Over the last couple of years, I’ve written a few posts on KDP Select, Amazon’s publishing program offering benefits for 90 days of exclusive enrolment.
I’ve grown up with this system, so it’s only natural that my views on it have changed over time. I was there when free promotions caused a boom up the paid rankings. I was there when they became less effective. I was there when Countdown Deals launched.
And my views have continued to change. I spent all 2012 in KDP Select, half of 2013 out of it and most of 2014 not even considering it.
And then Kindle Unlimited came along and forced me to reconsider.
For those who don’t already know, Kindle Unlimited is Amazon’s Spotify/Netflix for books. You pay a flat fee of £7.99 per month, you get unlimited access to hundreds of thousands of eBooks and audiobooks. The royalty payout is decent — there’s plenty of other blogs discussing that — so there seems to be enough of a draw there to make a writer consider going in.
Initially, I shied away from Kindle Unlimited. I’d started making gains at the other stores, so I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to jeopardise all that in pursuit of something that might not even work.
Naturally, being the experimental person I am, I decided to throw a few of my books in the deep end and see how they swam.
My thinking behind my decision was this: 90% of my book sales are at Amazon and 10% elsewhere. Of that 10% elsewhere, 90% of those sales are Dead Days sales. So non-Dead Days books make up a tiny percentage of the total pie at non-Amazon stores.
So I kept Dead Days available everywhere and put most of my other books into Kindle Unlimited. This was back in July. How did my KDP Select Kindle Unlimited experience fare?
Pretty well, actually. I get more borrows now than I got sales at the other platforms. Not a crazy amount more, but enough to make Kindle Unlimited well worth considering.
I’m actually seeing the benefits of having a series all in KDP Select again, too. Although they don’t have the power they used to have, free promos can be a handy tool when, say, launching a new book in a series and running a temporary discount. I’m starting to see more long term benefits with KDP Select than the short term boosts before, which is pleasing.
That said, I’m still not too sure my number of borrows through Kindle Unlimited justifies exclusive inclusion in KDP Select. I think it’ll take another three month term to really judge that. Oh, and there’s the small matter of income, too — I’ve seen mine take a little dip in September. Nothing significant, but enough to get me thinking about whether the Kindle Unlimited effect might have something to do with it.
My advice to writers considering Kindle Unlimited and KDP Select: I still think KDP Select, here in 2014, is the best way to get your fiction selling copies. Even if you just enrol for one KDP Select period, with the promotional tools Amazon offer, you’ll get a better shot than by distributing everywhere.
That said, I actually think KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited is ideal for writers like me: writers who have been at this for a few years now, and have a decent sized backlist. A few ongoing series, too. With KDP Select’s free promo and Countdown Deals, Amazon offer a couple of good, easy ways to promote our first series books when new releases are launching, and Kindle Unlimited just adds another sweetener to the deal.
Will I be going for another round of Kindle Unlimited? For some of my books, yes. The ones that are borrowed more now than they sold at the other platforms before. Which means the McDone series.
I’ll also be launching the Blake Dent books as Amazon exclusives to try out a few marketing things with them.
Hope this clears up your decision a little. Mostly though, don’t worry about this if you only have one or two books. Keep on writing. When you have a series, maybe then consider KDP Select and the benefits of Kindle Unlimited.
But more than anything, do what works for you. No two writers are the same. Always be aware of changes.
Stay adaptable. I know I will.