Is Amazon KDP Select A Better Bet For Backlist Books?

backlist books - Is Amazon KDP Select Better

Amazon KDP Select might be a good idea for your backlist

A lot has been written about the choice between Amazon KDP Select exclusivity and open publishing when it comes to new releases, but what about when titles are over a year old and are slowing in sales and are set to be firmly labelled as backlisted books?

I am facing this dilemma, as I decide what to do with my backlist of fifteen titles. As an almost devout believer in open publishing, I have to say that when it comes to my backlist, Amazon KDP Select may have its advantages.

While it is a given that Amazon dominates the ebook and book market, there is no doubt that the others, including Apple, Barnes and Noble and Kobo can contribute a lot of sales in the first year after a title is published.

Many self-publishing authors take the route of using Amazon exclusivity for the first three months to gain some traction (and reviews) and then revert to open publishing to try to attract extra sales revenue. But what about when a title is five years old?

Amazon KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited to the rescue for backlist books?

As much as I hate the fact that Kindle Unlimited reduces royalties (unfairly perhaps), one must say that it is one of the most effective means of attracting new readers. At a price, yes. But it works.

I mention this because over the last few months I have been surprised to see KU page reads appear on my KDP Dashboard. Why am I surprised? Because I haven’t had a single ebook enrolled in KDP Select, and therefore KU, in over seven months! Yes, seven months! And yet, after all this time, readers are finally getting around to reading my ebooks that they must have saved to their reading list months ago.

This tells me that readers collect ebooks on Kindle Unlimited, but may not read them for a very long time. However, in the end, they perhaps, do read. And of course, an author like me finally makes a buck.

At the same time as discovering that I am earning a few long overdue bucks from Kindle Unlimited, I can also confirm that sales of my backlist on Apple, B&N and Kobo is far from making me rich. My sales revenue from these retailers over the last few months makes for sorry reading.

So, what should I do with my backlist books?

The temptation is obvious. Pitiful sales via open publishing, or take my chances on Kindle Unlimited and try to gamble that I can attract new readers to discover my backlist books.

Well, it’s not such a gamble, really. The one positive thing about Amazon exclusivity is that it only last for ninety days. It’s not like I am signing life away for forever and a day.

As with all things self-publishing, it pays to experiment, try new ideas, try old ideas and in fact try any ideas. And of course, never give up.

Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

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