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Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select is a program that Amazon offers where authors sell their ebook exclusively on Amazon (as opposed to just KDP, which is the overall name for uploading ebooks to sell on Amazon). What are the pros and cons of this exclusivity, and what do we recommend you do as an author? Read on to find out.
If you’re looking for information on how to discount your ebook on Amazon, check out this blog post.
Pros of KDP Select
1. One hundred million people who buy into the Kindle Unlimited program can borrow your book.
While Amazon isn’t clear on how many of these 100 million are actual readers, you may have more borrows in Select without a lot of promotional efforts than you would have if you went wide with your books and did the same low-level marketing. It takes several years to build following and exposure on other platforms, but with the Select program, you often will earn some money right away on your books.
2. You get paid on number of pages read for borrows.
Your ebook is available for Amazon Prime members to borrow your book for free, and you receive payment on number of pages read. That means even if a reader isn’t willing to pay for your ebook, maybe because you’re a new author to them, they are probably willing to borrow it for free—and you still get paid! Some authors make a healthy living on borrrows.
If you run a promotion on a site like Book Cave and are selling your book for more than $0.00, then some of your “sales” will actually be borrows.
3. If your regular book price is low (like 99 cents), and your book is long, you will actually make more money on a borrow than on a sale.
4. You can discount your book to free for 5 days in a 90-day period.
In KDP Select, you can easily discount your book to $0.00 for a promotion. If your book isn’t in the program, you have to set your book to $0.00 in other major retailers and then ask Amazon to price match. Sometimes Amazon takes a long time to price match, unless you email them directly and let them know you’re planning a sale, and some authors have reported having difficulty getting Amazon to raise the price again once the promotion period is over. That’s all taken care of with KDP Select, and new readers will find you with a free promotion.
5. Instead of using the 5 free days, you can choose 7 days of price discounting in each 90-day period using a Kindle Countdown Deal.
When doing a Kindle Countdown, you can discount your book to $0.99 or $1.99 (or other price point depending on your regular price) for the entire 7 days, or you can set the price to gradually go back up over a period of several days. Amazon has a page where they list KDP Select deals, so you will find new readers.
During a Kindle Countdown, you’ll still get paid 70% royalties, even if your book is discounted to $0.99. This is in contrast to non-Select publishing on KDP, where you must change the royalty amount to 35% if you want to discount your book to less than $2.99. So for a Kindle Countdown, instead of getting 35 cents on a dollar book, you’re getting closer to 70 cents minus delivery charges, which depends on the size of your file. (Note that you are not charged delivery fees on a book for which you receive 35% royalties.)
6. It’s easier uploading to only one platform. (Though you can choose Draft2Digital or Smashwords to distribute everywhere for you.)
7. There are several ebook promotion sites that will market your Select book as “free on KU” to their subscribers.
Cons of KDP Select
1. You can only publish your ebook on Amazon.
Many readers only download books from Barnes & Noble or Apple. That means you’re missing out on a lot of potential readers, and you are alienating readers who use other platforms.
2. You lose income on other platforms.
By going exclusive with Amazon, you are also cutting yourself off from a lot of potential income. After building a following (this may take several years), many authors make 50% of their overall income on other platforms.
3. You can’t use your book as a subscriber magnet (unless you offer only a preview, which isn’t nearly as effective), and you cannot sell it or offer it for free on your website. Amazon has exclusive rights to the “Digital Book in digital format”, so this includes PDFs.
4. Depending on the size of your ebook and its regular price (above $2.99), the royalties you get for borrows may be much lower than the royalties you’d get for an outright sale.
Readers who may have chosen to buy your book may instead borrow it, and you lose out on that sale. Because Amazon decides what price to give you per page read, you have little control over pricing.
5. If you violate the KDP Select rules in any way, Amazon can ban you from selling on their site.
Even if your violation was on accident, you will have no recourse because they choose who can and cannot sell on their platform.
6. If your book is taken down, you lose all your income.
The online community is full of examples of Amazon taking down books or publishing accounts without warning or apparent reason. Though this is often worked out, you completely lose out on income from that book for a time, and the loss in rankings may hurt your sales long term. Until you can get your book live on a different retailer or sort out the problem with Amazon, you’re out of luck! Do you want all your eggs in one basket?
7. You can’t set a book to be permafree.
A great marketing tactic is to set the first ebook in a series permanently to $0.00, attracting new readers so they’ll pick up the rest of the series once they get hooked on the first one. KDP Select does not allow you to do this—you can only discount your book to $0.00 during the 5 free promotion days. (Click here to see the roundabout way authors get their books permafree on Amazon.)
8. You are competing with the extra million-plus other authors who have chosen to release their books exclusively on Kindle.
9. Some people feel strongly that by giving only one vendor an exclusive, authors are effectively hurting the competition.
Without competition, a company can do whatever it wants to the ebook market regardless of how it affect authors and publishers.
10. The big publishers put their books on all platforms, and many authors feel that publishing exclusively with only one is similar to a vanity publisher rather than a distributor.
11. Some big ebook marketers prefer books that are available on all platforms.
If you’re just starting out and only have one or two books and not a lot of name recognition, then KDP Select may be the route for you. Because readers can borrow your books, more new readers will try out your books, so you can build your reader base and get some reviews with less marketing.
Many authors use KDP Select to launch a new series or a standalone book before switching the book to a wide distribution.
