First of all, what is KDP Select?
It’s pretty unlikely that you don’t know already what this is, but for the sake of full disclosure and those that don’t know, it’s basically a 3-month, optional contract you can enter into with Amazon.
If you’re like me, and you have just one book–
–don’t do it!
When you publish your eBook through KDP, choosing this option for your title means many things, most of them not good. The most important part of this contract is exclusivity–you agree not to distribute your eBook anywhere but Amazon. This doesn’t sound so bad. In fact, you also have access to special promo styles only available to KDP Select authors (like the 5 free promotion days, or Kindle Countdown–more on this later). And to make this deal sound really enticing, it also says that you “can reach more readers, earn more money, and maximize your sales potential.” As you can see below, that’s a direct quote:
Sounds great, right?
Yeah, it sounds great! Just like the promise of winning a million dollars sounds to a scratch-off addict. Regardless of such a promise, the state lottery is just a business. And so is Amazon. And the point of any business is to make money.
But here’s what I was thinking: What could be better than enrolling my book in KDP Select? It’s not like I’ll be selling my eBook anywhere besides Amazon anyway, right? And it’s not like any people actually exist who don’t own Kindles, right?
Let me show you a shot of my sales graph:
Those little red peaks (6 in total) are all the copies I sold since I published my book in February. Those green peaks, (totaling 29) are the free downloads on the days I did the free day promotion. That’s it. Total crap. (Just to put things in perspective, do you know how many paperbacks I sold? Almost 90. Within a month’s time. And these paperbacks don’t cost 3 bucks like my eBook. Nope, they cost $10 a pop.)
Now, there will be authors that swear by KDP Select. If you’re an author enrolled in this program, and it’s working for you, that’s wonderful! I’m happy for you. I’m glad it’s working for someone and Amazon isn’t just tricking first-time authors into unfair and severe constraints on their sales.
But all I have is one book, and I made a mistake by limiting that one book’s exposure to one store. Now, why the heck did I do that? Because I was naïve enough to believe Amazon’s promise that I’d get more readers and more sales. But it just didn’t work out that way.
Before you chalk up my lack of sales to anything I may have done wrong (not enough promotion, no email list, no audience) let me tell you some pros and cons of KDP Select, if you only have one book.
The Pros: Check out Amazon’s Own Page about KDP Select:
- You get higher royalties. It says on the page that you get higher royalties from countries such as Brazil, Japan, India and Mexico. (I haven’t sold any books there, so this ‘pro’ is so useless I shouldn’t even mention it.)
- You have access to special promotions. This might be the only useful thing—but only if you have more than one book published or if you have sizeable audience already.
- Kindle Countdown Deals – basically if your book is $2.99, you do a mark down starting at 99c. Then after a period of time, the book goes up to $1.99. Then back to $2.99. The discount is clearly visible for shoppers. And this gives potential buyers an incentive to buy now.
- Kindle Owner’s Lending Library (or KOLL) – Amazon has designed a system of standardized pages (KENP), regardless of what the book is. You get paid for how many pages are read for the first time on your eBook that are borrowed from people that purchased your eBook.
- Kindle Unlimited – Readers who are subscribed to KU can read your book for free, and you get paid based on the number of KENP units/pages they read. Below is an image of my KU reads. (My book is 397 KENP pages.)
Now, the cons: You give them exclusivity—they basically give you nothing.
- You get to mark your book as free for 5 days. Whoop-ti-doo. I know this was a pro, but it’s more of a con, because if you do the 5-day-free thing for the enrollment period, you can’t do the thing Kindle Countdown Deals. Also, if you are NOT enrolled in Select, you can make your book perma-free with a different feature Amazon has available, where you can tell them about a lower price on a different site (where you set the price as $0.00, and they will lower the price of your book on Amazon to $0.00). There’s much more flexibility this way for pricing.
- You can’t gift your own book without paying for it. I found out about this the hard way. I wanted to give free copies to people to review, assuming that of course, I wouldn’t have to pay for my own book, and that this would still get me verified purchase reviews. I was so wrong! With KDP Select, you have to not only pay for your own book to give out copies, you have to pay full price! And, if you try to “Gift” your copy on a free day, guess what? The “Give as a Gift” button has mysteriously disappeared! It’s embarrassing to scramble to tell potential reviewers to hurry and download your book within a 24-hour timeframe. It’s also very unprofessional. With self-pub companies like Smashwords, or a distribution company like instafreebie, you won’t have this problem. (At least, from what I learned about them. Haven’t used them yet, but I definitely plan to.)
- You can’t distribute or sell your eBook anywhere else. This means not only can you not give out free copies through channels other than Amazon (like instafreebie), or even just emailing your reviewer or fan a file, because you’d be in violation of the contract, you also cannot sell your book in eBook form anywhere else. So no free copies for reviewers, no free copies for giveaways, no free copies for anyone. And all your sales must come from Amazon. And you’ve only got the one book, and people are reluctant to buy a book that has no reviews, and it’s hard to get reviews when you can’t give free copies.
Do you get where I’m going with this? Unless you’ve got a base of followers and have promoted your book like crazy before its release, I don’t recommend KDP Select. Don’t get me wrong. KDP is great—Select is not. Not if you’ve got just one book.
I’ve got less than a month left in my KDP Select contract. Until then, I’m basically left to twiddle my thumbs while my book gathers cyber dust on the limitless shelves of the Amazon Kindle Store. You probably don’t want to make the same mistake I did.
In the meantime, I am doing a giveaway of my book—both the paperback version and the eBook version. (The giveaway ends AFTER my KDP Select contract ends, in case you were wondering, so I’ll be free to give away free eBook copies. :D)
If you’re interested, please enter HERE.
I’d appreciate the support, and you might get at least one great read for free.