Since its introduction last month, Amazon’s KDP Select program has caused a fair bit of controversy. On its face, it sounded good: a program that would let Amazon Prime members borrow your book for free, in exchange for a cut of a $500,000 fund. Select members also get five promotional days, courtesy of Amazon, in which their book is available for free, but the company helps get the word out about it.
But there was a catch: If you wanted to join KDP Select, the novel had to be available exclusively in digital form to Amazon. So if you’ve gone to the trouble to get it published elsewhere, such as Nook, iBook and Smashwords, you had to depublish the book from those outlets.
This, to me, was a deal breaker. My objections were twofold. One, I worked hard to make the novel available to everyone—even in print—that wanted to buy it. True, my Amazon purchases vastly outnumbered my Nook ones, but I felt it was important to sell in multiple markets. Secondly, I worried the benefits would be relatively minor. Yes, I’d get a cut of 500k, but how many Prime member were going to borrow my book when they could buy it for $2.99? Since Prime members can only borrow one book a month, it seemed more likely they would favor more expensive novels than mine. As for the free promotion, I would be giving away my book for nothing. How was that going to help me?
Boy, was I wrong. Joe Konrath successfully used his free promotions on KDP Select to make more than $100,000 in three weeks(http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2012/01/100000.html). Jeff Bennington, meanwhile, the author of
Reunion and Twisted Vengeance, has used his free
promotional days to get three of his novels onto bestseller lists. How does
Well, for starters, Amazon’s algorithms help promote your book, so instead of relying on ads or word of mouth, it gets a much wider audience than it normally would. While in theory, interest in your book should wane the day after your promotion, that’s not what happens. Because so many people download it—and do so in a short period of time—Amazon’s algorithms indirectly continue to help promote the novel. As a result, you could find yourself selling a lot more books the day after a free promotion than you did before. That’s the theory, at any rate.
Once I saw what kind of success this was spurring for others, the lure of KDP Select was too much. I decided I needed to take the plunge.
To be honest, I’m a little scared. My first “free” promotion will be tomorrow, Jan. 17, and I worry that a) no one will download it for free or b) everyone will download it and the book will then stop selling afterward. While there are plenty of success stories out there, there are many private failures as well. Some authors say they’ve noticed no uptick after a free promotion, or that actual sales of the book have declined.
As for the other concern—about exclusivity—it still bothers me. I was happy to publish on Nook and Smashwords and have been pleased with every sale there. But realistically, those sales pale in comparison to what I see on Amazon. I’ve sold more than 1000 books, and only 40 of those were on Nook. For iBook, I’ve sold a grand total of 7 books. So while the idea of making the book available everywhere is appealing, it’s clear that most of my readers are buying it on Kindle. Why not take advantage of KDP Select?
So I made the jump. As I said, the book will be available for free on Jan. 17. If you haven’t taken the plunge already, it’s a good day to buy it. If you have and you liked the book, feel free to buy copies for your friends. It won’t cost you a dime.
As for this experiment with KDP, let’s see where it goes. No guts, no glory, right?