One of the first few decisions that an indie author will face is whether to enroll in KDP Select or go wide.
This dilemma might be even more difficult when you’ve just started embarking on this self-publishing journey.
I faced this problem too when I launched my debut book.
But now, I’m more informed about the two choices and can make a decision easily.
Hence, I would like to share my knowledge about these 2 options. Hopefully, it can help you make an informed choice too~
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Enrolling in KDP Select means that you exclusively sell your eBook on Amazon only. This digital book will not be sold to any other retailers like Apple, B&N Nook, Kobo, Google Play etc. You can’t even sell it on your own website or blog.
However, you can continue to sell the physical book to retailers other than Amazon.
Also, you can use 10% of your book’s content as sample and display it on other sites.
Note that once you enroll in KDP Select, you’re locked in for 90 days. You can uncheck the auto-renew so you’re not automatically enrolled to KDP Select for the next 90 days.
Pros Of KDP Select
Massive Exposure From KU & KOLL
Enrolling in KDP Select will help you gain exposure. And this is crucial especially for new and unknown authors. Whether you’re an author who just published your first debut book or an author who published a few books but have not reached many readers, KDP Select will definitely help boost your visibility.
This is because when you enroll in KDP Select, your books become available to all Kindle Unlimited (KU) and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) subscribers. In other words, you get more eyeballs on your books!
And this is valuable if you’re a new or unknown author. If you’re an established author, there would already be a pool of readers who trust your writing. But if you’re new and unknown, readers might not trust you that much. Hence, as a KU or KOLL subscriber, they are more likely to give your books a chance because they’ve already paid their monthly subscription to read unlimited books.
As the saying goes, “every book starts with one reader before spreading to many.” You need readers first before your book can take off.
Higher Royalty Of 70% (vs the usual 35%)
Precisely because your eBook is exclusive to Amazon, Amazon will give you a higher royalty of 70% (compared to the usual 35%) since you only have one retailer.
But bear in mind that this 70% royalty is only if you sell your book to customers in Brazil, Japan, Mexico and India.
Unless you sell numerous books in the abovementioned countries, you wouldn’t be able to see a significant increase in royalty. Hence, do take note that the higher royalty is only valid for a few specific countries. Moreover, you can still choose this 70% royalty even without enrolling in KDP Select as long as you meet the list price requirements. For example, you’ll need to price your eBook between USD 2.99 and USD 9.99 to qualify for 70% royalty.
To summarize, the only advantage is that digital books enrolled in KDP Select can earn 70% royalty for sales to customers in Brazil, Japan, Mexico and India.
Free Marketing Promotions
Amazon will also provide 2 free marketing promotions when you enroll in KDP Select:
Kindle Countdown Deal
Kindle Countdown Deal is a time-bound promotional discounting. Meaning that you stagger your discounts.
For instance, you could discount your book to $0.99 for the first 3 days then change it to $1.99 for the next 2 days.
Note that the longest period is 7 days. So for every 90-day KDP Select enrollment period, you can discount your book for up to 7 days.
Free Book Promotion
As the name suggests, Free Book Promotion is where readers get your book for free for a limited time.
The maximum number of days you can offer your book for free is 5 days. So for every 90-day KDP Select enrollment period, you can make your book free for 5 days.
Cons Of KDP Select
Exclusivity: Heavily Reliant On Amazon
By enrolling in KDP Select, it means that your eBook will only be sold on Amazon. You can’t sell your digital book to any other book retailers.
In other words, your book sales will be very reliant on this sole retailer and you’ll lose out on other revenue streams.
However, note that Amazon has the largest book market share. So you’re essentially selling to the bulk of your customers.
You also won’t need to diversify your marketing efforts. You just have to focus on boosting sales on Amazon.
Cheap & Inaccurate Reads
In addition to receiving royalty from books sold, you also gain royalty for each page read by KU and KOLL subscribers.
But Amazon pays very low for each page read (approximately $0.004 per page). You’re actually sharing the monthly KDP Select Global Fund with other authors. The amount you earn will be based on your share of total pages read by Kindle Unlimited (KU) and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) customers. Thus, for authors that have longer books, they get slightly more royalty since they have a higher number of pages. However, all in all, the royalty from pages read is much much lower than the royalty from books sold.
