Tuesday, 19 March 2013

KDP Select - Was it worth the ride?

This morning I decided to read the KDP newsletter that was sent to me via email a few days ago. Was it interesting? Well, for all the wrong reasons, yes. On this newsletter was an interview with an "indie" author who was thanking Amazon and KDP for "changing her life". She has, apparently, sold over half a million books in just two years, bought her dream house, can now send her kids to college without worrying about money, and all because of Amazon and KDP. This was obviously an interview used to make potential authors think that self-publishing your books with KDP was the answer to all your writing dreams. "Look at what this author has achieved?" it's screaming. "You too could have the success she's had!" Err, no. We can't. Not really. For starters, this author used to be traditionally published, and she pointed out herself in the interview that she had a whole heap of people waiting for her next book, but she was having trouble with her agent being able to sell her latest novel to a publisher, which is why she turned to Amazon and KDP. Which is fine. But she is not the typical person that I have come across who is self-publishing these days. Of course this particular author is going to have success - she has a fan base, people already know her name. She's out there, already established, popular. Something the majority of self-published authors aren't.

She also points out that she has a book which is available permanently for free. Now - and please, somebody tell me if I'm wrong here - but I was under the impression that the average self-published author can't actually have a book on permanently for free, although I've seen plenty of books that are free on a permanent basis. As far as I'm aware, if we, the average indie author, wants to put a book up for free then we have to join KDP Select (more about that in a minute) and use the 5 days of free promotion that are available every 90 days. Outside of that, I'm not sure how we can make our books free, never mind have one permanently out there as "bait" for our other books, for want of a better expression. 

So, if Amazon and KDP think that that author is a typical indie author, then what the hell are the rest of us? Because I would love just a teeny, tiny bit of the success that author has had. If only! Since I started self-publishing with KDP a couple of years ago I've sold around, oooh, let me see... I don't know exactly, but we're probably talking about 4,000 books, something like that. Maybe a few more. In fact, it probably is a few more, after all, I had a good few months last year but then Amazon changed all the algorithms and it all turned to crap again! 

So, the past few months have led me to do a lot of thinking. For just over a year, all of my books have been enrolled in the KDP Select programme. I've taken advantage of the free promos, and for the main part they were a great success. They led readers to my other books, and I had a lot of people contact me saying they discovered me by downloading one of my books for free, but then they went and bought all the others. I couldn't complain about that now, could I?

I also did quite well out of the Kindle Lending Library, in the beginning. When you enroll your books in the KDP Select programme it automatically makes your books available to borrow for free to anyone who is a member of Amazon Prime. And although the reader gets the book for free, authors still get paid every time one of their books is borrowed. And like I said, in the beginning, I did quite well out of this. But over the past couple of months those borrows have dwindled to almost nothing. Just a handful.

So, I began to wonder if giving my books total exclusivity to Amazon - which is what happens if you're enrolled in the KDP Select programme - was really worth it now. The free promos aren't working like they used to, and the borrows I'm getting now are negligible. There are reasons why the free promos don't work as well as they used to - check out this excellent blog post I've just found regarding the changes Amazon have made to their algorithms over the past year or so. It explains a lot, especially as the dates mentioned coincide with the drop in popularity of the free promo, for me, anyway. 

Could my books soon be available here?
Things are changing in the world of ebook publishing, and for the self-published indie author especially. And I'm just not sure that staying with the KDP Select programme is for me anymore. Maybe it's now time to spread my wings and get my books out on other sites, make them available to other platforms and see where that takes me. I'm not denying that the bulk of sales is probably still going to come from Amazon, but I'm interested to see how things go outside of KDP Select. Will it make a difference? I have no idea. We can only wait and see. 

So, to answer my initial question, was my foray into the world of KDP Select worth the ride? Yes. Undoubtedly. I got in at the beginning and for me I made the most of that, saw increased sales for a time, and gained new readers who may not otherwise have found me. And that's the most important thing for me - gaining those new readers. But I'm just getting too confused with the changes Amazon are making at the minute. It's time to look at the way I sell my books now, and make some changes myself, although they'll always be there, on Amazon. Always. But, as far as the KDP Select programme goes, it's time to cut that loose now. It's time to move on, and let's see what happens...

Should you feel the urge, you can check out all my books HERE on Amazon

Now, I'd better get back to work. I've got a new book to write...



  1. Some really interesting points here Michelle, I just published my first novel and am holding off joining KDP yet...glad to know I am not completely crazy :-) Best of luck with your foray into pastures new

  2. And the best of luck to you with your first novel, Rachel. If it had been this time last year then I would have urged you to give KDP Select a go, but at this present time I'm not sure it would be worth it. But things could change, so don't rule it out altogether. :)

  3. I'm finding Amazon's rules very complicated of late and to be honest, I'm fed up with them changing a system that seems to have worked and supported indie authors for quite some time. As an indie myself, I know how hard it is to sell your book and the free promo is a great way to assist. But the amount of marketing we have to do in order to just be seen by a handful of people is extensive and way more time-consuming than it needs to be. If there was an alternative I'd take it, because right now, I can't wait for my books to be out of the KDPS program.

    CJ x

    1. I agree totally about how confusing and complicated Amazon are making things by changing all the rules so frequently. And it's such a shame. Why they couldn't just allow indie authors to continue to tick along the way we were all doing this time last year is beyond me. But I suspect they have their reasons..