Decisions, decisions, decisions!

If you thought that writing and publishing an eBook would be a cut-and-dried effort, think again. Along with all of the other important decisions to make regarding your self-published book, the question of whether to sign up for KDP Select or not is kind of a biggie.

Should you grab the dangling carrot or opt instead for a wide distribution of your eBook? Take some time to become acquainted with the KDP Select benefits, as well as the notable limitations of enrolling in the program.

Read on to decide if KDP Select is worth it for your publishing goals.

What is KDP Select?

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is Amazon’s powerhouse e-publishing arm, established in 2007 in tandem with its Kindle reader, and currently owns about 80% of the market. Publishing your eBook through KDP is a straightforward affair in which you upload your file and select the KDP option. There are absolutely no restrictions placed on the authors, who are free to publish their eBook far and wide on any platform desired.

So then, what is KDP Select, you ask?

This “select” option boils down to an exclusive publishing agreement for your eBook with Amazon. For a period of 90-days, you agree to only publish your book on the KDP platform, period. This means you are not permitted to offer the book for sale through your Facebook page, your website, or on any other e-publishing platform during those 90 days.

If you are scratching your head wondering why on earth any author would agree to limit their distribution like this, worry not, as there are several perks that come with using the KDP Select program as a promotional tool. Whether or not these will be beneficial to your goals, your marketing plan, or even your eBook’s genre, are the questions to consider.

Is KDP Select Worth It? Weighing the Pros & Cons

So, let’s flesh this out, shall we? When considering the two Amazon publishing options for your eBook it always helps to run through the pros and cons before jumping into a decision you might regret.

For some authors, the KDP Select avenue offers a stellar opportunity for extra exposure, but for others, the wide distribution route makes more sense. Here is a summary of the KDP Select pros and cons to digest before deciding if KDP Select is worth it.

KDP Select Benefits

  • Kindle Unlimited. Kindle Unlimited (KU) is far and away the biggest reason to give this program a shot. Subscribers to KU pay a $9.99 monthly fee for access to as many eBooks as they desire. Due to this perceived value, the KU program is extremely popular. Subscribers are sent emails that, based on their reading habits, suggest similar titles for them to consider, which can direct a lot of targeted traffic to your eBook that may not have otherwise occurred in the standard KDP program.
  • Kindle free promotions. During each 90-day period, the author is able to promote their eBook as free for 5 days either consecutively or spread out. The free price sticker can drum up a lot of interest in your book from potential readers and lead to higher rankings and more loyal customers for your future publications.
  • Extra royalties in certain countries. While authors of eBooks on both KDP and KDP Select can earn royalties on book sales in some countries, only the KDP Select program allows for the 70% royalty to be paid for sales in Japan, Brazil, India, and Mexico, in addition to the other eligible countries. Authors receive the standard 35% royalty in all other countries.
  • Royalties for pages read. Amazon Prime members have access to the Kindle Owners Lending Library (KOLL) program where they can “borrow” eBooks for free. One of the KDP Select benefits is that Amazon will pay for the number of pages read on these borrows on the KOLL. While the rate fluctuates, currently, for every 100 pages read by readers enrolled in KOLL, the author receives $0.48.
  • Kindle Countdown Deal. During the 90-day period, authors can run a 7-day “countdown deal,” where the book is temporarily sold for a discounted price. Even with the promotional pricing, authors still rake in the 70% royalty per unit sold. People love getting a deal, so this tactic can spur prospective readers to give your book a shot. The Kindle Countdown Deal works very well when coordinated with a Bookbub promotion.
  • Simplifies publishing. Because the KDP Select rules require an exclusive arrangement from the author, this can streamline the publishing process since they can only distribute the eBook on Amazon. This allows you to get your eBook up and running in no time flat.
  • Higher rankings. Amazon ranking is based, of course, on units sold. However, if the author is also in KDP Select, and therefore automatically enrolled in KU, each borrow on KOLL also is counted as a sale to the algorithm. In this way, authors who opt for KDP Select may be able to push their rankings up faster (if their book gets a lot of borrows).
  • You can still publish your paperback edition widely. While Amazon stakes a claim on your eBook for a 90-day period, they permit you to go ahead and publish your paperback or hardcover versions far and wide. After the 90 days are up, you can un-enroll from the KDP Select if you choose, and publish your eBook wherever you wish.
  • KDP Select All-Star Bonuses. Rockstar authors whose books rank in the top 100 will be gifted with a bonus from Amazon. These are monetary gifts that range from $500-$25,000 depending on author ranking or title ranking. In addition, these authors receive an All-Star badge on their book detail page in recognition of their success.

