You are ready to publish your book. You create your Amazon KDP account. And start to learn Amazon’s book publishing process. Then, you come across a section titled “KDP Select Enrollment”.
Amazon tells you: “with KDP Select, you can reach more readers, earn more money, and maximize your sales potential.”
Sounds like a no brainer, right?
Well, hold on a moment. Before you enroll your title in KDP Select, there are a few things you need to know.
Yes, it can help increase your book sales. But you also lose out on other opportunities to market your title. In this post, I explain the pros and cons of KDP Select so you can determine the best route for you.
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What Is KDP Select?
For the new indie author, there’s a lot to learn. So, let’s start by defining some common terms.
Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP): This is Amazon’s platform where you self-publish your book and offer it for sale in the Amazon store.
KDP Select: This is a program in which you agree to sell your digital book exclusively through Amazon for 90 days. Your book is also included in Kindle Unlimited (KU) and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL). Lastly, enrolling in KDP Select grants you access to Kindle Countdown Deals and Free Book Promotion.
Kindle Countdown Deal: A limited-time discount promotion on your book (currently Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk only). Customers see the regular price and promotional price on your book page. A countdown clock shows how much time is left at the promotional price.
Kindle Unlimited (KU): A subscription service available to Amazon customers in certain countries. Kindle Unlimited customers can read as many books as they like and keep them as long as they want for a monthly subscription fee.
Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL): Allows Amazon Prime members to borrow one book for free each month.
As you can see, KDP Select offers some distinct advantages for your eBook. The catch is you cannot sell your digital book elsewhere for 90 days. You must remain exclusive to Amazon.
(Note – you can still sell your paperback in other stores when enrolled in KDP Select).
Exclusivity Vs Publishing Wide
In the indie community, offering your book through multiple platforms is called “publishing wide”.
There are hundreds of places besides Amazon where you can sell your title. Including, Apple Books, Google Play, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, subscription services like Scribd, and libraries. You can even sell your book direct from your own website.
However, Amazon still dominates the eBook market. Some sources state Amazon makes up as much as 50% of eBook sales. Others claim Amazon has an even higher market share.
Either way, Amazon is the major player in digital books. And so, it makes sense publish on their platform. But what should you do about the other opportunities?
In the rest of this post, I outline the pros and cons of the two options. Being exclusive to Amazon or publishing wide.
I stayed exclusive to Amazon for my first four years. In early 2020, I started experimenting with publishing my books wide. So, I have personal experience with both solutions.
As you read through this post, consider where you are in your author life. Are you a newbie or do you already have some experience in the publishing world? How many resources do you want to commit to creating versus publishing?
Writing your book is only part of what you do as an author. You’re also a publisher and marketer. But don’t be put off by the process. Getting your title into the hands of readers doesn’t have to be complex.
And remember – there’s no one right way to self-publish your book. It all depends on your personal and professional goals.
Amazon Exclusivity: Pros
First, we look at staying exclusive to Amazon.
Publishing in a single store is a lot less work. You only need to learn one platform, format your book once, view your royalties in one place, etc.
Consolidating your reviews and sales – instead of spreading them across multiple sites – can also help you climb further up the Amazon bestseller lists.
Next, when you’re exclusive with Amazon, you can enroll your book in KDP Select. We’ve already discussed what is KDP Select.
Enrolling in KDP Select can help you sell extra books by running Kindle Countdown Deals. It also means your book is available in Kindle Unlimited. This helps you reach other readers – there are some people who only read eBooks via Kindle Unlimited.
Finally, if you enroll in KDP Select, your book typically has a higher Amazon Ranking. This can help even more people discover your book.
Amazon Exclusivity: Cons
There are disadvantages to staying exclusive to Amazon.
When you’re exclusive you miss out on readers who buy their books elsewhere. For example, Apple Books, Google Play, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and even local bookstores. You also lose the opportunity to get your book into libraries (both physical and online).
Exclusivity means you put all your eggs in one basket – if Amazon ever changes their algorithm or their rules then you could be vulnerable. This is the main driver for my decision to publish my books wide.
Some authors object to the fact that Amazon has so much control and argue that you’re not truly independent if you depend on Amazon for your livelihood.
For the record, I’m a realist. I focus my efforts where my readers and I see the most benefit. If that means selling most of my books through Amazon, then I’m okay with that.
However, my stance doesn’t mean I’m not constantly following publishing trends and looking for new opportunities. This is why many of my books are now available in other non-Amazon outlets.
Publishing Wide: Pros
Now, let’s look at the pros and cons of publishing wide.
When you publish wide you reach more readers and more countries – not everybody buys their books on Amazon.
Further, by diversifying across multiple platforms, you reduce your risk of being negatively impacted by changes on one platform. Since Amazon first launched KDP, they have made several significant changes. Each time they adjust their algorithm or royalty structure, authors experience a direct hit.
You also support the smaller publishing platforms who are struggling to take on the “giant” of online selling (aka Amazon). Finally, there can be some prestige attached to having your books widely available.
Publishing Wide: Cons
On the flip side, there’s additional work when you publish across multiple platforms. This was the main reason I held back for so long.
When publishing wide you must manage multiple formats, platforms, and income sources. I struggled to justify the extra effort for what may be a small impact on my total book sales.
When you’re no longer exclusive, Amazon won’t let you enroll in Kindle Select. So, you also lose out on the opportunity to reach Kindle Unlimited readers, boost your Amazon ranking, and run KDP Select sales.
Should You Enroll In KDP Select?
Okay, we’ve answered the question “what is KDP Select?” We’ve also explored the pros and cons of staying exclusive to Amazon.
But what should you do? Here’s my take on this debate.
If you want to reach a lot of readers for the least amount of overhead, then publish exclusively on Amazon and join KDP Select.
I still believe going exclusive is best for first-time authors who are just figuring out the publishing world. You can always widen your reach once you have a handle on Amazon’s platform and algorithm.
Being exclusive is also an accepted strategy for indie authors who write specifically for Kindle Unlimited readers. These authors build up a large KU following and publish a high volume of books in a narrowly defined fiction genre.
However, if you have the time to experiment and want to have your book available in as many places as possible then go “wide”. This is what I’m doing – but only after four happy years of exclusivity.
And don’t waste too much time making a decision. The important thing is to get your new title out into the world and start selling books!
If you’d like more help building your author business, come check out the Author Resource Library. You’ll get access to proven resources to help you build your business plus an invite to join my private Facebook Group where you’ll get personal support and training with me.