Should I Stay In Amazon Kindle KDP Select Or Open Publish My Ebooks?

Should I Stay In Amazon KDP Select or Open Publish

If you are self-published, you have certainly made your paperbacks and ebooks available on Amazon. But do you use Kindle KDP Select or open publish?

For your ebooks, you have probably also enrolled in KDP Select. It has many benefits, but all at the cost of exclusivity.

But what happens when you decide to exit KDP Select and publish your ebooks with an aggregator such as Draft2Digital or Smashwords to gain access to Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and others?

It makes sense to want to make your ebooks available to as many readers as possible. From the viewpoint of being an independent author, exclusivity goes against the grain of what being independent means.

Should I Stay In Kindle KDP Select Or Open Publish?

Facts are facts.

As the graphic below from Author Earnings clearly shows, Amazon is tough to resist for authors and publishers.

Kindle KDP Select Market Share

If you have ebooks in Amazon KDP Select and are wondering if it is advantageous to exit, let me save you some time by giving you my experience of having been in and out of KDP Select many, many times.

I suppose the first question you might ask is why I have exited so many times. Good question.

No doubt enrolling an ebook in KDP Select increases ebook sales.

There is also no doubt that Amazon sells more ebooks than any other retailer.

Kindle is the most popular e-reader.

I have sold more ebooks via KDP Select than via any other means.

There is no doubt that Amazon KDP has the biggest market share.


But here’s the catch with KDP Select

My ebook sales have always increased during the first six months of KDP Select enrolment. But then sales to customers fade away to a trickle.

If this had happened only once, I would have explained it away as being a problem with a book.

But I have seen this happen over and over as I have moved eighteen titles in and out of KDP Select.

It’s clear that Amazon wants ebooks in KDP Select. It uses cheap, free, and subscription ebooks as an ‘entry hook’ to get people to buy other products on Amazon.


Amazon is different from all other ebook retailers

Compared to other book retailers, Amazon is not in the business of selling ebooks.

It is in the business of selling televisions, lawnmowers, pet food, laptops, and any other profitable product, but Amazon uses ebooks to bring (lure) customers to its store.

However, Amazon needs to reward writers for handing over exclusivity.

So, the deal seems to be that Amazon hands out the reward of increased sales, but only for so long.

My experience tells me that Amazon’s marketing algorithms stop working in your favor after five or six months.

I have left a few ebooks in KDP Select for over a year and a half to see if sales picked up after the first two terms, but they never eventuated.

So this is why I often exit KDP Select after two enrollment terms and then open publish for three or four months.

Then, when I re-enroll in KDP Select, I usually get Amazon’s marketing algorithms working for me again.


And what happens to my ebook sales when I am out of KDP Select?

Kindle sales continue, but at a much slower rate. And, of course, there is no Kindle Unlimited income.

Sales on other retailers cover this loss to some extent.

But in general terms, my Kindle ebook sales drop by about 40-50% from what I usually expect from being enrolled in KDP Select.

Over the years, I have developed a routine of staying in KDP Select for six months, moving out for a while, then moving back in again.

When I re-enroll in KDP Select, my Kindle ebook sales usually increase.

Plus, of course, I return to earning Kindle Unlimited page read income and can offer a book for free from time to time. Rinse and repeat.


Closing thoughts

Is KDP Select exclusivity worth it?

If you have ebooks in KDP Select and are getting reasonable sales, stay there.

But if you are thinking about open publishing, be prepared for a loss of ebook sales from Amazon, which may or may not be offset by sales from other retailers.

However, if you are in KDP Select, have been enrolled for a long time, and have seen your ebook sales fall off and never recover, perhaps it’s time to take a break from KDP Select.

You might try to move to open publishing for a while and then try KDP Select again in a few months.


One last tip for new authors

When you publish an ebook and paperback on Amazon, ensure both versions are merged on one sales page before you start promoting your book.

It is common for Amazon to create two different sales pages when you first publish. Always check to make sure all your book versions appear on one page only.


Related reading: Self-Publishing Without Amazon KDP – Can You Do It?

14 thoughts on “Should I Stay In Amazon Kindle KDP Select Or Open Publish My Ebooks?”

  1. I am always agonising over whether to drop out of KDP Select and make my books more available on other platforms. I am still in as much of the dark as ever. Talk about a bloody difficult decision!

  2. In what way exactly does enrolling a book on KDP Select automatically “boost sales”? Your article provides no explanation of it. I have heard of books that have been put on KDP Select and yet did not make a single sale.

  3. One thing to remember is that getting a BookBub placement is (supposedly) easier if your book can be bought in multiple places. But they won’t accept books without a decent number of reviews so it makes sense to start with KDP Select and then move out of it after 6 months or so.

  4. Thanks Derek
    Very timely and useful article. Any thoughts or advice on the ease or not of getting books onto Kobo or iBooks?
    Many thanks

    1. Hi Nick. I use Draft2Digital to publish on iBooks and Kobo. It’s very easy. You can also use Smashwords to do the same. But you need to choose one or the other to avoid duplication.

  5. Hi Andrew,

    1. No. Once you are out of KDP Select you cannot promote free Kindle ebooks. Nor can you reduce your price to $0.00. The price minimum is $0.99.

    2. Yes, Draft2Digital universal links is a very good way to promote books on all your retailers.

    Good luck!

  6. Thanks Derek – most useful!

    Two questions – when you move a title out from KDP Select can you;
    1. Still run a free promotion on Amazon just by changing price to zero?

    2. When you promote your title that is available on itunes, b&n and kobo – do you include links to those retailers, or can you use someone like Draft2Digital to handle non Amazon sales.

    I have been with KDP Select for 6 months and feel like its time to test the full ebook market…


  7. Great approach and advice to a very difficult decision us self-published authors make! The only reason I may go with Smashwords first is because my book contains pictures and may result in me losing royalty gain because of its size. Good idea or is KDP Select the best route to take when starting out?

  8. Great post Derek, and timely as I think about my own plans for my book. I have a question. Do you lose the reviews you have gained when you move from KDP Select to other retailers, and then back again? If so, is there a way you handle that?

    1. You reviews stay on Amazon, Julie. When you leave KDP Select, your ebook is still listed for sale as normal, so nothing will change. I can’t be as sure about other retailers, though, as when you return to KDP Select you have to unpublish on these retailers. I hope this helps.

  9. Avatar for Lisa Lawmaster Hess
    Lisa Lawmaster Hess

    Thanks for a thoughtful, logical approach rather than the standard “Amazon is evil” approach I see a lot. This makes sense and also matches my experience. Now to see if I missed my window for this term….

  10. Thank you so much for the excellent data. I’ve been rather schitzo on this strategy myself. But, now I have a plan. Thanks!

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top