It is now one month since I enrolled three books in Amazon’s controversial KDP Select program. I approached this exercise with an open mind and have tried as best I can to measure the results based on the following six parameters that I set as my guide when I enrolled with KDP Select. They were:
- 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?
So how did KDP Select perform?
1. I set my free days of promotion in different lengths and days for each of the three books I enrolled. Surprisingly, the number of downloads for each book on a daily basis was eerily similar at around 400 copies. This prompted me to do some investigation into how people arrive at these free downloads. It was certainly not from interested readers landing on my Amazon book pages by chance.
What I found was literally hundreds of websites listing my books that use an RSS feed of the free books that are listed on Amazon Kindle each day. Most of these sites are updated hourly. In my opinion, this, plus the all too similar amount of daily downloads, indicates that my free books were ‘harvested’ by those who have an interest in collecting free Kindle books. As opposed to those who are genuinely interested in reading my books.
However, I did notice that when I listed a second free day for two books, the number of downloads reduced to about 250. I didn’t notice any additional reviews generated by these free days, but it is probably too early to judge this criteria.
2. While unit sales during the first month of enrollment were very similar to the previous month for Louis, one of the books that I removed from Smashwords distribution, the other, My Take Away Vampire saw sales increase ten fold. The third book I enrolled, The Vandal, is a new promotional book for my blog, but it did sell some copies, which was pleasing.
3. These borrows are a worry for me. Yes I got a few, but not enough to get excited about. Interestingly, I discovered that Prime members who do not have a Kindle cannot borrow books for use with a Kindle app for use on a tablet, phone or laptop. Additionally, I was surprised to hear from a few Prime members on Twitter that didn’t even know that they could borrow books for free.
4. In the case of My Take Away Vampire I probably have to conclude that the free days contributed to the increase in sales due to more exposure on Amazon’s ‘free bestseller’ list. It is also more likely though that this book is in a more popular genre than my other two books.
5. My Take Away Vampire did well for the reasons above but Louis maintained its normal average monthly sales. The new book did sell but not in startling numbers.
6. Not anywhere near enough ‘borrows’ to get excited about but one month is too short to get a suitable measure. It would seem that getting onto the Kindle Prime free borrow lists is the way to succeed. But this can be said of all listings. The higher you are placed, the more exposure you get.
So in conclusion. After one month I really cannot make up my mind on this with the three books I chose. What I can say though is that across all of my ten books, Amazon provides the bulk of my income and by a huge margin. It always has. So with that in mind, I have added three more books to KDP Select so I can get a better gauge of the results.
The proof for me in the end will be if granting exclusivity results in a marked increase in my overall average monthly income.
I will post again in a month or to with more data and hopefully my decision regarding KDP Select.