There are tons of articles on whether you should or shouldn’t enroll your book in KDP Select. I am definitely for, but I can also understand authors who are against. All their arguments boil down to the three following ones:
- Books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited earn an extremely low royalty (4.78$ per 1000 pages).
- You could sell the book on your website and earn everything that the customer pays, without extra taxes.
- By putting all your eggs in one basket, you are missing out the readers on iTunes, Kobo, Barnes & Noble.
It all makes sense, doesn’t it? If you publish a book that has 100 pages, and price it at 5.55$, your royalty will be 3.88$. But if that same book is borrowed through Kindle Unlimited, your book earns 0.47$. Congratulations! You’ve just lost 88% of your earnings.
But what if your book never gets any sales at all? What if you are just starting out there as an indie author, you have three people on your e-mail list and you can’t ask your friends and family anymore? Then it’s 0.00$ vs 0.47$. Of course that 0.47$ is better.
I want to remind you that people love free stuff, and Kindle Unlimited gives an illusion of a free library, where you pay a small monthly fee you can afford, and can download thousands of ebooks without worrying about their tall prices.
Signing up your book for Kindle Unlimited is like leaving it in lots of different libraries in the world at once, so that the voracious readers interested in the genre can find it and borrow it.
You wouldn’t earn anything for leaving your book in a library, but you can get some cents in your royalty jar, and you are also giving the readers the chance to get to know you.
If you are just starting, nobody knows you and nobody cares about your book. Even if you drive 100 people daily to your website (which is already an achievement), it’s highly unlikely that they will purchase it. Private websites aren’t as credible as huge bookstores.
Then what about Apple? Kobo? Barnes & Noble? My uncle’s alternative bookshop? I agree that missing out on other retailers is a flaw of KDP Select. Yet, from my own experience, driving traffic to ONE SPECIFIC LINK is already problematic. Imagine all that traffic getting divided in 5. 10 people go to Kobo, 10 people go to Barnes & Noble, 10 people go to Apple, 10 people go to your uncle, 10 people go on your website, and 10 people go on Amazon. How high is the probability that any of these people will actually purchase your book from any of these places? Very low.
I learned these lessons after trying my luck with Amazon Associate Marketing. I’ve been promoting links nearly everywhere, got 490 clicks and 2 orders. That means that 0.4% of those who clicked actually bought anything.
So… Where do we go from here?
To the wise words that I have read on another author’s blog (I can’t quote them, cause I don’t remember who they were, I’m sorry):
Enroll in KDP Select when nobody knows you, and give up on it once you’ve grown a huge fan base.
I can tell you that my pen name would be absolutely lost without KDP Select.
KDP Select books are always offered for free, which is likely to attract the portion of readers who have Kindle Unlimited.
You can organize a free promotion as well, and advertise it on the websites I’ve listed in here. You’ll get plenty of downloads and maybe even get a high position in the free Kindle Store rank.
The free promotions are important, because they let new readers discover you without any financial risk. Those readers might leave you reviews, like your fanpage, or in the best case – purchase your other books.
There are also Kindle Countdown Deals, which create a sense of urgency. It’s on sale, buy it nowww! And who doesn’t love a huge discount? Discounts make us buy things we’d never buy otherwise. It manipulates the customer into thinking: “oh wow, this is so cheap, I’ll give it a try, it’s 0.99$ anyways!”
It doesn’t matter that you aren’t earning big money on it. What matters is that your book is downloaded, or borrowed, or bought.
Each time that happens, your book jumps in the Kindle Store rank. The more free promotions and countdown deals you make, the more your books are going to jump.
My pen name had a book that was listed as 1,000,000 in the Kindle Store. Total disaster. After I had launched the free promotion, the book has landed on the first page in its three categories, and now it’s stuck at 200,000 in the Kindle Store, and even higher in its three categories (from 100 to 3000!).
By promoting just one book, you are promoting all your books. Readers have read your book for free, and now they trust you as an author – and what to read MORE of what you’ve written. So make sure there is something else in your Amazon catalogue, not just that one free e-book.
I can’t comment on Kindle Countdown Deals right now, as I haven’t tried it yet, but from what I’ve seen, there are lots of promotional websites that accept only discounted books. I’m sure that the right amount of online buzz can create a successful Kindle Countdown Deal campaign, but I have to crack it first to tell you something wise (I don’t want to repeat stuff said by other authors without testing it first).
But those two goodies – Free Promotions and Kindle Countdown Deals – are only available if you are in KDP Select.
I don’t know what other huge bookstores have to offer their authors. So I can’t speak about Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and others. But I know that I’d be lost on KDP Select. I’d have to rely on paid promotions to create a buzz around your books, and while many seem very promising (targetted audience, first place in the newsletter), they don’t always result in sales.
To be honest, I don’t trust websites who send e-mails to their subscribers 4 times a day (or even every day). I bet those people don’t even open the e-mails, cause they’ve had enough of them. And even if they do, they are flooded with so many books that the probability that they choose yours is rather low.
There are also Amazon ads, however, creating a successful campaign that has a low ACOS (aka is profitable) is quite a challenge. I’ll write about Amazon ads another time, as I crack them and actually get some profit.
In my view, KDP Select is best for indie authors who are just starting. You can always opt out of it once you gather a larger audience, and more experience with marketing. However, I definitely wouldn’t miss it if you are an indie author who is only starting to do anything online. It’s going to be tough, and without KDP Select, it’s going to be even tougher. This is why I think that it’s really worth it to give exclusivity to Amazon for some time, in exchange for some great marketing tools that might help you become recognized among the target readers.
I hope that it helps.