Home > Self-publishing > KDP Select – Is it worth it?

KDP Select – Is it worth it?

Enrol your e-book  in Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select program and you get two advantages:

  • Amazon Prime members are able to borrow the book for free and this will generate a royalty payment for the author
  • The book can be offered free for 5 days in every 90. Offering a book for free is supposed to generate large numbers of downloads which will then convert into reviews of the book on Amazon, which in turn will drive an increased number of sales.

There is also a downside to joining KDP Select – the e-book must remain exclusive to Amazon i.e. it cannot be sold on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Kobo etc.

Many e-book authors swear by KDP Select and its advantages. They don’t see exclusivity as a disadvantage because Amazon is by far the biggest retailer of e-books.

I’m not sure. I’ve had e-books available in KDP Select for just over three months now and I’ve had only one Amazon Prime loan (it was in the US). So that doesn’t seem a massive benefit. Are any of you Amazon Prime members? I don’t know anyone who is.

I’ve run one free promotion. In the five days that One Day for Me was free, I had 135 US free downloads, 93 in the UK, 2 in Germany, 1 Japan and 1 Canada. As far as I can tell, only one review (it was in the UK) was written as a result and I noticed no increase in sales. This was despite spending an age adding my book to the many websites and Facebook pages that offer to list free e-books.

But I didn’t remove that book from KDP Select after the first 90 days, mainly because whilst I was dithering about what to do, the Amazon automatic re-enrol swung into action.

Looking on the bright side – maybe next time I’ll do better!

Which brings me nicely to my next KDP Select Promotion.

My second anthology Old Friends is free on all Kindle platforms for the next three days. Old Friends is a collection of 13 short stories. There are tales with a twist, stories about the ups and downs of family life plus a little romance. Perfect to enjoy with a cup of coffee and a biscuit! If you’re in the UK click here or in the US click here, otherwise search for ASIN B00BJIKIBI on any Amazon platform.

And as a special treat, One Day for Me is half price for the next three days too. One Day for Me is a collection of 8 short stories that have either won or been short-listed in UK writing competitions. If you’re in the UK click here or in the US click here, otherwise search for ASIN B00B4XCYJC on any Amazon platform.

I look forward to the reviews rolling in, followed by a tsunami of sales!

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  1. April 30, 2013 at 11:11 am

    I’m with you, I’m not sure KDP Select is worth it: on top of the restrictions of being unable to promote on Smashwords, there is also a minimum price threshold. I am keen to trial a lower price for my book to see if it help sales, being a new author, so I’m eagerly awaiting the end of my three months (and have, thankfully, already deselected the auto-renewal!) I certainly didn’t get many reviews for my 700 free downloads and, as someone who downloads lots of books because they’re free and then doesn’t always read them, I’m not really surprised!

    • April 30, 2013 at 12:12 pm

      I’m guilty of downloading freebies and never reading them too, Writer Mummy. Maybe I should un-tick that auto-enrol box now and try my luck elsewhere in 3 months.

      • April 30, 2013 at 12:54 pm

        Probably best to do it when you think of it!

        That’s why I want to try a 99p sale – I do read the books I buy, even if they were really cheap.

  2. April 30, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    Thank you Sally for posting these updates on your experiences – I think these are so valuable to the rest of us still sitting on the e-fence. Interesting feedback on the free downloads and the results, makes you wonder if offering a free sample works in the long run. I have quite a few books pending on my kindle and I probably subconciously prioritise reading the ones I’ve paid for rather the free copies.

    • April 30, 2013 at 6:55 pm

      Tracy, maybe if we’ve paid for something it is more attractive to us whilst giving things away free just devalues the whole business of writing?

  3. April 30, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    Well as I am skint since finishing degree (benefits don’t go far after bills!) I often download the freebies and I have read a large proportion of them! Some are crap though but it is quite good to read rubbish sometimes as this shows us how not to write (Stephen king – On Writing) I took up your offer today Sally and have read three quarters of the stories so far and am pretty impressed! When I can afford it I will buy your others, promise! I shall look at these short stories as inspiration for trying to write my own short stories. Well done, keep it up!

    • April 30, 2013 at 6:57 pm

      Thanks for the kind words, Carl! Maybe you would consider leaving me a review on Amazon?

