As an independent author, you ignore Amazon at your peril. Publishing through the giant retailer gives an independent author access to one of the largest readerships on the planet. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing system offers some significant benefits to indie authors, but at a price. KDP Select offers tempting royalties but at the cost of exclusivity agreements.
Advantages of KPD Select
On average, authors receive 35 percent royalties for books sold through the KDP program. If, however, you register for KPD Select, you receive 70 percent royalties in select countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and India (books sold to locations not on the 70 percent list still pay 35 percent royalties).
In addition, KDP Select authors can promote their book free of charge for up to five days. Authors can make the book available on the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library and receive a portion of the profits from the library.
Offering books free through the Lending Library helps establish an author’s name. The strategy can be very successful for authors who write series. Offer the first book in the series for free, encouraging users to buy sequels.
KDP Select Disadvantages
KDP Select membership requires an exclusivity agreement with Amazon, which limits your ability to market your eBook through other sources. For instance, I could write a murder mystery based on the world of grocery store clerking and market it through KDP Select.
Amazon demands 90-day exclusivity for any KDP Select publication. Therefore, for three months after publishing on Amazon, I cannot distribute the book through any other retailer.
Now this might not be a problem if Amazon didn’t have competitors, but the retail giant’s share of the global market has fallen in recent years. As an indie, you cannot ignore the global market. In addition to Amazon, Kobo offers global publishing. The Apple iBookstore offers sales to 32 countries, and rumors indicate Barnes and Noble will soon offer global distribution for eBooks.
All of these options allow authors to distribute books through multiple sources. Amazon, however, only allows access to the juiciest royalties in return for three-month exclusivity. Would you make more profit working multiple distributers or just Amazon? Individual authors may have very different answers to that question.
In addition to three-month exclusivity, many indie authors chafe under Amazon’s restrictive parity price policies. The company controls book prices with an iron fist and will actually terminate accounts that don’t adhere to price policies. Other distributors give authors more leeway with pricing.
Whether or not you use KDP Select is, of course, a personal choice, and there’s no right or wrong answer. New authors may benefit from the extra advertising and exposure KDP Select offers. As someone who works in contractor accounting software, I’d say I’m pretty saavy about using software similar to Amazon’s. So if you fall under the category of “a more experienced writer,” then you should consider how many sales you lose during exclusivity periods.
Written by Shane Jones. Find him on Google+