KDP Select Six-Week Update

I’ve been back in KDP Select for about six weeks now. In other words, around half of my required 90 day term. I mentioned before that I wanted to test the program again after being out of it for nearly two years. Here’s what I’ve found:

Quantity-wise, my sales are down. Not by much (if you include borrows), but they’re still down compared to the last few months.

Revenue-wise, my sales are down. Quite a bit, actually. I’m earning a lot less money with so many of my sales coming in as KU/KOLL borrows. At $1.54 paid out per borrow, I’m earning around $1.00 to $1.25 less per novel than I was earning per sale. That said, I dropped prices across the board last month too, so some of my drop in revenue is due to the price drop. Still, I’m not selling or lending enough to make up for the difference and that also means something.

I kinda got screwed on two of my scheduled promotions. I’d planned on putting my horror novel on a Kindle Countdown sale. I scheduled the promotion, but then dropped the price on the book. That caused the promotion to cancel, which is fine, but now I can’t run another promotion. So apparently if you schedule a promotion but do something that causes that promotion to cancel then that’s all she wrote for that period. No reschedules, no do-overs. So I lost any opportunity I had to promote that title and another title. Sucky.

I had around 30 borrows last month. Thing is, I’m finding that I’m selling more than that at other outlets (B&N, Kobo & Apple). I’m also earning more there because they’re sales. So I’m earning less money and not really finding any more readers by being exclusive to Amazon. One could argue that I’m giving up even more by attracting new “buffet” readers at Amazon (KU subscribers) while giving up a la carte readers (pay-per-title). A la carte readers spend more money.

Given all this, I’ve opted out of Select and I’m just waiting for the second half of my KDP Select period to run out. I have a couple of promotions scheduled still, so we’ll see how those go. Without any outside advertising I doubt they’ll make much of a blip (one of my tests).

Was it a mistake? I don’t know about that. It was an experiment. The results have definitely been underwhelming. I’m looking forward to getting back into the other stores. I just hope I haven’t lost whatever momentum I built up outside Amazon.

My conclusion is that if your B&N, Apple and Kobo sales (combined or not) are 30-40% of your total sales, then going exclusive to KDP Select is likely to hurt your sales. But if you’re selling 90% or more at Amazon, it might not be a bad idea. Hopefully they’ll get the borrow rate up a bit higher than $1.54. If Amazon would remove the exclusivity requirement then it would be a no-brainer to join up. But giving up those outside sales channels might cost you more than it’s worth (that’s been the case for me). As always, your mileage may vary.

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2 thoughts on “KDP Select Six-Week Update

  1. TAWilliams November 3, 2014 / 6:10 pm

    This has been interesting to follow but it sucks that it hasn’t ended up working out better for you. My hope was that it would introduce your work to more readers (through KU) and your sales would increase over time but it sounds like it has remained the same during your time.

    Did you notice any bumps after certain promotions? I noticed when I put book 2 of my series on a countdown it’s sales didn’t increase greatly (15-20%) but my book 1 sales increased around 40%. I’m going to be doing the same thing later this month so I will see if I get the same results.

    Again sucks that you haven’t noticed a huge increase but it looks like the moral of the story is if you already have a foothold in other outlets than it’s not worth going all in with KDP.

  2. Brian J. Jarrett November 3, 2014 / 7:12 pm

    It’s also true that it’s only been six weeks. Typically I like to let changes simmer for a bit to let seasonal factors and whatnot fall out. Thing is, the other channels were doing better for me than I’d originally thought. Of course I know this now that I’ve opted out. 😦

    Rather than bank on KU, I think I’m better off going back to the other retailers and work on building my audience there. I feel better about that decision because it spreads my eggs into different baskets. But business decisions shouldn’t be made on feelings alone…and now I have some data to help quantify things.

    It could also be good for me to take a “toe in the water” approach and leave some of my books in and some out of Select. I might reconsider down the line when I’m not so focused on getting the next novel out.

    Glad things are working out for you. Your books are ranking high these days. Congrats!

    Take it easy,
    Brian

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