The Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform is still the most popular and successful self-publishing model, despite considerable competition from several other self-publishing outfits such as Kobo, Lulu and Smashwords. One of the leading factors for this is Amazon’s stronghold over the online book market, both digital and print. Another reason is the popularity of its Kindle reading device.
To further leverage its position as market leader, Amazon launched the KDP Select program for exclusive rights to digital books, which continues to be hotly debated by authors regarding its pros and cons. Here is what you need to know about the KDP Select program, and whether it is worthwhile for you to consider this option.
What It Is
Amazon claims that the Select program is a great way to gain exposure and increase your books’ reach. To this end, enrolling in the Select program for the standard period of 90 days will get your e-book into the Amazon Prime Lending Library where users can check out your e-book for a small amount. You will also be able to make your e-book available for free for any 5 days during the 90-day period, as a promotional activity. However, in exchange for these benefits, you will have to give Amazon exclusive digital rights over your book for 90 days. This means you cannot sell your book in digital format anywhere else except Amazon, or even give it for free on your own website.
The lending library is a huge plus for the Select program because it can make your e-book available to more willing readers, as most people prefer to try books by new authors for a small lending fee rather than purchase their books. The Amazon lending library is one of the largest online libraries, and has lists of top free and new e-books. If you make it to one of the lists, then your exposure will increase further. The more readers your book gets (paid or free), the more the reviews and better are the chances for attracting other readers. You also earn a small amount each time your book is ‘checked out’ from the library.
The ability to make your book available for free is a great promotional tool, provided you can translate the free book downloads into increased sales through a good marketing campaign. Amazon also has a list of top free e-books, so getting on this list will help your numbers once the free trial period is over.
The exclusivity is off-putting for most authors. Not being able to sell your e-book on your own website or other venues can mean lower book sales. A few years ago, Amazon was the main e-book distribution channel by far. Now, with so many e-book platforms available and the large competition, it makes sense to list your book on as many sites as possible. However, for relatively unknown authors, the sales from other sites may not be as high. Also, it is possible to sell your book in print format elsewhere, while selling the e-book version on KDP Select.
What It Means For You
Ultimately, the choice to enroll in the Select program comes down to the question: What is more important for you: Income or Exposure?
For well-established writers who already have a large fan base, the exposure is not likely to increase much, while the income is likely to take a hit due to the exclusivity of the Select program. Many established authors sell a fair number of books through their websites.
For a first-time e-book author, the gain in exposure can be considerable, especially if supported by a savvy social media and marketing strategy. The income from the first e-book is also likely to be highest from Amazon anyway. But the question now is: how can you use this exposure without another book to direct the readers towards buying? KDP Select is a good option only if you plan to quickly follow up with more titles.
For writers who fall in between this scale, who have several e-books released or in the pipeline, but don’t yet have a large audience- the best way would be to make selective use of the Select program. Such as: place a couple of your titles in KDP Select, and sell the rest of your e-books on other platforms and also your website. This way, you gain reviews on Amazon and increase your visibility through the lending library. Having gained some exposure, you can then direct readers to check out your other titles available elsewhere. This strategy works well for e-book series, by placing the first (or best) e-book in the series into Select and making it free. Alternately, you can also rotate your books through Select with the 90-day option.
In a Nutshell
The KDP Select program can be a great tool to promote your e-book and increase your sales, if you use it with careful planning and a good marketing strategy. As with all such programs, the impact of the KDP Select program has faded somewhat with time and increased number of e-book platforms. Some experimentation might be required with one or more of your e-books to determine whether to keep your books enrolled in Select or to try other channels. In any case, the Select program is definitely worth trying for new authors.
Image credit: Robert Scoble on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/CS_Rajan.jpg [/author_image] [author_info]CS Rajan is a freelance writer who loves to write on various topics, and is currently working on her first novel. [/author_info] [/author]