Initially I had planned to make my book available everywhere, but when Amazon asked if I wanted to put my book in their KDP program, I started reading the fine print and realized that meant I couldn’t sell the digital copy anywhere else for a three month time period, which is how long a subscription to KDP lasts. If Amazon discovers your eBook has been sold somewhere else then you do not receive any money from the KDP program for that time period.
Wow, that really gave me a pause, but at the same time I was very new to self-publishing and I figured. “Eh, what could it hurt? I could give it a try and see what happens.” Its three months.
A lot has happened since that time. Luckily I had some fellow authors, K.B Stevens and TCoulter give me great some advice right around the time my KDP program was ending. I ended up leaving Amazon KDP for now, and I will explain why, although realize that leaving Amazon KDP doesn't mean you're leaving Amazon's Market Place.
Just for those of you new to these concepts, you have different sales listed when you’re in Amazon’s KDP select program: Regular book sales, regular eBook sales, Lending Library loaned eBook sales and eBooks given away for free. Each sales channel's numbers are different.
During the time frame of February to the end of May of having my eBook in Amazon’s KDP select program. I only had maybe thirteen eBooks loaned out of the KDP Lending Library. Now the good thing was that for each eBook loaned from KDP’s Lending Library, I received on average two dollars per eBook. Normally I receive fifty-four cents per eBook that people purchase outside of the program, that’s because I took the lowest Royalty option to keep my price down and I priced my book at a dollar ninety-nine. I made this decision because as a new writer I think that’s only fair for the people taking a chance on reading my eBook for the first time to pay a lower price. Basically that equates to around twenty-five regular eBooks sold during that time, which is not very many eBooks for a three month time period.
Do I regret having my eBook in Amazon’s KDP program then? The answer is no and here’s why.
As soon as I put my eBook into Amazon’s KDP select program I had friends of mine and work colleagues tell me that in their weekly emails from Amazon offering books that they might like to read similar to what they were reading now. My eBook was listed in these emails. Hell, I received the same emails too and so did my wife.
For a new writer this kind of marketing presence is seriously huge!
Now this is the part I do not fully understand and is a quandary, so I can only give you my impressions of what happened from my own experiences and from some of the various reading I’ve done Online. It seems like Amazon doesn’t do this for every new writer in the beginning. If you’re not in Amazon’s KDP select program I do not think that Amazon would just send out your eBook as a possible match to people reading similar stories. I imagine that once you have a few sales that Amazon would start adding your eBook to their advertisement emails, but as a new writer I do not feel like this would happen.
Again, let me reiterate that this is only my half formed opinion of the process, because I do not know for sure how Amazon determines this, and unless you’re speaking to the Amazon person who knows this 100% then I would say that if someone tells you something different that they do not know 100% either. Just keep that in the back of your mind when someone is telling you their thoughts on this process.
Once you do get some sales going then you will start showing up automatically on Amazon’s list “Other people who have read this book also bought these titles …”. Once you’ve managed to do this then your sales will start moving, but you have to reach this point.
Now this post isn’t going into all the different ways to promote your self-published book. I will add in what I know and some of the stuff my friend TCoulter has in general done for her own novel. I will add in one additional note of information I discovered
It seems like the best use of Amazon’s KDP select program is to promote your eBook at a reduced price or even free on Amazon. There is a lot of discussion as to the pros and cons of this, but I will distill everything I’ve read and know down to two methods.
The first method is if you have two or more eBooks out. You can use Amazon’s KDP select program to offer your first ebook for free or at a reduced price to build interest in the new eBook you’re releasing of that same series by marketing through the KDP program. Again this is a powerful tool to build interest in your newest novel of the series on Amazon. From what I’ve read, many authors wouldn’t say you shouldn’t be joining the KDP program if you only have one novel. Again, refer back to my thoughts on Amazon marketing your eBook as a new writer through KDP.
The second method is to offer your new novel for free on KDP to get people to download it. Even though you’re not making money by giving away free downloads, you are getting your eBook out to various peoples libraries, which will give you that placement on Amazon “Other people who bought this book also bought this book …”.
Either way, I wouldn’t get down if your eBook/book doesn’t sell much in the first month. Just go about promoting your book wherever you can. If it still isn’t picking up interest then it could be a number of issues, such as the cover needing to be better art or your excerpt in the back not being written correctly to name two of the most common problems that affect building interest in your book.
In regards to making the jump from Amazon’s KDP Select Program to Smashwords, I would have to say that I don’t see any losing points to doing this. Really you have everything to gain by doing this, although that doesn't mean at times you won't join one of your eBooks into the KDP program once again from time to time. Read my reasoning below.
Smashwords will get your eBook out to their network of partners, which is unbelievably huge. You also can sell directly on Smashwords’ website too. Not to mention, it makes more sense to send your eBook out to various other books sellers like iBooks and Barnes & Noble through Smashwords instead of Amazon’s, because they take a much smaller cut of the profits. This means your eBook’s overall price will be much more competitively priced in comparison to other eBooks being sold of the same genre by other writers using different channels than you.
I had an amazing author named Massimo Marino direct me to the pros of using Smashwords and I have to say he was 100% correct. Currently they have these sales channels to offer your eBook on: Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Amazon, Apple, Diesel, Page Foundry, Baker & Taylor Blio, Txtr, Library Direct, Baker-Taylor Axis360, OverDrive, Flipkart, Oyster and Scribd. I didn’t mention Sony because currently the Sony eBook distribution is no more.
Not to mention on Smashwords you get a lot more for your eBook, that same fifty-four cents increases to a dollar sixty per sales when the eBook is bought directly from Smashwords’ website. Also, your sales through their partners are higher than going through Amazon’s partner program.