As many of you indie authors who read this blog know, I’ve become very ambivalent about Amazon’s KDP Select program. It seemed a great thing at first, but then came algorithm changes in the spring of 2012, more changes through the summer, and now there are even more changes that most likely will negatively affect indie authors who use the freebies to promote their books. Read on for all the details…
Indie Authors And Amazon’s Affiliate Program
In recent weeks, Amazon made some changes to their affiliate program. Now, before you as an indie author say what does this have to do with me, read on. First, here’s the change that indie authors need to be aware of:
“In addition, notwithstanding the advertising fee rates described on this page or anything to the contrary contained in this Operating Agreement, if we determine you are primarily promoting free Kindle eBooks (i.e., eBooks for which the customer purchase price is $0.00), YOU WILL NOT BE ELIGIBLE TO EARN ANY ADVERTISING FEES DURING ANY MONTH IN WHICH YOU MEET THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS:
(a) 20,000 or more free Kindle eBooks are ordered and downloaded during Sessions attributed to your Special Links; and
(b) At least 80% of all Kindle eBooks ordered and downloaded during Sessions attributed to your Special Links are free Kindle eBooks.”
Now, how does that affect those using KDP Select? Read on…
Indie Authors, KDP Select, and Freebies
What this means is that if you’re using KDP Select and giving away free books, once these Affiliate changes take place (March 1st, 2013), you may have a lot fewer places to promote your free books. Because of the changes, sites like Pixel of Ink and ENT will likely have to feature a lot less free books (for a great analysis of the numbers, read Ed Robertson’s great post, Amazon is About to Throttle Free Books). And smaller free ebook sites may end up shutting down. The remaining sites are going to be much more selective in what free books they feature. So fewer places that feature your free book means less downloads, and less boost in sales.
Indie Authors, Is Amazon Out To Get Us?
Why the changes? Let the conspiracy theories begin. Now, I highly doubt that Amazon is out to get us indie authors. I’m sure it’s all about money. I suspect Amazon realized that it was losing money to sites that are giving away tons of freebies, and it corrected the problem. How were they losing money? Amazon’s affiliate program is supposed to be used to advertize products sold on Amazon. But the freebie sites promote free books and hope that they get a commission on products they didn’t promote. Amazon is now sending out a clear message that this is not okay.
Amazon also wants to sell all its ebooks, not just those of indie authors. But let’s be clear. If you as an indie author continue to put all your marketing efforts into KDP Select, and you neglect other sites, beware (more on this below). Always remember Amazon cares about Amazon, and that’s it…
Indie Authors And Amazon As Search Engine
Even with all this, Amazon is still king when it comes to selling books. The big Zon is a search engine (more on this in a future post), and boy, do they do this well. And Amazon’s recommendations is powerful, too. For a great read on this, and for more on the Affiliate changes (read the insightful comments), check out David Gaughran’s post.
Indie Authors And A Possible Silver Lining
So what’s the good? It may be that sites will feature bargain books again, and we indie authors can exploit the 99 cent novel again. And as Ed Robertson notes, it may be that free books actually have a change to rise in the ranks organically, without the aid of these huge promotion sites that push some authors into the 15-20k downloads in a day or two.
Indie Authors Have To Adapt
So what’s the takeaway? In my humble opinion, it’s that indie authors who define success as growing sales will have to continue to adapt. The book publishing business is forever morphing, and if you don’t stay current on changes, you’ll likely be left behind. The end-game is getting your book(s) into the hands of readers…how you do this is always changing. So adapt, adapt, adapt.
What do you think about the latest Amazon changes? Will it hurt KDP Select and freebie promotions?