KDP Select: good marketing or gimmick?

I thought about Kindle Direct Publishing "Select" for a long time - was it worth tying up my books to a single selling source? Do I want to give exclusivity to someone?  It was a moot question while the bulk of my work was with a traditional publisher, but when they went belly-up and the rights reverted back to me, I was now faced with the question of whether I would give it a try. If you're a self-publisher, I suspect you are too. So here are the basics:

  • The key element of KDP Select is that your e-book is available exclusively on Amazon for 90 days. You have to remove it from all other stores including iTunes, B&N, Nook, etc.
  • You are given the opportunity to promote your ebook for free for 5 out of the 90 days.
  • Your book is enrolled in the Kindle Owners Lending Library from which Prime members can borrow one book per month and you're paid (at near royalty rates) every time your book is borrowed.
  • KDP Select enrollment allows you to earn 70% on ebooks sold through Amazon’s new Indian store.
Is it worth it?  I'm still not sure. The free days and lending library are both pretty good opportunity to get your books into the hands of potential reviewers (though there's certainly no guarantee you'll get a review from those who've borrowed or downloaded your book) and to create word of mouth. For a relatively new or unknown author, this can be a very positive thing. In the long run though, it might do more harm than good to lock out readers from Apple's i-bookstore, Kobo, Sony and of course the ability to sell off your own website.  My own personal view is that it's a pretty good short term tactic to spread the word of new (or newly set up books) - 90 days isn't that long and once the period is done, and you've created a little buzz, you can then put your book elsewhere and open up opportunities for additional readers.

Of course, like anything, there's no point putting your book into KDP Select if you aren't going to promote it!  So how valuable it will be to you depends on how well you use it - how well you promote the free days and the lending to your followers, and ultimately, how good your book is!  If you entice your readers, they'll come back for more, and that's what it's all about.  I'm giving the free days a go with two of my books this year, and as part of your research, you owe it to yourself :-) to pop over to Amazon and download the copies during my free days.  For Christmas, there's the poetry book Blooming Red, which I co-wrote with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, available (just click on the book cover on the left) on the 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 of December.  It makes a great thoughtful, fast electronic Christmas gift for someone you care about so spread the word! Then there's Black Cow (just click on the book cover to the right) available between the 20th and 24th of December.  I hope you'll download a free copy of both of these books, and try out KDP Select from the users point of view. I'd love to hear what you think in the comments below, and do please share your own experiences with Kindle Select.

Magdalena Ball runs The Compulsive Reader. She is the author of the poetry books Repulsion Thrust and Quark Soup, the novels Black Cow and Sleep Before Evening, a nonfiction book The Art of Assessment, and, in collaboration with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Deeper Into the Pond, Blooming Red, Cherished Pulse, She Wore Emerald Then, and Imagining the Future. She also runs a radio show, The Compulsive Reader Talks. Find out more about Magdalena at http://www.magdalenaball.com.


Karen Cioffi said...

Maggie, great information. I think 90 days is worth it. Like you said, that's not a long time and Amazon is a heavy hitter.

I'll definitely download your ebooks! Looking forward to reading them.

Heidiwriter said...

I've wondered about this, whether it's worth it. Of course, for me, I'm also bound by a traditional publisher.Thanks!

VS Grenier said...

I know some authors have done well because you do get money when your book is shared through the brow library. However, I know some authors who after the time was up never sold a copy after that or very few. It really is a roll of the die. Great post and helps give us a bit more to think about when choosing to do this or not.

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

Interesting post. Let us know what you think after the 90 days.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

I do think that a poetry chapbook is a test of fire for the KDP Select program. LOL. What this has going for it is that it is a great last-minute greeting card idea AND a thoughtful think for authors to pass around to their friends, just 'cause we call support one another. (-:

Debbie A Byrne said...

Good to know. Thanks for the post Maggie!

Don’t Depend 100% on Your Publisher

By Terry Whalin (@terrywhalin) In 2007, America’s Publicist Rick Frishman invited me to participate on the faculty of MegaBook Marketing Uni...