, because you’re not limited by KU rules, you can give away copies, use first-in-series permafree tactics, and much more.

On the other hand, KU promotion is far more limited, consisting primarily of driving readers to Amazon to look at your books. Amazon KDP advertising is mandatory if you want to sustain or increase your page reads. More effective marketing is usually a matter of scaling up your advertising budget, rather than finding new or different tactics.


It’s worth taking the time to weigh your options and talk to other authors about their experiences with both approaches. Wide publishing isn’t for every author, nor is KU a good fit for a great many others.

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