KDP Select Cons

  • Reduces visibility. The primary negative about signing on to the KDP Select program is the reduced exposure your eBook will receive because of the exclusivity clause. EBook buyers who have a loyalty to Apple Books accessed through iTunes or Barnes and Noble’s Nook readers will never run across your title on those platforms.
  • Amazon’s fickle algorithms. No one can predict from one day to the next how their eBook will rank on Amazon because they are constantly changing the algorithms. Because of this uncertainty, restricting your book’s presence to only Amazon involves some risk of falling off the radar and losing revenue when these changes occur.
  • Have to remove your listings from other outlets. If you are already published and want to try out the KDP Select program, you will have to go to the trouble of pulling the listings from any other non-Amazon stores your book is listed on. If the KDP Select doesn’t pan out for you, after the 90-day period you would have to relist your eBook on the former platforms. This can all be quite tedious.
  • No access to certain bestseller lists. Some of the popular bestseller lists, such as USA Today, have a requirement that the book is listed on more than one platform in order to qualify.
  • Royalties and pricing on KU will vary. Amazon has complete control over the pricing of your eBook on KU. While you will still receive a 70% royalty rate, you cannot control the retail pricing. For instance, that could mean 70% of 99 cents or a royalty of 69 cents.
  • Risk of poor reviews. People love free stuff and many will go ahead and grab your free eBook via the KOLL program or the KDP Select 5-day free promotional period even if it is not a fit for their particular interests. If the book doesn’t suit their tastes they may leave a negative review, which could dilute your overall rating.
  • It will auto-renew. Amazon set up KDP Select to auto-renew every month. If you only wanted to do a trial run you will have to uncheck the auto-renewal box on your KDP home page or else be automatically re-enrolled.
  • Other book markets are growing. Amazon still owns the lion’s share of the eBook market, but other platforms are gaining ground. This is especially true for Apple Books, which has been aggressively growing its self-publishing arm. As the other distribution channels grow, there is more to lose by publishing exclusively on Amazon.

Who Should Enroll in KDP Select?

After considering all of these pros and cons regarding KDP Select, some may have a clear advantage to enrolling in the program. Consider KDP Select if you fall into these camps:

  • Your genre is fantasy, romance, crime fiction, or science fiction. These books are well represented in the KU program, therefore your book has a good chance at being “borrowed” from the KOLL. The more pages read, the higher your royalty.
  • You intend to sell on Amazon exclusively anyway. This is a no-brainer, because if you have no plans to expand distribution to other platforms, and if your book is in a KU-friendly genre, why not try KDP Select out?
  • Your marketing plan is geared toward big, splashy promotions early on. If your book promotions on platforms such as Bookbub, Bargain Booksy, or BookSends are scheduled during the soon after publication, then KDP Select is an excellent fit.

There is certainly much to digest when deciding whether to opt for KDP Select. Will you go wide and penetrate a variety of marketplaces or will you opt for the exclusive KDP Select program and take advantage of its special offerings? It’s up to you to decide.

Publish Your eBook With Ease

Now that you have a good feel for the KDP Select pros and cons, you might still be struggling with making that ultimate decision. After all, there are lots of KDP Select rules and fine details to consider when mulling this option over.

For some helpful guidance on this question and any others related to the publication of your eBook, ask the pros at Gatekeeper Press to weigh in. Gatekeeper Press provides the full spectrum of self-publishing services that can truly set your eBook apart from the pack. Contact us today!

self publishing consultation