Since late 2017, my eBooks have been available only through Amazon and enrolled in their KDP Select program. Here is how Amazon explains it:
Enrolling your eBook in our optional KDP Select program gives you the opportunity to reach more readers and earn more money. You can earn a share of the KDP Select Global Fund based on pages read by Kindle Unlimited customers. Enrolling in KDP Select also grants you access to a set of promotional tools: Kindle Countdown Deals and Free Book Promotions.
The rules are fairly straightforward, but allow me to list the main features. Once enrolled, your eBook remains in the program for 90 days and can renew automatically or be stopped and restarted later. During this time, your eBooks are exclusive to Amazon and cannot be sold or distributed by anyone else. Each eBook may be priced as FREE for a total of five days during the 90 day enrollment (unless you chose to use the Kindle Countdown Deals feature – it’s one or the other, not both). Except for FREE downloads, you earn royalties through the Kindle Unlimited program where subscribed readers “borrow” your book. The royalty rates are based on the number of pages read and are significantly less than a purchased book (see more below).
As a new author with limited time and resources, I found KDP Select the best way to get my books out there and make enough money to continue writing and publishing. Now, however, I’m thinking about weaning myself off the program and try for wider distribution of my books. Why? Several reasons.
- Amazon is not indie author friendly. They are too big, powerful, and interested in making money to care how their policies affect the little guys. Their customer service is a nightmare, and actually reaching a real person (and one who clearly speaks my language) is very difficult. Try arguing with a computer algorithm sometime and see how far you get.
- Until very recently, the price per page in royalties was right around .044 cents. Without notice or explanation, they reduced that already paltry sum to .038 cents per page. For a 340 page book that took me months to write and provided hours of reading enjoyment, I only get $1.29. Since 65% of my book income comes from the KU program, this directly and negatively affects my income.
- Amazon changed their review policies some time ago, allowing readers to leave a star rating without any review comments at all. Ratings are nearly worthless, as they don’t provide the author with any useful information, and the loosie-goosy policy only encourages nasty trolls to trash an author’s reputation with a couple of easy clicks – and do so anonymously.
Making a switch away from KDP Select is difficult and I have some changes to make before I can risk it. I’m looking at the recent acquisition of Smashwords by Draft to Digital, and while I like a lot of what I’ve read, I’m not ready to trust them just yet based on past experience. What I really want is someone to start an author-friendly book distribution site that treats me well and pays me fairly for my work. Is that even possible today? Let me know what you think!
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