Amazon KDP Select has many benefits, but all at the cost of exclusivity
If you are self-published, you have certainly made your paperbacks and ebooks available on Amazon. For your ebooks, you have probably also enrolled in KDP Select.
But what happens when you make the decision to exit KDP Select and publish your ebooks with an aggregator such as Draft2Digital or Smashwords to gain access to Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and others?
It makes sense to want to make your ebooks available to as many readers as possible, and from the viewpoint of being an independent author, exclusivity goes against the grain of what being independent means.
However, facts are facts, and as the graphic below from Author Earnings clearly shows, Amazon is very hard to resist.
If you have ebooks in Amazon KDP Select and are wondering if it is advantageous to exit, let me save you some time by giving you my experience of having been in and out of KDP Select many, many times.
I suppose the first question you might ask, is why have I exited so many times. Good question.
There is no doubt that enrolling an ebook in KDP Select increases ebook sales. There is no doubt that Amazon sells more ebooks than any other retailer. There is no doubt that Kindle is the most popular e-reader. There is no doubt that I have sold more ebooks via KDP Select than via any other means.
But here’s the catch with KDP Select
My ebook sales have always increased during the first 6 months of KDP Select enrollment, and then sales fade away to a trickle. If this had happened only once, I would have explained it away as being a problem with a book. But I have seen this happen over and over again, as I have moved eighteen titles in and out of KDP Select.
Amazon wants ebooks in KDP Select because it uses cheap, free, and subscription ebooks as an ‘entry hook’ to get people to buy other products on Amazon. This is what differentiates Amazon from all other ebook retailers.
Amazon is not in the business of selling ebooks. It is in the business of selling televisions, lawn mowers, pet food, laptops and any other profitable product, but Amazon uses ebooks to bring (lure) customers to its store.
However, Amazon needs to reward writers for handing over exclusivity. So, the deal seems to be that Amazon hands out the reward of increased sales, but only for so long. My experience tells me that Amazon’s marketing algorithms stop working in your favour after five or six months.
I have left a few ebooks in KDP Select for well over a year and a half to see if sales picked up after the first two terms, but they never eventuated.
So this is why I exit KDP Select after two enrollment terms, and then open publish for three or four months. Then, when I re-enrol in KDP Select, I usually get Amazon’s marketing algorithms working for me again.
And what happens to my ebook sales during the time I am out of KDP Select?
Kindle sales continue, but at a much slower rate, and of course, there is no Kindle Unlimited income. Sales on other retailers cover this loss to some extent, however. In general terms, my Kindle ebook sales income drop by about 40-50% from what I usually expect from being enrolled in KDP Select.
Over the years now, I have developed a routine of staying in KDP Select for six months, moving out for a while, then moving back in again. Each time I re-enrol in KDP Select, my Kindle ebook sales again increase dramatically again. Plus of course, I return to getting Kindle Unlimited page read income. Rinse and repeat.
If you have ebooks in KDP Select and you are getting reasonable sales, stay there. If you are thinking about open publishing, be prepared for a loss of ebook sales from Amazon, which may or may not be offset by sales from other retailers.
But if you are in KDP Select and have been enrolled for a long time, and have seen your ebook sales fall off and never recovered, perhaps it’s time to take a break from KDP Select and move to open publishing for a while and then try KDP Select again in a few months.