Amazon’s KDP Select program is a new option that they started back in December. If you choose to enroll your book, it gets included into the Amazon Lending Library. Each time someone borrows your book, you get a percentage of the KDP Select Fund. For January, it was $700,000. For February, it’s $600,000. Someone on the Kindle Boards said it worked out to about $1.70 per borrow. As a statistician, I don’t know if I agree with that estimate. It all depends on how many books are a part of the lending library and how many borrows you get. But I’m not going to worry about that now.
While you’re book is in the Lending Library, people can still buy it. So it seems like a Win-Win situation right? Well, there is one big catch. While you are enrolled in KDP Select, your ebook must be EXCLUSIVE to Amazon for 90 days. That’s right, you can’t offer it on Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Smashwords, Kobo, Diesel, or even your website. You can’t even offer samples of it on your website.
One benefit of the program is that you are able to offer your book for free for up to five days during the 90 days you are in the program. This is a pro because it cuts out the little free game you have to play in order to get Amazon to price match your book to free. And then you don’t have to wait around for weeks for Amazon to price match it back to its price. You control the freebies. Also, being in the program gives your book more visibility.
Personally, I am against exclusivity. I don’t think it’s healthy for the market. So right away I was against this just out of principle. But I decided to give it a try anyway.
I enrolled my worst selling book La Cienega Just Smiled figuring it couldn’t hurt to try it out. I had only a couple of sales from B&N and Smashwords anyway so I wasn’t losing much. At this point, the book had only sold about 25 copies. I put it in the program, let it go free for three days. In those three days, it was downloaded about 600 times. This is not good. Most people report thousands of free downloads. After it went back to paid, I only sold about two copies and had one borrow. I called it a complete failure.
But then I decided that maybe it wasn’t the program that had failed. Maybe my book wasn’t selling for other reasons. So I changed the title, the cover, and the blurb. I set it for free again and this time I had nearly 20,000 downloads. I made it to #10 on the free list, which got me loads of visibility. After it went back to paid, it sold about 250 copies in less than a week. For the month of February, it is already outselling Ain’t No Sunshine which has consistently been my bestseller. So I have to reluctantly call the KDP Select program a success. I am going to try it out with a couple of my other Leslie DuBois books and see if I can get similar results or not. I will not be trying it with any of the Priscilla the Great books as some of my loyal fans have Nooks and I don’t want to exclude them from purchasing my books. I think I’ll try this once or twice a year for each of my Leslie DuBois books and that’s it.
A word of warning. Don’t think you can just set your book to free and let the magic begin. There is work to do to get a free book to catch on. You need to let the top sites know that it’s free so that they can post it to their readers. This includes: Pixel of Ink, Ereader News Today, and Kindle on the Cheap. You need to post it on your facebook page and Authors on the Cheap facebook page. You need to tweet and perhaps blog about it. Plan well for your free days so that they are not wasted.