You Are With Amazon KDP Select - Or DieIs Amazon KDP Select the best publishing choice?

I have been doing a lot of hand-wringing recently about moving all of my ebooks into Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Select programme, and by doing so, granting Amazon exclusive rights to my ebooks. I wrote about this in my last post, Should I Publish Exclusively With Amazon?

Yet my dilemma is small fry compared to the decisions that major publishers have to make each time their distribution contracts come up for renewal with Amazon. The latest battle of the giants was between HarperCollins and Amazon, which followed a similar episode of tooth gnashing, threats and miles of editorial argument when it was the turn of Hachette to negotiate the renewal of their contract with Amazon. In both cases, it all turned nasty for some months, until, all of a sudden the deals were done.

In truth, the Big Five publishing houses may be big, but at the end of the day, Amazon is far, far bigger when it comes to selling books and ebooks, and has by way of its near monopoly of online book selling, leverage that it can use every time a major contract comes up for renewal with the Big Five. For all the screaming, yelling and complaining, the Big Five know that without Amazon, their book sales, and therefore their bottom lines would take a huge tumble if they parted ways with Amazon.

In the current market, common sense says that you are either with Amazon, or die.

So back to my decision, which of course did not involve a bitter three months of negotiation for me with Amazon. Yet I did have to negotiate with myself. As a firm believer in independence, granting my ebook rights away, even if only for periods of 90 days, went against my grain. In a perfect world, other ebook retailers and aggregators would be able to compete and offer alternatives for Indie authors and publishers.

But it is not a perfect world, and the reality at present is that if you are an independent author and want to sell ebooks and make some money, there is only one logical means. Amazon and KDP Select.

I made my decision last weekend to start moving a few of my ebooks over to KDP Select, and can report that over only the last seven days, which included one free ebook promo, I sold more ebooks on Amazon than I sold over the last 12 months on Apple, B&N, Kobo and Smashwords combined.

I am now in the process of completing the move of all of my ebooks, as no matter what my idealistic notions about independence may be, I cannot argue with reality. I’m With Amazon – I’m Done.

You Are With Amazon – Or Die

21 thoughts on “You Are With Amazon – Or Die

  • 29/04/2015 at 5:54 pm
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    Thanks for the comment, very interesting. I already have a website and blog (www.jabberwock.co.uk) and do get a lot of feedback usually. But – I’ll need to move it to WordPress soon. It doesn’t optimise for mobiles and laptops and from sometime this month Google started prioritising sites that do. My feedback (and sales) have fallen accordingly. An interesting point to consider but a bit of a bummer for those of us who set up our websites a few years ago.
    This is a great discussion page on the topic, and I’m going to bookmark it even though I have checked notify follow up comments.

    • 30/04/2015 at 4:38 am
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      I have just published my non-fiction book on learning essay and report writing. I’m a tutor for 14 years for these subjects at university and in the workplace. My book is partly the result of my experiences with students and professionals, and the techniques, which I know work, and my PhD research of the last seven years on writing (what are the underlying mental mechanisms). I have no clue to be fair about self-publishing or any other kind. I wanted the book to be a promotion of my workshops and seeing groups in the workplace, lead by corporate managers looking to upscale their workforce to the demands of the 21st century digital age. My book is 66 pgs, but full of science and experience. You have to make an effort to read it but you will benefit from it if you do. My question is: I just put it on Amazon as an ebook £9.99, but Amazon put it in their prime member library free to readers. They said I get a share of global fund (don’t know what that is) if people read just 10%. So I see the point about promotion and selling more. Anyone got some info on the effects of being a prime member (kindle free library to subscribers) listed
      book? especially the non-fiction type? I took it as a complement that Amazon put me on there, but there are 700,000 books on there I believe. Feeling like a speck of dust right now.I know I have the knowledge and I am a good communicator, but is this brand building really my flare?
      The idea was the workshops would build the financial payoff not so much the book. Any thoughts? Aileen at Writing Academy

  • 30/04/2015 at 9:06 am
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    @Aileen … firstly, please scroll up and read Derek’s long response to my first comment. He dissects Amazon very well.

    Seems like you’ve enrolled into an Amazon publishing function you did not first fully understand. What you and everyone must realize is … Amazon does not promote your book. Not mine, not his, not her’s. They are in the business of selling (or providing) e-books at the cheapest possible price … period. They probably make far more profit from selling their E-Readers (Paper-White, Voyager, Fire DX, etc.).

    They will only promote book titles that have already broken through some kind of Sales Barrier. They will then cynically run with those, to maximize their profit. The author benefits are secondary.

    Just identify all the options you initially enrolled in, fully understand their consequences, then decide if you would now prefer to opt out.

    The “Longest River” will let YOU promote YOUR book using Amazon facilities (i.e., bells & whistles). But that’s the extent of it. So, if you do not take (and keep) full ownership of your book, then Amazon will “abuse” the situation, as they see fit. If it profits them, then they will do whatever you’ve consented to; unless you un-check the boxes you might not have checked if you had fully understood the consequences of each. In this regard you are not alone, so don’t be embarrassed.

    I recommend you spend a couple of days doing several online searches, in order to fully understand all the publishing options Amazon provides. Their HELP system is good, and if you cannot find the answer you need from the pre-listed answers, then just send them an e-mail. You should get a response within 24 hours.

    YouTube is another excellent source for tracking down answers to quirks in the Amazon KDP system. Just write a short question in the YouTube search bar, then see what comes up. Somebody has almost certainly already done what you have done. And there’s a better than 70% chance someone has then posted a video on the experience. If your first question does not locate an answer, then tweak a couple of the words and search again.

    When messaging the Amazon Help Desk, I recommend you ask only simple questions about functional issues. Don’t bother asking philosophical style questions. The people employed by Amazon to respond do not share your (or my) culture. English is not their first language. They live well outside Europe and North America. They are polite and capable, but won’t be of value to you if you venture outside those questions related to function, performance, timing, quality, and Amazon specifics, etc.

    Bottom line is Aileen … Amazon is neutral as regards helping people find your book title. That will be mostly down to you. Like it or not, brand building has now become an integral part of self-publishing. If you don’t learn how to promote both you and your book, then you won’t sell. I have had similar problems because I made certain false assumptions when I started out.

    Stop thinking that Amazon is an online book shop — as I once did — and instead think of it as (nothing more than) a Search Engine for books.

    • 30/04/2015 at 2:57 pm
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      Good point, Glyn. Google is a search engine for information, but Amazon is a search engine for things to buy. So it requires a very different mentality. And @Aileen, it has taken me years to learn how to use Amazon and KDP, and only reasonably well, but I’m still learning all the time. The best advice I can give is never stop experimenting with your book, price, cover, promotions or whatever. There is always something new you can do.

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