If you are planning to publish a book soon, there are many factors you need to consider.
You have to decide where and how you will publish your book. Then you need to find the right online book retailers to help you get your book in front of readers and book buyers.
The book market is not easy today. But if you write a great book and work on your book marketing and promotion, it is possible to find some success.
But there is one vital decision you will have to make. Will you use Amazon KDP Select?
Will you enroll in KDP Select?
When you make the decision to use Amazon KDP Select, you have to give Amazon exclusive rights to sell your ebooks.
It is not an easy decision, but it is one that all authors and publishers have to make.
It’s not only once, either. If you have a backlist, you might need to go in and out to try to gain traction on other ebook retailers.
Why would you want to go in and out? Because KDP Select is not a winner all the time.
KDP Select works
In my experience, entering KDP Select always pays off. But very often, only for a limited amount of time.
I can’t state this definitively or provide you with data to prove it.
But after moving my ebooks in and out of KDP Select many times, the results are now very predictable. Book sales and page reads go up.
Here is a typical example of how one of my books performed after re-enrolling in KDP Select.
But let me backtrack a little. I prefer to have all my ebooks available on as many retailers as possible. Most of the time, I do this. It is what is often called open publishing.
However, sales tend to plateau after a while, and then tail off after some months have passed. It is normal because all ebook retailers tend to give more exposure to new titles.
Due to this reason, I have found that moving my ebooks to enroll in KDP Select for 90 days serves two purposes.
Two birds with one stone
One is that having your book in KDP Select is the only way to get your ebooks available on Kindle Unlimited (KU).
I am not a lover of the lower royalty offered under KU and the Select Global Fund, but it does seem to give you access to a lot more ebook readers.
The royalty is a lot lower than a list price sale. But gaining page reads does help improve an ebook’s sales ranking, so this is well worthwhile.
Second is that by taking my ebooks down from other retailers that I have published on Draft2Digital, I have noticed that I get an increase in sales when I return them either three or six months later.
Don’t ask me why, but in my experience, it seems to work.
When I move my ebooks to KDP Select, and as has happened every other time, my ebook sales jumped up immediately within a few days.
I don’t change any of my book marketing or promotion tools.
All I do is remove links to retailers other than Amazon from my websites. I don’t use Kindle Countdown Deals, use the five free ebook days or worry about Amazon Prime free books.
So all I can say is that the sales jump is due to entering the KDP Select program. It is also probable that KU reading is the driving factor.
Sales will slow down on KDP Select, again
By the time I get to the end of my 90-day period of enrollment, sales and page reads usually start to slow down.
On a couple of occasions, I have left my ebooks enrolled for an extra three months. But I noticed that sales didn’t pick up. If anything, sales tended to keep falling away.
But as soon as I exited KDP Select and returned to open publishing, sales start moving on Apple, B&N, Kobo, and a few other small retailers.
It is certainly not a scientific method by any means.
I have spent many years now trying to learn, understand and make the best of Amazon’s exclusivity as opposed to open publishing.
I can only say that going in and out has definite benefits over just leaving ebooks in one or the other.
You won’t lose your book reviews
Book reviews only really count on Amazon. Switching between normal KDP and KDP Select does not affect your existing book reviews. They will stay with your ebook.
On other retailers, it is not quite so clear-cut. But because there are far fewer book reviews on Apple, Kobo, and B&N in particular, there is not a lot here to concern you.
Although book reviews are a big help, the best sales booster is a higher sales ranking.
For me, by using KDP Select from time to time, I not only get a better sales ranking, but I also get more reviews.
So what is the best formula?
If you are self-publishing, there is no good, better or best way to manage your ebook exclusivity.
In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be a choice you have to make.
But Amazon is not going to change its mind anytime soon. So it will retain the necessity for you to grant exclusivity and to agree to the KDP Select terms.
I have tried many different approaches. All I can say is that I find it beneficial to keep all of my ebooks available through open publishing for nine months of the year.
But then I usually move them all over to KDP Select for the three months of summer.
It is certainly not a magic winning formula. But it is one that has worked well for me over the years.
The only sure thing I know is that Amazon has a massive share of the book and ebook market.
If you want to keep earning royalties, it pays to be on Amazon, either exclusive or non-exclusive.