Yesterday was the last day of my three-month exclusivity agreement with Amazon’s KDP Select (Baby Grand made its debut as part of the program on May 23). For those who don’t know about the program, when you sign on to KDP Select, you agree to sell your eBook only in the Kindle format (you can continue selling your paperbacks anywhere you wish). In exchange for this agreement, you are given some marketing assistance, including several free promotional days, where you can basically give your book away, and also your book is included in the Kindle Lending Library — every time an Amazon Prime member (and there are oodles of them) “borrows” your book, Amazon pays you a royalty.

When I agreed to participate in the program, I looked at it as a limited release of my novel, much like an independent film might be first shown in New York and Los Angeles before going wide, and as a way to cultivate a following in the Kindle community while taking advantage of additional promotional help from Amazon.

Overall, I was satisfied with the results of KDP Select, particularly with a mass email intended for thriller lovers that included my book. Yippee!

But, in the end, I decided to leave the program after my first go-round. Here’s why:

  • I just won’t give my book away en masse. In my opinion, in order for authors to take full advantage of the KDP Select program, they need to cash in on those free promotional days that Amazon allots them. For better or for worse — and trust me I’ve read blog post after blog post about indie writers who got zillions of downloads during those days and who reported sales increases for the days following the free promotional period and have had wild success — I just couldn’t bring myself to offer my book for free, even for a limited number of days. Perhaps it’s because I’m a professional writer and am used to being paid for my work. Perhaps it’s because I don’t understand marketing. But my feeling is that Baby Grand’s regular price point of $2.99 is surely affordable and fair, so I’m not sure why it’s necessary to offer my book for free as a way to entice readers. I’m not sure what kind of message that puts out there. Although I do think that many books, particularly eBooks, are overpriced, I don’t think the answer is to swing the pendulum in the other direction. I want people to read Baby Grand because they think they’ll enjoy it, not because it was a freebie. Plus, I find that people (me included) who take advantage of free downloads tend to stockpile books rather than read them.
  • My Nook friends have had it up to HERE with me. As I wrote in an earlier blog post announcing my participation in KDP Select, it does seem a bit counter-intuitive to offer your book only to a segment of the reading population when all you want to do is sell as many copies as possible. It wasn’t a big concern for me at first, because I knew my KDP Select commitment would only be for three months, but I do have to say that it was so difficult to tell potential readers that they had to wait or that the book was unavailable to them. I remember in one instance I had written a guest post for a fellow writer’s blog, and a comment was posted by a woman who said she read my post with interest and went to download my book on her Nook and then was VERY disappointed to find that she couldn’t. (I still wonder if that sale has been lost for good. I hope not.) Now, I am excited to see how Baby Grand fares on other retail sites — Google Books, Kobo, BN.com, etc. — in addition to Amazon.

So, yes, while I remain a huge fan of Amazon — both as a reader and as an author — I’m ready to expand as an e-businessperson.

I’d love to hear other authors’ experiences. Have you done KDP Select? What are your thoughts of the program?