Thursday, September 6, 2012

5 Reasons Why Indie Writers May Or May Not Be Sticking With KDP Select.

It has been 9 months since I attempted my first free days with KDP Select. My first promo was shortly after I published Judgment Tramp, and truthfully, it wasn't exactly a success. (Read about it here) After that I decided to do a lot of detective work to discover what other writers were doing to make KDP Select work for them.  I read so many blog posts on the subject, I decided it would be beneficial to collect them all in one place and provide a list for others who were seeking information. Since then, I periodically search for new posts and continue to list people's experiences in a loose chronological order. (You can find that list here.
Over the course of the last 8 months or so, the majority of experiences have been positive with more and more writers jumping on board and giving it a try. I,personally, have run 5 more promos since the initial flop with various degrees of success. However, the KDP trend seems to be shifting somewhat, and, recently, I've come across more posts  from writers who have decided to cut loose from KDP Select. In light of this, I thought it would be useful to summarize why indie writers who have been participating in KDP Select may or may not have chosen to stick with it. Personally I've decided to stick with it as long as the benefits of participating in KDP Select seem to outweigh the negatives. I reevaluate every 90 days, but so far I don't see anything that will give my marketing efforts the same boost. However, the reasons that others are deciding differently are valid and worth considering. If you have been participating or are considering participating in KDP Select, maybe the following will help you decide which way to go. So here are the top reasons writers may or may not be sticking with KDP Select as gleaned from recent posts:

Writers ARE sticking With KDP Select because:

1. ...they are still enjoying the boost in sales after a free promotion , and the potential exposure to thousands of readers they might not have reached without the visibility free day promotions gives them. They may be one of the writers who credits the success of your books to KDP Select and the opportunities the program has given them. The impact of KDP Select may not be what it once was-writers are noticing a definite difference since around April/May when Amazon changed the algorithms-but many are still finding it a beneficial tool for marketing their books.  This may be especially true if the writer is a new author because using the program gives writers who may not yet have a following the opportunity for immediate exposure.
2. ...they are using ALL of KDP Select, including the free days. and aren't counting on royalties from borrows to take them to the bank.  Borrows are only part of the picture and, frankly, if your price is higher than $2.99, you will get less in royalties for that borrow than if the book had been purchased
3. ...they are willing to max out your free event by using websites, blogs, Facebook pages and other social media to advertise their free promo. This has become even more important for maximizing  chances at a bump in sales afterwards. The effect of a multitude of free downloads on sales rank has diminished since the program was first introduced, but the more visibility you achieve, whether through the promo itself or the lingering effect of  having made extra effort to advertise your book, the more likely it is that sales will pick up after your free promo. The number of free titles has increased as well, so books may need more of a marketing boost to push the number of free downloads up.
4. ...they like the great advertising  their book gets  when it appears on the free bestseller lists right alongside the paid bestseller lists; not for vanity's sake ( well, not much!), but because being next to the likes of Stephen King, Michael Connelly, or  Brad Thor makes for pretty darn good advertising. 
5. ...they are using the power of KDP Select to cross-sell their books. This may be especially true if an author has a series of books. Putting one book in the free promotion often helps build a readership for other books in a series and increases sales across all of an author's books. Despite all the changes, KDP Select still remains a powerful tool for aiding readers to sift through all of the books now available at Amazon.

Writers are NOT sticking with KDP Select because:

1. ...they believe that writers putting their books up for free is devaluing. They are afraid the use of the free promotion is overdone and creating a harmful "Walmart-like" expectation among readers who are becoming less and less willing to pay for what they have worked so hard to create and market.
 2. ... they believe that giving Amazon exclusivity is not a good idea, either for their books, and/or for the greater good. Perhaps they are a writer who has developed a readership among Nook or Kobo owners and doesn't want to exclude them, or they've tried the KDP Select program and it was good, but it's time to expand to other platforms. They may feel Amazon is dangerously close to becoming a monopoly.
 3. ...they don't like that their books' rankings take a rapid plunge, sometimes below where they started, after coming off free days, and, sometimes, take a while to recover. Since the algorithms have changed, free downloads don't seem to count as much toward sales rank as they used to and a book being free means no sales are recorded during those free days, of course, which most likely causes this initial plummet directly after a promo ends. My book has always plummeted initially and then risen back up. This is the bounce that we used to get all the time. My book hasn't bounced as well as some, but it has always bounced. What I notice, however, is a much slower rise in the rank.)(See Jeff Faris's insightful post about why you may not be achievIng the bounce quite as easily anymore.)
 4. ...they've noticed an increase in 1- and 2-star reviews, often coming from people who haven't reviewed any other books, or, obviously read the book, which makes them question the review's validity and/or intention of the reviewer. They see a tendency for some people who have downloaded books for free to leave harsher reviews. They may have seen an effect on their book's prior stellar ratings.
 5. ... they simply feel that KDP Select has run out of steam, and it's time to move on. It has lost enough of its effectiveness for them and it no longer seems worth it for many of the reasons listed above.

Which way are you going with KDP Select?


  1. My book is available on kindle and I keep it there because it's good to have it available as an easy download for ebook readers. It's available all over the world too, which is great. I haven't tried any of the free day promotional events so haven't seen how those work out but you make good points about how they can be positive but also negative.


  2. With Amazon's market share, your book doesn't have to be a new release to be promoted effectively with the KDP Select program. There are always new customers available to increase your fan base.

    Take care, Jai--how's the new book going?

  3. My experience is that unless you have at least 7 books - the KDP Select success will be minimal. With 7 books you can offer enough free days each week to boost the rankings all week long. That's just been my own experience with it.

  4. Lori- I agree the more books a writer has out there, the more effective the free promotions are all the way around. However, I have had good success with keeping my lone book in KDP Select for now while I'm working on the second. The rankings and sales do fluctuate greatly in between promos but I believe the book has gotten exposure and sales it wouldn't have gotten if KDP Select hadn't helped it gain visibility.