amazon kdpWe all know there is a publishing and ebook war going on and as in any war there will be winners and losers as well as casualties along the way. But as an independent author, I don’t want any part of it. I  just want to write and hopefully sell some books. Not die on a corporate battlefield.

While I have been experimenting with Kindle’s new KDP Select and trying to determine if it is worthwhile or not I stumbled on a disturbing situation that has changed the way I plan to distribute my ebooks. I’m going to move all of my books to Kindle exclusively. There are a number of reasons.

The main reason is because of the manipulation of my ebook prices by other retailers. I price most of my full-length novels at $3.99  or $4.99 but some retailers who are selling my books via Smashwords distribution are continually discounting my ebooks to $0.99. One online retailer is still listing one of my books at this price despite it being removed from Smashwords, and my emails asking them to desist.

This not only devalues my ebooks but worse, triggers Amazon’s ‘Price Matching Feature’ and reduces my price and royalty on Amazon Kindle. It’s true to say that both of these actions are unfair, but as I gain so few sales through these other retailers, the damage they are doing to my book sales on Kindle makes it a necessity for me to remove my books from their stores.

Secondly, my main reason for distributing through Smashwords nearly four years ago was to be able to have my books available on the Apple iBook Store. However, iBooks has proved to be such a disappointment sales wise that it is hardly worth the effort. As a lover of my iPad for many other uses, I can understand this as I just cannot read a book on it. Too much glare and very hard on my eyes. Additionally, Apple seems to have made it clear that it wants to focus on textbooks and not on self-published titles.

The availability of the Kindle App on most smartphones, tablets and PCs is another reason. I find that if I do need to read on my iPad or iPhone, I use the Kindle App in preference to iBooks. Apple does not make iBooks available for any other devices other than iPad and iPhone so unlike the Kindle App, cannot be used by readers with other devices.

The final reason is one of simplicity. With all my ebooks exclusively on Kindle, I don’t need to bother with multiple formats and the hassle that goes along with preparing them. There is also the simplicity of one income source that makes my life much easier for accounting purposes. I will continue to distribute my paperback editions with Createspace, which is part of Amazon as well, so my books will still be available worldwide via their distribution system to most online and offline retailers.

When the war is over, there may be new opportunities. But right now, Kindle seems to be the only logical choice.

Footnote: Since writing this post, I have received my first few weekly sales reports from Kindle for the period since I enroled some of my books in KDP Select and granted exclusivity. My overall book sales royalties have doubled each week for three weeks in a row. Need I say more?

Only KDP Select For Me Now
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24 thoughts on “Only KDP Select For Me Now

    • 12/03/2012 at 8:04 pm
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      If you publish with Smashwords Chris, I can say from my experience that B&N do respect your right to unpublish. My books were removed within a few weeks.

  • 12/03/2012 at 4:06 pm
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    Makes sense to go with what is fast becoming the largest distributor. :)

  • 12/03/2012 at 4:14 pm
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    I love my ipad as well, but decided ages ago that I did not want to read on it. I started with a Sony eReader two years ago but have since for a number of reasons swapped to Kindle, I think your decision is the right one. I found it confusing with all the different formats and Kindle is so much easier for me to cope with as a reader anyway!

  • 12/03/2012 at 7:48 pm
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    It would be helpful to know which of the outlets Smashwords distributes to is discounting without authors’ permission. There are advantages to letting Smashwords do the heavy lifting, but the price is loss of control. It took almost six months to make $10.00 on B & N, with two books, so I decided it wasn’t worth it to maintain a separate account there and have to go through the whole upload and submit process. If Smashwords can get me those few extra dollars without having to lift a finger, that’s great. But it also means I still have to check now and then in case something has been changed. I do know that Kobo has a reputation for failing to show author’s price changes, and that this has meant, as you said, Amazon price-matching downwards. Several writers have mentioned this in the past.

    • 12/03/2012 at 8:02 pm
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      How did you know Catana?

      I didn’t mention it in my post, but Kobo is the one Smashwords retailer who was most responsible for my decision. Despite emails to both Kobo and Smashwords, neither have replied to my request to desist from discounting my books. Amazon may be a monster in some eyes, but at least they do answer my emails. Meanwhile Kobo are still selling one of my books at $2 lower than my designated price.

