Recently I was searching for useful blog posts and articles to share on Twitter. I came across an article by author Martha Conway called Self-Publishing: 5 things I will do differently next time. It was a great article, with lots of insight into the self-publishing industry.
In many ways, Ms. Conway’s experiences and lessons learned mirror my own. But if it were me writing this article, I’d put a different spin on it. I’d call it, Self-Publishing: The 1 Thing I Did Right.
And that one thing is …. KDP Select.
In her article, Ms. Conway recommends that you do not enroll your book in Kindle Select (also known as KDP Select). I’m sure she has her reasons, but I have to say, with all due respect to the author, I don’t agree. Most of my books are enrolled in KDP Select. Of the ones that aren’t, this is because I took them out of KDP Select to publish them through multiple platforms, but ended up regretting that decision when I realized this actually hindered my visibility.
Yep, you read that right. Self-publishing my books in many different places actually meant that fewer people saw them.
What I didn’t realize then was that nearly half my sales were the result of Amazon Prime members borrowing it from the KDP Online Lending Library (henceforth referred to as KOLL). This option is a feature of the KDP Select program. To entice authors to enroll in KOLL, Amazon keeps a reserve fund to pay authors for their borrowed books. Imagine my astonishment when I calculated that my borrowed books were earning me nearly as much as those sold outright – only $0.20 per book less for KOLL borrows!
You might, at this point, be thinking, “Woah, Veronica. Slow down. I’m interested in my career, not how much money I can squeeze out of each book.” Fair enough, and believe it or not, it’s my career that I’m thinking of, too. Here’s how KDP Select helped me further my career.
- Freebie Days
When you’re enrolled in KDP Select, you get up to 5 free promotion days per 3 month period of exclusivity (for which you must agree not to publish your book anywhere else). When you are launching your book, this is an invaluable tool. There are lots of readers out there looking for freebies, and by making your book free, you increase your exposure (I have great advice on how to launch a successful freebie campaign; stay tuned, I’ll write a separate post on that).
We all know that having actual reviews from “Verified Purchases” on Amazon encourages readers to buy your books. If your books are free for a certain period of time, you increase your chances of earning honest reviews from actual buyers. This will help increase your exposure in the long run. Believe it or not, readers who picked up my books for free actually did stop back in and leave a review on Amazon. I know this because they said in their review “I got this as a free download.” So despite what the statistics are telling us, that the freebie-book-market is saturated and readers are downloading more than they can possibly read in a lifetime, my own life-lived experience says quite different.
If you are ready to start querying your books to agents and publishers, having well reviewed, well exposed books to your name will help establish your credibility as a financially sound investment. Industry professionals are looking to see if you’re invested in your career as a writer, and whether you are capable of establishing and maintaining a following. Often, Amazon is the first place they will look. If you can offer your book for free, get reviews, and get noticed by readers, your following – and your marketability to publishers – will increase dramatically.
Don’t believe me? Keep an eye out for my latest novel, A Noble Deception, coming from Boroughs Publishing Group. For this book I did all the things I’m talking about now, and it landed me a much desired publishing deal!
Where you decide to publish your book is entirely up to you. If you’re looking to cast as wide a net as possible, then by all means publish with Smashwords, Book Baby, Nook, Kobo Writing Life, Apple, and anywhere else you can. But it should be worth noting that even Ms. Conway in the above mentioned article admitted that the overwhelming majority of her sales came through Kindle. If you can double those sales by enrolling your books in KOLL, why wouldn’t you? Not only does it make your books more profitable, but it increases your chances of reviews, and of being noticed by people in the industry.