amazon-kdp-select

Is Amazon’s KDP Select The Right Choice For You?

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So your masterpiece is complete and you’re ready to start selling. You’ve done your research and know that listing on Amazon is a must for the Kindle market.

But should you go one step further and sign up to their Kindle Direct Publishing Select program? KDP Select demands the exclusive right to sell but boasts that it can ‘maximize a book’s potential’ and help you ‘reach a new audience.’ But does KDP Select actually work? What are the benefits and the costs? And which sellers stand to benefit the most?

To answer all those questions, here’s a summary of KDP Select’s services and what they mean to you.

What do you get?

A listing on Amazon’s Kindle store (including those for America, the UK, Germany, France and Japan) and a listing as part of the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library.

The Lending Library is a subscription service which allows Kindle owners to borrow a wide range of ebooks at no extra cost. You’ll be paid for every download through the KDP Select Global Fund, which varies on a monthly basis. While the amount you receive adjusts in accordance with the Global Fund, it remains reasonable.

KDP Select programs run for 90 day periods. For five of these days you’re entitled to apply either a Kindle Countdown deal (a limited time promotion where your ebook is discounted) or a Free Book promotion (where readers can get your ebook for free for a limited time).

What are the conditions?

Complete digital exclusivity. Amazon says it best:

All content made exclusive to Amazon in KDP Select must remain for sale on our site only; it cannot be available for free or for purchase in digital format anywhere else… However, you may choose to make up to 10% of your book available on other sites as a sample, as well as continue to distribute your book in physical format, or in any format other than digital.

Advantages

The Kindle Owner’s Lending Library is the big draw, introducing your work to a vast audience who are particularly disposed to trying something new. Because readers are charged for use of the library rather than for individual ebooks, they’re far more likely to give you a try, and you still get paid per download.

On top of this substantial draw, the Lending Library comes with a chart of the top free and sold ebooks. Getting on this chart will bolster sales as more people are made aware of your ebook’s quality and popularity. In a sea of free books, this kind of suggestion goes a long way, although there’s no guarantee you’ll make the list.

As well as the Lending Library, your ebook will be listed on Amazon, although this is still possible outside the KDP Select program. During the 90 day period, you will earn 70% royalties for sales to customers in Japan, India, Brazil and Mexico. Outside the KDP Select program you can only earn 35% in these countries. This is only really an advantage if you think you are going to sell more books in these countries than you will on Barnes & Noble, Kobo or Apple during the 90 day period.

The Kindle Countdown Deals and Free Book promotion have as much value as you give them. If you advertise and draw attention to the offers, then they can be great marketing tools, if you let them pass by then no-one will notice. You’ll receive reduced royalties when your ebook is discounted and none when it’s free, so these promotions are more for raising awareness and gathering an audience than increasing sales.

Disadvantages

While the Lending Library will get you more downloads than individually listing your ebook for sale, not every downloader will be a reader. Having already paid for the right to borrow ebooks, members of the library are prone to downloading as many as possible, with no intention of reading them all. While you’re still getting paid, it’s a hollow victory when your work isn’t getting read.

Worse, being downloaded on a whim could actually hurt your popularity. Downloaders who aren’t interested in your genre may give you a low star review when they realize your book isn’t for them. It’s a single click after being disappointed by a free product but the lowering of your average will be real enough.

Of course this differs by book and there’s no way to measure how common it is, but genres such as sci-fi and fantasy can provoke surprisingly vitriolic responses from those who don’t enjoy them. People who wouldn’t pick up a certain type of book can feel irritated, even cheated, when it turns out they’ve downloaded one by mistake (autobiographies in particular suffer from this kind of disapproval). It’s up to you whether you think your book will benefit more from a curious audience than it suffers from the uninterested.

KDP Select’s exclusivity requirement has obvious downsides, as you won’t be able to sell anywhere else. The program runs for 90 day increments however, so you’re free to opt out at the end of a run and keep your ebook listed for individual sale on Amazon. Exclusivity might also rankle fans who frequent a different marketplace.