      I would highly recommend to any authors publishing with Smashwords to click ‘Do not distribute’ to Kobobooks.

      • 12/03/2012 at 11:38 pm
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        Kobo had two different copies of my first book for a few weeks. The second one had no cover and was twice the price. I don’t think they intend to discount a book, they’re just that disorganized. Right now, I still distribute that title through Smashwords but the rest are only on Amazon for now.

        Apple may only be thinking of text books but that doesn’t need to stop the rest of us from staying a step ahead of them. What about a semi-animated graphic novel?

        Lets face it, Apple still doesn’t think that any of us read anymore…

  • 12/03/2012 at 8:49 pm
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    Quick question sort of off topic. I’m in the process of learning the ins and outs of self-publishing while I wait to hear back from an editor at a traditional publisher. I’ve looked into Createspace and its seems user friendly and something I want to use when I decide to place my full-length novels in print.

    How is the quality of the pages, ink and the cover? I write series romance novels about 50,000 to 60,000 words so I would like the books to look similiar to Harlequin’s size and print.

    • 12/03/2012 at 9:15 pm
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      I can recommend Createspace highly Candace. I’ve been extremely pleased with the quality of their POD paperbacks for a long time now.

      • 13/03/2012 at 3:49 am
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        Thank you. That is really good to know. I’m also researching the KDP Select Program that I may eventually try but only after I have all of the books in my first series out and a few in the next series. I read somewhere its good to have quite a few books under your belt before doing the Select program at which point I would do the very first book that I published which in hopes would boost the sales of the other books in the series. Plus, apparently people in the Prime program which borrow the book can make one a pretty penny for a month. There are pros and cons in everything.

  • 12/03/2012 at 9:09 pm
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    For me the jury is still out on Kindle Select. The novella I made available there was downloaded 567 times over the three days it was free. Since then it has not sold a SINGLE copy, except in UK where it sold one. It did bump the sales of the rest of the Crossfire trilogy for a few days, but even that faded. Apparently my books are not popular on Amazon, but the people on Barnes and Noble, Apple and Sony seem to love them. So when the term for Driftwood runs out on Kindle Select, I certainly won’t renew, and I can’t wait to publish it on the Smashwords distribution network. BTW, I also clicked the “Do not distribute button” for Kobo and Diesel a few weeks ago. Not for a pricing issue, but Diesel kept messing up descriptions, and when the second of my trilogy came out, Kobo stopped carrying the first one, despite emails from Smashwords.

    • 12/03/2012 at 10:15 pm
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      Hi Niki, I had the exact same experience with KDP select. I had a 3 day freebie sale and there were hundreds of downloads but the minute I put my $2.99 price back on, nobody is buying. It’s a shame because we do this (take an income loss) in order to help our sales and people are just taking advantage of it.

  • 12/03/2012 at 9:11 pm
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    Sorry, I forgot to mention. I have had some email queries with Smashwords, and though they take a while to respond, sometimes more than a week, they have gotten back to me every time.

    • 12/03/2012 at 9:17 pm
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      I’ve had the same experience with Smashwords over the years Niki. Normally they answer. But on this occasion, I’m getting silence. Maybe because I’ve removed all but one of my books form them? I don’t know.

  • 12/03/2012 at 10:17 pm
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    Hi Derek. Im glad that KDP is working for you. So far, it hasn’t done much for me but it HAS been better than smashwords and Lulu. On Smashwords, I made my books free for ebook week and again, lots of downloads, but the minute a price goes back on, nothing.

