Amazon: To KDP Select, Or Not?

Do all authors buy in to the Amazon Select cult? Here are some observations from new and experienced authors around the web.
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There's no question that Amazon has changed the publishing industry by making it easy for anyone with a book in their head to easily and quickly publish it and make it for sale almost overnight without the gatekeepers of big publishing getting in the way. It's also true that with Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing "Select" program, they've take the first steps to hammering the nail in the traditional publishing model.

If you don't know what KDP Select is, you can read about it and enroll your books here. Essentially it means that if you choose to enroll you are giving Amazon a 90-day exclusive to sell your book. Amazon then makes your book available to their Amazon Prime customers in their lending library, offering you a payback for each book that is borrowed by their members. You also get the opportunity to promote your book for free to Kindle readers for five days.

A very powerful and explosive system for authors for sure.

But do all authors buy in to the Amazon Select cult? Here are some observations from new and experienced authors around the web. If you're an author, head down to the comments and leave your own experience and opinion about KDP Select.

First off, we'll look at some comments from authors who are KDP Select fans.

Edward W. Robertson, author of Breakers told me, "I'm all-in on Select with my novels. My stuff wasn't selling anywhere to any significant degree, so when I released my newest one last month, I decided to try out Select and see if it made any difference. I had a nice run right off the bat -- gave away 1300, sold about 120 over the next week -- so I quickly pulled my other two books from other outlets to see what would happen with them. One didn't really do much, but the other wound up getting downloaded free 9000 times and has had like 450 sales/borrows in the three weeks since. That's probably three times as many as it sold in the previous year it's been out."

Consuelo Saah Baehr, author of Thinner Thighs In Thirty Years said, "A year and a half ago, I was passing my trad published books every day on the way to the kitchen. They were dusty old friends that I hadn't talked to in ages. Early one morning, when my mind was still alert, I took my manuscripts and formatted them for the kindle. I uploaded my first book onto KDP. I now have seven titles on Amazon including a monologue that was accepted as a Kindle Single (Thinner Thighs in Thirty Years). I was featured in Fast Company magazine. My historical novel, Daughters, reached #66 on the Kindle bestseller list after coming off the Select "free" promotion. My novel, Best Friends was #5 on The Daily Mail Top Ten most downloaded books last week after coming off Select "free" promotion. Jeff Bezos is my hero. Excuse me, is Amazon trying to monopolize my work? I sure hope so."

James Bruno, author of Tribe, said, "Like a lot of authors, my book sales at BN and other vendors were nil, in contrast with Amazon, where my books have been bestsellers and earning me good income. So, I didn't hesitate a second in signing up for KDP Select and have had no second thoughts. As long as I continue to benefit from it, I'm staying in."

On the other end of the spectrum -- these authors aren't so keen on Select.

Ty Jonson, author of City of Rogues, said "Pre Select, my sales at Smashwords were decent and my sales through Pubit! were so-so, but since Select, my sales have tanked out, which could be expected ... but, my sales have also gone down with Amazon. I'm selling a fourth of what I was selling six months ago through Amazon and no, I did not experience any big holiday boost to my sales. I'm not grumbling, just telling it how it is. And no, I won't be utilizing Select again."

Penelope Fletcher, author of Enchant, said "Indies did well before Select came along, and are doing well outside of it. I've read so many positive things about it, but I cannot ignore that so many go free then stress over jumping to a good paid ranking for a few days. How is that helpful to a career, or arming the author with anything usable other than boosted sales figures. It's well known people who browse the free lists are not the most loyal of reader, and that actually finding your target audience is luck. What reason have they to be? How does this scheme promote sustainable sales and pride in the accomplishment of selling well? It doesn't. It's about fast sales and an inflated sense of 'discoverability.' What happened to the sage advice of "It's not a sprint, it's a marathon?"

Cora Buhlest, author of Countdown To Death, said "I did not join KDP Select. My sales are about 85 percent Amazon (COM, UK and DE combined) and approx. 15 percent at other retailers. I don't want to give up those 15 percent of sales I have for hypothetical sales I might gain via Select."

As you can see, the jury is still out. Amazon has fans on both sides. It appears that for now authors are going to have to choose a side and see if it works for them, or not.

You can see all the other responses to this question, and add your own here. For now though, please leave a comment here and tell us: Will you use Amazon KDP Select, or not?

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