Amazon’s KDP Select program is changing the rules for self publishers. It wants exclusivity, which means you cannot offer your book for sale anywhere else. Judging by the number of comments and on my recent post about Smashwords vs Exclusivity, it is clearly an issue that has a long way to run before the dust settles.
I am sure that most self publishers, have up until now, made their ebooks available on both Kindle and Smashwords and in doing so have been able to have their books made available via Smashwords distribution to Apple, B&N, Sony and a number of other online retailers. A sensible and logical approach.
But now the game has changed. If you want to join Amazon’s KDP Select program you have to remove your books from not only Smashwords (and there goes your distribution to Apple, B&N and Sony) but also from selling directly from your own website or blog. Here is an excerpt from KDP Select’s FAQs:
What does it mean to publish exclusively on Kindle?
When you choose KDP Select for a book, you’re committing to make the digital format of that book available exclusively through KDP. During the 90-day period of exclusivity, you cannot distribute your book digitally anywhere else, including on your website, blogs, etc. However, you can continue to distribute your book in physical format, or in any format other than digital.
So we know the rules, but will it be worth deserting Smashwords and selling ebooks yourself and signing up with KDP Select? There is only one way to find out.
Being in the fortunate position of having ten books already published and not relying on my book sales as my primary source of income, I decided to enroll three books in the KDP Select program to test the water so to speak. I chose the following three books because of their diversity of genres and potential readership:
Louis. A book I published 2 years ago and has a steady sales record that I can compare to KDP Select performance.
The Vandal. A new title that has not been published on any other platform but replaces an existing popular title, ‘Vandalism of Words’.
My Take Away Vampire. A novella published a few months ago that has been doing well with young paranormal readers with very little promotion.
Over the period of the 90 day enrollment I will use the following criteria to measure success or failure.
- Do the ‘free days’ of promotion increase a book’s exposure and gain reviews as well as a marked increase in sales following the promotional days? Or is it just a wasted exercise in giving away books that only serves to enhance the Kindle platform’s popularity?
- Do sales via Kindle increase and adequately replace the percentage of sales that will be lost via Smashwords and its distribution?
- Will there be a measurable increase in overall revenue from sales and ‘ Prime borrows’ for these three titles that would justify the granting of exclusivity?
- Will the offering of free books during promotions damage or enhance book sales?
- Which of the 3 books performs the best, and worst in the program?
- What percentage of income will be derived from ‘borrows‘ by Amazon Prime members?
As I write this footnote to this post, the first book, Louis, has just completed a 3 day promotion and was downloaded for free nearly 1,000 times on Amazon US, UK, FR and DE. The second free period was for My Take Away vampire but for one day only. Over 400 free downloads. The third book will commence its free period at the end of the month.
One observation I did make that was a little concerning was that these first two free promotions showed up instantly on a large number of ‘Free Kindle Ebook’ listing sites and leads me to think that many of the downloads came from exposure on these sites rather than directly from Amazon. Hard to prove, but it does put doubt in my mind already as to the worthiness of the free promotion days.
As my experiment continues over the enrollment period, I will post updates to keep you informed about the results.