When KDP Select came along a few weeks ago, I was very skeptical. It looked for all the world like another Amazon gimmick to help authors who are already selling a shitload of books to sell two more shitloads. I mean, why would a struggling writer like myself want to put in a lot of time and effort, only to see the big boys and girls walk off with all the sales while I remain buried?

For the uninitiated, KDP Select is a new program on Amazon, wherein a publisher or a self-published author makes a digital title exclusive to Amazon Kindle for 90 days (print versions can still be sold anywhere), during which time anyone with an Amazon account can “borrow” the e-book with no due date. Amazon is putting up around $500,000 a month to be divided among the authors on a per-borrow basis. Readers can only borrow one book per month, though, so you know they’re going to be selective. Meaning they will borrow from among those books that are shoved in front of their faces. Enter the Amazon behemoth and its relentless promotion of bestselling authors.

One interesting wrinkle of this program, however, is that those who enroll one or more titles may make those titles free for any five days during the 90-day enrollment
period. I can hear you now. What idiot would want to give his book away? Well, let me just tell you what happened to me.I enrolled my short story, Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Eyes, in KDP Select right around Christmas. Up till this time, the story was wallowing at around 80,000 in the Kindle store rankings. I made it free for December 27-28. During those two days, it was downloaded for free 1900 times, and emerged from the free period on December 29 ranked at around 25,000 in the paid store, where it has pretty much stayed ever since, selling many more copies per day than it did before the 2-day free period.

Okay, so I stuck my foot into the water a little farther, enrolling my first Key West Nocturnes novel, Setup On Front Street, making it free December 29-30. Prior to this, it was buried in the rankings at over 100,000. But on those two days, it got an astounding 13,000 free downloads, during which time it made the first page of Customers Also Bought lists of many bestselling novels. By the time the free period ended on December 31, it was sitting pretty on these lists and started selling like crazy. I’ve since sold over 400 copies of it and it made it all the way up to #554 in the paid store. It’s slipping now (#818 as I write this), but I hope it levels off soon and finds its long-distance legs.

At any rate, color me converted. I’m ready to drink the Amazon Kool-Aid now.

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  1. Lisa Hazard

    That’s wonderful! Congrats!

  2. The problem I think with Amazon is that no other publisher seems to think what they’re doing is relevant. As long as the numbers are satisfying, they’re not gonna change anything. When they will be (because they will), I think Amazon is going to be far ahead and calling the shots in the publishing world.

    The KDP Select seems to me like some managerial thinking, done by the proverbial suit-wearing-business-major that doesn’t like literature. I would be all for it if it wasn’t for that weird, one title a month, thing. Anyway, you proved that you didn’t need that suit wearing motherfucker. Congratulations on those numbers, they are very impressing. You’re getting your name out there big time.

  3. Mike Dennis

    Ben–the KDP Select struck me as a corporate boardroom idea, too. The one title a month thing only applies to borrowers, whereas authors can put up all the titles they want. I’ve got a novelette coming out in about 10 days, and believe me, it’s headed straight for KDP Select.

    And you’re totally right about the traditional publishing world. Their heads are too far up their asses to see any daylight at all on this issue. They are STILL pretending like there’s nothing wrong.

  4. You got that right…if the big names would gear up and follow Amazon in the eBook wars, well I’d be less worried about Amazon becoming a publishing monopoly. But right now, it’s slooowly heading there.

  5. Lisa Hazard

    Mike, I put books up for free because I read this blog and I think it’s great. Of course, I want to be a pro writer, but I really want to entertain people with my books. I believe this is a clever way Amazon’s designed to get indie writers more of a chance to get noticed. If people get the books for free, like them, then they’ll buy more. Then there’s word of mouth after the book’s not free anymore, and both the author and Amazon makes money. They’re edging out big publishing and I love it.

    Best of luck to you! I bet you’re going to sell tons if you keep doing this because your writing is wonderful.

  6. Mike Dennis

    Thanks, Lisa. You’re right about indie writers getting a chance to be noticed. Amazon has offered exactly that. Good luck with your books on KDP Select. And be sure to track your sales after the free period when they go back to “paid”.

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