It’s possible that the Kindle Countdown deal and Free Book promotion could also work against you, due to market savvy Amazon customers. Potential readers know a 5 day discount is likely and may wait to purchase at a point where you’ll receive little or no royalties.

Is it for you?

KDP Select is best used as part of a concentrated marketing strategy rather than as a permanent arrangement. The Lending Library and the 5 day promotions are good for building a readership but over a long-term basis, they don’t make up for the inability to sell through other stores.

It is most effective when you can make readers aware of a range of books. This is especially relevant if you have written a series. You might put the first book in the series on KDP Select in order to entice people to start your series.

If you’re selling your first novel, KDP Select probably isn’t for you; once a reader has your ebook at a reduced price or for free, there’s nowhere for them to go. They may know your name but will they remember it in six months when your second book is advertised at full price?

If you only have one book available then make sure you have a link to your email list at the back of the book. Readers who like your style will then at least be able to sign up to receive updates from you.

If you’re going to put the required effort into a KDP Listing, which means actively advertising your deals, then it could help raise awareness of your work and inform a wide range of readers that your name is synonymous with quality. Likewise, if your foremost concern is that people read your work, then there are few better paths than making it available to the curious readership that comprises the Lending Library.

You may of course only be selling your book on the Kindle store and have no plans to sell it elsewhere. In that case, you have nothing to lose, get on KDP Select and try and maximize the discount days to build your readership.

Have you enrolled in KDP select, or are you considering it? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.

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54 thoughts on “Is Amazon’s KDP Select The Right Choice For You?”

  1. This is a great article, Alex. Thanks for the insights. I’m trying out KDP Select for the first time this very weekend, and I’m anxious to see how it will pan out. So far, it has amazed me. The numbers just keep adding up. I’m very hopeful. However, I still don’t know how to calculate the income, although, I think I’ve figured out that we have to wait for the end of the month, right? I’m just curious what the ‘average’ pot may run. Any past numbers would be awesome, if anyone cares to share?

    Thanks,
    Ellise~

    1. Ellise~ No, you do not have to wait until the end of the month. Inside your KDP account you click Reports.
      From there you just put in which book you want to check. Or all of them. The sales report comes up showing you the number of books sold each day. Scroll down and there will be your royalties for those dates and book you ticked.

      Play around with it. You can’t kill it. But you do need to take time to read the pages.

      eNovel Authors at Work

  2. Hello, Alexander,

    I was recently told that I could not dis-enroll a book I had enrolled in KDP select. The 90 day commitment period is up in a few weeks, and I did not realize they automatically renew, but once I discovered this, I unchecked the box and sent them an email. They’re telling me that I can’t disenroll even though the new period is weeks away. This is not a book I get much traffic on (a self help guide for swallowing disorders) and it was a “test” book to help me learn the self-publishing process, so it isn’t a big deal if I am never able to remove it. I did ask about unpublishing it, but that seems to be an extreme way to address the issue. Any experience with this? Is KDP select now permanent? I did send them an email with my concerns, but given my experience, I will be not likely be placing my current serial fiction or stand-alone novels in the KDP select program, once completed. Curious what you and your other readers think about this or what your experiences are.

    1. Hi Gabrielle,
      You should be able to cancel your enrolment as soon as the 90 day period is up. This is from the KDP website:

      How do I cancel my book’s enrollment from KDP Select?
      Once your book’s term in KDP Select begins, you will have 3 days to cancel. To do so, simply go to the book’s “Enrollment Details” and uncheck “Keep this book enrolled in KDP Select” box. This option will be available during the first 3 days of each 90-day period during which your book is enrolled. Note that once you begin using your free promotion days, the cancellation period will end.

      You can’t opt out of the program before the 90 days are up however.

      1. Thanks so much,. Alex. I had actually done that a while back, but for some reason, it did not register in the system. I had to actually had to “petition” that KDP select team to release the book. As I said, in terms of ranking. It’s nothing to them, so they were quite gracious and agreed to release it. Having the problem was serendipity, because I discovered your blog! Thanks again. I will be looking forward to your new posts.

  3. Hi Alexander,

    i liked your post.

    I’d like your opinion on this.

