By now everyone in the Indie publishing world has formed an opinion about KDP Select, Amazon's program to promote ebooks on an exclusive basis. Arguments rage, pro and con. You can't have your ebook on any other platform. Should you give those exclusive rights away?
The short answer is yes, unless you are selling a bunch of books on B&N, Kobo, Sony, Apple, etc. etc., or on your own author website (you can't do that in the KDP program). So the short answer is absolutely dependent on what kind of success you are having elsewhere.
The program only applies to ebooks, not paper editions. For me, it was a no-brainer. I had my digital books on those other sites. Sales were flatter than a three day old birthday balloon. Wasn't doing a whole lot on Amazon, either. I write action adventure thrillers. That means I'm competing with superstars like Steve Berry or Lee Child or Clive Cussler. I'm not well known, yet. How was I going to gain exposure to the potentially millions of readers of my books?
The main argument against KDP Select seems to be the exclusivity clause. Hey, folks, it's only for 90 days at a time. You can always take any book out of the program. There isn't any long term obligation. What you get in return for enrollment is the attention of Amazon's mighty marketing machine.
Warning: Opinion Alert
Amazon is the major leagues of ebook marketing and exposure. Why play for an AA or AAA team if you can step into the majors?
A successful free promotion does a couple of things. It gains you X number of readers. It punches you into the "popularity" list in your genre. You could be #1 in free, #20 in the sub set of action/adventure or whatever, and still be nowhere near the top 100 paid, the golden hill we all want to scale. Top 100 paid means you are selling mucho copies. You get there, you're thinking about that new Mercedes. In the meantime you can get your book somewhere on that top 100 popularity list for your genre. White Jade is currently #20 on the Action/Adventure list on Kindle devices, #68 on the PC. I haven't a clue why it's different. Possibly it depends on where a reader buys the book. It can stay on the list for weeks and readers see it. Those popularity lists are driven by the number of free downloads.
I got more than 10,000 downloads when I promoted White Jade. That stimulated sales of the other books in the series. Enough to pay the light bill, not enough for the Mercedes. That's okay. Patience is everything. I'm happy to see royalties waiting. I'm happy to see any royalties at all. And I'm really happy knowing all those potential readers have my book waiting on their Kindles. Eventually they'll get to it and when they read it, many of them will want to buy the other books in the series. I can already see that happening.
Thank you, everyone who picked up White Jade.
A great feature of KDP Select is the tracking. You can see sales numbers by the hour, day, month, year. You have an exact record of royalties, updated regularly. Amazon pays directly to your account. You can see how many loaners there are and you get a royalty for those. Distribution cost, deducted from royalties, is only $0.15 per 1 Megabyte. You get 70% royalty on a book for $2.99 or more.
You have a behemoth marketing and distribution machine working for you, but you still have to self promote. You need good reviews, a 4+ star rating. You need to list your promotion on sites like Pixel of Ink, along with all of the usual social media stuff you might be doing. If you can tell me a better way to reach 10,000 plus readers in three days with no advertising budget, I'd love to know.
Amazon is in business to make a lot of money. They're willing to help self published writers succeed. If you're looking for a way to get the attention of readers who never heard of you, KDP Select is a good program.