Feeling Grinchy About KDP Select

It’s the holiday season.  Writers across the land want to say thank you to their readers and many are offering up one of their books for free.

Awesome, I think, as I continue to read through the newsletter that has hit my inbox.

And then I see that it’s free only on Amazon because those authors have chosen to take part in KDP select.  Which then totally takes what was intended to be a goodwill gesture to readers and turns it into a great big

to those of us who chose an e-reader other than the Kindle.  Screw you, you’re not worth my goodwill or making my books available on your platform because you dared to go against the stream of uber popularity and get a Nook (or a Sony or  Kobo or any other reader out there) and I’m way more interested in trying to take my share of the pittance I’m likely to actually earn out of the $500,000 Amazon has designated for the month of December.  Oh but you can read it on your phone or computer.  There’s a Kindle app for them. (Note: I’m sure this was not the actual thought process of 99.9% of these authors–but this is the message that they are sending to non-Kindle owners)

To which I feel like replying (because I am not yet caffeinated on this my first day of holiday vacay), you know what, screw you, I’m unsubscribing and taking your books off my TBR list.  There are many other authors out there who respect me as a reader and believe that I have the right to enjoy their books in my format of choice without making me wait at least 3 months like the red-headed stepchild of the e-reader world.

Am I going to be in the majority among non-Kindle owners?  I have no idea.  Maybe my reaction is in the extreme, but it’s legitimate, and it’s entirely possible.  KDP Select alienates readers, which is exactly why I’ve been warning against it.  Being able to give things away for free is not worth that.  Plus, you can absolutely still do it without being a part of KDP select.  You list it via Smashwords for free and it trickles across all distribution channels, then you report the lower price.  It just takes longer.  Both to get set up and to take down.  But it can be done.

And if you want to just do a temporary sale?  Then put it up on Smashwords, which has EVERY POSSIBLE FORMAT, and give your newsletter subscribers a coupon code for 100% off.  No, it won’t drive your ranking up at Amazon, but it gives readers a chance to try your work and makes them happy.  And a happy reader who enjoyed your work, will tell her friends.  Believe me, you’d much rather I take on THAT role than that of the KDP Select Grinch.  Because I’m loud and I have a lot of friends.

20 thoughts on “Feeling Grinchy About KDP Select

  1. As someone who’s got Kindle for PC but never reads anything on screen, every time I win such a giveaway, I ask for the Smashwords pdf copy. I have to print! I can’t read anywhere but on paper.

  2. I looked at the program but decided I didn’t like the exclusivity clause. So I started promoting Barnes & Noble links on all my websites. Small protest, I’m sure, but it’s a little something. All my books are available everywhere I can make it happen.

  3. Free does not equate to good. Nor does being on the “popular” platform equate to “best”. I remember some of the jocks in high school, pretty boys, parents getting them cars all hot ego and now working a factory job, living in a trailer park and unhappy. Popular is no guarantee of good things to come and KDP appears to follow this same principle in the book world.

    I’d been debating about what kind of e-reader to get in 2012, yep, I’m a holdout but I can tell you that the way the customer is treated is paramount in this decision and the Nook wins on that end every time. I also know they won’t suddenly “unown” my books and keep the money.

    Thanks for sharing you insight with us, Kait. And yes, you do have many many friends 🙂

  4. Nook owner here, and long-time Sony owner before that, so with a long history being screwed over as an e-book enthusiast by the Kindle crowd and those who don’t know any better, I’m with you. It ticks me off. (But I’m not as loud and don’t have as many friends and people don’t properly fear me. And let me just say, in this parenthetical aside, that this post really kind of scared me straight–and I was already on your side and didn’t even do anything!) I don’t think you’re going to be in the minority on this one.

  5. I totally agree with you. I have a nook – I LOVE my nook – and I get really frustrated when there’s a book that I want to read and it’s only available on Kindle.

  6. I’ve noticed some authors and blogs doing Nook promotions lately, including The Self Published Author’s Lounge. It seems a lot of authors are in an uproar about this, and I don’t blame them. I didn’t even consider opting into this! I don’t like exclusivity clauses like this. And I certainly didn’t want to tell my readers which device they ought to use. That would have been arrogant of me. Even if I thought I could make some money from this (which I don’t), it would have hurt me in the long run. So I blew a big raspberry at Amazon and said (in my mind) NO THANKS.

  7. Nook owner here and author who may have more sales at Amazon, but respects the steady sales at BN, Sony, Apple, ect, too, so I also don’t like the exclusivity of KDP Select. I’m certainly not willing to pull any of my current titles from other sites to be exclusive at Amazon, and anything new I may have considered for it is awhile off. Things could change like crazy between now and then so I’ll worry about that when the time comes. In the meantime, I’m glad to know my decision to not go that route is a good one.

  8. Suz

    Well said! Stupid Kindle Select.

  9. As soon as I saw the terms for KDP Select, I said, “No way!” One of the things I love about being an indie author is giving readers choices – including where they buy. I can’t foresee making more money from the few (if any) borrows than the (admittedly few) sales I get from B&N and elsewhere, especially with the iffy way Amazon’s planning to divvy up a pot of a set amount.

    Oh, and now I have Stone Cold Steve Austin’s theme song stuck in my head! LOL

  10. That is one of the reasons I don’t have anything on Amazon. Now that I have two I am not fixing the covers.

  11. Sing it, Sista! Any attempt to control content is bad bad bad. And I’m hearing all kinds of glitchy things from the those-that-did-switch camp.

