Amazon KDP Select Exclusivity – A Workaround?

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Amazon KDP Select Exclusivity

KDP Select exclusivity. Is there a workaround?

One of the continual dilemmas for self-published authors is whether to grant exclusive rights to Amazon so they can enrol their ebooks in KDP Select.

KDP Select Exclusivity is demanding, but there may be a little crack in the wall.

While the benefits of enrolment include promotional opportunities such as free ebook giveaways, Kindle Countdown deals and higher royalties in a few smaller markets, may seem attractive, by granting exclusivity, all other retail opportunities are naturally lost.

I have been in and out of KDP Select a number of times over the years, with a selection of ebooks, and while I have to say that sales can improve, I can equally say that the potential sales lost on other retailers makes it very difficult to know if I came out in front or not.

As I have quite a few titles, I do know for sure that a few always seem to sell better on Apple, or B&N for example, than on Kindle. So by removing a title that has been doing well on Apple, it may sell equally well on Kindle for sure with the help of more promotion, but I would lose sales, and more importantly, the sales ranking I had built up on Apple.

This is one aspect of moving ebooks in and out of Amazon exclusivity that is overlooked.

When you remove an ebook from say your Smashwords account, all your sales rankings will be lost on Apple, B&N and Kobo, and should you decide to leave KDPS later and return to offering your ebook via Smashwords; your books start again from scratch.

However, I have often used KDPS for the release of a new title, and then after the first 90 day period, cancelled my enrolment and then published via Smashwords. To my mind, this is one of the best uses of KDPS, as it can give a new title a good kickstart before publishing elsewhere.

Of course, there are benefits and drawbacks with exclusivity.

Related reading: The Pros And Cons Of Amazon KDP Select Exclusivity

 

But!! What about getting the best of both worlds?

There is quite a simple way to circumvent KDP Select Exclusivity, which I discovered purely by accident, after having decided to take two 45,000 word novellas I had written, and merge them into one full-length novel under a new title. It took some time to do the re-writing and editing, but once the new book was ready to publish, I naturally intended to withdraw the two old novellas from sale.

Then the penny dropped. I immediately started work on the two novellas, incorporating the new chapters and re-writes from the new book. Now I had three books!

I withdrew the old novellas from Smashwords and published the new full-length novel to replace them. Then I went over to KDP, updated my two existing novellas, and enrolled them both immediately in KDP Select.

Of course, I could have done this vice versa, but my logic was that I would get two ebooks to promote on Kindle instead of only one.

The result is that I do not have to make the decision about Amazon exclusivity, as my story is now available everywhere, but exclusively on KDPS in two volumes.

There is also the possibility for me to publish the new full version on KDP, as it is a different title, but of course, without granting exclusivity. This may not be the solution for everyone, but perhaps for some, it’s an idea worth considering. What do you think?

 

More reading: How To Find Amazon Keywords For Kindle Ebooks And Books

 

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Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

5 thoughts on “Amazon KDP Select Exclusivity – A Workaround?

  • March 31, 2018 at 12:29 pm
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    Thank you for your in-depth analysis, Michael. Like you, I am not a fan of Select, but only from the perspective of its 100% exclusivity demand, which I think restricts choice for paying Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

    On the point about this article, and of my using a little skullduggery, I have to say that I have not had a problem. This one book has been in and out of Select a number of times, with no nasty emails from Amazon. However, it is not currently in Select, so things might be different now.

    Thank you again for taking the time to share your views.

    Reply
  • March 31, 2018 at 12:17 pm
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    Excellent site and I applaud your contributions to independent publishing, but…

    In my opinion this is not sound advice. I respectfully think it’s a strategy doomed to failure that will result in at best a warning letter (and included black-mark from the Machine Spirit), through loss of Select privileges, and right up to KDP account suspension. That’s not something I’d toy with, even the black-mark, because the Machine Spirit has a long memory and I like to save those account-flags for actual mistakes made rather than theory testing.

    Why do I think your plan is dangerous?

    The exclusivity rules aren’t as unclear as you are trying to pretend. Substantially similar from a common-sense reasonable interpretation absolutely includes a title that is available 100% in a book sold digitally elsewhere. You can’t even claim it’s only 50% available, because it’s 100% available elsewhere bundled with 100% of another title you’re trying to maintain is exclusive to KDP. Even if you did it the other way around, so you could say only 50% is in one other e-book title (but the other 50% in another), that’s still substantially similar in my opinion. You might get away with a 10% chapter sample off of Amazon, but not 50%, and especially not 100% in two parts.

