As a new author, should you be putting your book on KDP select?
First… what IS KDP select? If you’re a first-time author, you might know nothing about it. Let’s start with the basics. KDP is Kindle Direct Publishing. It’s the platform that Amazon uses to publish your Kindle books. You can publish your book through KDP and still publish anywhere else, or you can choose to be part of the select program, which offers some cool perks and bennies (five FREE days, kindle countdown deals, etc) BUT you are only allowed to publish your book on Kindle if you go with the Select option.
Here’s the deal.
If you are a brand new author, there are some really big benefits to using KDP select.
Why? You’re trying to find readers and KDP Select can obviously help.
As previously mentioned, KDP Select offers you the opportunity to run sales on your book and gives you five FREE days in your 90-day period. If you aren’t on Select, the lowest you can price your book is $0.99 (without some serious finagling!). As a brand new author, still working to build your platform, it’s fantastic to offer your book for FREE for at least one day shortly after your book launch. Because you’re already spending all your time, efforts, and energies directing traffic to the Amazon link anyway.
But why would I want to give my book away for FREE?
I know, this is a tough pill for many authors to swallow. So let’s look at the benefits of free downloads.
1 – You build hype, get downloads, and move up in rankings. Your goal as a new author is to find readers and get publicity, and this will allow you to do that. Without sales and reviews, you will not stay ranked high for long, but this is a great way to move up high so that if people are looking in those categories, your book is now in front of them already.
2 – KENP payout. What is that? Pages read is what that is. You get paid through Kindle a small amount for pages read. So if your book is downloaded 2400 times for FREE but people actually go and read it, you’re still going to earn some money. Good to know!
3 – Sales bumps. If you’ve done your marketing properly, (which, you should totally have a call with me before you run this campaign so we can make sure you are all set up to best make big money!) you’re going to have huge downloads, but people will show up the day AFTER and the days after from the freebie marketing. If they like the looks of your book, they WILL buy it.
For example, we just ran a one-day FREE promo. We advertised through numerous sites, emailed, ran social media posts. We spent about $80 in marketing money.
In 24 hours, the book was downloaded 2400 times. Over the course of the next 3 days, 14 ebook copies at the regular price were sold. 2 print books were sold. And the pages of the free books are getting read. But more importantly, now people know who the author is. They’ve downloaded one of her books. Many of these readers will come back and leave reviews. Did we make the $80 investment back? Not immediately, but over the course of time, this exposure to her book, the downloads, the extra eyes on her book and her website, that has other products and services – the author may never see the direct cash in book sales, but she’ll make money. These are not bad results for a first-time author with a very small platform.
Bottom line is – even if you’re giving it away for free, you still have to market that effort!
That all sounds fantastic! Why would I NOT do free days?
Free downloads are not treated the same as purchases, and those jumps in ranking are extremely short-lived. Therefore, I recommend you make the absolute most of these free days by ensuring you have included links in your book to your email list, Facebook page or group, other books, other offers, website, etc. Many people who download for free will never actually read it, but you certainly want to make sure that you have a way of capturing the people who actually DO.
I also do not recommend giving your book away for free ON your launch day. Why? That’s when your most loyal fans, friends, and family members will be headed your way, and those people WILL pay for your book. So, put your hard work, time, and investment to work and actually make some money back on launch day. A week or so past launch day, combined with other promos, is a fantastic way to keep the launch day momentum going AND do all those fun things we mentioned above. Plus, you’re still a new release at this point, so you’ll be showing up in the “hot new release” categories, etc.
What about the Kindle Lending Program?
Yes, if you are in KDP Select, your book is eligible to be loaned out for free. You’ll get a cut of the earnings from Prime Members who participate. However, Amazon changed it so that the readers actually have to READ a certain percentage of the book. So, if people are downloading your book and never reading it, you see zero. Make sure your book is one that people want to open and start reading!
Cons of Using KDP select
You cannot sell or provide your ebook on ANY OTHER MEDIUM at all during your 90-day commitment. (And check your settings, because it is usually set to auto-renew!)
So, if you’re a popular blogger and you already have a ton of traffic coming to your website, it might make more sense for you to SKIP KDP select so that you can sell your book on your website. Maybe your target audience research has shown you that most of your people prefer to read books through ibooks, or through library digital lending. Maybe they are Nook users. While almost anyone can read a kindle book these days, sometimes it makes more sense to keep bigger options open.
Additionally, if you’re not enrolled in KDP Select, you can offer your book for free as an incentive through your email opt-in when you release another book or to grow your email list, which you cannot do if you’re enrolled in KDP Select. (Well, obviously you can offer it for free if you have one of your 5 free days still available, but you won’t get email addresses in exchange, so… if you’re going to give it away for free to people who are already finding you, you may as well do it on your website and get their information!)
I have tried it both ways. Some people love using KDP select because of the discount days and free days. At the end of the day, your success with KDP Select is really going to be determined by your marketing strategy. Don’t ever just make your book free without some kind of strategy behind it.
If you currently use KDP Select, I’d love to hear why and what your experience has been.