  12. I totally agree. This is about more than just making a few bucks (assuming you’d do better with Kindle Select, anyway, which is not proven). Every author I’ve seen who said they were going to go for it has arguments that boil down to nothing but “me, me me.” They aren’t thinking about their readers, they aren’t thinking about the health of the marketplace, and they aren’t thinking about other authors. I just skip right over their books and find one I can buy on Smashwords or B&N.

    I created a badge that says “I buy from Smashwords” and links back to their home page. I’ve got it on my blog. Here’s a link if anyone wants to post it on theirs or share it on Facebook and Twitter. http://lisanowak.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/smashwords.gif

    Viva la revolucion!

  13. I’m still very puzzled by all of the indy author hatred of Amazon and KDP Select. I believe it stems from the fact, most authors have no plan. Which is why I would say, yes, unless you have a plan as to how you will capitalize on any readers who read via KDP Select, then I wouldn’t join.

    For example – I think most authors need to do a better job of building an email list of people who have read your books. That is going to be one of my goals for round 1 in Row80 2012.

    I also have no idea how Kindle Lending would alienate readers. Rather – it’s potentially a benefit on both sides. Readers get a way to try out a new author and for authors to be discovered. Again this means KDP Select success favors authors with a backlist. Which is why I’m also starting to say – don’t worry about marketing or selling until you have a backlist of at least 3, preferably 5 books.

    Until you have that backlist – your options are just limited.

    And also I wouldn’t worry about gimmicks like sales. In particular on sites like Smashwords – I just don’t think there’s many readers who use Smashwords and those numbers will probably dwindle further. Instead focus on leveraging the flexibility in pricing we have with Amazon & B/N stores.

    Nobody says you have to be fixed in your price. Use the 99-cent model to kick-start and as you gain sales (for example every thousand sold), increase by 50 cents or a buck until you max out around $15.99 (or you stop selling). Then as the curve starts to drop, go back down to around $5.99.

    These two points – 5 book backlist and getting to the $5.99 price point are core to an lightbulb moment I had this week. Which is 5 by 5 by 5 – have 5 books, selling 5000 copies each at $5.99 (and could be across all of the stores). That would earn you a comfortable living at current 70% royalty rate.

    I think instead of just being angry all of the time at Amazon – keep writing and working on generating the backlist. And trying to get readers to join your email list (or Twitter or Facebook). Without those two components – you can hate whomever, but it’s not going to help you reach your financial goals with your books.

    • Mark you seem to be missing the entire point of my argument. KDP Select alienates readers who choose something other than Kindle because of Amazon’s exclusivity clause. I’m not here to argue the best means of gaining visibility or plans for marketing or anything else. I’m simply stating my irritation as a Nook owner–one of many many people who chose a reader that was not a Kindle, who do NOT want to read on our phone or computer–at being excluded from being able to read a title because an author chose to go exclusive to Amazon. My anger is not with Amazon–they are a business doing what they deem best. My anger is with the short sighted authors who don’t give a damn about me or other non-Kindle users like me.

  14. I’m so torn with this one. The reader part of me agrees with you, Kait. Why should stuff be limited to only one platform?

    But I can see it from the writer standpoint, too. First of all, if B&N wasn’t so crappy in their search engine and their promoting, I would be so much happier as a writer. Second, Kindle Select can be for a 3 mth period only, so you can still get the books you want, you just have to wait. Third, where else are you GUARANTEED a payment, even if people don’t buy a book. It would be a great way for an author (who’s not as popular as you) to get some new readers and hopefully some word of mouth. Also, if the author is smart enough to pick DRM free, a simple conversion in Calibre will fix the problem of readers not being able to read your book.

    Right now, I’m on the side of, keep my books on all platforms, please, but I have DEFINITELY been tempted, just so I can get some extra readers. Although, I think it’s possible to find other ways to get readers, like your advanced copy deal that you did, I can see how some authors might want to do it this way, and still get money for it.

  15. I hadn’t considered KDP select much because I’m not to the publishing stage yet, but this is such good information.

  16. I think it’s a whole strategy to become #1 by eliminating the competition. I don’t want to be involved in that! I don’t own any devices, but I totally see your dilemma and how it does alienate readers!
    I have a blog coming up on this KDP subject, too!
    Since I don’t participate in the program my sales have tanked!

  17. The jury is still out on this one. I waiting to see how much I actually earn from my 28 Prime borrowers on the 15th. I’ve tried formatting my books and they came out terrible. CreateSpace, Amazon’s self-publishing arm, will format my book for $69 and I have no worries. They even upload the files on Kindle for me. I know there are other sales channels out there, and I would like my books to be available on other ereaders, but the task is too daunting. I wish someone would offer the service to format books on all the sales channels at a reasonable price. I would gladly pay. I’ve also heard that Amazon is planning to offer subscriptions for their readers and take more profits away from us indies. I don’t want to be caught in this net if it’s true. I did get 958 free downloads in two days when I put my book on KDP select. After that, instead of selling 2-4 books a day, I was selling 20-60 a day for awhile. The program is tempting!

  18. I was just ready to upload cover on Nook. I have already finished Kindle and I am waiting to see it come to life. Now I am not so sure what to do. This is wonderful information. I’ll put it in God’s hands and let Him try to figure it all out. It’s amazing how that works.

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