    First time author, non-fiction, will publish a book helping couples turn their weakened relationship around without counseling so they can get safe againwith each other and rebuild the bond they once shared.

    Don’t have back end products (yet)

    Intended to pre-launch and lead my own prelaunch campaign, offering my book for free download (as digital product) on my won website for a limited period of time in exchange for readers actually read the book and (when the book gets published on Amazon) going there and review it. This way I’d be able to build relationship with my readers as well as build my list.

    The questions therefore is; knowing all above – does KDP Select still make sense?

    My goals are

    – get as much reviews as possible on Amazon
    – build my list of followers
    – establish a community and relationship with them (off Amazon)
    – get to the Bestsellers list in selected Category (for marketing purposes, not that I expect much more sales because of that – I might be wrong)

    Any thoughts?

    Marko

    1. Hi Marko,
      If you follow your plan with offering the book for free for a time before you launch it on Amazon I’d say you don’t really need KDP Select. That does of course rely on you being able to generate enough interest during pre-launch that you can garner a decent amount of reviews right when you launch. Your strategy of building a relationship with your readers via email is exactly what you should be doing and will give you long term benefits, especially if you publish more books.
      Alex

      1. Thnx Alex! Appreciate it. And, if things don’t work out as I hope, I can still enter the KDP at any point in time if I choose so, right?

        I know I will have to work hard, but at least I can control it. I Don’t find a lot of value being promoted from Amazon – together with gazzilion other books at the same time. Value of this to me is close to zero.

        By the way:

        Does Amazon let me fiddle around with the price yourself? Meaning, I set your price to X myself (can even be a zero, even though I don’t like that), say for a week, then I run my own little awareness campaign, once the promotion days are over, put it back – all manually and NOT within KDP…

        Have a great day!

        Marko

        1. You have complete control over pricing, however you can only set a minimum of 99 cents so you won’t be able to offer your book for free.

          You can enter KDP Select at any time in the future, however you will only be allowed to sell your book through Amazon for the period that you are in the program.

  4. Thanks for the updated post on KDP Select. I’m a first-time author (official release 6/1), with book #2 already in the cue for the editor.

    In the past, indie authors raved about KDP Select because they could offer free for a few days and all those downloads would count as sales as far as amazon search and browse category ranking goes. Now, I’m reading that’s no longer the case — that they’re possibly weighted as some value less than a whole sale? Do you know how this works now?

    I want to do KDP Select if it will boost my sales data when I run a promotion, but see no reason otherwise. I write non-fiction in a tight niche (parenting a child with ADHD), so I’m not sure that mass downloads of people who are not interested in this are beneficial to me — unless, as I said, I get a big sales number boost.

    Thanks in advance for the feedback!

    Penny
    http://PennyWilliamsAuthor.com

    1. Standout Books

      Hi Penny, I think with your tight niche you are probably not going to benefit from KDP Select as much as an author with a broad appeal. See Jackie’s very helpful comment for how free downloads are weighted.

      1. Thanks to you and Jackie for your insights. I have decided to do KDP Select’s new Kindle Countdown Deals instead of free. I think it’s a better choice in a small niche like mine. Thanks!

  5. I’m a little late to this discussion. I’m a new indie author, less than a year. I put all of my titles in KDP Select and I have not been sorry. My savvy and experienced author pals tell me to build a readership on Amazon before launching into other venues. One best selling author told me it took her a year to see 1000 books sold on Barnes and Noble. She keeps some titles in KDP Select and moves others into other venues. It is very easy to go FREE on Amazon and to price pulse. The key to going FREE is to go big–get massive downloads which count as one-tenth of a sale in ratings, but not $$$ and get your title on AZ popularity lists once it goes back to priced. I don’t know about the Lending Library–I do know about Az Prime. Subscribers can borrow one book a month–and Borrows are nice, paying between $1.80 to $2.00 per borrow. I see questions by new authors above. My suggestion is to tick and read all of the lists inside your Amazon Kindle Direct Account. You can’t kill it–and if you don’t understand something–Amazon will answer your questions PDQ. What Alex says about FREE and readers not liking the title is true. You will get some low rated reviews. But! If your title is well written and formatted properly the 3, 4 and 5 star reviews will offset the 1 and 2 star. If your title can maintain a 4.0/5.0 review rate on 200 reviews, you’re good. Whether your title is priced or free, you have to promote it–otherwise it just hangs in cyberspace–not anchored to a reader’s Kindle or Nook. I see really nice books from indie authors every day that are sucking mud in ratings because the author doesn’t put the titles in front of readers–and the only way to get a readership is to let the reader know the book is on Amazon’s shelf. I hope this helps.
    Jackie Weger

