Tag Archives: writer

KDP Select: Yay Or Nay?

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!

The Herman Ingram Series

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.
New Bermuda Merch

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 aren’t 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?

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Writing: The Art and The Madness

I felt compelled to do something a bit different today. Namely, I’m going to provide you with a glimpse inside my writing process and—by extension—my mind.

Buckle up.

Plotting Vs. Pantsing

When it comes to writing, there are two primary camps: plotter or pantser.

Let’s address the first issue: pantser is a funny word.

Plotter is pretty self-explanatory. A plotter will come up with an idea and create an outline, laying out story beats and ideas to ensure that they include everything they have in mind for their story. Maybe they use a slideshow program; maybe they have a Pepe Silvia-level mass of photos and post-it notes.

That’s not judgment. Whatever works, works.

A pantser, well, that one is pretty clear, too. A pantser writes, perhaps starting with a concrete idea or maybe only a vague one. Things can change on the fly as new ideas pop up and old ones get either discarded or elaborated on.

Now, time for an admission: I am a pantser.

Phew, I feel so much better now.

I’ve found that hammering away at the keyboard gets me rolling more than creating an outline. Part of it comes from me wanting to let things develop in a natural way; part of it comes from the thrill of chaos. It’s a rush.

The Herman Ingram series on Amazon

What’s Your Major Malfunction?

The true test with this manner of writing is discipline. It can be easy for an idea to get away from you, often once you’ve committed hundreds (if not thousands) of words expounding on it. Deciding to excise a passage that you’ve spent hours fleshing out is never easy and it can be incredibly deflating.

The flip side of that is the amount of work that’s already been put in can sway you to leave in material that may not serve the story. It’s akin to balancing on a knife’s edge and deciding which limb you’re willing to sacrifice.

When it came to Bermuda—my first full-length novel—I was inspired by a dream. There were key points in the dream that I could remember and I filled in the story around it. It flowed. It was (relatively) easy.

Then came the follow-up, The Hangman’s Soliloquy. Once again, I had the story in mind. The characters were there, the main beats were there, so it should have been easy, right?

Spoiler alert: it was not.

During the writing of that book, a very bad habit of mine took hold: over-thinking. No, I didn’t endlessly analyze every page or chapter; I did it to every sentence, sometimes getting hung up over single words. It was exhausting; it was frustrating. I had written a book where everything flowed and was now knee-deep into one where every thought required pushing a mental boulder aside.

It was such a draining experience that I’ve hardly re-visited the material since the final edits were completed. The exception is the upcoming audiobook, which sounds amazing!

So, Did You Change Your Approach?

Nope.

Fast forward to now: I am working on wrapping up my third novel and still battling the urge to overthink. It’s not as bad as it was but it’s still there, still a hurdle. Just like the last time, it’s not due to any shortage of ideas. Instead, it’s small details.

What I try to boil everything down to is two questions:

  • Is this a big deal?
  • Does it have a negative impact on the story?

If the answer is no—which it usually is—then I push it aside and press on. It can be difficult, but I know the story I want to tell and I believe in it so I have to trust myself. Yes, sometimes it takes a bribe (no further comment), but if I don’t believe in what I’m writing, why would I expect anyone else to?

Maybe for the fourth book I’ll try an outline.

I probably won’t, but I might.

Regardless of that, I’d love to hear your thoughts. While you’re at it, be sure to connect with me on social media for more inane ramblings, like this: