Kindle Select: Salvation or Damnation?
Pros of KDP Select
Your book is placed into the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, where members of Amazon Prime and Kindle Unlimited Subscribers can borrow your book. In return, you get a portion of the KDP Select Global Fund based on how many pages are read from your books.
Every time someone reads your book, whether they buy it or read it via the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, it counts as a sale which helps your book’s rankings.
You are given five “free” promotional days per KDP Select Period where you can make your book free for everyone. This is a lot of advantages.
You can trade in your “free” promotional days for a Countdown, where you price your book cheaply and have it gradually rise in price over time. However, this is not worth giving up your “free” promotional days.
Cons of KDP Select
You must commit the digital edition of your book exclusively to Amazon for a 90-Day period. For those new to self-publishing, this is not a bad deal at all because the free promotion gets you readers at an incredible rate. 90 days is just a drop in the bucket when compared to the longevity of your book.
Many people tend to have a knee-jerk reaction to this clause but by the time we’re finished, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision.
The Exclusivity Clause is our First Factor to Consider
Since joining KDP Select means that you have to remove your eBook from all retailers and even your website, this is definitely the first factor we want to consider. Here are the two basic rules that I recommend for placing your book into KDP Select:
- If you are new to self-publishing, then the promotional tools you get will be invaluable for reaching new readers.
- If your currently published books are pulling a majority of their earning from Amazon, then it’s probably a good idea to join KDP Select for the promotional tools.
Let’s focus more on the latter. Let’s assume that your books are generating 95% of their earnings from Amazon. It would be worth giving up 5% earning in order to gain access to the powerful promotional tools that KDP Select has to offer. In fact, borrows from the Kindle Owner’s Library alone usually earns an additional 20% to 30% royalties. The choice is fairly simple.
On the other hand, if your book is earning more than 30% of its royalties from sources other than Amazon, then you probably shouldn’t enroll it into KDP Select. There is no right or wrong choice here. You have to weigh your options and decide for yourself.
With that said, you’re here because you want advice on making this important decision. I can help guide you into making the right choice. Let’s look at this decision in a step-by-step manner.
Step 1: Start With These Important Questions
Question 1: “How well are you selling on Amazon?”
The more books you are selling, the more likely it is that you’re going to be listed on Amazon’s Bestseller’s category. That alone greatly increases discoverability and sales of your book. When you combine this with the promotional tools of KDP Select, it will translate into higher lends and more “free” giveaways. Both increase your listing even further.
Question 2: “How well are you selling on other platforms?”
You might be so well-positioned on other platforms that you don’t want to risk your royalties by going exclusive to Amazon. This is definitely a valid concern so here are a couple of factors to consider:
- If less than 30% of your royalties are being generated from non-Amazon sources, then there is a high probability that the Kindle Owner’s Library will make up for those lost royalties.
- If you have several books in a series and want to find new readers, then placing one of those books into the KDP Select program is a great way to avoid the risks while also bringing in new readers.
Like other business decisions, this should always come down to the bottom line – sales volume. Amazon has a vigilant hold on the market and I don’t see this changing anytime soon. Your ranking on Amazon is much more important than any other platform. Simply put, your chances of selling on Amazon are much higher than other platforms.
That’s why KDP Select is a no-brainer for those new to self-publishing. It’s the absolute fastest way to gain new readers and boost your sales.
You can dig deeper than that if you like.
If you are concerned about your non-Amazon royalties suffering, I recommend that you calculate your exact royalties for the next three months. Then use this figure to help you weigh the risks. Sometimes a percentage might look massive but the actual number itself isn’t risky.
Step 2: Calculate the Previous Three Months’ Royalties on Amazon
Got it? Great! Now take that number and calculate 25% of it and add it to your total. That will be your new projected royalties when adding in your profits from the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library. Compare that new number to the estimate you came up with in the previous step.
Once you have the numbers in front of you, let’s look at rankings. Keep in mind that as your book’s ranking increases on Amazon, its royalties will also increase.
Let’s assume that you are already a Top 100 Bestseller within a genre, which by the way is pretty easy to achieve. Assuming that you achieved that ranking without being in the KDP Select Program, how much of a rankings boost would you get from a 25% increase in sales? Remember, the Kindle Owner’s Library counts toward rankings.
If you are ranked 100 in the Cooking genre, then adding your book to the Kindle Owner’s Library would jump it up to 75th. So not only are you looking at royalties from those borrowers, but your book will be higher on the list which also leads to additional sales. Let’s look at another more specific example.
You have a book that’s sitting at #85 in its genre right now. You enroll it into KDP Select and get access to all of those awesome promotional tools. Just from the Kindle Lender’s Library alone, you will get bumped up to roughly #70. That would also bump up the number of people buying your book an estimated 7%. Again, I’m using numbers from past sales that I’ve seen through my own books. So if more people buy your book, it jumps up in the rankings even further. It would eventually stop at around #65, but you gained 20 places just by enrolling your book into KDP Select.
