By Andrew Seltz
The Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform is a powerful tool that allows any independent author or publisher to compete alongside the biggest New York publishing houses when selling Kindle e-books. Getting equal access to the market is no longer an obstacle to successful publishing. The main challenge is getting noticed by potential readers. And that is where the KDP Select program comes in.
What is the KDP Select Program?
KDP Select is an exclusive publishing agreement between Amazon and authors who are publishing their e-books through the Kindle Direct Publishing platform. When an author enrolls in the program, she can take advantage of several marketing tools that are not available to non-members.
Enrolling in the program is easy. Whenever an author adds a new e-book to their KDP account, Amazon will ask if they want to enroll the book in the Select program. If she declines at that moment, the author can enroll a book in the program later using a link in the KDP bookshelf. Enrollment is set separately for each e-book published. So, an author may have some e-books enrolled and others not enrolled.
By enrolling an e-book in the KDP Select program, an author agrees to sell the digital version of her book exclusively through Amazon's KDP program. The e-book cannot be sold in any other digital format (including PDF files sold from the author's own website) during the duration of the agreement.
The Select program runs for a period of 90 days. By default, the enrollment is set to automatically renew for another term at the end of 90 days.The author has to switch off the auto-renew option manually if she chooses to leave the program.
If an author does decide to cancel enrollment in the program, she must still honor the exclusivity agreement until the end of the current 90 day enrollment period. Failure to do so could jeopardize the status of her account.
Benefits of the KDP Select Program
So, you may be wondering, what benefits does an author get for granting exclusive publication rights for her e-book to Amazon. Basically, she gets increased exposure within the Amazon website, her book is included in the Kindle Lending Library, and she is permitted 5 giveaway promotional days for her e-book during each enrollment period.
The Amazon website and the Kindle Readers make up an amazing sales ecosystem. Built into every facet of the Amazon marketplace are cross promotional opportunities that can help sell more copies of your book. There are best seller lists (for both free and paid e-books). When you view a one e-book's promotional page, Amazon generates and displays a list of other e-books 'you may be interested in.' On order pages Amazon tells you what other products people purchased who bought what you just paid for. In short, there are multiple places where Amazon sneaks in a quick sales message. As a member of the select program, you get a little better exposure in this ecosystem.
The Kindle Lending Library is a benefit for people who join the Amazon Prime program. Those members are allowed to borrow one book per month from the library at no charge. Amazon sets aside a block of money each month to divide among all of the people whose books have been borrowed. Each borrow can generate several dollars in income for the author. Your book appears in all of the areas listing available library books (more exposure.) Also, when people view the sales page for your book, they will see the price prominently listed as free - for Amazon Prime Members. The sales price for everyone else is listed below in more subtle text.
Finally, members of the Select program can give their books away for free for up to 5 days per enrollment period. These free days can generate massive exposure for your e-book. Amazon generates best seller lists for both free and paid Kindle books in every category. The lists are displayed side-by-side on the website. So, if you hit the top of the free chart, you can be seen right along side of the top paid book - more exposure.
Disadvantages of the KDP Select Program
The biggest disadvantage of enrolling in the KDP Select program is that your e-book cannot be sold on any other e-book platform. No sales to Nook owners or iPad users, or selling PDF versions directly through your website. Amazon dominates the e-book market, but there are lots of other places to sell your e-book. Many people do not realize that you can read Kindle books using free apps, so they skip the Kindle Marketplace because they think they need to own a Kindle device.
Free days, as many authors have discovered, are not a marketing magic bullet. Just because you give your book away does not mean you will suddenly become popular and make sales once the giveaway ends. And, the benefits might not offset the restrictions of your e-book only being sold through Amazon.
Just as free days are not magic, the Kindle Lending Library is no guarantee of riches either. Since Amazon Prime Members are restricted to one e-book borrow per month, they often save that for an expensive title. As I write this, Amazon has set aside $600,000 for the Kindle Lending Library payments (a figure that has been consistent for several months.) The promise is enticing, but results are not guaranteed.
Should You Enroll in the KDP Select Program?
The decision to enroll depends on many factors. If you have only one title, you might be better off publishing on multiple platforms and selling directly from your website as well.
If you have multiple e-book titles, you may choose to enroll some of your e-books in the program as a way to expose new readers to your work and steer them toward your other e-books.
Your goals for publishing might be to establish your expertise and reach new customers for your business rather than profiting from book sales. In that case you would benefit from being able to reach a wide audience through free days.
Ultimately, you have to weigh the pros and cons of enrollment and decide what makes the most sense for you. Oh, and make sure and turn the auto-renew option off - just in case you change your mind later.