An Ebook Pricing Strategy - Ignore Amazon and KDP Select

Kindle KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) has too many ebook pricing rules, regulations, restrictions, limits and penalties

Why can’t an ebook be priced at free on KDP? Why does an ebook priced at $1.99 only earn 35% royalty? Why can’t an ebook be in KDP Select but not in Kindle Unlimited? Why does an ebook earn only half royalties in some countries?

Such are some of the problems with ebook pricing on Amazon KDP and KDP Select. It seems that no matter which way one goes, Amazon wins, and the author loses, at least from the aspect of control.

Wouldn’t it be nice if an author could set the price for an ebook, get a fixed royalty, and not have to worry about manipulations, deductions or discounting to feed subscription services?

Wouldn’t it be nice if ebook royalties were paid per sale, and not from a monthly community pot decided by a publisher? Wouldn’t it be nice if a publisher helped a little with ebook promotion, without demanding absolute exclusivity?

I have asked myself these questions for a long time now. Sure, Amazon is the biggest ebook game in town with a huge market share percentage, but at the same time, it’s getting awfully overcrowded.

So much so that KDP Select exclusivity is now almost mandatory to get any sales on Kindle. However, any effectiveness of Select only lasts for one or two enrollment periods before sales start fading away.

Then there is always the ongoing issue for me of not being a US author, and because of this, I am denied access to many Amazon and KDP features and services. It took me years to get paid by EFT, and I still cannot enter Kindle Scout.

While Amazon happily gives away my ebooks for next to nothing on Kindle Unlimited, I can’t get access to KU and next to free reading, because I don’t live in the US. Call that fair?

On top of all that, the concentration of Amazon’s ebook market share is mainly in two markets; The US and the UK, so what about the world’s other billion or so readers?

There has to be a better alternative.

Breaking free of the Amazon restrictions

Because of the restrictions and limitations above, I made the decision to go to open publishing a few months ago. I had four main objectives.

The first was to take control my ebook pricing and earn a fixed royalty at whatever the cover price. As I chose Draft2Digital (D2D), I earn 60% on any sale value. A pricing bonus with Draft2Digital is that I can change or discount territorial prices individually. Even to the point of making an ebook free in only certain countries.

The second was to find new markets, or more precisely, less competitive markets. Discovery on Amazon is extremely difficult now due to so many ebooks being published every day, and because of the necessity to fight with algorithms, troll reviews, free ebook days, scammers and KU to get noticed.

While Apple, Kobo, B&N and a number of other ebook retailers have a much smaller market share, they also have smaller ebook catalogues, so discovery is much less of a battle.

The third objective was to be an independent author once again, and not be a Kindle author, controlled and manipulated by Amazon’s rules, regulations and unannounced changes of policy. However, I have left two ebooks in Select, which are only compilations, so I can keep my finger on the KDP Select pulse so to speak.

I have also obviously left all my other ebooks available on Kindle KDP, but it is now just another retailer.

Lastly, I wanted to be able to promote and market my ebooks without any restrictions. If I want to offer an ebook for free for two weeks, I can now. If I want to have a title perma-free, I can now. Yes, I know about Amazon’s Price Match, but it takes so long to take effect that it’s hardly much of a concern.

If I want to have different prices in different markets, I can now. Best of all, though, is that I can make my own decisions as to when, where, how and how long I conduct my ebook promotions.

The result of ignoring Amazon?

It’s early days, as it took me some time to extricate my titles from KDP Select, and also to refresh my ebooks in readiness for open publishing. However, the early votes are in.

In the first month, I only had two titles published with Draft2Digital, and they were published mid-month. However, I got sales! Not a lot, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Now ten days into my second month with almost all my ebooks published, my sales report on D2D almost sings to me each morning with regular ebook sales. Mostly on Apple, but a couple from Tolino, a German retailer, which really pleased me.

At the moment, ebook sales from D2D are coming close to equalling to my Amazon sales, which is far better than I expected in such a short period. I am looking forward to seeing how sales go next month when I will have finished publishing all of my ebooks to D2D.

All I can say is, so far, so good, and I feel very happy being an independent author again. I am not a bestselling author by any means. For me, self-publishing has always been something I have done because I enjoy it, but as a bonus, it provides me with a side income.

For those considering open publishing and escaping the regulations of Amazon, it is a viable alternative which gives authors more control over their ebooks and pricing, especially for non-US authors.

So, Amazon who?

This page was last updated on September 10th, 2017

6 thoughts on “An Ebook Pricing Strategy – Ignore Amazon and KDP Select

  • June 15, 2016 at 1:16 pm
    Permalink

    Thank you for this rather informative post. Despite the negatives of going exclusive to Amazon however (for 90 days), I am going to try that tactic first and see how it goes. Then beyond that, I will look into other publishing options. Is Draft2Digitial good for getting your books on Smashwords too etc? Or is that a different process again?

    I agree though that Amazon’s rules / rates are a little harsh on authors, so I don’t plan on sticking with them forever. Time will tell…

    Reply
    • June 15, 2016 at 4:01 pm
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      Yes, Adrian. KDP Select for 90 days is often a good move, especially for a new title. With regard to Draft2Digital and Smashwords, they are both aggregators, so they offer similar services. It’s just a matter of preference.

      Reply
  • December 11, 2016 at 9:10 pm
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    What about the ISBN issue? Going with Amazon they cover that. Buying your own is costly. Does D2D provide one as well? Or does it transfer with no penalty? Being an indie author an individual ISBN is a costly move.

    Reply
    • December 17, 2016 at 5:58 am
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      I like to control my ISBNs, so what I did was to take a deep breath and buy 10 at once. At the time, a single ISBN cost $125US, while 10 cost $250. That’s $25 per edition. I did not view that as an exceedingly high cost to add to the pile (roughly $50 for an ebook cover design, $150 for the print cover design, and, if you go this route, proofreader costs. I do the rest myself.)

      Reply
  • January 24, 2017 at 6:37 am
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    I am so glad to hear you say good things about D2D. This is who I have chosen for my publishing needs. I just finished my first book, so I am a total newbie to this whole thing. I’ve been reading and reading until my head feels like it’s going to pop off. I’ve got a lot to learn, but articles like this one are a great help.

    Reply

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