To Use Amazon KDP Select or Not? That Is the Question ...

(with apologies to the Bard.)

In 2017, Mark Coker, Smashwords owner, made ripples with one of his predictions: “The publishing industry will begin to recognize KDP Select as the cancer that it is.”

Not everyone agreed.

But still, as a self-published author, you need to decide whether or not to publish exclusively with Amazon. (Unclear on what KDP Select is? Click here.)

Essentially, you are giving Amazon a monopoly over your books. Monopoly. Just the sound of that word makes me cringe. On the other hand, AT&T before the breakup ordered by Judge Harold Greene seemed to work pretty well and my rates were far lower than they are right now. On the other other hand, I have more choices. (Not entirely sure if that’s a good or bad thing.)

In the early days of self-publishing, more than a few authors made a good living publishing exclusively on Amazon. In fact, right before Amazon changed the rules, I made $600+ in one month. But there’s the rub. They changed the rules.

They can do that at any time. And do.

So it’s really up to you. What does your long-term strategy for your publishing life look like? How about your marketing strategy? (You do have one, don’t you?) There are three possibilities:

Go exclusive with Amazon. Some people do make a lot of money this way. But you have to pay attention and learn the ins and outs of book sales reporting. When do you use your five free days? Do you do a countdown? Which way is best?

Distribute widely from the start. Use Smashwords or Draft2Digital to distribute your book along with Amazon. Coker claims it gives a wider distribution from the get-go. But is distribution the problem?

Mix Amazon exclusivity with full distribution. You can distribute to Amazon-only first, then move to full distribution. Or start wide and go narrow. Up to you.

Your decision really does depend on your publishing future. If you are a one- or two-book writer, Amazon-only may be the only way to go. However, unless you are willing to invest time to experiment with free days and countdown deals, test and measure, and review the results, you may not be getting the best return you can.

If you are truly building a long-term publishing career, you will need to understand what works for you. That means studying, trying different things, testing, tweaking, and starting again. It takes time and study. It’s part of the gig today. Maybe the most exciting part.

You are in charge.

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