Goodbye, KDP Select

Yesterday was the last day of my three-month exclusivity agreement with Amazon’s KDP Select (Baby Grand made its debut as part of the program on May 23). For those who don’t know about the program, when you sign on to KDP Select, you agree to sell your eBook only in the Kindle format (you can continue selling your paperbacks anywhere you wish). In exchange for this agreement, you are given some marketing assistance, including several free promotional days, where you can basically give your book away, and also your book is included in the Kindle Lending Library — every time an Amazon Prime member (and there are oodles of them) “borrows” your book, Amazon pays you a royalty.

When I agreed to participate in the program, I looked at it as a limited release of my novel, much like an independent film might be first shown in New York and Los Angeles before going wide, and as a way to cultivate a following in the Kindle community while taking advantage of additional promotional help from Amazon.

Overall, I was satisfied with the results of KDP Select, particularly with a mass email intended for thriller lovers that included my book. Yippee!

But, in the end, I decided to leave the program after my first go-round. Here’s why:

  • I just won’t give my book away en masse. In my opinion, in order for authors to take full advantage of the KDP Select program, they need to cash in on those free promotional days that Amazon allots them. For better or for worse — and trust me I’ve read blog post after blog post about indie writers who got zillions of downloads during those days and who reported sales increases for the days following the free promotional period and have had wild success — I just couldn’t bring myself to offer my book for free, even for a limited number of days. Perhaps it’s because I’m a professional writer and am used to being paid for my work. Perhaps it’s because I don’t understand marketing. But my feeling is that Baby Grand’s regular price point of $2.99 is surely affordable and fair, so I’m not sure why it’s necessary to offer my book for free as a way to entice readers. I’m not sure what kind of message that puts out there. Although I do think that many books, particularly eBooks, are overpriced, I don’t think the answer is to swing the pendulum in the other direction. I want people to read Baby Grand because they think they’ll enjoy it, not because it was a freebie. Plus, I find that people (me included) who take advantage of free downloads tend to stockpile books rather than read them.
  • My Nook friends have had it up to HERE with me. As I wrote in an earlier blog post announcing my participation in KDP Select, it does seem a bit counter-intuitive to offer your book only to a segment of the reading population when all you want to do is sell as many copies as possible. It wasn’t a big concern for me at first, because I knew my KDP Select commitment would only be for three months, but I do have to say that it was so difficult to tell potential readers that they had to wait or that the book was unavailable to them. I remember in one instance I had written a guest post for a fellow writer’s blog, and a comment was posted by a woman who said she read my post with interest and went to download my book on her Nook and then was VERY disappointed to find that she couldn’t. (I still wonder if that sale has been lost for good. I hope not.) Now, I am excited to see how Baby Grand fares on other retail sites — Google Books, Kobo, BN.com, etc. — in addition to Amazon.

So, yes, while I remain a huge fan of Amazon — both as a reader and as an author — I’m ready to expand as an e-businessperson.

I’d love to hear other authors’ experiences. Have you done KDP Select? What are your thoughts of the program?

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13 thoughts on “Goodbye, KDP Select

      • It’s gone through my mind. I might have tried it with one of my shorts or even novel #1, but because I distribute through Lulu to get on iPad, I knew there was no way I could completely guarantee that the story had been removed from other sites Lulu distributes to (yes, I suffer from Big Catholic Guilt and paranoia). That, and it takes SO long to get into the iBookstore to begin with. Those were the main reasons why I didn’t try it when it first came out, and then, of course, like you, I read many mixed reviews — some awesome, some meh — on how it all worked out. I was just curious as to whether “knowing what you know now,” if you’d do it again.

  1. “it does seem a bit counter-intuitive to offer your book only to a segment of the reading population when all you want to do is sell as many copies as possible.”

    Yep – Business 101. And like we talked about the other day, it’s hard to tell someone NO when they want to buy your book, and they may be gone forever.

    Best of luck, here come the Nook/Kobo/iBooks sales!

    ~Steve

    P.S. Both Kobo and iBooks allow direct publishing…no need for Smashwords…

    • Yep. It was very tough to tell people the book was unavailable. I was so overwhelmed, though, by those who downloaded the Kindle app just so they could read BABY GRAND. As my husband can attest, I was in “happy” tears for much of my three-month KDP commitment. :)

  2. Dina,

    I support your decision to leave KDP. I’m looking forward to reading more about your experience once the book is available in more formats. My publisher enrolled me in KDP recently, and I have been receiving royalties when someone “borrows” a copy. I have mixed feelings about the free giveaway, but I am taking the plunge in Nov. and will run a free special around Veterans Day. I’ll let you know what I think. The paperback edition of The Final Salute has been out for almost four years, but the e-book has only been out a little over a year. I feel like taking some risks on it now that I’m trying to “let go of this baby” and get my new novel finished. :) As always, I love that you share your publishing experiences with all of us.

  3. Dina,
    When you use the terms “giveaways” and “borrows” are they the same thing?
    I didn’t do KDP Select, simply because I didn’t know about it. I uploaded to Smashwords first because it has a wide distribution and is free. When I went to Amazon next, I learned about the program and thought, Shucks. But I haven’t regretted it. Maybe I’ll try it for my 2nd book (when and if).
    Funny—I had a similar situation with friends who only read traditional books and not ebooks getting impatient for the paper copy! It took 4 more months before I got that out to the public. Ah, the joys of indie publishing!
    Thanks for the post,
    Olivia

    • Hey, Oliva! When I say “borrows,” I’m referring to when Amazon Prime members receive an electronic copy of your book for free on their Kindle. Throughout your stay on KDP Select, Amazon lets Prime members “borrow” as many as 1 book a month. And when they do borrow, the author gets a nice little royalty — so even though the reader is reading the book for free, the author gets paid. When I say “giveaways,” I’m referring to KDP Select letting you SELL your book for free for a few days during the three months. ANYONE can download it for free during those days. And they do. Thousands of people can get your book, and often do, and the author doesn’t get any royalty. It’s done for marketing purposes, and while I understand it I just wasn’t into that. Make sense?

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