Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Amazon KDP Select - My Thoughts

For the last ninety days I've had two books listed in Amazon's KDP Select program. This post serves as a short analysis of my experience with the program.

My analysis will, of course, be short and without a bunch of graphical data. I choose to just post my own personal experience.

The two books I selected for the program were: Window Treatment and All the Right Places.

The number one advantage to enrolling in the program was it allowed me to list my books free for a total of five days out of the ninety day enrollment period. While I saw a marked increase in purchases while the books were listed as free, they also fell under the free ebooks category for sales standings. When they reverted back to their ninety-nine cent price, they saw only a temporary rise in position.

As most of you know, position is everything in marketing ebooks on Amazon, or any other online sales channel. Once a book climbs to the lofty top one hundred position, it tends to stay there awhile. I've yet to see any of my books (except The Fifth Beauty, offered free) make it into this top one hundred position. My sales tend to be slow and steady.

The major downside to enrollment in the KDP Select program is the exclusivity clause. Books enrolled in the program cannot be marketed through any other sales channel. For me, this one disadvantage far outweighed any positive the program may have provided.

I believe the potential sales I lost at Barnes and Noble, ARe, Apple iBooks, Kobo, Diesel, Smashwords, and other markets were more than any possible gains through Amazon, Although their literature made it seem as though my sales would skyrocket because of the the ability for their Prime members to "borrow" books in the program.

I think it was a sham. I had less than ten books borrowed throughout the ninety days of program enrollment.

For this reason, I will not continue with this program, and republish my two test books into their previous channels.

Now, I must ask the readers out there, How does Amazon's Prime program affect you? Is it worth the money to enroll? If you have enrolled, do you borrow many books?

I believe it was worth it to try this program with a sample of my work, but was not overall impressed with the results. Although, I certainly liked the ability to offer my work free for a limited time, the results did not justify the effort.

Next, I may try offering my books (and maybe a select few others) for sale from my website.

Oh, and by the way. Here's a sneak peak at my next project, available soon


  1. I enrolled one book with KDP select. Initially, I gave it away for two days. Within hours, it was in the top 100 - barely. Didn't do anything for sales afterwards. Second time, I gave it away for three days. It didn't even get close to the top 100, but I've had a few more sales since it came off.

    I will enroll another one (the first in a series) soon, when I have the second book ready to distribute. My plan this time is to give it away all five days from the start in the hopes that it will boost sales of the second book.

    As far as lending, my KDP select book has been borrowed less than five times.

    Can't wait to read the new story, Ellison!

  2. KDP select deserves another look from you at some point, but you're right, the past few months have been horrible. Free books used to be the way to make sales at Amazon, because they got you in the Amazon recommendations engine. If your book was free for a few days, then went back to paid, boom! Sales! Not so much anymore.

    I think what's mostly happened is - why should any reader buy a book when they can just go back to Amazon tomorrow and get two hundred new freebies? It's a simple economics principle at this point. Too much supply. Why pay for something when the market is flooded with something you can get for free?

    A lot of people have left KDP select because it hasn't worked for them, and now Amazon is scrambling to get people to stay. I enrolled a few books but it was only for the free days, not for the money I could make from borrows. I noticed the amount of borrows decreased significantly in the past few months, too. Overall, KDP select worked out well for me and I'd do it again, depending on the book, and after careful analysis.

    Funny thing, people who maybe weren't making money before in genres that just aren't as lucrative as romance or erotica are probably making more money now, so they think KDP select is great. It's probably gotten their books in the hands of people who never would've tried their genre before. Good for them. I hope their success grows.

    I hope I'm making sense. I'm tired, and I'm in a flurry of writing. I don't make much time for blog commenting (or blog reading) but I liked your post.

    Hint: a freebie at B&N right now? FANTASTIC! I have some books that have always been bigger sellers there. I find that I don't sell much at B&N at all unless I have a back list and a strong freebie to set it off. By "strong freebie" I mean that a lot of people just don't do freebies the right way. "Oh, it's free, it doesn't matter if it's that unedited short story I wrote ten years ago, or if I even edit the dang thing at all." The only way freebies work is if they are an example of your best, most polished work. And yes, a lot of people want to make money from that one book of which they're so proud, they wouldn't dare give it away for free. But that's why they end up hating freebies and they think readers are just so cruel. To the reader, it's a book. Doesn't matter if it's free. By the time they read it, they won't even remember it was free. People make the mistake of looking at their books individually but with eBook sales, you have to consider the entire back list as a whole. If someone likes one of your books, they will typically buy all of your books... and if they HATE one of your books, they will never buy from you again. If you had a bakery, you wouldn't give away samples of your day old, moldy cake to entice customers. No, you'd give away something so tasty it would stick in people's minds and make them come back to your bakery as often as possible. This is how you do a free book. Polished, good, a full story from start to finish, not too short or they will assume that ALL of your books are short.

    I could go on forever, but I'll stop. Great blog post, Ellison. And I can't wait to see your new book. :)

    - Shaina

  3. Thank you both for your comments. I may give the Select program another try again someday. The one thing I liked was the ability to offer work for free.

    Shaina you could not be more right about the power of freebies. I plan on offering my best work for free and actually building a free backlist ... someday.

  4. Hi Ellison,

    Thanks for sharing this information with us. I find it interesting to read other writer's opinions about KDP Select as I often wonder how much the genre of their book influences things. I know some people say erotica books on a whole don't do well on Amazon, so maybe this could be a factor for your results.

  5. I think you may be on to something about erotica on Amazon. I must say though that I sell most of my work through Amazon. For me, the downside of lost sales elsewhere just did not make up for the ability to offer the books free for a limited time. I believe my best bet is to follow Shaina Richmond's advice and get my best work out there FREE to build my base. I'll be working on that soon.


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