Pros and Cons of KDP Select

Pros and Cons of KDP Select

pros and cons of kdp selectBy Buck Flogging

I’ve sold books everywhere it seems: book bundles, personal websites, Lulu, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, the iBookstore, Audible, iTunes, ghetto spiral-bound books at conferences. Heck, I’ve even sold a book at Google Play before. That is no small feat. Selling a book on Google Play is like selling swimsuits on the moon.

Considering all that, I’m currently a KDP Select man. Ask me tomorrow, and I may have changed my mind. But currently, KDP all the way.

KDP Select, an Amazon program that involves a 90-day exclusivity commitment to the almighty bookseller, comes with a nice basket of pros, and a nice basket of cons. Making the decision about how and where to sell your book is not an easy one.

The pros:

  • Great for getting traction if you have no audience already established to sell your book to
  • Amazon prime members can borrow your books, getting you a couple extra bucks and improving your book’s rank (borrows count as a sale)
  • Good way to get extra downloads and thus more reviews, helping your book look more established
  • Very simple. Not having to worry about multiple vendors and formats and listings can be important, especially if you are trying to do everything yourself
  • Countdown deals: you can run time-limited sales that really help your sales rank, breathing life back in your book or helping get it established
  • Higher royalties: you get higher royalties in a handful of countries (relatively insignificant for most authors), and double the royalties of non-KDP Select authors when the price of your eBook dips below $2.99 (hugely significant for most authors)
  • Improve your overall performance at the world’s most prominent bookseller

The cons:

  • Can’t sell eBooks on your site
  • Can’t sell eBooks in book bundles outside of Amazon
  • Can’t sell your book in eBook form at any eBook retailer

And so, the big question is, do the pros outweigh the cons? The answer, unfortunately, depends entirely on what author and what book we’re talking about.

For me, I chose KDP Select primarily because of Select’s “free days” program. Every 90 days, I get a chance to give away each of my books for 5 days. Those 5 days bring in an average of 500 email subscribers, sell more copies of all my other paid books during the promotion, and because I have a large email subscriber list, I can use this to get a lot of clicks on my Amazon Associates affiliate link, earning me roughly $300 for each 5-day promotion. Yes, I make $60/day giving away free books, plus extra sales after the free promo, plus capture extra email subscribers to replicate this on a larger scale with each round.

And, when the dust settles, I sell more paid books.

But even with all those advantages, it’s still roughly a tie in overall revenue I’d say. However, I greatly prefer to be able to reward my loyal fanbase with free books, look like Father Theresa in the process, and grow that subscriber list–a check waiting to be cashed in the future as events, opportunities, and new book releases come along.

What’s right for you is what’s right for you. That’s something you must figure out for yourself. My system is my system, and trying to apply my system to yours could be an abysmal failure. You have a lot to take into consideration such as the ability of your website to capture leads, the size of your audience and social media following, whether or not you plan on releasing future titles, whether you plan on selling just your books or other products and services, and much more.

But I’m sure, by looking at your short and long-term visions for your writing career (intentional non-use of the word “goal,” blech), your business as a whole, and a realistic assessment of the marketing tools you have available to you currently–you’ll have no problem making the right decision.

And, none of this is a permanent decision. We’re just talking 90-day commitment here, and many authors, myself included, have a habit of jumping in and out of KDP Select depending on what all else is on the docket and what opportunities arise.

If you do go KDP Select, I will say you better actively take advantage of the opportunities Amazon gives you. Otherwise you’re getting the short end of the stick.

But don’t let trivial matters like this weigh you down too much. If you are a true writer, writing always comes first. Squabbles over relative minutiae like this come second.

buck's picBuck Flogging is a successful author and entrepreneur and is the world’s biggest critic of the typically aimless pursuit of blogging (for writers trying to sell their written work). Read more about that in his groundbreaking book, Kill Your Blog.

7 thoughts on “Pros and Cons of KDP Select

  1. I guess I’m not using KDP correctly. I have a habit of doing things backwards. How do you generate e-mail address during the free 5-day giveaway?

    Also, please break this down if you don’t mind. Perhaps it will be a good sequel to this blog. “I can use this to get a lot of clicks on my Amazon Associates affiliate link, ( HERE YOU MEAN YOU SELL YOUR OWN BOOK ON AMAZON?) earning me roughly $300 for each 5-day promotion. Yes, I make $60/day giving away free books, ( DO YOU MEAN SELLING OTHER TITLES BESIDES THE FREE 5 DAY BOOK?) plus extra sales after the free promo, plus capture extra email subscribers to replicate this on a larger scale with each round.

    1. Haha. I guess that is a little bit confusing, especially seeing it out of context.

      In my books I steer people towards my website at the end, offering them more free books and access to my free “Raising Metabolism eCourse.” I send readers that download my book to this page:

      As you can see there, it’s optimized to capture email addresses. About 20% of the people that land on that page subscribe.

      So if I get 20,000 downloads on a free promotion, I might get 2,000 visits to my site and 400 new subscribers. Is it making a little better sense now?

      Okay, onto the affiliate commission part: When I send out emails to my list of subscribers (now at about 15,000 with a 40-45% open rate), I put an affiliate link to a free book in there. If they click on that link (even if they buy nothing at all, including my free book), a “cookie” is set on their computer that lasts for 24 hours. If they buy anything at all from Amazon within 24 hours of clicking my link, I get roughly 8% commission on the sale. So someone could click on my link, leave, go back in the morning and order a $1,000 set of golf clubs, and I’d get $80 commission for that.

      I find that a click on an affiliate link to a free book averages out to be worth around 5 cents per click, and closer to 8 or 9 cents between Black Friday and Christmas Eve. But leaving a link to a free book encourages A LOT more clicks than if you are trying to “sell” a paid product.

      Note, this is a very unique setup, it only works if you can generate a lot of clicks on your links, and I hardly am getting rich off of this strategy, but I do make over $1,000 per month just from using an affiliate link when I give away my books.

      Hope this response cleared things up for you NaiVian!

  2. Thanks for the info. Please explain in more detail how you make money during the 5 days and how you generate the email list.

    Thanks, feeling nieve in WA!

  3. Hi Matt. Great post. Here’s my dilemma.. My book, The Shadow Broker, is enrolled in KDP Select and I’m beginning to plan a promotion. I know I can either do the free promo days or the countdown deal, but have no idea which is better. With only one book up, I have no backlist, and I assume the main benefit of the free days is to help readers discover your work by removing the price barrier, and hope they like you and buy your other books at full cost. That sounds great, but with no back list, would I be shooting myself in the foot by offering my book for free?

    Or is the countdown deal a better option for someone with no back list? Any advice you can share on how these two promos compare and in which situations each would be more effective would be super helpful.

    Okay, go!

    1. I wouldn’t worry about either.

      You can’t do a countdown deal until it’s been out for a month, but by then, it’s already too late. Sure, you can do a countdown deal later on, but it can’t be part of your launch strategy.

      With a free book, if you have nothing to give it a big boost at launch, you simply won’t get enough downloads to get more than a review or two. You’re probably better off having family and friends write those three reviews and try your best to get your book promoted at 99 cents for the maximum amount of downloads at release as possible. Then you’re guaranteed to have a great first month. Beyond that, it may not stay afloat, but at least you’ll have given it a fighting change to be a hit.

      Scroll to the bottom at and click the button to submit your book for possible promotion when it comes out. Hopefully it will pass through the gatekeeper and get promoted.

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