    1. Standout Books

      Hi Jackie, thanks for sharing your positive experiences with KDP Select, it’s very useful. As you say, simply having the book for free won’t mean you get a huge amount of downloads. Free in itself isn’t a marketing strategy, it’s just one element of a strategic marketing plan. That means you might have to pay to promote a free book to get the most out of giving it away.

      1. Alex! You nailed it. If an author only has one book, the marketing strategy is very tight. I have an author pal who runs a Kindle Countdown Deal every 90 days inside KDP Select. He does NOT schedule increments, but leaves the book at 99 cents for 6 days and it goes to back to priced on the 7th. He networks, sends ready written tweets to his pals to load into Hootsuite and plans ahead. He submits to eReader News Today, and a few other sites and flat out promotes on every FB Group he’s a member of. He schedules his own tweets into Hootsuite. He is dedicated to the promo for seven days. He’s never had less than 13,000 downloads at 70 cents. That is a nice $9100 paycheck! Thus far he’s never spent more than $100 to promo sites. His goal is not to make the bestseller list, but to earn $$$. He does it!
        JackieWeger

        1. Hi Jackie,

          is your friend publishing a fiction or non-fiction?

          All said and done, I’ve came to the conclusion that being a first-time author and having just 1 book, with no back-end, there is little point in KDP select.

          Would you agree or maybe not? 🙂

          1. Mark: My author pals’ book is non-fiction–and sort of an anthology at that. Humor. If you decide against KDP–your decision. I’m not here to change your mind. I do what is best for my book. I listen to successful authors–not the naysayers. I also educated myself about indie publishing. The bottom line is if you do not promote you book it languishes in cyberspace.
            My fiction titles are in KDP Select–and that is where I’m keeping them. On a recent promotion I put my title FREE. 97,278 Amazon readers downloaded the book on FREE and more than 190 posted reviews on Amazon. Now that the book is back on priced it is selling 50 to a 100 copies a day which includes Borrows. There is no way the book could have achieved those numbers and that much attention outside KDP Select and the title continues to hold onto its place in stats, staying above 3000–which is incredible because I am not a best-selling author.
            JackieWeger

  6. Have you heard anything about the average cut per ‘share’? I’ve heard estimates between $1.50 and $4 per ‘sale’, and naturally it varies by month since the amount and sales are different every month.

    1. Chris! Somebody is feeding you bull. I can go right now into KDP Select and find out the global $$ for Koll and KU. For June it is above 2.00 per book. I think 2.23. I just glanced at it. It has never been at $4.00 that I know of. KDP authors get an email every month saying what the Koll and KU payout is per book. So! The folk you are listening to are not enrolled in KDP–which means you ain’t getting the skinny. Here is a tip. Any time you want to know a fact–email Amazon. They will tell you the straight skinny.

      JackieWeger

      1. Thanks for sharing your experience Jackie. I can only agree, when in doubt email Amazon. In my experience they are always happy to help.

  7. Alex,
    This may be for Jackie or for you – she mentions that “Whether your title is priced or free, you have to promote it–otherwise it just hangs in cyberspace…”

    What types of promotion is she talking about (besides one’s private lists of contacts)?

    I have one book – a story of modern monk and his roadmap to spirituality and happiness – and his challenges – with other ideas down the road.

    Appreciative of yours or Jackie’s insights on promotion, in or out of Amazon.

