One of the early important decisions you’ll need to make as a self-published author is whether to enter your Kindle e-book into the KDP Select program. Enter your Kindle e-book into the KDP Select program for 90 days at a time to receive specific members benefits, including Amazon promotional deals and revenue generation through the Kindle Unlimited book loan program.
With such benefits, why doesn’t everyone enter all their Kindle e-books into the KDP Select program? The answer is that membership in KDP Select comes at a terrible cost; namely, Amazon e-book exclusivity.
This post is about the pros and cons of entering your Amazon e-book into the KDP Select program.
Increased Royalties in Some Countries
With your book enrolled in the KDP Select program, it will earn 70% royalties in some foreign countries (e.g. Brazil) instead of the standard 35%. This isn’t an important benefit unless you’re targeting one of these countries.
Kindle Unlimited Book Loan Program
Amazon readers enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited program can borrow books enrolled in the KDP Select program. As the book author, you receive a percentage of a monthly pool of money equivalent to the number of pages read by all borrowing readers during the month.
This is an enormous benefit. I currently generate 16% of my monthly book revenue from this book loan program. The amount of money I currently generate through the loan program far exceeds the money I used to generate publishing through Smashwords, Barnes and Noble and the Apple Bookstore. In my case, this benefit alone outweighs the cost of exclusivity.
Amazon Promotional Deals
During the 90 days in which your book is enrolled in the KDP Select program, you can run either free or countdown deals for the book. A free deal marks the book down visually to free for up to five days (I use all five days at once rather than running multiple promotional campaigns per book per month). A countdown deal marks your book down (e.g. $0.99) for up to seven days. You have the option of incrementing the cost of your book every few days back to its original price. I simply discount my books to $0.99 for the full seven days (during which I keep 70% of the revenue rather than the standard 35% for a $0.99 book).
This is another enormous benefit since I sell nearly half of all my Amazon books via promotional sales.
The Cost of Amazon E-book Exclusivity
The cost of entering an Amazon Kindle e-book into the KDP select program is that the e-book must be published exclusively on Amazon. This means the e-book cannot be published via Smashwords, Barnes & Noble or the Apple Bookstore. This represents a significant loss of revenue.
While publishing via Smashwords, Barnes and Noble and the Apple Bookstore, I generated 16% of my revenue from these sources and 84% from Amazon Kindle e-books. When I switched to KDP Select and unpublished my books from the non-Amazon sites, I immediately saw a 16% revenue increase in Amazon sales from book loans. I have yet to quantify the benefit of Amazon book promotions but suspect it is significant.
Meanwhile, I can focus my publishing and marketing efforts solely on Amazon.
What I Recommend
If your intent is to maximize distribution, self-publish your e-book through Amazon and leave your e-book out of KDP Select so that you can also publish via Smashwords (note that Smashwords is a single point of publication that distributes to Barnes and Noble and the Apple Book Store).
If your intent is to maximize revenue, self-publish your e-book through Amazon and enter it into the KDP Select program for 90 days. If you’re not happy with the benefits, pull the book out of KDP Select after 90 days and publish it elsewhere.
I’ll see you in the classroom,