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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Shawn's experience with Amazon's KDP Select program

Shawn’s experience with KDP SELECT

Amazon’s Kindle Select program offers authors a chance to offer their titles in Amazon’s Kindle lending Library. When Amazon Prime members who own a Kindle borrow an eBook, authors earn a percentage of a six-figure fund from Amazon.

Along with that chance to earn money on borrows, authors also get a chance to promote their books as free on the kindle for five days in that 90 day period. With the Kindle being the best-selling e-reader in the world, That’s a great opportunity for a self-published author to reach out to new readers.

However joining the KDP select program comes at a price. Authors have to make their eBook titles exclusive to Amazon’s kindle for a 90 day period.

This means that an author can’t sell their titles at other eBookstores like Smashwords, Sony, Kobo, Barnes & Noble or Apple for the 90 days they’re enrolled in the KDP Select program. That’s a huge financial risk for an author. Especially if they have titles which rely on international sales or they get a lot of sales by having their titles in multiple venues.

There’s also a chance that an eBook could languish for the entire 90 day period on with no sales at all. Moreover, there’s a probability that a book won’t get any of the lucrative borrows from those Amazon Prime Members who own a Kindle.

The KDP select program is a bit of a gamble so it’s not for authors who are afraid of risk. So a struggling self-published author like me really has to weigh the pros and cons of having a title in the program.

Understanding of the risks involved in the KDP select program, I experimented by enrolling some of my discontinued and poorer selling eBook titles in Amazon’s KDP select program. I figured I had nothing to lose since one title was going out of print and the other hadn’t sold in the US after being available on kindle over two years.

My experiment with KDP select started with the summer hit All About Nikki- Three Episodes from the Fabulous First Season. I discontinued the title from distribution at other eBookstores like Smashwords and Barnes & Noble in October because All About Nikki- The Fabulous First Season was available in eBook format. Moreover, it was available for the same price of 99 cents under the eBooks for a Buck campaign.

My first promotion with KDP select was with Nikki a Christmas promotion. I risked three of my five days from December 25th -27th because they’re the biggest days for eBook sales. Most people who got new e-readers for Christmas are looking for things to put on them. And I wanted to give holiday readers on the fence about my writing a chance to try my work at no cost.

The three-day Christmas Day promotion was a huge success. The free edition of All About Nikki-Three episodes From the Fabulous First Season had 381 downloads over three days, double the number of downloads the book got on Smashwords over the three months it was in the summer YA eBook exclusive campaign.

On top of that the book got four borrows over the holiday season from Amazon Prime Customers. Each of the four borrows paid $1.60, much more money than the $0.35 cents per copy I’d make on a straight sale of a Nikki eBook on Amazon, or the $.040 cents per copy I’d make on Barnes & Noble.

The fun part was for a couple of days (Christmas Day, Day after Christmas, December 27) All About Nikki-Three Episodes from the Fabulous First Season was in the top ten of Children’s eBooks. Well, the free ones.

As a result of the promotion the following month there were more All About Nikki eBook sales on KDP. I also received three borrows at $1.70.

With the Nikki test a huge success, the next month I enrolled All About Marilyn-Kindle Edition in the KDP select program. The eBook version of my critically acclaimed screenplay book got next to no sales on any website for a couple of months. On Kindle it sold no copies in the United States in two years it’s been available. I hoped that by making the eBook KDP exclusive it’ d persuade those Kindle readers who tried All About Nikki to give its sister book All About Marilyn a chance.

After enrollment, I did some more free promotions. One on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day received over 138 free downloads and a few sales. Better than what the eBook had done the previous two years on Amazon.

A promotion I did towards the end of January received over 160 downloads and a few sales.

My most recent promotion received over 209 downloads and five sales, the most the book has had since it’s paperback debut.

All About Marilyn was in the top 20 for Performing arts on Amazon and in the top 12 screenplays during the initial promotion.

In addition, as a result of cross promoting Marilyn sales are leading to Nikki sales.

From my experiment I quickly learned that Amazon gets more site traffic for eBooks than Smashwords, B&N, Kobo and Sony combined. So having my titles in the KDP select program be an opportunity to reach a larger audience of new readers.

From my experience the best time to do a free campaign in the KDP select program is over the weekends. That’s when a writer has the best chance of reaching a larger audience of new readers because readers are looking for new titles to try. I’ve had tremendous success with Free campaigns I did on Saturdays and Sundays over the past few months.

However, KDP select is also not an excuse to not to do promotion work. Just because an eBook is on Amazon doesn’t mean it’s going to sell. Along with being enrolled in the KDP select program I did intense social media promotion. I posted links to the eBooks on the free promotional days on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace practically every day several times a day, and promoted my titles on my blogs at blogger and Black regularly. The only way readers will know to download an eBook is to get the word out. If an author isn’t willing to make the efforts to let readers know their books are available, then no one will know their books are available.

Overall, I’m quite pleased with the early results of participating in the KDP select program. I’m pondering offering other titles as part of the program. I feel KDP select is a valuable resource for an author with multiple titles to revive interest in older titles struggling to find an audience and great place for a self-published author looking to build an audience of readers or expand an audience of readers.

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