Kindle Select, what’s an Indie author to do?
If there’s a blog topic of choice this week for writers, it would be the new select program at Amazon. The information is all over the KDP website and the KDP author forums. It has been going for over a week now. If you’re not on a side yet, you soon will be.
The upside? Another way to reach the consumer.
The downside? An exclusive arrangement with KDP for e-book distribution.
Let’s be honest, Amazon and KDP drive the e-book revolution. It is their market to have and to hold, till death do they part. If you sell titles at all on multiple devices (multiple distribution channels) it is at least 75% to 90% of your sales. The other platforms neither have the reach or the market in devices (thanks to the Kindle Fire that gap will only widen).
So, adding your title or titles to select is going to do very little to your bottom line and may even increase it. It will drastically put the heat on their competitors, and this is one of the gripes coming from authors who, for very good reason, do not want to put all their eggs in one basket. That is probably the logical answer, the emotional one being freedom. If there is to be a primary, visceral reaction to this, it is the question of freedom and what the system is doing to the rankings of those who are not in. Rankings have suddenly skyrocketed (in the wrong direction for many) as everyone who opted in took advantage of the free promotions and there are lots of questions being asked about how this affects rankings. The upshot is that your free book will rank with the other freebies and go back to the paid ranking where it left off. Some are seeing positive numbers after the fact and others aren’t. The end result, as with all marketing is make your plans and know what it is that you wish to accomplish.
This leads to the other great deal for the indie author, the ability to offer a free promotion for up to five days every ninety days. This costs the author nothing at all and will even benefit them from the Amazon slush fund to be shared out among all who participate? This is probably the best perk in the system, second to the Amazon Prime lending library giving you one lend per month with no due date (for those prime members who own a Kindle).
For indie authors, freedom is the very reason we have taken this road. We want the control over every aspect of our creativity and the reward that our hard work produced. The Select agreement still palls in comparison with the normal exclusivity contracts one signs with a traditional publisher when you give them the rights. You will own the rights, but not the ability to sell in other e-book distribution channels.
The buzz is pretty strong with emotions running high; Select acolytes spreading the gospel vs. those who refuse to surrender any freedom at all. The latter, seeing their rankings dissolve, are understandably frustrated at the change and becoming more so. Those who are benefitting from the new exposure are also admittedly wondering what the big deal is with everyone else not in. In the middle are all of those, like me, trying to evaluate what is right for us. I don’t myself agree with the thought that Amazon is doing something illegal and against anti-trust laws, but that remains to be seen.
As I mentioned, Amazon Prime members can “borrow” your book as part of their membership, a very unique way of exposure. Lends may not lead to purchases, but word of mouth is what we thrive on for sales. Like this program or not, Amazon has added another avenue for indie authors to make money and compete with the Big Six published authors.
If you are in, what have you found? If you are not, why not. If you won’t, what are the issues for you?
It’s been a week and more information has become available from those authors who have jumped aboard the Kindle Select train. The following thread has some information on how one author garnered an impressive number of free downloads:
From feedback here and on the other Kindle boards, the results from Select seem to be a positive boost in exposure for the Indie. If you already have work up on the other ebook distribution channels I would take a long, hard look at the sales data before pulling your work from them. Money on the table is still money on the table.
Another word about the negative hype regarding this program. I read an interview with the CEO of Smashwords regarding the Select program. Honestly, why even ask him? Of course he’s going to say that what Amazon is doing is bad, horrible, anti-competitive, bordering on monopolistic, yadda yadda yadda. I would expect that from any one of the CEOs of the other distribution channels.
Would you expect to hear the CEO of Random House lambast one of his competitors if they filched one of his cash cows? Perhaps. Kindle, Smashwords, Kobo – these are distributors not publishers. They deal with everyone. I think the hype surrounding this is a tad overblown. Only time will tell if its impact on indie publishing is real or imagined.
Read and understand what the exclusivity clause means
From a strict interpretation of the contract, the meaning is for any distribution of the agreed upon content that could include excerpts published on other blogs, full digital media sent to a reviewer (if the content did not originate with KDP, you have just distributed an electronic version of your work to someone else outside of the agreement), excerpts published on your own blog, excerpts and teasers published on other distributors web pages. Exclusive means what it says.
I actually hadn’t even considered an excerpt as applying. I thought it would only mean I agree to not sell the work from any other distributor. But, giving a print book away isn’t giving the means to reproduce it away, it is just a product of the process. A .pdf or .mobi file IS the means to reproduce and selectively distribute the same content. People need to carefully read the fine print.
The penalty? Amazon will withhold the lending royalties for the period covered or limit royalties in retrospect if you willingly flout the contract. How can they? You said exclusive, didn’t you? You agreed to it. https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=APILE934L348N
Caveat Emptor; buyer beware.