Amazon’s KDP Select Program and…

I don’t know how Amazon is going about letting customers know about its new KDP Select program, but the author forums are abuzz with discussions about it. As Amazon customers know (even those of us who aren’t members), they have a Prime program that gives members free 2-day shipping and other benefits in return for a set membership fee each year. The Prime membership is also now going to include the ability to borrow one Kindle book a month free. As of now, that’s what the advantage of the program is to the reader.

An author who signs up with the program allows her book(s) in the program to be borrowed and also can offer the book for free 5 days in every 90-day period. Additionally, for a new book entered in the program, the author would be able to have pre-release orders (something indies have not been able to do in the past). In return for this, the author has to give Amazon the exclusive right to sell the book on its website – no B&N, Sony, Kobo, Apple, selling on the author’s website, etc. In fact so far the interpretation is that the author cannot give digital copies of the book to anyone, even for review. Surely that will be clarified more sensibly soon.

Needless to say, some authors think this is awful; others think it’s great and are hopping on the Select bandwagon with glee. I’m sitting on the sidelines thinking about it. For starters, since my ebooks are distributed to B&N, Sony, et al., via Smashwords, it would take weeks for me to get them taken down from those sites so that I could enter a program that requires exclusivity with Amazon. Theoretically I’m an ideal author for the program. I’ve never calculated, but definitely more than 95% of all my ebook sales are from Amazon, probably more than 98% if I did the math. However, do I want to tell the Nook, Sony, and Kobo people too bad? I put out paperbacks of my books in order not to say no to what is also a very tiny percentage of my readers. One author is working on a way to tell her readers if they buy from Amazon, she’ll convert the book to the format they want and send it to them, but IME not every ebook reader knows how to or wants to learn how to sideload a book onto their device, and of course the get your ebook instantaneously convenience would be turned into a back and forth aggravation.

For some authors the lure is being able to offer their books for free for those 5 days. Amazon has not allowed indies to offer their books for free in the past. However, clever people soon figured that if they offered their books for free in other places that do allow it, Amazon would price match and also offer the book for free. Timing was a bear that way, but a lot of authors do it. Those of you who have been reading here for a while are probably aware I’ve never waved the free flag wildly. Every time I think about it, I hear my mother’s voice saying, “You get what you pay for.” I know that’s not always true. I’ve scooped up some decent free books myself when given the chance, but even so….

The free theory is that readers who would never buy an unknown author try a free book, like it, and then buy all the author’s other books. It does work that way for some, but it works best with series books when the first one is free and of course my romances are standalones. So, for right now, I’m not putting any of my books in the Select program, but I’d love to hear thoughts on it from any of you. Maybe I will try it with a new book if early participants think it does give useful exposure. The minimum participation time is 90 days, so if a new book could be in the program for only 90 days and get the advantage of pre-orders…. Well, maybe.

Tidbits: Dancing on Coals has now been given 5-star reviews by KristieJ and by the Maldivian Book Reviewer. (Okay, KristieJ’s is really a 4.99 review, but what the heck.) Really great reviews that had me smiling for hours, and I thank them both for picking the book up so quickly to review. In addition, MBR is making Dancing on Coals one of her December pick of the month books and I did an interview with her that will be posted in early January. It might appear as early as January 1, but I’ll let everyone know the date as soon as I find out. Her questions were excellent, and I think you may enjoy reading the interview.

And speaking of free — MBR will have some gift copies of Dancing on Coals at the time the interview appears. Mom is mercifully silent on that subject.

~Ellen

 

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11 Responses to Amazon’s KDP Select Program and…

  1. Jen says:

    I bought the Nook to support B&N, so I don’t think much of Amazon’s new program. It sadens me that the industry seems to be moving in such a rigid direction. Regarding free vs not, I bought the paperback version of Eyes of Silver Eyes of Gold based on the description. If it sounds interesting, I’m going to take a chance.

    Just my two cents.

  2. Hi Jen – Welcome and thanks for the feedback. However, your comment provokes curiosity – if you bought a Nook, is there a reason you didn’t get Eyes for your Nook from B&N? Did the Nook purchase just come later? Also, when you say you decided to take a chance, did you consider exploring the sample available via the Look Inside feature on Amazon before ordering? (I confess I don’t do this, maybe because my internet connection is too slow, and I don’t buy paper any more, but I do download samples to my Kindle. I agree with the people who say liking the sample doesn’t guarantee liking the book, but it increases the odds considerably.) ~Ellen

  3. mesadallas says:

    Loved the review by Kristie. Looks as if Coals is doing wonderful!

    I think I saw that the Prime member rate was $75.00 a year. Two day shipping isn’t that big of a deal to me- most amazon sellers usually are pretty good about getting orders out right away and when I purchase items most of them come within just a few days anyway with out the “prime” perk. I read about three books a month so being able to borrow only one book a month as a prime member still doesn’t lure me in enough as a reader to make the yearly fee worth while.

