On the 20th August my novel, Can’t Live Without, came out of the KDP Select 90 day tie-in. Now I have to ask myself: Do I want to opt in for another 90 days or not? Just what are the benefits – and what’s the downside – of Amazon’s Select programme?

For those who aren’t sure just what KDP Select actually is, here is a brief summary: If you sign up for Select, you are unable to have your book for sale electronically (paperbacks etc don’t count) anywhere other than Amazon during the 90 day period. You can’t even have it available to download from your blog or website. In return, Amazon will allow you 5 days when you can price your book as Free, utilising the often very lucrative free Kindle promo. You can take these 5 days together, or singly, or in any combo you like. You’re also enrolled in the Amazon Prime lending programme, which is only available in the US at the moment. There is a fund for this, and each ‘borrowed’ download earns you a small royalty.

If you are enrolled right now, watch out for the automatic re-enrollment which will happen unless you disable it!

OK, let’s look at the benefits first:

Free Promotions
Regular readers will know that I ran a free promo for Can’t Live Without back in July. It was fantastically successful, with over 10,000 downloads and propelling the book up the charts, staying in the paid bestsellers chart for weeks after. While the effect of the free promo was still working, I was getting around 100 paid downloads a day (final figures coming soon). So giving it away for free is definitely worth it, in my opinion. See links at end for more info on free promos.

Lending via Amazon Prime
This is touted as a major benefit, and for some authors it probably is. For UK authors? I’m not sure. The majority of books which do well via the lending programme are the same ones which score highly on the US bestseller lists. UK fiction, barring some genres, isn’t as popular. During the peak in my US sales (see above), I had a grand total of 16 ‘borrowed’ downloads, netting me $32. It’s great – but it’s not a huge benefit for me.

The Downside

The major downside of KDP Select is, of course, the exclusivity. If your book is already for sale on other eretailer sites, like B&N or Kobo, it’s a big step to take it off. You’ll lose your ranking and have to start again from the bottom when you go back. On the other hand, if you have practically no sales through these stores anyway, you’ve got nothing to lose. Most people who enrol on Select do so while Amazon is still the only channel their book is available with, and this is Amazon’s goal, of course – to keep you exclusive. This makes the Kindle reader more desirable.

But what about your readers – or potential readers – who prefer the Kobo or Nook? How can they read your book if you are subscribed to Select? Well, they can’t! In the UK this market is growing very quickly, and it’s a big decision for an author to effectively cut out a chunk of their potential readership.

Then again, Amazon is still the major eretailer in the UK, and from my research into authors who share their sales figures from different sources (not many do!), it seems like the Kindle downloads still make up the lion’s share of sales even for those who have their books available on epub as well.

So, what to do? I think it boils down to two things: How important is it to you to have your book available in every format for every reader? and, Do you believe that you will sell enough books across all platforms to make up for the increased sales a well-planned free promotion can bring you?

I’ve made up my mind. I think Can’t Live Without has one more free promo in it, and then it will probably have saturated the market and I can move it to all eretailers. So I’m going to sign up for another 90 days, but this will be my last Select for this title. And for future titles I’ll probably follow the same model. Unless everything changes, which it probably will!

More about free Kindle promotions