kdp selectSome months ago I wrote about my initial observations on using Amazon KDP Select. But now with five months of experience under my belt, I thought some may be interested in what my conclusions are. And for those using KDP Select, perhaps to compare experiences.

Firstly, it is worth saying that Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is still the easiest platform by far that I have used for self-publishing an ebook. So without joining the Select program, it would still be my number one choice because of ease and speed of publication and of course, the distribution of Kindle ebooks worldwide (well almost) via the Amazon network.

However, when you enrol in the Select program, you have one very big decision to make. Amazon insists on absolute exclusivity, so you cannot publish on any other platform or sell via any other retailer. Even your own blog or website. Because I had a number of ebooks already published before I enrolled in KDP Select, it took a very long time to have my ebooks removed from other retailers. Amazon do check carefully as well, and I received a few emails from them telling me that they had located some of my books on other retailers and gave me ten days notice to have the books removed or be suspended from Select. My experience with this problem was that as these books had been distributed to these retailers by Smashwords, it was better and more efficient to contact Smashwords directly regarding the removal than individual online retailers. I did contact Sony, B&N and a few others and had no response at all.

Then what do you get when you join? Well only two things really, five free promotion days per book every three months and admission to Amazon’s Prime Lending library.

I’ll start with the Prime Lending Library. A flop, a dud, a disappointment is all I can say. Each month I see a few ‘borrows’ in my account but nowhere near enough to justify giving exclusivity to Amazon. If it was only this, I would be out of the program pronto.

The free days however are a different matter. I know there are a range of opinions about giving books away for free, but as I’ve now been through nearly two cycles of five days with ten books, I have to say it pays off. Amazon list bestselling (yeah I know!) free books and if you can gain a prominant place, say in the top 30, it does help in attracting valuable reader attention. I have noticed that offering a book for one day doesn’t achieve as good a results as a two or three day giveaway and once your free days finish, expect your book to drop off the free bestseller list almost immediately. I have also found that weekends work much better than weekdays, but I suppose this is logical. Another consideration is about the number of books you have enrolled as the more books you have, the more free days you have to promote yourself.

If my conclusion about KDP Select was purely based on the number of borrowed books and having the ability to give my books away, of course I would be out. But there’s just one rather strange consequence that I’ve noticed since joining. My ebook sales keep increasing each month. For the life of me I can’t really put my finger on the reason though. Perhaps it’s all because of the free books, or maybe because I’ve changed deodorant. I really don’t know. But giving Amazon exclusivity has resulted in far, far more sales for me and more than make up for the few ebooks I used to sell on other retailers each month. As well as that it’s much easier to keep track of payments from just one source.

But even with a good steady increase in sales, my retirement on a tropical island is still a long way from being funded by Amazon, so don’t expect miracles.

I’d be interested in hearing the experiences of other KDP Select authors.

5 Months With Amazon KDP Select
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23 thoughts on “5 Months With Amazon KDP Select

  • 16/05/2012 at 3:39 pm
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    I’ve had a good experience with KDP Select as well. With one book I gave away 26,000 copies over a five day period and the book then ending up in the top 100 Amazon Kindle paid (for all genres). However, I do think KDP Select has lost its momentum. The download numbers are smaller and the sales spikes reduced. Apparently it has something to do with Amazon changing books linked on the ‘people who bought this also bought this tab’. So my feelings are the KDP Select is over, at least for me. I’m pulling my remaining four books out of the program when my time is up next month. However, it is still the easiest promotional tool around for anyone who is new and needs to build a reader base!

  • 16/05/2012 at 3:58 pm
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    Hi Derek.

    I enrolled a title, The Handshaker, in January. Based in Great Britain, the loan facility meant zilch to me and I think it went out on loan twice. Over the five free days ( a 2-day and a 3-day) I moved only 1600 copies, but it was at number one in the Uk free chart for a day or two. Beyond that, sales increased slighty, but nowhere near enough to justify leaving it in, so when the 90 days expired, I withdrew it and put in another title for a second attempt.

    So far, on this second foray, I’ve used 3 free days and it’s a disaster. Like your last correpeondent suggested, downloads are down (less than 300) loans non-existent, and sales abysmal.

    I do fair business through the Smashwords Prem Catalogue and although I like Amazon, I don’t think Select is for me. When this 90-day period expires, I won’t be using it again.

  • 16/05/2012 at 5:47 pm
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    I am loathe to try Select because most of my sales occur on B&N (believe it or not!). My Amazon sales pale in comparison.

  • 16/05/2012 at 6:20 pm
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    I thought the same thing as Julie about Select…My B&N sales weren’t THAT much higher, but got to where they were equal to or slightly higher than Amazon. Plus I had sales from a couple other vendors. So, Select not only needed to boost sales, but by more than double to cover what I was losing cross-vendor. I was highly skeptical.

    Silly me.

    Sales were vastly higher on Select, blowing out of the water what I’d been selling across other vendors, even B&N, several times over. But that was just my experience. Others with a better, more entrenched sales record on B&N might not want to pull their titles.

  • 16/05/2012 at 7:00 pm
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    My book “The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America” has been enrolled in Amazon’s KDP Select by my publisher (“More copies of James Schwartz’s book were selling on Kindle than any other i-bookstore” see: http://publeconomist.com/blog/?p=574) which is a great way to gain a wider readership for my debut poetry collection. PS–I dig your blog Derek! Best, James

  • 16/05/2012 at 8:19 pm
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    For example, I told 104 books on B&N one month, and 6 on Amazon. While those aren’t “blow me away” figures they aren’t bad because they are consistent and growing bit by bit organically. I would love to just blast my work into the Selecto-o-sphere and have magic happen, but I don’t feel comfortable with that. My previous agent recommended against going with Select based on the results I already had experienced through Amazon.