  • 12/03/2012 at 11:29 pm
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    Wendy and gang,

    These days everyone wants FREE. Except when earning or selling their own stuff. Maybe we can get together and have a law passed that all indie writers get paid for their work even if no one buys it. Like wind turbines that are shut down still get paid for. hahaha. A joke but in today’s America, a matter of time.
    I refuse to go the temporary free download route. I don’t work off the clock at my day job not about to give my creations, months of work, for free either. I believe that part of the industry is a ruse to drive traffic to the host sites while giving no benefit to the author.
    My own thinking on the matter is that we have to hold that our labor has value and should be compensated. For independents who chose to give away their work devalues us as a group. Free becomes expected by the consumer. Free should be only for the stuff that would never sell to begin with as dictated by the market and the writers acceptance. When enough serious readers get disgusted by the Free Stuffs poor quality they will purchase.
    It will be a market adjustment as with any industry.
    People pay for quality.
    Free or cheap eBooks will be likened to material goods that are Made in China.

  • 13/03/2012 at 4:04 am
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    I’m on the verge of releasing my first novel. I wouldn’t mind putting it exclusively on KDP Selects, but the only problem I see is that Selects has no mechanism that I’m aware of to give free copies to reviewers. Especially starting out I’ll really need a simple way to get copies in the hands of reviewers, so I think I’ll start with both KDP and Smashwords first and eventually move everything over to Selects. Does this sound like a reasonable strategy to you wily veterans out there?

    • 13/03/2012 at 7:50 am
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      You can easily produce your own reviewer’s copies Blaine. If you use Calibre, a free program, you can produce your own ebooks in all popular formats to email to your reviewers. It is also a good way to clearly add information to the beginning of your ebook file stating the conditions you set for your free review copies and your contact information.

      As far as I understand, using this means does not contravene KDP Select rules as long as you do not distribute these files freely via a website.

  • 13/03/2012 at 8:22 am
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    Some of the more successful authors who I follow tell stories about how they’ve given away not just hundreds… but hundreds of thousands of copies of their books over the years! They continually remind us that this business of marketing books (and it is a business, make no mistake) is a marathon… not a sprint… and not to get discouraged when things don’t happen right away. By getting people to read our books we are stoking the pipeline which will (hopefully) pay off in the long run. For what it’s worth…

    • 13/03/2012 at 10:47 am
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      I have to agree with you entirely Dan.

      Building a reputation as an author and acquiring a good readership base takes years. The free book promotion facility that comes with KDP Select assists in this process, and in particular if you have a few titles you can spread across each 90 day period.

      But those who are expecting sales to be generated the week after a promotion will be sadly disappointed. It just doesn’t work like that. Firstly the free book has to be read, which can possibly take months for some readers to get through their reading list, and then they have to like it and want more.

      You’re right, it’s a marathon.

    • 13/03/2012 at 6:15 pm
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      Hi Dan, thanks for your input, but perhaps I didn’t make myself clear enough. I am not expecting instant results at all. To gain a foothold with Barnes and Noble, Apple and Sony, I have given away thousands of copies, not just under my own name, but also for a series I write under another name, which I don’t promote at all, yet it’s selling better than my Crossfire trilogy.
      I know that free copies for marketing purposes works, and I know that it takes time. In my case, it took many months. What I am actually complaining about is the five free days out of every ninety that Kindle Select offers. It’s not enough time, particularly since I’m only prepared to enroll one book in the program. I feel if it’s my book I should be able to make it free for as long as I want. As for writers who are complaining about Amazon’s prizematching feature, all I can say is bring it on. For months I gave away one of my books for free on all other channels, but Amazon didn’t care, and didn’t pricematch. Maybe I’m not famous enough yet for them to take notice.

  • 31/03/2012 at 8:12 am
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    I found your post pretty interestingl. I recently just published my first novel on amazon using KDP, i thought the process went pretty smooth. I do have a question for you however, how long did it take your title, the first one you published with KDP to show up on an amazon search after you actually pressed the publish button?

  • 31/03/2012 at 8:13 am
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    I found your post pretty interesting. I recently just published my first novel on amazon using KDP, i thought the process went pretty smooth. I do have a question for you however, how long did it take your title, the first one you published with KDP to show up on an amazon search after you actually pressed the publish button?

  • 31/03/2012 at 11:07 am
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    Derek I just read Louis as part of your free book offer and thoroughly enjoyed it (I have shared my thoughts on it with my Gidday-ers on my Book Nook page) and will be looking to purchase something something else from your literary arsenal soon. So it did work! Thanks for the opportunity…

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