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What KDP Select’s Exclusivity and Free Promotion Mean in 2013

Posted on 2013-Jul-05

by BB eBooks Staff

In the Pursuit of the Golden Fleece


If you are a new author feeling committed to writing and decide to jump right in the ship in order to pursue the Golden Fleece, there is no wonder that as long as the wind is gently blowing your way and the sea is calm, your ship will likely reach the destination as planned. As always, you should be well aware of the company of your free-spirited friends and wise men who have traveled the same route many times before.

The KDP Select Program is one of the vehicles that can facilitate authors to such a place if they use it properly. By definition, the program itself is designed to keep your book exclusively on Amazon as long as your agreement lasts (90 days).

How KDP Select Can Help Authors

Apparently, the sole distribution on Amazon will catapult authors into greater visibility and eventually higher boosted income. For emerging authors, if you are completely brand-new to the industry and do not have your fan base, chances are you can expect the vast majority of audience to read your work especially during the free days. Even after the freebie period, you might start to see the increase in your paid books that benefits from the boosted visibility period. For established wordsmiths, you should not underestimate the effective use of the program to introduce pricing flexibility for your audience and boost your sales.

Crowded Ship: Flooded Market


Everyone will be happily ever after if they can all jump on the same ship and travel to the imaginative haven. The truth is the more crowded the ship is, the more likely more troubles surface. Initially, according to observations by several authors, they tend to agree that the free run could eventually benefit the paid after their free run was over and that meant KDP was the ideal choice. However, since everyone can do it, the backlash of a flooded market starts to take its toll on authors and self-published authors as a whole. Thanks to Jane Friedman, CJ Lyons’s guest post makes a fine list of the new generation of readers who have been trained. Why pay if you can expect free once and for all? Why care about an overstocked library on your eReader since new titles will come along and the download button seems too feasible? Why bother to leave a review since they were so easy to obtain?

The Enigma of the ‘Also-bought Lists’

Having mentioned about the flooded market, Lindsay Buroker is aware of the greater challenge and stronger competition her book promotion strategy has become. Formerly, when readers clicked to see her books, all of the paid and free ones would ideally appear side by side in the ‘Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought’ list. But lately when she clicks to see her paid books, her free titles will not come up in the also-bought list. I followed her instructions and verified her point how Amazon’s algorithm might choose to exclude the free titles. I sampled one of our client’s free titles (the fourth installment) and investigated the also-bought list. No matter which paid titles in the series (approximately 14 altogether) I clicked, the free title is always missing from the list. Although dedicated readers may notice this missing logic and manually type to search the title, the author seems to lose their opportunity to promote all of their available books unavoidably.

The “Nerfed” Saturation

Not only has the saturation reached the Kindle catalogue, it also affects the book discovery sites that promote free titles. The change in rewarding Amazon’s affiliate program is to be blamed in this case. The variety of these sites is becoming less visible for authors. Authors not only have to deal with less affordable promoters, the post-KDP Select impact has been “nerfed (less desirable).”

Earn Extra from Borrows

Back to CJ Lyons’ general explanation what KDP Select is all about. Due to the nature of the program that is subject to change, there are the three main principles authors can bear in mind. The program is designed to expand your fan base for emerging and established authors. To supply your voracious readers on this program, authors can also make use of the borrows to increase your revenue stream. If you have several books on the virtual shelf, you can compare the titles of which work best in your distributional or pricing model. Although Amazon’s exclusivity is the ideal choice for many, there are alternatives for you to explore at Kobo, Smashwords, or even Apple.

Free isn’t Converting to Paid


Her explanation lends itself to the podcast discussion among the writing trio: Johnny Truant, Sean Platt, and David Wright. Sean and David express the gratitude of how KDP Select helped them with their novel. It is still considered a “terrific program, and still is if used well.” However, the exclusivity seems to be inundated and overshadowed by the free titles to the extent that the program itself is losing its credibility everyone credited it for. “Free isn’t converting to paid like it once was,” Sean says. The authors who do it well seem to be the ones who use free titles to promote their other paid books. Johnny recalls the former negative experience with the failure of launching his fourth book in the series. The free title did not help him to boost sales of the previous volumes (1-3).

Know Your Audience


To sum up what strategies might best work for authors, it suits those who want to boost their sales or introduce new readers to the series, know their audience well enough to reward them, and accomplish personal goals. As long as the authors are well aware of the nature of the program, the best advice from NYT and USA Today bestselling authors is not to be too static. Flexible experiments of your promotional strategy will concretize your target readership and it is equally significant to know them. CJ Lyons adds, “Treat your readers, but make sure they are the right readers for you!”

Label: Marketing

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