Amazon KDP Select is always a difficult choice to make for self-publishing authors
Making the decision to use KDP Select and give Amazon exclusivity to your ebooks is not an easy decision, but it is one that all authors have to make. Not only once either, because if you have a backlist, you might need to go in and out to try to gain traction on other ebook retailers.
Why would you want to go in an out? Because KDP Select is not a winner all the time. In my experience, entering KDP Select always pays off, but often for only a limited amount of time. I can’t state this definitively or with data to prove it, but after moving my ebooks in and out of KDP Select many times, the results are now, almost very predictable.
But let me backtrack a little. I prefer to have all my ebooks available on as many retailers as possible and for most of the time, I do this. It is what is often called open publishing. However, sales tend to plateau after a while, and then tail off after some months have passed. This is normal as all ebook retailers tend to give more exposure to new titles. Due to this reason, I have found that moving my ebooks to KDP Select for a few months serves two purposes.
Two birds with one stone
One is that KDP Select is the only way to get ebooks available on Kindle Unlimited (KU). I am not a lover of the royalty offered under KU, but it does give access to a lot more ebook readers. While the royalty is lower, gaining page reads does help improve an ebook’s sales ranking, so this is well worthwhile.
Second is that by taking my ebooks down from other retailers that I have published on Draft2Digital, I have noticed that I get a sales boost when I return them either three or six months later. Don’t ask me why, but in my experience, it happens every time.
It has been about three weeks since I moved all my ebooks to KDP Select, and as has happened every other time, my ebook sales jumped up immediately within a few days.
I haven’t changed any of my book promotion tools other than to remove links to retailers other than Amazon from by websites, so the sales jump was simply due to entering KDP Select.
Sales will slow down on KDP Select, again
By the time I get to the end of my three-month enrollment I am sure sales will have started to slow down. On a couple of occasions, I have left my ebooks enrolled for an extra three months, but noticed that sales didn’t really pick up. If anything, sales tended to fall away.
But as soon as I exited KDP Select and returned to open publishing, sales started moving on Apple, B&N, Kobo and a few other small retailers.
It is certainly not scientific, but after many years now of trying to learn, understand and make the best of the situation with regards to Amazon’s exclusivity as opposed to open publishing, I can only say that going in and out has benefits over just leaving ebooks in one or the other.
You won’t lose your book reviews
Reviews really only count on Amazon and going in and out of normal KDP and KDP Select has no effect on existing book reviews. They will stay with your ebook. On other retailers, it is not quite so clear-cut, but as book reviews are far, far less frequent on Apple, Kobo and B&N in particular, there is not a lot to worry about.
Although book reviews are a big help, the best sales booster is a higher sales ranking, and for me, by using KDP Select from time to time, I not only get a better sales ranking, but I also get more reviews.
So what is the best formula?
There is no good, better or best way to manage ebook exclusivity. In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be a choice to be made, but Amazon is not going to change its mind anytime soon so it will retain the need to grant exclusivity to join KDP Select.
After trying different approaches, all I can say is that I find it beneficial to keep all of my ebooks available through open publishing for nine months of the year, and then move them all to KDP Select for the three months of summer. It is certainly not a magic winning formula, but it is one that has worked for me over the years.
The only sure thing I know is that Amazon has such a huge chunk of the book and ebook market that it pays to be there, either exclusive or non-exclusive.