Monday 30 January 2012

Kindle Direct Publishing Select: Is it worth it?

As many of you probably know, my poetry book was free on Amazon over the weekend. (Amazon finally sorted out the glitch!) Amazon didn't do this on their own. I did it. I did it because I registered my poetry book with KDP Select, the Kindle library service.

Initially, I was against this program because in order to be eligible, your e-book is not to be available via any other avenue. "What?" I screeched. "You've got to be kidding me. Bugger that."

But then I started reading more about it. You only have to commit to 90 days at a time. And with each 90 days, they offer you 5 days free promotion. "Hmm," I thought. "Maybe I should give this a go. My poetry isn't selling very well, because, you know, it's poetry, so what's it going to matter?"

So I did it. And I took advantage of a couple of my free days as an experiment.

By Sunday morning, Twisted Velvet Chains was downloaded 2080 times. It also hit the #1 spot in the Poetry Bestsellers list (ahead of Aristotle!), and #99 position among ALL free e-books (but only for one hour!). "Wow ... how? It's poetry! This is insane," I thought.

This morning, I have maintained my #1 "Poetry Bestseller" status, and also tallied up a total of 2900 downloads. Pretty amazing for poetry, innit?

Now, I know this is a quite an ego-booster, and of course this only happened because it was free, and I imagine I'd be lucky if even 50 of those purchasers read the thing. But still, it's damn good exposure. Those people now know my name, and, something even better happened ...

... String Bridge sales boosted, and the book made it to the #1 (paperback) and #2 (Kindle) positions in "Recently Popular Contemporary & Literary Fiction" list. I'm so excited! Because that means when people search for those specific genres, my book will be there! Again, excellent exposure.

So yeah, all in all, I have to say that YES, KDP Select is worth it. It's an excellent marketing tool, especially for the newbies like me who need to get their name circulating. 90 days commitment is not bad for those results, hey? I can give up 90 days. And when those 90 days are over, I'll put TVC on Smashwords. No skin off my nose! :o)

I don't think KDP Select is for everyone, and I do still have a few feelings about it being exploitative and degrading. Because what message does bringing down the price of books to zero give? That literature isn't worth the money anymore? I'm still kinda on the fence. But I do think it's a great tool for debut authors. That is a given.

What do you think?


  1. I don't know what to think. Did you ever see the Neil Gaiman video interview where he talks about American Gods? His publisher allowed the book to be free for a while. It got the word out and became a bestseller. But that was a novelty at the time. Now it's more common. If sales went up for String Bridge, it sounds like a good thing.

  2. It is a hard one. The reality is that the net. by it's nature is a free exercise and people expect that. Does downloading something for nothing means people will then go and buy it? I am not so sure.
    Then again, it is exposure so in a way it is a form of advertising. In this world of 'marketing matters' such things are, or can be, instrumental in establishing an image or 'reputation.'
    If you have the time to do it then all well and good - it can't hurt but it doesn't necessarily help.
    I still feel there is a large element of luck, fate, destiny and the like in any kind of success but the internet offers different ways to work toward exposure so if it suits you then go for it.

  3. I haven't got a kindle so don't know all about the facts.
    But HEY! poetry Does matter... well to me it does, that's what I do , I can't write novels and the such but I can write poetry.


  4. That sounds a great marketing tool for 90 days. Something to remember for the future. Congratulations on the extra sales.

  5. For poetry I think it seems like a pretty good deal. Poetry is always a hard sell.

    I think the one concern is many people don't realize you don't have to own a Kindle. For free I have Kindle for PC on my laptop. I can buy and download all the books I would if I had a Kindle. This knowledge could double the numbers.

  6. Amazon is a genius at marketing, but it does give me some qualms because the marketing usually benefits AMAZON more than anybody else.

    They do tend to train readers to expect low prices that won't keep publishers or authors in business for long.

  7. The only problem I have is giving so much power to Amazon but I have no problem with the books being free. That's a business decision. Most all businesses give away free products as part of marketing. I think in your position it's perfect. You offered one free and still had one for sale. Congrats!

  8. Theresa, no I didn't see that but it rings a bell!

    Ros, I do suppose it's each to their own.

    Yvonne, agreed. Poetry DOES matter. If only it did to more people.

    Glynis, thanks!

    junebug, yes that's true. I had a few people email me saying they didn't have a Kindle, and when I told them about the Apps for PC and Mac it was total news to them. I guess Amazon don't want to market those much because they want people to buy the real thing.

    Dianne, tell me about it. It's a very scary thought! Soon readers are just going to browse through the Free Kindle store. What happens then?

  9. Laura, thank you! Yes, it did work well for me. And the only reason I did it was BECAUSE it was poetry and it wasn't selling much anyway. But I think if it were a novel I wouldn't have done it. I definitely don't imagine doing it for String Bridge.

  10. Letting people know you can download free Kindle is a good way to go. Kindles are still few and far between.

  11. I have one of my books on the Select thing and so far it's not working out. I haven't used the free yet, am waiting to make a decision with my next release.

    However, it's only 90 days and that's not so long.

  12. It's obviously worked out well for you, and for that I'm glad, but I can't really offer an informed opinion of my own, never having dealt with it.

    Still: CONGRATS, Jess!

  13. Glad it boosted sales of String Bridge! My publisher has already issued a statement that they will not participate in the program because of the exclusive clause.

