Amazon KDP Select Exclusivity – A Workaround?

Amazon KDP Select Exclusivity

KDP Select exclusivity. Is there a work around?

One of the continual dilemmas for self-published authors is whether to grant exclusive rights to Amazon so they can enrol their ebooks in KDP Select. KDP Select Exclusivity is demanding, but there may be a little crack in the wall.

While the benefits of enrolment include promotional opportunities such as free ebook giveaways, Kindle Countdown deals and higher royalties in a few smaller markets, may seem attractive, by granting exclusivity, all other retail opportunities are naturally lost.

I have been in and out of KDP Select a number of times over the years, with a selection of ebooks, and while I have to say that sales can improve, I can equally say that the potential sales lost on other retailers makes it very difficult to know if I came out in front or not.

As I have quite a few titles, I do know for sure that a few always seem to sell better on Apple, or B&N for example, than on Kindle. So by removing a title that has been doing well on Apple, it may sell equally well on Kindle for sure with the help of more promotion, but I would lose sales, and more importantly, the sales ranking I had built up on Apple.

This is one aspect of moving ebooks in and out of Amazon exclusivity that is overlooked. When you remove an ebook from say your Smashwords account, all your sales rankings will be lost on Apple, B&N and Kobo, and should you decide to leave KDPS later and return to offering your ebook via Smashwords; your books start again from scratch.

However, I have often used KDPS for the release of a new title, and then after the first 90 day period, cancelled my enrolment and then published via Smashwords. To my mind, this is one of the best uses of KDPS, as it can give a new title a good kickstart before publishing elsewhere.

Of course, there are benefits and drawbacks with exclusivity. Joanne Penne wrote a very thorough assessment in her article, The Pros And Cons Of Exclusivity, which is well worth reading.

But!! What about getting the best of both worlds? 

There is quite a simple way to circumvent KDP Select Exclusivity, which I discovered purely by accident, after having decided to take two 45,000 word novellas I had written, and merge them into one full-length novel under a new title. It took some time to do the re-writing and editing, but once the new book was ready to publish, I naturally intended to withdraw the two old novellas from sale.

Then the penny dropped. I immediately started work on the two novellas, incorporating the new chapters and re-writes from the new book. Now I had three books!

I withdrew the old novellas from Smashwords and published the new full-length novel to replace them. Then I went over to KDP, updated my two existing novellas, and enrolled them both immediately in KDP Select.

Of course, I could have done this visa versa, but my logic was that I would get two ebooks to promote on Kindle instead of only one.

The result is that I do not have to make the decision about Amazon exclusivity, as my story is now available everywhere, but exclusively on KDPS in two volumes.

There is also the possibility for me to publish the new full version on KDP, as it is a different title, but of course, without granting exclusivity. This may not be the solution for everyone, but perhaps for some, it’s an idea worth considering. What do you think?

Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

2 thoughts on “Amazon KDP Select Exclusivity – A Workaround?

  • I thought of doing that myself, but I worried it’d fall afoul of the terms.

    “During this period of exclusivity, you cannot sell or distribute, or give anyone else the right to sell or distribute, your Digital Book (or a book that is substantially similar), in digital format in any territory where you have rights. ”

    Specifically the “substantially similar” part. I think you’d be on safer footing if you left your original two novellas as they were without adding the new material back to them, so that if challenged by Amazon you could argue that they’re not that similar. On the other hand, so long as the new, single volume is only available on non-Amazon sites, Amazon really has no way to look at the content and determine how similar or not it is, so self-determination may be the saving grace here.

    The KDP people usually aren’t unreasonable, so if your choice does bother them they’re more likely to give you a warning before an account suspension if they think you’re in violation, and will provide you a little time to appeal or take the other book down.

    Reply
    • I agree, Dan. It’s difficult to define ‘substantially similar’. Is one 45,000 word book substantially similar to a 90,000 word book? In the end though, it’s Amazon’s ‘bat and ball’, so I’ll naturally play by their rules if I get an email from them. But as yet, I haven’t, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed and see if my trial works over the first full 90 day period.

      Reply

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