There are also many issues with this royalty from pages read. Over the years, authors have reported about the inaccuracy where there was some missing page read.
In other words, capturing the number of pages read is difficult (compared to the easily identifiable and accurate number of books sold). Hence, there is a chance that Amazon’s report about the number of pages read may be inaccurate, making you lose on some royalty.
Going wide refers to selling your book to numerous book retailers. You can sell your eBook directly to Amazon, Apple, B&N Nook, Kobo, Google Play etc. Or you can use an aggregator like Draft2Digital which distributes to multiple retailers. And of course, you can sell your book on your own website or blog.
There won’t be anyone telling you which retailers you can or can’t sell your book to. It’s your choice.
For instance, you might decide to only sell to large book retailers like Amazon, Apple, B&N Nook, Kobo and Google Play. Or you might choose to sell to all retailers including Scribd, Tolino and OverDrive.
Pros Of Going Wide
Diversity: Risk Is Spread
As the saying goes, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
Rather than relying only on Amazon, being wide means you can rely on sales from Amazon as well as other retailers.
Simply put, your risk is spread.
- Readers can discover your books through more channels (rather than Amazon alone)
- Lessens the impact of a poorly performing channel
Moreover, not all readers will buy from Amazon. They might live in a country that has no Amazon store and thus, buy books from other channels.
Therefore, it’s better to go wide so you don’t miss these potential sales from customers who buy from non-Amazon retailers.
Being wide also builds credibility. Readers are more likely to trust a book that is available on many channels than a book that is only available on one channel. I mean, wouldn’t you find it weird that a book is not available at your favorite retailer?
Higher Chance Of Your Book Being Featured On Book Promotion Sites
So there are some book promotion sites that promote your books to their subscriber list of readers.
Most of them will have prerequisites like the book needs to be of novel length and be discounted by at least 50% etc.
Take BookBub for instance. BookBub, one of the best book promotion sites, prefers books that are widely available.
In other words, if your book is wide, there is a higher chance that your book will be chosen to be promoted. Thus, I would go so far as to say that having your book available on many channels is essential for book promotions.
Plus, since you’re already paying for the promotion, isn’t it better if you promote all channels that your book is available on at once? This way, you can capture sales from all channels too.
Cons Of Going Wide
More Channels Doesn’t Mean More Sales
Getting your book sold is a headache for new and unknown authors. It will happen whether you’re exclusive or wide.
It doesn’t mean that when you go wide, you have a higher chance to sell your book. You’ll still need to put in effort into marketing your book.
Here’s where KDP Select has an edge. There’s already a pool of audience, of ready readers, when you enroll in KDP Select… the KU and KOLL subscribers.
But when you’re wide, you have to attract readers to buy your book yourself.
So just bear this in mind. Your book might not sell much too even if you’re wide and distribute to various retailers.
No Free Marketing Promotions
When you go wide, Kindle Countdown Deal and Free Book Promotion will not be available to you since they’re exclusively for authors who enrolled in KDP Select.
You have other marketing options like Kobo Promotions. However, these promotions will require you to invest some money, unlike Amazon’s promotions that are free.
Therefore, you need to consider your marketing budget before you decide whether to enroll in KDP Select or go wide.
Enroll In KDP Select Or Go Wide From The Start?
Okay, so there’s no right or wrong answer to this.
You can start by enrolling in KDP Select then go wide when you’re more comfortable or when you feel ready.
Or you can go wide from the start. Even if you start with KDP Select then go wide, you still need to start from scratch and gain readers from the other retailers. So why not start early and go wide from the beginning?
Both arguments are valid. Hence, do consider your current situation.
If you’re in urgent need of money, you can enroll in KDP Select. (But if you’re hoping to earn fast big bucks, you’re looking at the wrong place. Self-publishing is a long arduous journey.) If you want to build trust and let all readers be able to buy your book, you may want to go wide.
Now It’s Your Turn
What do you think about KDP Select and going wide? How do you decide which book to enroll in KDP Select and which book to go wide?
Let’s share our opinions and insights with other indie authors and learn together~
For more book publishing and marketing tips, consider joining classes like How To Write And Publish An eBook and Sell Your First 1000 Books. Or watch streaming broadcasts of free online classes at CreativeLive! You can also join online courses at Udemy~