Is Amazon's KDP Select Still a Good Option for Indie Authors?

The Lure of  Amazon's KDP Select

When it comes to selling our books, we authors have the impression that there's no other way to publish but through Amazon. Makes sense, Amazon has millions of customers.

So, many enroll their books on KDP Select, giving Amazon exclusive rights to their digital copies for 90 days (which the author can renew after that period has lapsed). With that, their books are listed as part of the library that Amazon Prime and Kindle Unlimited subscribers can borrow from. 

How do authors get paid if they enroll their books on KDP Select?

When a KU subscriber borrows a book through Kindle Unlimited or the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, the author gets a percentage of the KDP Select Global Fund, depending on how many pages of their books were read by customers, for the first time. (Repeat reads not counted)

"The share of fund allocated to each country varies based on a number of factors, such as exchange rates, customer reading behavior, and local subscription pricing. Author earnings are then determined by their share of total pages read." - KDP Royalties Explained on Amazon

If the KDP Select Global Fund for this month is $10M, for example, (whoa, that's a big amount, huh?) and you have a 100 page ebook that was read completely 100x, you'd get $1,000. If you think about it, that's a significant amount, and quite attainable. (Wipe the drool....) Which is why the lure works. Just keep the customers turning the pages and you can almost hear the 'kaching' sound of the money that goes into your Amazon account. If only it were that easy.

So... Should You Go Exclusive?

KDP Select is an attractive option especially for authors who don't market their books aggressively. Let Amazon do all the marketing. It works for some, but many unknown self-pubs such as myself, find the 'kaching' sound elusive. 

Is KDP Select a good thing for authors in general? I don't believe it is, for the following reasons: 

  • What it's doing is telling Amazon KU and Prime subscribers that our low-priced books are not worth purchasing. Authors should enroll them on KDP Select and make it free to read. Bummer. This program seems to contradict the purpose of having an online store where people can sell their books. One bestselling indie author, Randolph Lalonde, mentioned that he was receiving hate mails from KU subscribers, telling him that they won't read his books unless he enrolls them on KDP Select. You can read about his post HERE.
  • Not everyone owns, or wants to own and read using a Kindle, even with the Free Kindle App. If you publish exclusively, you lose access to that significant non-Kindle portion of the population. Many prefer the Nook or Kobo or iBooks or Play Books. The Kindle is NOT the only eReader.
  • Did you know that majority of the books available on Kindle Unlimited are from Self Published Authors? And yet, the constant policy changes on how an author gets paid through KU, makes it harder for authors to increase their earnings. Maybe that's why traditional publishers opted out of KU.
  • If you're an author living outside select countries, you can only receive your payments through check. That's why I no longer promote my Amazon book page as much. Read about the payment options HERE. Check? In the Philippines? That will get encashed for me. LOL. Why can't they transfer our funds to our bank, if we pay the fees? It's just so.... snobbish? discriminating? restrictive? elitist? Pfffft. I claim my royalties from Amazon as Gift Cards instead. Which I give back to them when I use it.
Why go exclusive instead of making your books available to all readers on all platforms? You can still take advantage of Amazon's customer base without enrolling your book on KDP Select.

Recently, Amazon made an announcement regarding the KDP Global Fund:

"As we’ve expanded KU to more countries, a number of the program’s elements – such as exchange rates, customer reading behavior, and local subscription pricing – now vary substantially by marketplace, making it clear that a ‘one size fits all’ approach won’t work. As just one example, we recently launched KU in India with a local subscription price of ₹199 ($3.00) per month. As a result, starting with the November fund, we will work to take these marketplace differences into account and payouts per country will differ based on local country factors.

Whatever that means, it can't be good. The word "lower revenue" comes to mind.

Publishing Globally

Google Play Store alone has more than a billion customers, and they have Google Play Books. Kobo is a leader in the online publishing industry, same with Barnes and Noble. Then there's the Apple lovers and iBooks. There are too many players out there aside from Amazon, and unknown self published authors like us should expand our reach and let their readers discover our books.

Why restrict ourselves because of the lure of millions available in the KDP Global Fund? Unless you're confident that you will get a significant share.

As an Indie Author, we shouldn't give away the RIGHTS to our books in exchange for marketing opportunities, or because we don't know what to do to sell our books. Not to Amazon or any other online publisher. Unless, they give you advance royalties. Learn how to be a self published author instead. Don't let businesses play on your fear.... or greed.

What do you think, KDP Select authors? 
Did the recent pay per number of pages read affect your earnings?
Will you continue to publish exclusively given the recent changes?

Related Article: How to Publish and Sell Your Book on Google Play Store

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