Wednesday, 23 May 2012

KDP select: An Assessment

KDP select: An Assessment by David Robinson
A week or two back I put up a post on NickDaws’ blog recounting my experiences of KDP Select.
For those who are not aware of it, Select is a lending program that allow you enrol any of your titles for a 90-day period. Amazon set up a fund, never less than $500,000 to cover payments to the authors. At the end of each month, the fund is divided by the total number of loans to work out how much each title is entitled to, and the authors are paid that rate times the number of loans. Typically this is about $2.00 per title per loan.
There is a price to pay for inclusion in Select. You must make your title exclusive to Amazon. You are not permitted to sell it elsewhere, not even on your own website.
In January, I enrolled my thriller, The Handshaker, in Select. It wasn’t doing anything, so I thought I’d experiment with it. It didn’t do much better while it was in Select, either, so when the 90-day period was up, I withdrew it.
Select, however, does have one advantage over the normal Amazon channels. You are permitted to make your title free for five of the ninety days. During my five days, 1600 users downloaded The Handshaker.
To say I was unimpressed with Select is an understatement. My titles don’t sell mega, but I do as well through Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Diesel, Scrollmotion as I do on the Kindle, and they’re all through the Smashwords Premium Distribution Catalogue. Having cut The Handshaker off from them (it had only ever sold one copy) I expected better than 1600 freeloaders.
The curious thing is, although I didn’t realise it at the time, it got better. I wasn’t even aware of it when I put up the piece on Nick’s blog, but over the three-month period The Handshaker was in Select, not counting freebies and loans, it became my bestseller on Amazon.
Don’t run away with any false impressions. You’d still be hard pressed to find it, but it is selling fairly consistently in double figures per month.
Was that because of increased exposure in Select? Or was it because I began to push it more after it went into select? I’d need some sophisticated research to work that out, but it’s back in the Smashwords Catalogue now. Unfortunately, Smashwords’ distributors are notoriously slow at reporting sales, so it’ll be several months before I can make an informed judgement.
And KDP Select? Not a bad idea, but it’s weighted in favour of American audiences (why not? Amazon is an American company) and British titles traditionally do not do well over there.
One thing that has happened, and Amazon are not saying whether they expected this, is that the 99ȼ brigade are using select. It was a forgone conclusion. Selling your work at 99ȼ on Amazon, your royalty is about 30ȼ after delivery charges. Going out on loan through Select, your royalty is whatever the month’s rate is set at, and that, as I said earlier, is usually round $2.00
The Handshaker is available for the Kindle from Amazon UK, Amazon Worldwide, and in all formats from Smashwords
Find out more about David Robinson and his other works on his website: 

Critique Service for Writers
Flash 500 Flash Fiction Competition
Flash 500 Humour Verse Competition


Cathie Dunn said...

Very interesting to read, David.

I'm currently considering not submitting the Victorian novella I wrote for a call for submissions from a major romance publisher, but rather self-publish it through KDP Select (not through CCP).

My main audience is predominantly American, so, I guess (and hope) that a romantic novella should do ok.

I'm going to use it as a test case, so I'll be posting up about my experiences.

Good to see The Handshaker doing well consistently now. Every little helps, and that book deserves it!

DW96 said...

Thanks, Cathie.

I hope you have a better experience of Select than I did.