    1. Hi Clark, there are a lot of ways which you can use to promote your book, some of them effective, some of them not so much. What works or doesn’t work depends very much on the book and the audience so there is no one-size-fits-all approach. You might want to look at:
      Email promotion sites such as Bookbub
      Book giveaways
      Social Media
      Press releases
      Creating a book marketing plan
      It’s all about defining your audience, then finding where they spend their time and finding ways to get them to notice you.

  8. Alex,
    Thanks for the article. I’m thrilled to have found your site.
    My situation is different and hope that you may be able to guide me in the right direction. My ebook is a photo book, needless to say the Kindle format is dreadful. And because of this I plan to offer the book on the iBook store and Barnes & Noble where it will look a lot nicer because they access epub.

    Because of want to sell it on other platforms I do not want to be locked into a 90 day restriction period with KDP Select. I am using this ebook to get more eyes on my product line and brand, strictly a promotion book. (But if I make a little money doing it that would be great.)

    The question is: is there a way to sell it on Amazon without getting onto their KPP Select program?

    Thanks in advance.

    Nina

    1. Hi Nina,
      Thanks for stopping by, it’s great to have you here.
      You can absolutely sell through Amazon without joining the KDP Select program. It’s entirely voluntary, simply don’t select the KDP Select option while you are submitting your book for publishing through KDP.
      Good luck with your book!

  9. I plan to publish an ebook soon, similar question with the last one, my question is if i self publish through the KDP program but i do not select the KDP Select option, can i still have it on amazon, kindle, barnes and nobles, Apple, my blog and other platforms? Will i just need to upload them separately onto those ones or will amazon prevent me from doing that?

    1. As long as you don’t select the “KDP Select” option while publishing through Amazon you are free to publish the book wherever else you want. You will then have to upload the book to the other services yourself or use a distributor.

  10. Thank you Alex,
    I will be putting my first book on kdp and your suggestion “to use first book to entice people to series of books” really gave new dimension/vision to my publishing efforts.

  11. Milan Jefferson

    Hi Alexander, thanks for the great article. I am planning on publishing a short story I wrote as an eBook. It will be my first published work. Would you recommend KDP Select in my situation?

      1. Standout Books

        Hi Milan, thanks for stopping by.
        I think KPD select can be a great tool when launching a book. There’s a good article by Hugh Howey on the topic here:
        http://www.hughhowey.com/ruminations-on-exclusivity/

        As far as DRM is concerned, for someone who is determined to pirate your book it takes about 15 seconds to strip the DRM from it using a readily available plugin for Calibre. DRM restricts how your genuine readers can use your book after they have purchased it and because of that I am firmly in the camp of those who believe it is pointless.

        1. Milan Jefferson

          Alex, thanks for your response. Howey’s article made some great points, and the more I read up on DRM the more I agree with your side. Thanks again!

  12. Patrick Paterson

    Good morning. Have read your comments and concerns about KDP select. I am finding it slow going at the moment. I have used two free days so far with a lot of DL’s on those days, but otherwise slow.
    This is my first book with another on its way. My publisher put it out there so to speak, but has left all the promotion and marketing to me. Not quiet what I expected, but there you go.
    My main aim is to promote it and get reviews and to build up a following of readers for the next book, and then think about getting a return on my investment. On KDP it’s on sale for $2.99 but once the 90 days have ended I’ll drop it to $0.00 if Amazon will allow me, or 99c. Patrick. England.

    1. Standout Books

      Hi Patrick, thanks for sharing your experiences on the topic. I think your approach is a good one, if you think about building your platform in the long term you should reap rewards, however there are very few (affordable) fast track solutions for the promotion side of things. There are a lot of sites that will promote your book for free on your free days, so make sure you’re taking advantage of that. Good luck with your books.

  13. Hello:
    Going back to the question about NOT using KDP when you are a new writer. How well do new books from new authors do when not using KDP? Is it really as bad as it sounds due to the competition? Because, waiting around 90 days to move that book seems a bit much.
    Also, do you have to wait 90 days to get paid?

