I have a love/hate relationship with Amazon. F’real.
Remember how they took down some of MMSFG’s five star reviews? Or when I ordered 100 books, 30 of which were lost in the mail, and the quality was so bad that I argued with them for five days over replacements and they refused? <– oh, that’s probably news to you.
But here’s the deal: they sure know how to sell books. There’s also the fact that I agreed with many of their points in the whole Hachette vs. Amazon debate.
Hugh Howey said it pretty well in his epic post Ruminations on Exclusivity.
How I Decided to Enroll in Kindle Select.
Deciding to enroll Antebellum Awakening and MMSFG in KDP Select was a decision I came to with a bit of gnashing my teeth and ranting about how much I hate Amazon, but need them at the same time.
I’d suggest you read the following if you’re interested in enrolling KDP Select (as I did):
Jakon Rath’s take on Exclusivity (he made over 100k after enrolling. Of all the posts, this may be the most informative. His Q&A at the end is awesome.)
Then I dragged author GS Jennsen to Starbucks and bled her dry of all her secrets regarding KDP Select, so naturally she was the first to start breaking me down. I also spoke with fantasy author LaDonna Cole (who has 3 books in KDP and an overall positive experience) and many others.
To say I was torn is an understatement.
In the past, I had pointed the quiet finger of scorn at LOTS of KDP exclusive authors for ‘caving in’ to the Amazon beast and pulling out of Nook, iTunes, Kobo, etc. I even told LaDonna that I wouldn’t enroll in KDP out of a moral obligation to keep my books spread out.
But then I did.
Why I Enrolled in KDP Select
I approached the release of my second book, Antebellum Awakening, with the hopes of giving it every single chance to excel. Mostly, however, I wanted to really boost the first book, Miss Mabel’s School for Girls in order to generate a greater audience to actually buy book 2. Sales had dwindled to about 25-30 overall during the month of August because I’d thrown all my attention into finishing Antebellum Awakening.
My goals in joining KDP Select.
1. I wanted a broader audience to get the series really going.
3. I wanted to try for the sheer experience of it.
4. Sales from B&N, iTunes, and Kobo had dwindled ridiculously low. Let’s say miniscule. The highest peak I’d ever had at B&N was 45 books after they featured MMSFG in this article: 4 Books Proving Witches are the New Vampires.
5. I had fans emailing and asking if they could preorder the second book, which could only be done at the time on Amazon if enrolled in KDP. I also read this article that made me think preorders could help marketing before the release.
The Results of Joining KDP
After joining KDP and having such a successful month in October, I picked up my ancient kindle one day to see that they had put up an ad for it. I’m not saying this happened because of KDP, but it only happened after KDP.
Here are a few graphs to help you visualize how it changed my sales.
MMSFG Sales Trends without KDP Select.
As you can see, Smashwords and affiliates provided less and less help in selling books, while Amazon stayed fairly steady.
In the next graph, I show MMSFG sales while enrolled in KDP Select, and the comparisons of purchases vs borrowed. Special note: I don’t show a figure for purchased MMSFG kindle books in October because it skewed the graph so you couldn’t see the other trends. I sold 2, 241 with the release of my second book and a Book Bub ad.
Miss Mabel’s School for Girls Sales Trend With KDP Select
As you can see, overall numbers of sold/borrowed books increased exponentially.
With all that information being laid it, it would seem like a great idea to stay with KDP Select, right?
Well . . .
Why I Won’t Re-Enroll in KDP Select Again
1. I had about 4-5 fans email me in October to ask when Antebellum Awakening would be available on Nook or iTunes. While that not seem like many, that only represents people who were willing to research my email address and reach out, not those who simply moved on and did not purchase. (To all those who did email me, I sent them a free copy.)
2. You can’t remove your book whenever you want.
Once you use one of their “promotions” such as a countdown deal or a free promotion, you cannot pull the book out. Trust me. I figured this out first hand.
3. You can’t change the price of your book for two weeks after a promotion.
*While 2 & 3 may not seem like a big deal, I don’t like the idea of KDP saying what I can and cannot do in regards to my own book, the pricing, or the selling thereof. I’m not attacking the fact that they have these rules, because I get it. Their toys, their rules. But I am saying that I don’t like being restricted. I’m an indie author for a reason.
4. The effectiveness of the Kindle Countdown Deals shows decreasing effectiveness after the first or second one. My sales in January, as you can see above, are higher than December because I did a Book Gorilla campaign.
5. The past month of February-March, I’ve seen less and less KU/KOLL borrows, but more and more purchases. In fact, I’ll have up to 5-7 sales per day, and no borrows at all. Borrows are equating to less than 15% of my monthly output. Considering that’s only on ONE platform, I figure I’m missing sales on other platforms. Also, if I had MMSFG available on ALL platforms for the BookBub ad, my sales could have been much higher, and given me greater visibility in rankings on the other platforms.
6. I spent a lot of time at the Superstars Writing Conference talking with people like Kevin J Anderson, Kobo Writing Life Director Mark Leslie LeFebvre, Dean Wesley Smith, and others specifically about exclusivity with KDP Select and whether they recommended it. It was a resounding: No. It takes time to build up a following on any platform. If you remove it again and again, you’ll lose what ranking and following you had before.
7. Amazon has helped me build a greater following and get more books out there, but I don’t enjoy having such a narrow margin of availability. I tried it, went for it, and now I’m done with it.
For the record:
I am NOT here to say that KDP Select is a bad thing. I’m not here to say it’s a good thing. I’m here to say that it’s a thing I tried for 3-6 months and will not participate in again. I’m also not saying you should or should not do the KDP Select thing.
I’m just saying that I did try it, these are the results, and these are my thoughts.
What are your thoughts on exclusivity? Have you enrolled and had a good experience? A bad one? Are you thinking of joining?
My latest writing-child is titled “Bon Bons to Yoga Pants” and is available to read free on Wattpad! No registration, sign up, or email required. I upload new chapters every Monday and Thursday.