Saturday, March 31, 2012

Follow The Herd...?

So, I've been thinking lately a lot about the KDP Select program.  Mostly, I've been wondering if it would be worth my time at this point to put one of my works into the program and see what happens.  I know there are many people who have had great success with using it, but there are also many people who have tried it without any benefit, or at least very little benefit.  There are opinions on all sides, and I wanted to share with you a little about what's going on in my head on this.

KDP Select appears on the surface to be a really neat thing.  You get some free promo days, you get to be part of the Amazon Lending Library, and those things hopefully lead to more exposure, leading to more sales, leading to more bling in your pocket at the end of the day.  Sounds good, right?  Unfortunately, you give up being able to sell your wares anywhere else, and that is what has me tied up in knots.

See, with the continued growth in ebooks around the world, it behooves the author to try to offer their books in as many places as possible.  I'm only speaking from an American perspective here, so people outside of the U.S. will have a much different perspective (and one that I hope you would share with the rest of us!).  There are plenty of other countries that speak and read in English: U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and many others that I can't think of.  Wouldn't it be smart to offer your books to those folks as well?  If so, then the KDP Select program cuts you off from these avenues.

Coming back to the U.S., the next biggest competitor to the Kindle is the Nook from Barnes & Noble.  Right now, I'm not confident that the Nook will continue being a viable alternative in a couple of years unless the management figures things out and invests in what their customers want.  And Apple is making more and more inroads with ebook readers, both in the U.S. around the world, as is Kobo.  All of this points to how unstable this industry is at the moment, since any given week something dramatic could happen.

Should I do KDP Select?  I still don't know.  I'm leaning towards trying it out with one of my new works, since I wouldn't have to worry about other outlets as those wouldn't even be up.  But, it seems like everyone now is doing this, so the effects are diluted, which is why I think more folks are seeing very little results now versus when KDP Select was brand new.  There was a short window of opportunity that really helped to "make" some people, but now I fear that it's turning into more of a gimmick than anything.  To wit, I find myself seeking out free books that I probably wouldn't pay money for, and I'm stockpiling them on my Kindle.  I have no idea when I would get around to reading some of these, but I have them.  Do I really want to have one of my works languishing around on someone's Kindle that wouldn't read them for a while, perhaps a long while, if at all?  I'm not sure.  If they don't read it, then I have no reason to expect them to read anything else of mine.

I certainly haven't gotten many sales of my current novel or short story, but at least I have the satisfaction of knowing that those people that have purchased them, more than likely really wanted to purchase them, and didn't just get them because they were free for a couple of days.  It's a form of discrimination - I'm purposefully looking for people that are buyers, and not only buyers but buyers of the kind of fiction that I enjoy writing.  Is that wrong?  I don't think so.  It's not all about the money, or at least it shouldn't be.  Money is nice, but it's not everything.

I guess in the end, I'm still in the "waiting" camp.  I'm waiting to see if Amazon will take away the exclusivity they have built into the Select program.  I'm waiting to see how the industry continues to evolve as ebooks continue their advance around the world.  I'm waiting to see if a set of circumstances arises that convinces me to give Select a shot.  I'm waiting...are you?


Marla M said...

Hmm. The waiting camp? What happened to the adventurous Darren we all know and love? He wouldn't let an opportunity pass.
I had a huge sales boost after my KDP select "free" promo. It's dwindled since, but I had huge exposure and made some nice money. Hard to argue with that.

Donna White Glaser said...

Not waiting. Had a big jump that lasted over 6 weeks. However, there is certainly a slump now. I think what we will see happen is that many authors who are not seeing the results as immediately as the Dec/Jan/Feb Selectors, may jump ship from Select, which might bring the author/book population in Select back down. Or it might bring the Select offerings quality down, in which case AMZ would need to re-evaluate their exclusivity clause.
In addition, there are more authorial grumblings re: KDP-S, especially since AMZ apparently adjusted it's algorithms to a 3:1 ratio. Now you have to give away 3 books to have it count as 1 sale in the free promo days. BIG difference in how that affects your rankings, which makes a big difference in where your book is placed when you come off the promo. It's made a lot of authors mad. Plus there seems to have been some kind of system wide glitch in AMZ software a week ago, that caused some books to "disappear" from the shelves for hours at a time. Mine did. Came back though, thank heavens.
Who knows though. It's a volatile, ever-changing atmosphere. I wouldn't hang out too long in the waiting camp, though, Darren. Sometimes waiting for the right time means missing the boat. A three month trial is worth, well, trying.
It is true that people who snatch up the free (for the moment) books might not read them right away. But they will eventually and that's when you will see a come-back for your other books. So really, you won't know if people are buying because they just recently found you or if they're buying because they'd found you months ago, just got around to reading it, and are now coming back for more.
Bottom line: if they have it (via free promo), they will read it; if they read it, there is the chance they will come back for more.

Darren Kirby said...

Marla, you are correct, I probably won't let this opportunity pass by. But I'm going to go after it slowly.

Donna, you point out something that is really important with KDP Select, and that is that Amazon can change the "rules" of how it works whenever they deem appropriate. If you go exclusively with Amazon, you are locking yourself into potential issues just like this. While some might argue that this isn't a big deal, it's still illustrative of the reasons for diversification. Oh, and I slightly disagree with you on the "if they have they will read it". If they have it, it is LIKELY they will read it, but no guarantee exists that they WILL read it. Just like everything else in life, if you spent money on it, you'll use it, if you didn't spend money on it, it holds close to zero value to you; it's like a throw-away object, because you gave up nothing to get it. Just my take on the whole thing, and thanks for sharing your views too!

Donna White Glaser said...

True-they MIGHT read it. But guarenteed they WON'T read it if they don't have it. KDP-S puts that variable in the hands of thousands. Last point- yes, Amazon locks you into an exclusive contract. For 3 months. That's a drip in the ocean of time. Still, what works this season or for this author or for that book might not work for another. :)