    1. I just want to clarify a few thing, “KDP” and “KDP Select” are two different things, KDP is Amazon’s self-publishing platform (Kindle Direct Publishing). KDP Select is a program inside their platform where you give Amazon exclusivity in return for some benefits.
      With that in mind, how well a book does depends entirely on how well it is promoted and how big your platform is. KDP select simply gives you a few additional promotional tools that can help get your book in front of new readers.
      Amazon pays out royalties around 60-90 days after the sale. This is the same whether you are in KDP select or not.

  14. Hi, I am a writer from Africa and I am considering publish my first anthology on amazon, but I seem confused about promoting my book if it is published. As a writer who is not based in the U.S and it seems people in my region can’t purchase my book, how can you help me with this? I will like it to be available in my country but amazon does not give access to buyers from my Country. Also, I will like to know if it is more profitable to sell my book at a lesser price.

  15. Hi Alex – very helpful site. I am a first time author. Do you know what the market is for hard copy books vs. electronic? Are a lot of hard copy books still sold, or would I be better off just publishing electronically?

    1. Hi Mark, I’m glad you find us useful.
      Print still accounts for just under 80% of all book sales in the USA. E-book sales volumes have hit a plateau, or seen decelerating growth, in major markets including the US, UK and Canada. So, print is still going strong.

  16. Great article.

    I have decided to try KDP Select for my book The Belief Road Map which is scheduled to be published on January 20, 2016.

    Thank you.

    Matt Gersper
    Founder
    HappyLiving.com

  17. Hi Alex,

    We published on January 14. I’m happy & humbled by our book launch. Amazing reviews. “Profound, Inspiring, Thought Provoking, Game Changer”. We have an introductory price for limited time. Only $0.99 http://amzn.to/1OveGOs

    Thank you for your advice about KDP Select!

    1. Hi Matt,
      Congratulations on a successful launch, those are certainly some great reviews.
      Let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.

  18. Hi Alex,
    FIRST LET ME SAY THAT THIS IS THE 1st blog post I have ever read in its entirety comments and all! I have definitely made up my mind not to try the KDP Select program.
    I will be launching my very first ever book “The Art of Pinterest Profits” on 29th September. I now know I definitely wont be giving exclusivity to start with but at a later date to attract new readers anyway. I will do my own promos and take it from there. Your post was a major resource for me. Thank you so very much!

    1. Hi Don,

      If you have 7 ebooks published and aren’t selling any, I don’t think switching your retailer will make any difference. I would focus on how you are promoting your books and/or review the titles/blurbs/samples/content to see if they could be made more relevant for your target audience.

  19. Peterson Ojieson

    Wow great piece of work Alex. I’m so glad I stumbled on this article,only wished I had before my initial publication on KDP.
    I’ve just realised how much I fumbled in almost all ways with my first book publication. I ticked the DRM, didn’t bother to read up on the KDP select program and it’s been an awful experience.
    Now i’m in the process of retooling by changing covers and title before republishing.
    I am new to this, and my book “Finding Europe Through Africa’s Deserts and Seas:the perils,triumphs and karma, is my first and as the title depicts,is a travel memoir of an illegal migrant.
    I still confused on the best categories to place the book on,and also seeing that my major audience from my region with no access to purchase on amazon,i’m lost for how to proceed on amazon.
    I’d be pleased to read kind suggestions on how best to get my book out.If to continue on amazon and hope for the best or find other platforms with an easy access for my target audience.

    Thanks all for the great work.

    1. Thanks for the kind words. It always takes some trial and error to get everything right and there’s a lot to learn along the way.

      You’ll find a lot of useful info on promoting your book on Amazon in Dave Chesson’s free course here: //www.standoutbooks.com/go/ams-ads/

      Good luck with your book!

  20. Great article. I have 4 non fiction books on Kindle and I am just adding a 5th. I am really struggling with the decision about whether to enrol the new book in Kindle Select. The other books are enrolled and I am receiving about 0.43 cents per page from KOLL. The number of books that the page reads add up to is 19% of the number of Kindle books sold. The KENP/KOLL payment ends up being about half the normal Kindle royalty. What I don’t know is “are the page reads additional sales.” Or would I have sold that many more books on Kindle if the readers could not get them for free from the library? Am I benefitting from Kindle Select, or just giving away royalties?

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