I’ve sold books everywhere it seems: book bundles, personal websites, Lulu, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, the iBookstore, Audible, iTunes, ghetto spiral-bound books at conferences. Heck, I’ve even sold a book at Google Play before. That is no small feat. Selling a book on Google Play is like selling swimsuits on the moon.
Considering all that, I’m currently a KDP Select man. Ask me tomorrow, and I may have changed my mind. But currently, KDP all the way.
KDP Select, an Amazon program that involves a 90-day exclusivity commitment to the almighty bookseller, comes with a nice basket of pros, and a nice basket of cons. Making the decision about how and where to sell your book is not an easy one.
- Great for getting traction if you have no audience already established to sell your book to
- Amazon prime members can borrow your books, getting you a couple extra bucks and improving your book’s rank (borrows count as a sale)
- Good way to get extra downloads and thus more reviews, helping your book look more established
- Very simple. Not having to worry about multiple vendors and formats and listings can be important, especially if you are trying to do everything yourself
- Countdown deals: you can run time-limited sales that really help your sales rank, breathing life back in your book or helping get it established
- Higher royalties: you get higher royalties in a handful of countries (relatively insignificant for most authors), and double the royalties of non-KDP Select authors when the price of your eBook dips below $2.99 (hugely significant for most authors)
- Improve your overall performance at the world’s most prominent bookseller
- Can’t sell eBooks on your site
- Can’t sell eBooks in book bundles outside of Amazon
- Can’t sell your book in eBook form at any eBook retailer
And so, the big question is, do the pros outweigh the cons? The answer, unfortunately, depends entirely on what author and what book we’re talking about.
For me, I chose KDP Select primarily because of Select’s “free days” program. Every 90 days, I get a chance to give away each of my books for 5 days. Those 5 days bring in an average of 500 email subscribers, sell more copies of all my other paid books during the promotion, and because I have a large email subscriber list, I can use this to get a lot of clicks on my Amazon Associates affiliate link, earning me roughly $300 for each 5-day promotion. Yes, I make $60/day giving away free books, plus extra sales after the free promo, plus capture extra email subscribers to replicate this on a larger scale with each round.
And, when the dust settles, I sell more paid books.
But even with all those advantages, it’s still roughly a tie in overall revenue I’d say. However, I greatly prefer to be able to reward my loyal fanbase with free books, look like Father Theresa in the process, and grow that subscriber list–a check waiting to be cashed in the future as events, opportunities, and new book releases come along.
What’s right for you is what’s right for you. That’s something you must figure out for yourself. My system is my system, and trying to apply my system to yours could be an abysmal failure. You have a lot to take into consideration such as the ability of your website to capture leads, the size of your audience and social media following, whether or not you plan on releasing future titles, whether you plan on selling just your books or other products and services, and much more.
But I’m sure, by looking at your short and long-term visions for your writing career (intentional non-use of the word “goal,” blech), your business as a whole, and a realistic assessment of the marketing tools you have available to you currently–you’ll have no problem making the right decision.
And, none of this is a permanent decision. We’re just talking 90-day commitment here, and many authors, myself included, have a habit of jumping in and out of KDP Select depending on what all else is on the docket and what opportunities arise.
If you do go KDP Select, I will say you better actively take advantage of the opportunities Amazon gives you. Otherwise you’re getting the short end of the stick.
But don’t let trivial matters like this weigh you down too much. If you are a true writer, writing always comes first. Squabbles over relative minutiae like this come second.
Buck Flogging is a successful author and entrepreneur and is the world’s biggest critic of the typically aimless pursuit of blogging (for writers trying to sell their written work). Read more about that in his groundbreaking book, Kill Your Blog.