As is true with most things, there are pros and cons to the KDP Select program. Only you can determine if it’s the best option for your Kindle book.
One of the decisions that authors who publish Kindle books have to make is whether or not to enroll in KDP Select. In order to know whether or not it’s the right option for your Kindle book, you need to understand what the program is, as well as the pros and cons of enrolling in KDP Select.
Limitations of KDP Select
The biggest thing to be aware of with KDP Select is that if you enroll in the program, you cannot offer your eBook anywhere else for a period of at least 90 days. For example, you cannot offer a PDF for sale (or free) of the same eBook on your website, and you cannot sell it on Barnes and Noble or any other site while it’s in the program
It’s important to understand, however, that you can offer it in a different form, such as a print version, without any restriction during the time it is enrolled in KDP select.
Offering Your Kindle Book for Free
There are certain “benefits” to KDP such as being able to offer your book for free. You can offer it for free for up to five days during each 90-day period of time. The free days can be one after another (e.g. five days in a row), or they can be spread out over the 90-day period of time.
Amazon Prime members can also “borrow” KDP Select books for free. Think of this option as people being able to check your book out from the library. They don’t own it, and can only have it for a limited period of time, but it doesn’t cost them anything to borrow it.
Benefits of Giving Your Kindle Book Away for Free
I put the word, “benefits” in quotes because some may wonder how or why it is beneficial to give something away for free, particularly if you are hoping to make money through the sales of your eBook.
Offering your book for free can help it rank better in Amazon, assuming that a lot of people “purchase” it on the free days. Ranking higher in Amazon will give your book more future exposure and can potentially result in more sales down the road.
In order for this strategy to be effective, it’s important to really promote it on the free days, and encourage people in your circles to “buy” it on those days, even if it isn’t a topic they’re interested in. For example, let’s say that I had an eBook on the topic of content marketing in the KDP Select program. My 81-year-old mother is not interested in content marketing, so except to support me, she wouldn’t purchase a book on the topic. But I could encourage my mom, and other supportive people like her, to buy my book when it’s free as a way of helping my book to rank better on Amazon.
And naturally, an opportunity to pick up your book for free is a great bonus to give your fans and the people on your email list.
Benefits of Letting People Enrolled in Amazon Prime Borrow Your Kindle Book for Free
One thing that may not be immediately apparent is that even though Amazon Prime members don’t pay anything to borrow your Kindle book, you are paid royalties every time someone borrows your book.
The royalty amount is based on a complex formula that has to do with, among other things, the total number of books borrowed during a set period of time. Since the amount changes, I can’t give a specific amount, but in most cases at the time of this writing, it is about $2.50 each time someone borrows your Kindle book.
This is beneficial, especially if your Kindle book is on the lower end of the price spectrum. For instance, let’s say that your Kindle book is priced at $2.99, with a 70% royalty, the amount paid to you in royalties for each sale is $2.09. In most cases, on lower priced books, you will make as much, if not more, with royalties if people borrow your book than if they were to purchase it outright.
The Dark Side of the KDP Select Program
Okay, “dark side” is stretching it a bit, but while there are tremendous benefits to enrolling your Kindle book in KDP Select, there are also some downsides.
Though I’ve already mentioned this, it bears repeating that you cannot offer your Kindle book anywhere else, even on your own website for paid or free, during the 90 days it’s enrolled in KDP Select. If you don’t have plans to do anything else with your eBook during that period of time, this is no big deal, and it certainly isn’t a deal breaker. A bigger deal in my mind is the possibility that you’ll miss your target market.
Many of the people who pick up your Kindle book when it’s free may be people outside your target market.
Missing Your Target Market
There’s something weird that happens in people’s mind when something is offered for free. People often grab up massive amounts of free items that they would never pay for. The problem with this as it pertains to Kindle books is that those people who have received your book for free may not be your target market, and therefore your book may not resonate with them.
Is it a big deal if people who got your eBook for free don’t like it? Well, it could be, particularly if they decide to express their dislike in the form of a negative review and a one-star rating. This would be even more likely to happen if your book is controversial in any way, or contains content (e.g. religious or political) that people tend to have strong feelings about, one way or another.
Obviously, you can get positive reviews from people who get your book for free, and negative reviews from people who pay for your Kindle book, but the bottom line is that the odds are greater that the people who will spend money on your book are ones who fit into your target market.
Too Much Free Stuff on Kindle
Another negative byproduct of KDP Select is that as the program has increased in popularity, there are a lot of free Kindle books out there. Though I don’t have statistics to back this up, knowing human nature and the love for free items, no doubt many people only “buy” books when they are free.
This can make it harder and harder to sell your books at a decent price, unless you have a decent sized platform of fans who are more than happy to pay for your books.
You may also find that the majority of the people on your email list and your fans and followers on social media may pick up the book while it’s free, leaving few to buy it when it actually costs them money.
Is KDP Select Right for YOU?
There isn’t a one-size fits all answer to this question. Personally, I would recommend trying it, and measure the results. If you have multiple Kindle books, enroll some of them in KDP Select, and opt out of that for others, and then evaluate the outcome of both options.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the KDP Select program. Do you think it’s a good idea? Have you ever used it yourself? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below.