Open publishing or Amazon KDP Select exclusivity is a difficult choice for self-publishers
Open publishing would be the obvious choice for self-publishers if it were that easy.
Unfortunately, it is not such an easy choice to make as there are benefits and drawbacks to both.
Open publishing via KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), Smashwords or Draft2Digital, or directly through the various self-publishing platforms available to self-publishers obviously open retail avenues to a variety of ebook markets in many countries, and therefore offers the opportunity to reach more potential readers.
However, as is very well known to anyone with an ounce of knowledge of the current market, Amazon are so dominant in the ebook retail market that there are clear benefits to enrolling in KDPS (Kindle Direct Publishing Select), although this requires forfeiting the right to open publishing, and demands Amazon exclusivity for all ebooks that are enrolled.
For self-publishing authors with a number, or even a handful of ebooks already published, there is the possibility to have the best of both worlds, and leave some titles available through open publishing, while having a couple, or perhaps a few exclusive to Amazon.
I would imagine that most self-publishing authors with more than say, five or so titles do this, or alternate their titles in and out of open publishing and Amazon exclusivity.
The advantages of Amazon KDP Select exclusivity
The advantages of Amazon exclusivity include marketing tools and promotional opportunities, which while they are very useful and do help in gaining both ebook sales and borrows, the main advantage of KDPS is that Amazon algorithms often favour your ebooks over those not enrolled.
I will admit that I have no proof at all of this favouritism, except for the fact that every time I have enrolled (or re-enrolled) one of my own ebooks in KDPS, sales improve immediately, and often dramatically.
With open publishing, the results I have experienced must be described as steady, but they have never been at a level where I could ever have imagined giving up my day job.
Sure, Apple and B&N especially, do provide regular ebook sales, but never at the same volume that Amazon provides. For my ebooks that are open published, KDP always provides more sales than Apple and B&N combined.
But for my ebooks enrolled in KDPS, sales always exceed the combined volume of KDP, Apple and B&N I gain under open publishing. Often by a very large number too.
But regardless of sales numbers, I do want my ebooks to be available to as many potential readers as possible, so the only way to achieve this is to have a foot in both camps.
Therefore, I have some ebooks available via open publishing and some with KDPS. Then from time to time, I rotate the titles in and out.
So what do you do if you are an author with only one or two titles? Open Publishing or Amazon exclusive?
It’s a very difficult decision to make, and one that needs a lot of thought before making.
The one saving grace is that it is not a hugely long-term decision, as Amazon only ask for 90 days of exclusivity for each enrolment period.
So perhaps the answer lies in this for those authors with only one or two titles.
Try one, and then the other. Okay, it’s going to take six months to really discover what works best for you, but books and ebooks are long-term investments in providing an income for you, so six months is not such a big deal.
For those authors who are starting out on self-publishing, my advice, for what it’s worth, would be to try Amazon exclusivity at first and then, hopefully, armed with a new book after the three months of exclusivity, move your first ebook to open publishing.
Your new ebook could then be enrolled exclusively for three months, and then later, moved to open publishing.
Once you have a few titles published, the choices open up, and it becomes easier to experiment and decide what works best for you.
There are many opinions about open publishing and Amazon exclusivity, which fill forums and blog comments on the Internet, but at the end of the day, it is a decision each individual author must make themselves.
There is definitely no ‘one size fits all’ regarding the choice.
Update: Read my review of Draft2Digital.