More on KDP Select and Pricing

I already explained my stand on Amazon’s KDP Select program, which demands exclusivity from indie authors in exchange for participation in a US-only lending library program and five free promotion days.

The short version is: No way will I participate in a program that demands exclusivity in exchange for supposed perks that are of little to no interest to me.

I expected that some authors would view KDP Select differently than me. However, I was stunned how many indie authors at places like the Kindleboards fell hook, line and sinker for KDP Select, including people who not only have direct access to Barnes & Noble, but were also selling well there. I remember one writer who posted that he had joined KDP Select, because he “only” sold 130 copies at Barnes & Noble in six months. I’d kill to sell 130 copies in any one venue.

And the main appeal of KDP Select for these writers was not the promised pot of 500000 USD to be divided among the books borrowed via the Kindle lending library, but the five free promo days. And what did those writers do? They flooded Amazon with free books. And since KDP Select started a few weeks before Christmas, they flooded Amazon with free books at a time when e-book sales are supposed to take off due to all those new e-readers given out as Christmas presents. Now I don’t dispute that giving their books away for free on the high traffic days around Christmas might have been a good decision individually for some authors. But collectively, flooding the market with free products at a time of peak demand is an extraordinarily stupid thing to do and I am almost certain that this flood of free books is the reason why the post-Christmas rush did not materialize for many as expected. Now I did see a modest version of the Christmas sales bump, but I still wonder how much higher it might have been if not for everybody and their cat offering free books.

Now I admit that I have downloaded some of the books offered for free. Many of those were non-fiction books on writing, marketing, etc… that might just yield a nugget or two of useful information (most of those have already been deleted, because they did not even yield a single nugget of usefulness). A few were novels and novellas that just plain sounded interesting or the authors of which struck me as such nice people that I wanted to give their books a try and maybe leave them a nice review, if I enjoyed the book.

Still, all of those writers bragging about their free giveaways as sales… – honey, if it’s free, it’s not a sale.

Since I’m not a fan of KDP Select and the Kindleboards might just rename themselves KDP Select boards, I’m always glad to see that other writers share my reservations about the program. Here horror writer and formatting guru Guido Henkel shares his arguments against KDP Select and they’re almost the same as mine. But then we’re both fans of Geisterjäger John Sinclair, too.

In the latest installment of her excellent Business Rusch series, Kristine Kathryn Rusch takes not just on KDP Select and the flood of free books it has triggered, but on the fact that writers undervalue themselves and their work in general. I very much agree with her, not just on KDP Select but also on the trend towards rockbottom e-book prices.

I have never understood the reasoning behind offering a full length novel, even a short novel, permanently for 99 cents. Short term promotions are okay, but permanently selling a full length novel for less than the price of a Big Mac or a Latte Macchiato? Why, for goodness sake? Do these writers value their work so little?

Now Pegasus Pulp does have some e-books available for 99 cents. All of these e-books are short stories of under 5000 words, where 99 cent is a perfectly acceptable price. My novelettes, however, sell for 2.99 US-dollar. Because these stories took a lot of time to write and proof and format and generally make them as good as they can be. And I think they’re worth that price.

A detailed breakdown of the Pegasus Pulp pricing structure can be found in our (recently updated) FAQ.

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11 Responses to More on KDP Select and Pricing

  1. Pingback: Linkdump for a Stormy Thursday | Cora Buhlert

  2. The thing which dismays me about KDP Select is that it gives so little and asks for so much. Exclusivity is a big thing. Freebies were something you could do anyway (just awkwardly, and without exact timing).

    I’d happily have stuck my books in their lending library, but not on those conditions. You can’t even do giveaways and have samples on your own blog!

    • Cora says:

      I don’t really get it either. If Amazon just wanted content for their lending library and maybe free books for all the new Kindle owners, they could have made the offer without the exclusivity clause.

      I would have offered my books for their lending library, though I doubt that a whole lot of people would borrow short fiction, if they could have a whole novel. I might even have experimented with their free promo days, though I’m always reluctant to tinker with prices, because that’s technically illegal in Germany. But exclusivity, particularly on those terms, is too much for what little they’re offering.

  3. Estara says:

    Yes, I was somewhat startled to see the Liaden Universe chapbooks joining KDP select. I’m not even sure that Amazon won’t have problems with that (maybe it was just certain ones) because BAEN still sells the Liaden Unibus I and II which are basically chapbooks 1-12 collected. Hmm.

    • Cora says:

      No one seems to be certain at the moment whether an omnibus edition or a standalone short appearing in a collection violates KDP Select’s exclusivity guidelines. Though Amazon probably wouldn’t go after fairly big names like Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, which are a perk for their program. But lesser known authors are worried. I’ve even heard of a case where an author contacted an editor and wanted their story, for which they’d signed a contract and been paid, taken out of an anthology, because they wanted to join KDP Select.

  4. Estara says:

    Oh and one thing – I discovered Michelle Jerott on her own ebook store with a free novel-length read (hero works as a stripper for revenge reasons ^^) and then happily bought her self-published backlist. If the book hadn’t been free at that time I might not have dipped a toe in (although I later discovered I had one of her non-backlist books in paper on my shelves) to that extend.

    • Cora says:

      I don’t doubt that free e-books can be useful for gaining new readers, and of course they’re great from a reader POV, because hey, free books.

      But so many authors giving their books away for free at the same time dilutes whatever positive effects these promotions might have had otherwise. The big e-book sites that list free and cheap books were completely overwhelmed around Christmas and couldn’t keep up with hundreds and thousands of free books per day.

  5. I didn’t see much value in the program when I first heard of it. Lot of rabid posts about how much traffic people have gotten and how many free “sales” poeple are claiming and a lot of hype about it over at Kindle Boards. Kris Rusch has a pretty pointed take on this over at her blog. Good reading.

    I can undertstand the apparent excitement if you went from ZERO downloads and or looks to thousands or tens of thousands. Theoretically these are all people who didn’t know who you were and now they do. What I’ve found (from following top selling writers and not neccessarily kindle board hype) is that experiements with “free” tend to be just that.

    From where I’m sitting and reading very, very few of these huge “free pushes” have turned into actual sales boosts for people. Anyone here feel free to tell me your book(s) did differently.

    Writing Trip

    • Cora says:

      Hi David. Thanks for commenting.

      I suspect that the KDP Select success stories we hear are heavily skewed by the fact that the ones talking about their success are mostly the people who did see a massive sales increase, while those who didn’t experience higher sales remain silent and wonder what they did wrong. And how many people actually buy future books by the author after downloading a free book or how many even read the free downloads remains to be seen. Never mind that with the way that some people cycle through their entire backlist with their free giveaways, a potential reader just as to wait for the other books to come up for free.

  6. Pingback: KDP Select Redux | Pegasus Pulp

  7. Pingback: Why Pegasus Pulp e-books won’t be available via Kindle Unlimited | Pegasus Pulp

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