    But…………. curiosity does abound! The what-if bug always bites when I have something new to put up for sale.

  • 17/05/2012 at 9:44 am
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    I am pretty sure that Kindle Direct Publishing will continuously provide a huge happiness to all of us, great post and hope that you can share some more…

  • 17/05/2012 at 10:00 am
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    I’m a newbie here so apologies if this is a dumb question. What happens if you want to have a print edition of your ebook? eg if I publish via POD such as Lulu, will amazon then exclude me from the select programme?
    AliB

    • 17/05/2012 at 10:05 am
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      Hi Ali. No, Amazon do not demand any exclusivity on your paper back version, only the ebook version, so you are free to choose from any of the Print On Demand publishers and it can be listed on Amazon as usual.

  • 17/05/2012 at 10:18 am
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    thanks, Derek, much obliged!
    AliB

  • 17/05/2012 at 10:38 am
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    I have been unimpressed with the KDP Select program. Luckily I only enrolled one novella, which I wrote especially for Select. So I didn’t have to unpublish it from other retailers. On the 21 May, the term for Driftwood expires, and I can’t wait to publish it on Smashwords, B&N and ITunes.

  • 17/05/2012 at 4:44 pm
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    A very informative post, Derek. I’ve never taken Kindle Select because I don’t want to be restricted to one outlet. I certainly don’t want to be prohibited from posting my own writings on my own blogs. I prefer to take the slower course – work up a corpus of books both in print and on all kinds of e-readers, run an occasional special, use the social media to get the word out, post on my own blog, etc. I’ve made some wonderful connections from Twitter and from commenting on other people’s blogs. I just reached 200 followers on Twitter. I know that’s not 2,000 or 20,000 like some people have, but while in the beginning I would search out people to follow, now every day I have several new people who choose to follow me. I think that’s encouraging. I get quite a few retweets, too. So I prefer to follow a more old-fashioned method and just let things cook.

  • 17/05/2012 at 6:14 pm
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    Great post! Thanks for sharing. I’ve been waiting for someone to share their experience with KDP Select, whether, financially, the exclusivity was worth it. I should have read the comments here, too, before posting my article! Ah well, live and learn. But, again, thanks. Great blog, I may lurk a lot, but I do enjoy your posts. Cheers!

  • 17/05/2012 at 9:54 pm
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    Derek, thank you for this post. I’m glad the program worked for you.

    I’ve been against the Select program on principle all along and do not plan to change my mind. I’m in this for the long haul and do not want to commit my books to one vendor. I’ll keep plugging along.

    I do wonder what Amazon will come up with when the select program runs out of steam.

  • 19/05/2012 at 1:55 pm
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    Hmm. My sales on B&N etc are now equal to my Amazon figures. Maybe I would have had more if I’d gone with Select but the vibe I’m getting from facebook author groups that are in Select is indie sales on Amazon are depressed overall (good to hear yours aren’t, Derek). As a kindle user I find myself waiting for an indie title I may fancy to go free on Select, then I swoop.
    Last autumn I had a free period on Amazon after working the price comparison mechanism and offloaded about 17,000 copies of one novel, but it didn’t give a durable leg up the charts.
    Overall, I’m loathe to put my little eggs in one basket.

  • 21/05/2012 at 10:01 am
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    it is worth saying that Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is still the easiest platform by far that I have used for self-publishing an ebook.

  • 21/05/2012 at 10:12 am
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    Hi Derek.. I am not that very familiar with this before but actually, I am looking for more information about Amazon KDP Select and I guess this is a big help..

  • 12/06/2012 at 11:40 pm
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    Derek,

    Yeah, the Kindle lending library is a bit of a con, as it’s supposed to be about making books more accessible to readers, but ends up being a mechanism for locking authors in to Amazon and reduces accessibility to books. The problem is, it’s monopolistic, it excludes those that have Kobo readers, etc. Which is really poor form. I can understand the desire for exclusivity, but this takes it too far. Kindle formats simply won’t work on a Sony Reader, etc, and my books aren’t going to justify someone replacing their Sony or Kobo, so it seems unduly harsh and punitive against anyone that doesn’t have a Kindle. I wouldn’t mind it if it were a 30 day lead on the other publishers, or even a 60 day lead, but as a writer, I want to reach the widest audience possible. So I’m a little conflicted over the KDL, would love the extra sales, but don’t like the thuggish tactics.

    Cheers,
    Peter

  • 13/06/2012 at 9:19 am
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    I just wrote about my third and final experience with KDP Select on my website. It has definitely lost steam and I look forward to exploring Smashwords again for maximal distribution.

  • 13/06/2012 at 9:41 am
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    Well I have had two experiences with KDP Select. The first time I went with a free promotional day, my novel, ‘The Trespass’ slid back into the top 100 paid for a couple of days. But my more recent 3 day free promo has resulted in a slide down the charts rather than a climb. Strange. Maybe it’s because it was the Jubilee weekend in the UK and people had other things on their minds . . . still, my money is still on KDP for sales, even though there has been a drop off this month I’m hopeful that things wil pick up again over the summer (if we get one over here) :)

  • 13/06/2012 at 6:15 pm
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    Scott, It’s interesting that you note a slide during a holiday weekend, and Derek mentions weekend to be the best! I recently did a holiday weekend myself (Memorial Day), and it was less than stellar! I had just come off a fantastic 2 day promotion a month before on a Wed., Thurs. I attributed it to the weekend and the holiday. People had other things to do, but the Amazon algorithms had just recently been changed so who knows?A number of people reporting downloads are down, but I have to say I agree with Derek. For now, KDP Select has continues to help my sales and so, for now, I’m sticking with it.

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