Guest writer Phyllis Zimbler Miller discusses the whats and hows of the Kindle Direct Publishing Select Program, (KDP) and I hope clears up a number of misunderstandings about this self-publishing program that Amazon offers to writers.So the word is with Phyllis:-
Advice for Participation on the KDP Select Program Taken With a Pinch of Salt
I am in favor of Amazon’s KDP Select program, but I think you should make your own decision.
Let’s start with some basics.
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is for everyone – there is no exclusivity required. (As of now, basically you get 70% royalties if your book is priced between $2.99 and $9.99 while you get 35% royalties if priced below or above these numbers. As with everything involving agreements, carefully read the fine print for other costs or charges.)
KDP Select is NOT for everyone – there is exclusivity required for 90-day periods (you can keep renewing) for your ebooks. Note that the physical books of these ebooks are NOT required to be exclusively on Amazon. (This program was first offered in November/December 2011.)
In exchange for exclusivity, Amazon gives you benefits. The most obvious (I cannot speak for Amazon’s secret algorithms – mathematical formulas that return search results):
Your books can be loaned for free to Amazon Prime members who have a Kindle while you get paid for each of your loaned books. (The amount changes each month depending on the pool of funds Amazon allots to this program. Recent payments have reportedly been as good if not better than the purchase price royalty per book that many Kindle authors receive.)
You may (although you do not have to) assign five days to be free days in any configuration of days during a 90-day period. (You manage promotions in your KDP account. Amazon automatically changes the price to free and then changes it back at the end of the number of days you have chosen.)
Now for the salt shaker part:
I have been reading everything I can get my hands on about this program and experimenting with it as well. (This meant, in the case of some of my fiction and nonfiction books, I had to go through the process of getting the ebooks of these titles removed from other sites, including Smashwords and Barnes & Noble, in order to meet the exclusivity requirement.)
First, I agree with the prevailing opinion that you should only put your Kindle ebook for free if you have at least a few reviews on your book’s Amazon page and that the preponderance of those reviews are good.
Note that I do NOT mean you should have fake reviews on your book’s page. I just mean that, if you have a preponderance of bad reviews, you might want to consider revising your book and uploading it again as a second edition to signal major changes. Then hopefully you will do outreach to find reviewers who will read the book (but not for a fee) and like it.
Second, you must promote the heck out of the free days. This means submitting the book to numerous sites that list free Kindle days as well as utilizing social media to get out the word.
Full disclosure: I do not think I did enough outreach for my first time up at bat for two days in July with a fiction title – CIA FALL GUY – and a nonfiction title – TOP TIPS FOR HOW TO MARKET YOUR BOOK WITH AMAZON AND FACEBOOK. I also think I should have only done one book and not two.
I rectified my earlier errors in my second time up at bat – two free days in August for the novel MRS. LIEUTENANT, for which the download results were much more dramatic. (This book’s downloads may have been helped by the fact that the novel was a 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semifinalist and I shamelessly mentioned this in my promotional efforts.)
Now the reason all advice on the value of doing KDP Select must be taken with several grains of salt is because there are so many variables for each person’s KDP Select experience. (The one thing I learned in my mandatory statistics class in graduate business school was that, depending on how something is set up, almost anything can be “proved.”)
I wrote this guest post because I feel strongly that authors should first read as much as possible about other people’s experiences with KDP Select. Then authors should experiment themselves before concluding the program is right or wrong for them.
Just remember, in order to give the program the best tryout, do have several good reviews on the book’s Amazon page beforehand and do undertake focused promotion before and during the free days. (P.S. Both times up at bat I did not pay for any promotion because I wanted to first try KDP Select without paying.)
On a personal KDP Select note, I would appreciate it if you would share with others my third time up at bat with KDP Select: The technothriller LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS will be free on September 3 (U.S. Labor Day) and September 4 at http://amzn.to/NUpy9o
(Caution: MOLLIE SANDERS elicits wildly different reviews because of the nature of the story. I have started saying the book is for military technothriller readers who enjoy a fictional female character in a traditionally male role.)
And now that you have sprinkled salt liberally on this guest post, it is up to you to determine for yourself whether KDP Select is good for your books.
A wee bit of info about Phyllis:
Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of fiction and nonfiction books, and her Amazon Author Central profile is at www.amazon.com/author/phylliszimblermiller
She also has an M.BA. from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the online marketing company www.MillerMosaicLLC.com
Links to her ebooks on Amazon:
MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL
LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS
CIA FALL GUY
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If anything Phyllis has written here raises any questions in your mind, please do not hesitate to contact me or Phyllis and we shall do our best to answer any questions you might have.