Kindle KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) has too many ebook pricing rules, regulations, restrictions, limits, and penalties.
Why can’t an ebook be priced at free on KDP? Why does an ebook with a list price of $1.99 only earn 35% royalty?
Why does the 70% royalty only apply to ebooks with retail pricing of $2.99 or more? Why can’t an ebook be in KDP Select but not in Kindle Unlimited?
Why does an ebook earn only half royalties in some countries?
These are some of the problems with any ebook pricing strategy on Amazon KDP and KDP Select.
It seems that no matter which way you go, Amazon wins, and the author loses. At least from the aspect of having control over pricing your ebook.
Wouldn’t it be nice if an author could set the price for an ebook and get a fixed royalty? And not have to worry about manipulations, deductions, or discounting to feed cheap ebook subscription services.
Wouldn’t it be great if ebook royalties were paid per sale? And not from a monthly community pot decided by an ebook retailer?
Wouldn’t it be better if a publisher helped a little with ebook promotion without demanding absolute exclusivity?
I have asked myself these questions for a long time now. Amazon is the biggest ebook game in town with a huge market share percentage. But at the same time, it’s getting awfully overcrowded.
So much so that KDP Select exclusivity is now almost mandatory to get any sales on Kindle. However, any book marketing effectiveness of Select only lasts for one or two enrollment periods before book sales start fading away.
Then there is always the ongoing issue for me of not being a US author. Because of this, I am denied access to many Amazon and KDP features and services. It took me years to get paid by EFT, and I still cannot even get access to Kindle Unlimited.
Amazon happily gives away my ebooks for next to nothing on Kindle Unlimited. But I can’t get access to KU myself and next to free reading because I don’t live in the US. Call that fair?
On top of all that, the concentration of Amazon’s ebook market share is mainly in two markets. The US and the UK– so what about the world’s other billion or so readers?
There has to be a better alternative.
Breaking free of the Amazon KDP restrictions
Because of the restrictions and limitations above, I made the decision to go to open publishing. I had four main objectives.
The first was to take control of my ebook pricing and earn a fixed royalty at whatever the cover price.
As I chose Draft2Digital (D2D), I earn 60% on any price point sale value.
A pricing bonus with Draft2Digital is that I can change or discount territorial prices individually. Even to the point of making an ebook a free book offer but only in certain countries.
The second was to find new markets, or more precisely, less competitive markets.
Discovery on Amazon is extremely difficult now due to so many ebooks being published every day. It seems that you are continually fighting with algorithms, troll reviews, free ebook days, scammers, and KU to get noticed.
Apple, Kobo, B&N, and several other ebook retailers have a much smaller market share. However, they also have smaller ebook catalogs, so discovery is much less of a battle.
The third objective was to be an independent author.
I didn’t like being labeled as a Kindle author. It means being controlled and manipulated by Amazon’s rules, regulations, and changes in policy.
But I left two ebooks in Select, which are only compilations. Simply so I can keep my finger on the KDP Select pulse, so to speak.
I have also obviously left all my other ebooks available on Kindle KDP, but it is now just another retailer.
Lastly, I wanted to be able to promote and market my ebooks without any restrictions.
If I want to offer an ebook for free for two weeks, I can now. If I want to have a title perma-free, I can now.
If I want to have different pricing models in different markets, I can now.
I can make my own decisions as to when, where, how, and how long I conduct my ebook promotions.
The result of ignoring Amazon?
It’s early days, as it took me some time to extricate my titles from KDP Select. I also wanted to refresh my ebooks and book covers in readiness for open publishing. However, the early votes are in.
In the first month, I only had two titles published with Draft2Digital, and they were published mid-month. However, I got sales! Not a lot, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Into my second month, with almost all my ebooks published, my sales report on D2D notes regular ebook sales.
Mostly on Apple, but a couple from Tolino, a German retailer, which really pleased me.
At the moment, ebook sales from D2D are coming close to equalling my Amazon sales. This is better than I expected in such a short period. I am looking forward to seeing how sales go in the long term.
All I can say is, so far, so good, and I feel very happy being an independent author again.
I am not a bestselling author by any means. For me, self-publishing has always been something I do because I enjoy it.
But as a bonus, it provides me with a side income.
For those considering open publishing and escaping the regulations of Amazon, it is a viable alternative.
It gives you more control over their ebooks and pricing, especially for non-US authors.
So, Amazon, who?
Any author aims to sell more books. There is no doubt that you need to have your ebook on Amazon. But it doesn’t need to be exclusive to Amazon.
As long as you don’t enroll in KDP Select, you can also sell ebooks on any other retailer at the same time. Keep in mind that there is no such issue with print books.
If you keep your books priced sensibly, there is always an opportunity to get sales on retailers other than Amazon.