I've been posting my advice on self-publishing over on Facebook the last few days and I made this post yesterday:
Last month was my highest earning month ever and it was due to the expansion I've had with iBooks. Unless you only have one book, I see NO reason to do KDP select if you are considering self-publishing. Their free day options are nice, but that is not the only way to get a book free, and you should only be doing a free book if you have other books for people then to go on and buy (never underestimate having the first book in a series free, having Branded hit the number one free book in iTunes UK brought me thousands extra last month). Spread to all available channels (Kindle, Nook, iBooks, etc).
I want to elaborate on this further.
For those of you who don't know, KDP Select is an option you can choose when publishing to Kindle. It means you grant Amazon exclusive rights to distribute/sell your book. Meaning you can not have it available at Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, etc. In exchange for that, you get 5 days in your 90 day contract that you can have your book for free. Amazon Prime members can also "borrow" your book for free and when they do, you get a nice little share of their monthly pot (on average it is about $1-2 per borrow, though I'm generalizing here). They are some nice little perks.
I debated on the value of this program for a long time. I knew how greatly having a book for free could help an author. I've had BRANDED, book one in the Fall of Angels trilogy free now for almost 2 years straight. I got Amazon to price match iBooks, which does allow you to set your book for free for however long you want, whenever you want.
When I re-published Eden as THE BANE, I also released THE RAID, a short story that tied in with book one, and THE ASHES, which was a short prequel. I wanted to be able to set them for free because of their length and the said value in free books. But because of the pain-in-the-a$$-ness that is uploading to iBooks, I thought I'd give KDP Select a try. I am an indie author who likes to try everything that is available to me, so I figured "why not?" It was after all only a 90 day contract.
My experience with it was disappointing. I got hardly any downloads on those free days. I did expect less than the downloads I got for an entire novel, but still, it wasn't hardly anything. And my readers complained that they couldn't get it anywhere else. I do have quite a lot of readers who use Nooks and iPad's and they couldn't get these tie in stories.
So for me, it was a failed experiment.
It is always interesting to me to see what outlets sell the best. For the majority of the time I've been a self-published author Kindle copies have made up about 75% of my sales. Except for a brief time last summer where Barnes & Noble had a big surge for about 8 weeks and outstretched Kindle.
I never even paid that much attention to iBooks. Like I said, they're a pain to upload to if you don't have a Mac so I only had the Fall of Angels trilogy uploaded directly through them. All of my other books were uploaded to there through Smashwords (use extreme caution when using this company, more on this to come in another post).
But things started to pick up with iBooks in the last few months. BRANDED was still free there, and then about two weeks ago, they featured it as their book of the week in the UK (I had no idea they were going to do this, I was lucky I happened to find out). Things skyrocketed. In all, I made an extra $4,000 dollars from iBooks in June. That was just extra. And the up rise in sales there has steadied. Of course it isn't near what it was that week it was being featured, but iBooks is selling more copies of the Fall of Angels trilogy than Amazon, and has been for about 10 weeks now.
My point in all this is, the majority of times I would say do not use KDP Select. You never know when one outlet is going to take off. And you are limiting your readership.
However, I do think there are times when it can be beneficial. Here is when:
- If you are a brand new author, and you have a series (at least two books out, three is better), and have yet to really take off, the free days can help. I do believe Amazon places priority in promoting the Select titles (that are full novels) and it can be fantastic exposure. Plus, the contract is only 90 days.
- If you only have one title, and do not have plans to publish any more any time soon, the short amount of free days can help get you quick exposure and then revert back to being able to charge once again.
But in other instances, I do not think it is worth it.
Keep in mind, this is all my own opinion, based off of my own experiences. I do know there are plenty of other authors out there who have had great success with Select. It can be a great program. Everyone has their own experiences and expectations.
My last bit of advice: do your research on others experiences with it, and consider all your options.