    You say you’ll wait for the email if it comes, so I think you’re even a little skeptical of your own interpretation. The problem is that email comes with a warning against future breaches and sets you up for loss of access to Select and even KDP account suspension. You’re running the risk of using a Life, and Amazon isn’t handing out Free Life tokens. The Machine Spirit is a little more shoot first and ask questions later – or not at all – usually not at all.

    Here’s my real world experience with this through my think-I-can independent publishing company, Digital Fiction: We publish anthologies, stand alone short stories, and novels. We use Select for our novels and they’re always exclusive to KDP for access to Unlimited. We would do the same with the anthologies, and we used to, but starting about 18 months ago we received the first of a series of warning letters from KDP that the anthologies were not exclusive to Amazon as required by Select. I was puzzled by these claims/concerns from Amazon because I knew no other online retailer was selling our Digital anthologies.

    I made inquiries. Long story short, the Machine Spirit and its minions had found one or more individual short stories from the anthologies published individually by the author or another anthology off of Amazon, and therefore 100% of the content of the Anthology was not “exclusive”. The book was, the ISBN was, the title was, the grouping/collection was; but, because a single included story had a life of its own online, the anthology is (according to the minion) not Select eligible. As a result, Digital has pulled all its anthologies from Select because we don’t license for exclusive short stories and we don’t want to lose our Select privileges.

    I personally find your strategy to be very similar to the above, and in fact more obviously off-side the terms of service.

    Don’t get me wrong. I think your efforts to succeed are excellent and I do applaud them. I too love experimentation and pushing the limits of what’s possible. I just think in this case you’re asking for – and counselling – trouble.

    I have a love hate relationship with Select. I think Unlimited is a great service and for Digital’s novels it’s a significant share of our modest revenue. On the other hand, I think that Amazon’s exclusivity requirement borders on anti-competition and is a bullying tactic that’s not required for Select to succeed. The only reason for Select to be exclusive is to muscle out other retailers and services. Not just from subscription reading offerings, but out of the entire e-book market pie. I think that’s bullshit, but I”m going to stay in the sandbox and play around it for now…

    Good luck with the site and your books!

    Sincerely,
    Michael Wills
    Digital Fiction Publishing Corp.

    p.s. My research of the anthology exclusivity challenge uncovered something I find disturbing, and with a few simple searches anyone can verify this: Amazon’s publishing imprints don’t follow their own rules. There are several examples of Amazon published anthologies that contain short fiction available online from other retailers – including free copies of those stories. However, I have no illusions that “clean up your act Amazon or Digital is leaving” would have ANY impact on the Machine Spirit.

    Reply
  • January 11, 2018 at 12:07 am
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    I’m new to the market-thinking of all this, but am in such a similar situation with three novellas done and a full-length novel hitting very soon. It would be interesting to combine the three and see what happens on D2D without Amazon. I am still up in the air about where to release the novel.

    Thanks for posting. I hope you’ll let us know how it has worked.

    Reply
  • April 12, 2015 at 12:51 am
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    I thought of doing that myself, but I worried it’d fall afoul of the terms.

    “During this period of exclusivity, you cannot sell or distribute, or give anyone else the right to sell or distribute, your Digital Book (or a book that is substantially similar), in digital format in any territory where you have rights. ”

    Specifically the “substantially similar” part. I think you’d be on safer footing if you left your original two novellas as they were without adding the new material back to them, so that if challenged by Amazon you could argue that they’re not that similar. On the other hand, so long as the new, single volume is only available on non-Amazon sites, Amazon really has no way to look at the content and determine how similar or not it is, so self-determination may be the saving grace here.

    The KDP people usually aren’t unreasonable, so if your choice does bother them they’re more likely to give you a warning before an account suspension if they think you’re in violation, and will provide you a little time to appeal or take the other book down.

    Reply
    • April 12, 2015 at 9:55 am
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      I agree, Dan. It’s difficult to define ‘substantially similar’. Is one 45,000 word book substantially similar to a 90,000 word book? In the end though, it’s Amazon’s ‘bat and ball’, so I’ll naturally play by their rules if I get an email from them. But as yet, I haven’t, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed and see if my trial works over the first full 90 day period.

      Reply

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