If you have more than a few books out, and especially if you have a series, we recommend going with a wide distribution (using just KDP and selling on other retailers as well). To start building your wide following, you should also set the first book in your series to permanently be $0.00, then promote it regularly on sites like Book Cave and in Facebook and Google ads. This way, you can still reach new readers with your free book on multiple retailers, but then make more money in sales on the subsequent books. Books in a series will generally get you more money if you sell them as a wide distribution than if you sell them in KDP Select. (Especially if you manage to build on the Apple Books market.)
Keep in mind that building a following on all platforms is not a quick fix but an investment in time and effort. It generally takes about two years of successive pushing and marketing to develop a successful following for your books. You will need to create ads that target those readers.
Because we have readers asking for more books on Barnes & Noble and Apple, we at Book Cave prefer to see books that are available on multiple retailers! Even so, we run books on Select because we do have a large Kindle following. We also believe that for the health of the book market in general, a wide distribution will maintain the necessary competition that will encourage vendors to help authors and publishers succeed.
You can, of course, have some books in KDP and some books in KDP Select. Maybe you want to sell a series as a wide distribution, but then have a standalone book that you choose to sell exclusively on Amazon. You can also choose to experiment with the program by putting your book in it for just one enrollment period (make sure to uncheck that box that says “automatic renewal”). But keep in mind that if your books were wide less than two years (or you did no marketing for the other platforms), you won’t have a complete picture of what those retailers can do for you.
What is your experience with KDP Select? We’d love to hear your experiences and suggestions in the comments below.
Hi! Thank you so much for the information! I just published my first e-book “How to: Love Yourself – A step by step guide with a unique approach to self-love.” I have two questions about your post:
1. If I chose KDP Select, do I control the pricing of the ebook or does Amazon (permanently)?
2. Can I unpublish my book anytime from KDP Select and sell it on the regular Kindle platform, Amazon, other digital libraries and in stores? Or does Kindle “own” my book?
I have no previous experience writing or publishing books. Any pointers about copywriting, licenses (if necessary) and information I should know now that I’m getting started is highly appreciated! Thank you so much!
I have just finished my first book and realized that the term “e-book” can refer to a few different things. First, there’s the e-book that I usually think about coming from the internet marketing world which is a PDF formatted book. Then there is the e-book which is read on devices like a Kindle which is formatted in an EPUB file.
My question is, if you decided to go KDP Select, does that mean Amazon has exclusivity to the “Kindle e-book” only? Or for all versions of an “e-book”? In other words, can I sell the Kindle e-book through KDP Select while also selling the PDF e-book on my own website.
The official terms and conditions of KDP and KDP Select are at https://kdp.amazon.com/terms-and-conditions. The relevant paragraph that answers your question is “When you include a Digital Book in KDP Select, you give us the exclusive right to sell and distribute your Digital Book in digital format while your book is in KDP Select”. The key here is “digital format”. This includes PDF.
book is all ready publish…
ebook version publish not
as help..for inquiry
We have a few posts on ebook publishing that may help.
On the overall ebook publishing process: https://mybookcave.com/authorpost/tips-how-to-publish-ebook/
On software to format your ebook: https://mybookcave.com/authorpost/which-ebook-software-works-best-heres-what-we-know/
On choosing ebook vendors (like Amazon): https://mybookcave.com/authorpost/publishing-on-ebook-vendors-what-will-work-best-for-you/
I have some doubts:
1. Does the exclusivity statement applies to the paperback publishing by Amazon self publishing?
2. If i want to outsource my offline market through bookstores for paperbacks, will Amazon allow it?
No, KDP Select (and the exclusivity agreement) is for ebooks only. So you can outsource a paperback however you wish.
This is good….
But I kinda think if you just wrote a book, you should use a wild distribution. Using just KS wouldn’t get you the amount of audience you need.
Then maybe later, you can switch to KS
Very informative and insightful. Timely information for me.
Hi, I would like to publish a book for which the sale price should be $0. It should be free forever. It is a book on Buddhist philosophy and I want it to be free for anybody who wants to read it.
With the above dynamics, is KDP the right platform for me to self publish?
My concerns are :
1. Will Amazon allow publishing the book for $0?
2. Even if they do, if they see say a 1000 people have read this book, will they allow continuing to sell the book for free? Can I control the price or will they?
3. If they increase the price, can I withdraw and publish the text elsewhere?
Other than that appreciate it if you could point me to other self publishing ebook platforms more suitable for this type of text, pricing policy etc.
Appreciate your help.
It’s not so much that KDP is the “right” platform, as it is one the platforms you must use if you want to reach a wide audience. You should also publish to Kobo, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and possibly libraries.
Creating accounts on each of these can be time consuming, so I recommend an “aggregator”: Draft 2 Digital (https://draft2digital.com/). Use Draft 2 Digital to publish to every other retailer except Amazon.
1. Amazon won’t let you set the price to free, but after you have the book set to free on other retailers, see https://mybookcave.com/authorpost/how-to-discount-your-ebook-on-amazon/ for how to ask Amazon to “price match” your free book.
2. Number of downloads are not a factor. As for “control”, see 1.
3. You can withdraw your book at any time unless you enroll in KDP Select. Each enrollment period is 3 months long, during which you won’t be able to publish elsewhere and won’t be able to set the price to permanently free. So, don’t enroll in KDP select.
I agree good for new authors, I just completed KDP for my very first book and have since gone wide, even if I don’t get as many sells I’m glad not to be locked in on Amazon, with their no clear guidelines for when they “penalize” authors. I’ve heard good things about Book Cave but your specials are high, and you encourage low or no price for authors work. I also would love you to release your demographics or what type of authors and stories/genres Bookcave is good for. As an African American of AA Stories and characters I am just not sure if this site is a “plus” for me or not. As a newer Author I look for cheaper ways ($50 or less) to do promotions for now.