My original idea was to have two posts on KDP Select because I thought I’d said it all :). Well, we indie authors are nothing if not resourceful and I’ve seen some wonderful posts about the current (as in the last ten days) state of KDP Select and I thought I’d share that with you.
Indie Authors – What Is Going On With Amazon?
Thanks all you indie authors who weighed in on this issue (if you haven’t read Indie Authors – Latest KDP Results Part One and Indie Authors – Latest KDP Results Part Two, read the thoughtful comments). It would appear that we authors have had a variety of success using KDP Select. But it also appears that Amazon has definitely changed some algorithms of late. I won’t go into the details, you can read this excellent post, Failure Ahoy! by Ed Robertson for an in-depth (and I do mean in-depth) analysis of KDP Select. That, and Russell Blake’s post (referenced to in my second post) seem to make a great case for Amazon changing algorithms to the detriment of indie authors.
Indie Authors – Genre
I do want to say one thing about genre. Although it would appear that things are different at Amazon, I don’t think a book’s genre should be discounted, especially when we’re talking about getting to the top of the popularity lists. My Reed Ferguson mystery series is mainstream mystery. If you publish a book in the mystery category, there are about six sub-categories (general, hard-boiled, woman sleuths, and a few other). From what I’ve seen, fantasy has like a gazillion sub-categories (fairies and who knows what else :)). I exaggerate for effect but there does appear to be some genres with more sub-categories, which means more chance of getting on popularity lists. The Reed Ferguson mystery series has a harder time getting on those lists because there doesn’t appear to be the plethora of sub-categories. I also wonder about the competition in the genres. I don’t know if it’s still true, but at one point not too long ago, mysteries were the top-selling genre. If that’s still the case, I have a lot more competition that someone in another category. Now before you disagree, let me clarify, I’m speculating here :). I can’t say for certain what all is affecting KDP Select.
Indie Authors – Why Did Amazon Create KDP Select (And Why Change It)?
Again, this is pure speculation but here are my thoughts. Amazon had a lot of indie authors asking to list their books for free (in 2011 certainly). I know that it became extremely difficult for indie authors to get Amazon to list a book for free. Indie authors were asking people to report their books as free elsewhere, trying to force Amazon into a price match. But Amazon wants to make money and they’re not going to do this by offering books for free on a permanent basis (I received an email from Amazon saying this). I think Amazon finally said it’s obvious authors want to offer their books for free, so we should offer books for free but how can we capitalize on it?
Thus came being exclusive with Amazon and a limit (five free days per book per ninety days). And we indie authors jumped on the bandwagon, many to great success. Then Amazon realized it was possibly losing money (cheap 99 cent to $2.99 ebooks selling on the bestseller lists or tons of downloads from mainstream publishers at 9.99 and higher) – again this is speculation on my part – so Amazon fixed the algorithms and now we indie authors don’t benefit anymore (again, see the other posts for more). Give it time and Amazon will see if changing their algorithms has a negative impact on the bottom dollar.
Indie Authors – Where Do We Go From Here?
Now the speculation is that indie authors will bail on KDP (I know I have to consider it because I don’t make as much on my books that are lent out versus people buying the book outright, and if freebies aren’t getting me sales, it’s not really worth it). I think KDP Select will have to morph or go away (it may take a year or two).
If you read the other posts (go do it :)) a lot of indie authors are predicting that Amazon free days for marketing is on the way out. I don’t know. If a lot of indie authors bail on the program, this might be positive for those that stay in (less competition). Regardless, it’s not prudent to only use KDP Select as a way to sell books. I am constantly trying to figure out ways to generate word-of-mouth…which is still the key to selling books.
What do you think?