  14. I think you are a superstar rockstar, and I am SO PROUD!!! Whoot! I bought it when it was 99 cents, but that's OK! You geaux, girl!

    Of course, I'm totally with you on the whole "teaching consumers not to pay for books" thing. But I guess libraries do that, too, sort of. Right? And your name's getting out there... zerg. I agree w/your last 'graph. But you've got to get a start. Think of it as the iTunes "free song of the week." Yes? :o) <3

  15. That's really good to know. Also, if someone does like your poetry, they will check out your other books. I'll look into that publishing option. Amazon is so smart!

  16. Anne, no one as actually 'borrowed' my book either! Maybe you should give the free thing a whirl, but just with one title, not all of them.

    Matt, thank you!

    Alex, fair enough. Not everyone is going to view it in the same light. But it is only 90 days commitment. It can't hurt, surely?

    Leigh, ABSOLUTELY! And thank you!

    Clarissa, yes they are. But I also think that they may be too smart for their own good sometimes. I wonder when something is going to backfire ...

  17. Hi, Jessica! I'm a bit of a lurker by nature, so I apologize for not having commented until now. Just wanted to say a big CONGRATS!!! on the poetry and String Bridge. You're right: excellent exposure! Glad things worked out so well for you with the kindle program. :-)

  18. Hi L.C.! No worries at all :o) Just popped over to your blog to click follow :o) Cheers! And thanks!

  19. Wow, Jessica, that's awesome!! I hope your sales continue to rise. :-)

  20. Congratulations!

    I've noticed every time my publisher does a promo on amazon it gives my sales a HUGE bump!!

  21. I found you through Goodreads and just got your print copy of String Bridge. Nothing to do with Amazon since I won't use them - yes, because they are exploitative and against fair competition. The biggest advantage of being indie is to maintain control. That's taken away when they make you take it down everywhere else, and it's anti free-competition, which I strongly believe in. My ebooks are not listed there because I won't put them there.

    I did just make my first novel free at Smashwords and it will be free everwhere else, as well, soon. It's nine years old. I want more readers for it and to attract more readers to my other books. So far it's starting to work already.

    I hope your free poetry book draws attention to your novel. :-)

  22. That exclusivity left a bad taste in my mouth, but you made a good point; it would be worth it to suck it up for 90 days. Stoked to hear that you're doing so well!

  23. i mean, you're completely right about the exposure (and i'm sure you were doing an awesome dance!) but it stinks you can't charge like even 25 cents for it.

  24. I can definitely see the benefits of KDP Select, especially on the exposure level. It'll be interesting to see how it works in the future.

  25. You benefited because you had another book to sell. Now that it's in the best seller list, it will sell even more.

    Amazon is gaining a lot of power very quickly. I'm cautious how much I feed the Amazon monster.

  26. Yeah, I'd say it's a good thing in this case. Definitely food for debut authors! But I agree that it's sad you have to give stuff away for free to get that sort of exposure. Oh well, you won't always have to do that!

  27. I agree with you. In certain scenarios, it makes perfect sense. I'm really glad it was impactful for you!!

  28. The greater the risk, the greater the reward.

  29. I don't know a ton about this, but it does seem to have its benefits for newbies. I'm excited for you that your name is getting out there.

  30. Glad this worked out for you.

    I admit I cruise the free lists BUT those lists have led me to many author, series and purchases I wouldn't have found otherwise. So again, good and bad.

  31. I think it's very good, Jessica! Yeah, if only you could sell that many poetry books, but it IS exposure, and very good exposure I think.

    Congrats on the #1 for String Bridge. On Feb 8th and 9th my publisher wants to put my memoir up for free (it's #1 right now on Kindle memoirs, so I know with you how this feels). I think I'll also put my self-published novella up for free; it's on KDP select,too. Can't hurt, right?

    I'm cheering you on...!!!
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs

  32. I think KDP is perfect for getting your name out there. New authors swim upstream and KDP provides the flippers.


  33. Well Congrats!

    I just signed up for the KDP and will be trying out one of the free promo days later this month.

    It's an interesting experiment.

  34. This is interesting...
    I am thinking about registering a poetry collection with KDB Select.

    Would it mean that if any of the individual work(s)appear on my Blog it would have to be removed to be registered with them?

  35. They give you a 14 day trial period, and you can back out of the agreement anytime during those days. I tried the Select for a few days before my actual lauch. What I did not like is that it promotes "Amazon Prime" membership and tells the users that your book is "Free" when they land on your Kindle page. Then it pushes them to sign up for Prime effectively navigating them away from your page and your sale. I removed the "Select" option after trying it before my launch, because I want to sell my product not Amazon's Prime Membership. My book had a great launch if you need info it is at


“I'm using my art to comment on what I see. You don't have to agree with it.” ~John Mellencamp

“Allowing an unimportant mistake to pass without comment is a wonderful social grace” ~Judith S. Marin

“I don't ever try to make a serious social comment.” ~Paul McCartney

“I'd make a comment at a meeting and nobody would even acknowledge me. Then some man would say the same thing and they'd all nod.” ~Charlotte Bunch

“Probably what my comment meant was that I don't care about the circumstances if I can tell the truth.” ~Sally Kirkland

“We're not going to pay attention to the silliness and the petty comments. And quite frankly, women have joined me in this effort, and so it's not about appearances. It's about effectiveness.” ~Katherine Harris