That’s a lot of number crunching but my point is that the exclusivity period is, in many cases, worth the rewards.
Now consider rankings and look at how it compares to the losses you might incur from other platforms. I also want you to keep in mind that all of these numbers are estimates. The market fluctuates on a monthly basis. For example, overall eBook sales are down right now in favor of Audiobooks. But audiobooks are a completely different topic. For now, we’re focusing on eBooks.
Step 3: Take a Closer Look at the Free Promotional Period
Does free giveaways really lead to future sales? Yes, but not as well as it did when KDP Select was first released. Still, it does lead to future sales if you use it correctly. Let’s take a closer look at this controversial free promotional period.
Let’s look at the two practical advantages of making your book free:
- Gets reviews for your book.
- Increases sales for other books written by you.
For either of these to work, you will need two things:
- A Request for Review at the end of your book
- A list of other books written by you in the front and back of your book.
Those aren’t the only two advantages of going “free” for five days, but they are the most important at this point in time. That brings us to another essential question.
Who Should use Amazon’s KDP Select Free Days?
- Established authors who are looking to jumpstart a new book or an older book that has experienced decreased sales.
- Authors who are releasing a new book that’s part of a series. Free giveaways are the best way to bring in new readers at a rapid pace. Only one book in the series would even need to be placed into the KDP Select Program.
- New authors who are looking to quickly grow their fan base. Rotating titles through the Free Promotional Program is a great way to cycle in new readers.
With that said, if you only plan to publish one book then free might not be a good choice. Once a reader finishes your free book, what are they going to do next?
Step 4: Take a Closer Look at Income vs. Exposure
Look at KDP Select as a tool that you can use to help achieve a goal. You’re the only one who knows what your true goal is. So let me ask you. Are you looking for Income or Exposure?
A lot of times, we don’t publish a book to make money – we do it to create exposure for something else. If that’s the case, then KDP Select is an amazing tool that has very few drawbacks. You can probably reach a larger audience through it than you could through publishing onto other platforms.
So the final determining factor in your decision will come down to whether your end goal is exposure or income.
How To Start Your First Amazon KDP Select Ads Campaign
One of the latest benefits of joining KDP Select is gaining access to the KDP Advertising Platform. I have tested out this advertising medium and it hasn’t disappointed.
Yes, there are some limitations, including but not limited to scalability, but this platform allows you to advertise for a fraction of the cost of other similar models. If you do decide to enroll your book into the KDP Select Program, then you should take advantage of this powerful model.
5 Reasons you SHOULD use Amazon’s KDP Select Advertising Platform
- It’s more affordable that other advertisement platforms. Cost-per-click can be as low as a few pennies.
- Searches performed on Amazon have an extremely high conversion rate. People who are on Amazon are usually interested buyers. Your KDP ads are only shown to people searching for similar products on Amazon. That means that your ads are made even more affordable because they convert higher.
- This platform is the only way to get accurate buyer keyword data for Amazon. That means that you can write better book descriptions and use better keywords on your books details page. This alone is a huge advantage!
- KDP Select ads boost organic sales. Successful books are usually found at the top of one category. There are two factors that increase a book’s ranking: sales and reviews. These are two things that are difficult to achieve because it usually takes one to get the other. Boosting organic sales is a great way to breathe life into your book.
- Finally, it’s easy and affordable to test out new marketing strategies on Amazon. This is where the limitation comes in handy because it makes it much easier to test than with other platforms.
Now let’s go through the process of actually setting up a campaign. Again, your book must be enrolled into the KDP Select Program in order to set up ad campaigns. There are other restrictions as well so watch out for those.
(Note for Podcast: Since we’re about to
Step 1: The first thing you have to do is visit your Amazon KDP Bookshelf which can be found at http://kdp.amazon.com
Step 2: In order to get to the advertising platform, click on the “Promote and Advertise” button that is listed alongside of your book.
Step 3: You’ll be taken to the promotional manager for your book. You can control KDP Enrollment, set up free promotional days, and gain access to ad campaigns. Click on the “Create an Ad Campaign” button.
Step 4: Here, you will be given two choices: Sponsored Products and Product Display Ads.
Sponsored Ads are quite similar to AdWords. They are based around keyword searches, making them the best choice. One of the awesome things about Amazon targeted keywords is that they are what we refer to as “buyer keywords,” meaning that these searches are usually made by people looking to buy something. Basically, you bid on a keyword and if your bid wins, then your book will be shown in the results when a buyer searches for the keyword.
Product Display Ads are not determined by search keywords. This type is based on product interests. If you have shopped on Amazon, then you have seen their famous “Customers Who Bought this Item Also Bought…” That’s the type of ad we’re looking at here. Basically, you choose a product on Amazon and this ad will show up for customers who are looking at that specific product. Furthermore, these ads can also show up on Kindle eReading devices.
Choose whichever ad type works for you and fill out the form. I recommend that you go with Sponsored Ads since they are the most powerful. Another reason I highly encourage Sponsored Ads is because it forces you to learn how to research keywords. This is a skill that all published authors should learn.