Should You Go Exclusive with Amazon's KDP Select?
By JEB BOHN
Self-publishing can be a daunting endeavor, regardless of your level of experience. Amazon is a huge, trusted marketplace—and a powerful search engine—with global reach and a large footprint in publishing. Seems like a match made in heaven, right?
If you’re an author, chances are you are familiar with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Amazon’s publishing platform. If not, swing by there and take a look around. Considering Amazon’s reach, it makes perfect sense for any author to want their content available to such an enormous market.
Let’s take a quick look at what KDP offers.
The Benefits of KDP
We’ve already touched on the biggest benefit of utilizing KDP: access to Amazon’s worldwide customer base. Of course, this doesn’t guarantee that your book will sell but, if you present a quality product with a solid description and hook, your chances go up exponentially.
Amazon also offers a free program called Kindle Create, designed to allow authors to format and preview their work in ebook form. This includes basic design tools as well as the ability to easily export your work into KDP. This can be a timesaver as well as an additional layer of quality control.
KDP also gives you the ability to create paperback versions of your works. Believe it or not (and, if you’re an author, I have no doubt you believe it) there are tons of readers out there who prefer physical copies of books. Yes, e-readers are a fantastic bit of technology, but nothing matches the feeling of opening up a new—or used—book.
The good news? Your ebook file from Kindle Create can also be uploaded to create a paperback. No separate editing, just upload the same file, create a cover, set your pricing, and you’re good to go. Your work is now available to millions of readers!
What About KDP Select?
First, let’s go over what, exactly, KDP Select is.
The standard KDP program is non-exclusive, meaning your can sell your ebook through Amazon and any other platform(s) you like (Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo).
KDP Select, however, is an exclusive agreement between you and Amazon that states your book(s) can only be sold through Amazon for as long as your book is in the program.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- The enrollment period is 90 days; you can select to auto-enroll your work at the end of each enrollment period if you like.
- During this time, your ebook can ONLY be available for sale via Amazon; this not only includes other major retailers but your personal website as well; Amazon doesn’t play around and can remove your books from their site for non-compliance.
- This only applies to ebooks; any paperback, hardcover, or audiobook versions can still be sold through other retailers.
The Benefits of KDP Select
So, given the restrictive nature of this agreement, is it worth it?
That, unfortunately, is a tricky question. As I said earlier, there’s no guarantee of success. However, if you spend time putting out the best book possible and spend some time (and money) on marketing, KDP Select does have its benefits:
- Access For Kindle Unlimited Readers: Kindle Unlimited is a subscription service that gives members access to millions of books, including any of yours that are enrolled in KDP Select. No, you don’t get the direct royalty of a sale, but you can reach a wide audience which opens you up to more readers and more reviews. Plus…
- Earning Money From Page Reads: Amazon tracks the number of pages read across all of your books. Page reads from your KDP Select books generate revenue each month, though to see noticeable gains you’ll need many readers to finish your works.
- Access to Price Promotions: All books enrolled in KDP Select are also eligible for two distinct price promotions:
- Kindle Countdown Deal: these promotions allow you to run discounts for a limited time. Potential readers will see the regular price as well as a countdown clock showing the time remaining for the discounted price. Currently available for US and UK markets only.
- Free Book Promotion: just as the name implies, these promos allow you to offer a book for free for a limited time (up to 5 days per 90-day enrollment period). These can be invaluable for gaining new readers (don’t forget your back matter!) and getting reviews.
So, Should I Do It?
Honestly, the best advice I can give is to try it, just make sure that any books you want to enroll are not available anywhere else first. There are many authors who make good money via Amazon and Amazon alone. Conversely, there are those who do well selling their books through many different channels. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, so give it a shot and see how you feel about it.
Another idea is to enroll one of your books and keep the others wide, though having a series available in KDP Select can prove to be lucrative. Like many things with self-publishing, it comes down to experimenting, trial and error, and tracking results.
Let me know what you think in the comments. Are you considering KDP Select? Do you already use it? How is it working for you?