    As an author I can see the advantages and disadvantages. I guess I would want to know how many readers are signing up for this program before deciding to participate or not.

    You make a great point about using the program to promote book series and since you asked for imput on trying the program with a new book how about Beau’s story? Isn’t he just chomping at the bit to make his aquantance with readers?

  4. mesadallas says:

    Elllen, I was just on the western authors thread at amazon and some of the other ladies have signed for this program and are seeing great results. I’m sure you could get some good imput from them.

  5. Hi mesadallas – Yes, I’ve seen a lot of reports of success with the program. However, the success isn’t coming in that their books are being borrowed, but that they are allowed to put them for free, so they join the program and make their book free right away. Even done the manipulative, clumsy old way, making a book free has always resulted in oodles of downloads and for some it kickstarts their sales and improves things afterwards. I’m having an internal debate about trying this when I release the next mystery, i.e., make the first one free for the 5 days when I release the second.

    Aside from Mom’s internal voice, I admit free doesn’t lure me the way it does some. I know some people basically download about anything that’s free and stuff their Kindle with them. It’s one of those things where I march to a different drummer. I don’t care if it’s free it has to appeal to me just as a paid book would, and I’d rather pay for something that really satisfies rather than settle for something that’s only okay.

    I’m with you in that paying $79 a year for 2-day delivery wouldn’t be worth it. I always wait until I have enough to order to get free shipping anyway – even though it’s slower shipping, it’s free. The program does offer other things some may value though, like movies. Since I don’t do that (on my dial up connection – ho ho), I don’t know the details.

    As to Beau – It makes me smile that you liked him that much. However, you’re going to have to wait a bit. Right now the plan is another standalone I’ve got pretty much outlined, then Roddy, then Beau, with maybe an Eyes short story or two sandwiched in.

    ~Ellen

  6. mesadallas says:

    I’m pretty keen on Roddy as well but I have feeling Beau is going to be my favorite of your hero’s. Good things come to those who wait so I don’t mind the wait.

  7. McD says:

    Hi Ellen, I am totally out of the loop on the question of the KDP programme.

    But may I just say congratulations. Again. The two sites I visit regularly are Goodreads and Amazon. I have checked ratings and reviews for Dancing on Coals on both. At the moment DoC has an average rating of 4.61 (and 38 ratings) at Goodreads. And an average of 5 (and 19 ratings) at Amazon.

    Those figures are amazing. But they only reflect the quality of this outstanding book.Well done.

  8. Jen says:

    Hi Ellen,

    I bought Eyes before I got the Nook and the description sounded good so I was willing to take a chance. I don’t know why I don’t download samples, maybe it’s my way of living on the edge 🙂

  9. Hi Jen – Well, as to books you live more on the edge than I do. I even download samples of freebies. From what I see on some of the forums a lot of people do it your way, though. Maybe someday ebooks will be enough of the market someone will take a survey. One way or the other, I’m glad you took a chance on Eyes. ~Ellen

  10. Cheryl says:

    Ellen,

    I am an avid reader and I download books that are of interest to me. If the discription is good and appeals and the price isn’t outrageous then I will try it. If I am uncertain I will try the sample offered via Amazon. I can usually figure out if I like the writers style by that alone – though I must admit I have been fooled.

    You are offering your books at a very reasonable price.. might as well be free in my mind. You could increase your price and still get sales because your novels are engaging, well writen and frankly, once I start one I don’t stop until it is done.

    So my vote would be it is of no substantial benefit to offer your books for free give the price you are currently selling the for. I buy a lot from Amazon but I am not a Prime member – the program just does not appeal to me. As an author having Amazon curtail my freedom of publishing just smacks of a monopoly, which in principle I disagree with anyhow.

    So, keep going…. you write fantastic books… Eyes is still my favourite and I have re-read it now about 4 times and am not bored.. and don’t skip any parts … that is something … I don’t normally re-read a book, yet each time I read yours I find it as engaging as the first time I experienced it.

    Cheryl

  11. Welcome, Cheryl. I’m glad you liked the books so much. I agree with you on both counts – I always download samples. I used to do that even with freebies, but recently it’s no longer possible. The sample, however, only tells me about the quality of the writing, formatting, and proofing. Where books often fail for me is in the plot, and that shows up farther along.

    Second as to price, I don’t go for freebies often. They have to be by an author I know and like or the blurb has to really appeal, and even then I’m often deleting within a few pages. I hardly ever look at $.99 books. I always hear my mother’s voice, “You get what you pay for.” But I don’t think I’m typical. Reader forums are full of lists of freebies and people who say their Kindles are full of them.

    As to prices, I am ready to raise mine. The new romance is is shorter than the others, but I think I’m still going to do it, for that one and the older ones.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    ~Ellen

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