      • April 30, 2013 at 7:24 pm

        If I can make the link work to Facebook when I ahve finished then no problem!

      • May 1, 2013 at 12:08 pm

        Just seen your review on Amazon, Carl. many thanks!

  4. April 30, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Another useful post, Sally. I hadn’t realised that I needed to de-select the automatic enrol box – if I can find it! I too have had some success with KDP Select but no sales so far – worse luck!

    • April 30, 2013 at 7:01 pm

      There’s so much to learn about this e-publishing lark, isn’t there Anne?

  5. May 1, 2013 at 7:28 am

    E-publishing isn’t something I have got round to thinking about seriously. I could include my published stories in an anthology but I just don’t know whether it is worth the time doing it. If I do, I will definitely re-read all your excellent posts on how to do it. Thank you.

    • May 1, 2013 at 12:10 pm

      Wendy, probably not worth it financially initially but depends how longterm sales go.

  6. May 1, 2013 at 9:33 am

    The books I’ve self published are with kdp select. When I tried selling through smashwords and other places I got a poor response, so I don’t feel I’m losing out by being exclusive with Amazon.

    My books have only been borrowed a few times, but the money I got was similar to a sale.

    • May 1, 2013 at 12:11 pm

      Thanks, Patsy. I’ve no idea whether I’d get any response on other platforms.

  7. May 1, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    As I haven’t yet ventured very far into the e-publishing world I can’t really give you any advice. My first thought about this was that I can see the sense in offering a few free books to generate publicity, but giving away an unlimited number over 5 days might mean that all your friends/ contacts/ blog followers etc. who would have bought a copy, will simply take the freebies. This will hopefully lead to some good reviews but you’ll still have the problem of how to attract other people (who’ve never heard of you) to actually buy the book.
    Good luck with it anyway!
    It sounds like not so much a learning curve – more like climbing Mount Everest blindfolded!

    • May 2, 2013 at 7:22 am

      You’re right, Linda. Good job I’m not depending on this e-book lark to put food on the table – otherwise I’d want to know why supermarkets aren’t giving their stuff away for free too!

  8. May 1, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    Hi Sally, a very interesting read, I am about to upload my first children’s Ebook onto Amazon Kindle and was considering offering it for free straight away as I am not expecting any sales! What is troubling me however is whether or not I need an ISBN No. I have read around several forums and the opinions are divided. Some are adamant that you have an ISBN No. and others say that it isn’t necessary. What are your thoughts on this please?

    I look forward to your emails, they are so informative, keep them coming!

    • May 2, 2013 at 7:26 am

      You don’t need an ISBN to publish on Amazon Kindle, Margaret. When you upload the book Amazon automatically allocates it an ASIN number which uniquely identifies it within Amazon. If you have an ISBN you can use it but it’s not necessary. I haven’t got an ISBN.
      I think your idea of offering it for free initially to kick-start sales is good.

  9. May 2, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    Hi Sally,
    Thank you for downloading a copy of my new book. I have just grabbed a copy of your own. I will definitely be in touch again in order to bend your ear about writing short stories and submitting them to magazines and such. That all sounds very daunting to me. Putting a short story up on Amazon seems easy in comparison. lol

    I will be writing up a case study to document the results of my free promo to see if there are any lessons that can be shared with others.

    • May 2, 2013 at 6:30 pm

      Thanks for the download, Victoria and I look forward to keeping in touch.

  10. May 2, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    A couple of thoughts. Instead of 5 days free why not try a two day blitz. Also, I’ve just reduced my price for a week down to £1.02 …nearly 99p but like you the volume of free sales on my freebie days did not lead to reviews as far as I could see. I’ve never tried Smashwords but I did try Book Baby. Good luck with your promotions though. I think we need to be patient. Build up a brand and platform of support and keep our fingers crossed!

    • May 3, 2013 at 12:20 pm

      Thanks for the tips, Diana. I will try playing about with the price.

  11. May 29, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    Thanks, Sally. I’ve decided against KDP Select after reading your post for my first ebook, which is still not complete.

    • May 30, 2013 at 6:18 pm

      Good to hear from you Rohishettty. I’ve now withdrawn one of my books from KDP Select.

  1. May 5, 2014 at 10:09 pm

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