Fortsmouth Press

Publishing for the Web

Is KDP Select Really Worth It For Kindle Self-Publishers?

If you are self-publishing your eBooks with Amazon’s KDP, then you already know that you get asked repeatedly if you want to put your books in the KDP Select program. Many people wonder if KDP Select is a good idea or a bad idea for self-publishers.

The KDP Select program has both advantages and disadvantages for writers publishing books for the Kindle.

KDP Select Pros and Cons

On the one hand, you potentially open up your book to people who may otherwise not have bought it since the KDP Select program allows Amazon Prime members to borrow KDP Select books. This is especially attractive for $0.99 books as the average payout for borrows is around $2.00 each borrow. On the other hand, you have to give Amazon exclusivity for the title, which means no selling on Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks or any other vendors. However, you do have the ability to make the book free for up to 5 days and potentially gain new readers for your audience. But, you are giving it away for free.

So, it the program worth it for authors self-publishing for Kindle?

It really depends. Some authors make a LOT of money selling books through Smashwords and other online retailers. However, being a part of the KDP Select program can help you build an audience. How? Usually when books go free (if they are properly promoted), they end up on the Amazon best sellers list. Sure, they are on the freebie best sellers list, but that still gets the books noticed. And once the free promotion is over, the books usually end up selling additional copies, which transfers the book to the paid best sellers list. The after-burn effect of this is usually more actual sales than the entire period before you went free and this wave continues (usually) for a while after the promotion has ended. For some authors, the best sellers list becomes a permanent home after this period.

The KDP Select program seems to work quite well for authors who have several books out and just put one of those books, the loss leader, in the program. When this happens, the free promo days usually result in the other books getting sales as well. This can be quite profitable for the author.

On the flip side, some authors choose to skip the KDP Select program and make their book permanently free by making it free on Smashwords. What happens is that after a couple of weeks, Amazon price matches the listed price on Smashwords. This is really only a solid plan if you have several other books to sell, especially if they are part of a series. The most successful author that I can think of who employs this method is fantasy author Lindsay Buroker. Her “The Emperor’s Edge” is free at Smashwords and price-matched at Amazon.

Conclusion: The decision on whether or not to join the KDP Select program is really a personal one for each author. Plenty of Kindle authors have written about their thoughts and experience with the program, so just do a search to get a few more viewpoints.

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