Just a few weeks after I’d listed my books for sale at Amazon, I received an e-mail about the Kindle Direct Publishing Select (KDP Select) program. Would I like to enroll my books for a 90-day period?
I did a bit of research. Enrolling my books in the program was free. As a condition of enrolling, I had to agree not to sell the e-versions of my books other places besides Amazon for those 90 days. No problem, since I wasn’t doing that anyway.
All e-books enrolled in the program would be available for Amazon Prime members to “check out” at no charge. As I understand it, Amazon Prime members can check out one e-book free each month.
What’s in it for authors? Amazon committed $500,000 in December to compensate participating authors, which was divided by the number of check-outs that month. It amounted to $1.70 per check-out to the author (although we did not learn this amount until halfway through January). That’s not much less than the $2 I make per e-book sale.
I was happy with this. For one thing, Amazon counts check-outs as sales when determining books’ sales ranks. So, if my book were checked out 5 times, that would “count” towards Amazon popularity as much as if it had been purchased 5 times. Additionally, I had many check-outs – almost as many check-outs as sales. I figure (hope?) several of those checking out my books will enjoy them enough to purchase them later.
Another supposed perk of the KDP Select program is that they allow authors to make their e-books free for 5 days during each 90-day period. Why is this a big deal? After all, authors make no money on books they give away free. From what I’ve read, apparently the perk is that, if many people “buy” my free book, it will boost the book’s sales ranking, thereby making it more visible to Amazon customers even after the free period has ended. With a deep breath, I put my memoir up for free on Amazon one weekend about a month ago.
How did it go? Well, I “sold” 392 free copies during those days. My book did rise in popularity on Amazon. But the real test was how sales went after the free period ends. And that, my friends, was a disappointment. I was back to the same amount of sales — one every day or so.
I doubt I’ll participate in the free promotion event again. I haven’t seen rising sales result, and I’m a bit nervous that those getting my book for free might be the ones who would have actually purchased it, given more time. The lowest review my book got on Amazon bemoans its “narrow audience.” If the audience is really so narrow, can I afford to give it away?
Another touted benefit of free books is supposed to be that it will result in many reviews of the book being posted on Amazon. However, nearly a month after those 392 folks downloaded my book at no cost, it’s gotten not a single additional review. Did these people not like the book? Did they download it, intoxicated by the FREE cost, and then forget about it? I’ll never know.
Fellow authors, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with KDP Select. Amazon Prime members – have any of you taken advantage of the free book check-out program?