We have the different self publishing giants on the publishing industry, and at the head of them all is the big Amazon Kindle that allows many authors to try and get their works out there in the book stratosphere after the rejections by the traditional publishers. We also have Kobo, Barnes & Noble Nook press, and there then the big Smashwords which seem to be really competing with Amazon for the top spot in the business.
But the one thing that I think that really stands out is the fact that Amazon is the biggest giant among the big giant because even the Big Bad New York presses use them. And they have many innovations for their writers too, most popular of which is the KDP Select, a program that gives them the exclusive handling over the book of an author who had submitted for the program. It allows Amazon to be the sole digital distributor of the book for a period of three calendar months from the date of the enrolment of the book into the program, after which the author can either choose to auto-renew the KDP Select subscription (to which it is set to be default from the moment you have one of your titles tuned to it unless you remove the feature), or you can choose to go by the option that can allow you to have your title across whatever other channel you may wish to have it on.
There are quite some pecks that you get when you choose to have your title on the Amazon KDP Select program. It allows you to have copies of your book free to the readers on the kindle store for a limited period of 5 days within each 3-month calendar enrollment period. You can also go for the countdown deals, which will allow you to make timeline promotional discounts on your title within the enrollment period. You also get to have your title enrolled in the KENP, and this allows you to be paid when the readers in the Kindle library choose to read pages of your book.
These to be all very great perks, right? To be sincere, even I loved it when I got to be paid some pennies when the readers choose to read the pages of my book. But then, there must be woes associated with the Amazon KDP Select, right? And here they are.
If you get your book enrolled in the Amazon KDP Select, then you MUST get that book removed from ALL other eretailers that carry the book. It must be exclusive to Amazon and if you breach this, then they can have you seriously penalized because they can then withdraw whatever royalties your book has earned within the enrollment period and even have you refund whatever payments they have made to you.
For the people that are still struggling writers_ which many people are, anyway, including me_ then this is really not a good option for you because of the fact that you may be wanting to get the book out into all the channels you can see on there online. But Amazon says no, that you cannot let the work be carried by other retailers until the period is over and you do not renew the KDP Select period for the book.
This is quite the big bummer for the new author that is struggling to make his book out there something that is well-known and loved. It is true that Amazon is the biggest ebook retailer the world over, but do not forget that there are shoppers that shop only on Barnes & Noble, or on Smashwords, or on Kobo.
If the book is available only on Amazon, then the buyers that may want to buy the book on the other etailers will have to wait for whenever the book is out of the program and you make it available to the other channels for distribution. And for the many authors that there are, all waiting for their big break in the sun, this is the biggest bad idea of the century.
And not only that, the readers are not happy about this because of the fact that the big-time Amazon monitors their reading habits by looking at the pages they go through in order to pay their authors. And believe me when I tell you that the readers seem not be in any way enamored with this. Many readers on the Kindle platform has expressed their displeasure at the fact that the Big-Bad Amazon will be trying to monitor their reading habits.
Many writers have spoken out against it too and have asked: why can’t Amazon just let the authors choose to publish their books and make them to be free of charge for the readers? To which the company has been like: We’ve got a business to run, not a charity show. Look elsewhere for the perma-free whatever. But then there are still ways to bypass this.
On my own part, I have chosen the Amazon KDP Select for one of my books_ THE WEDDED WHORE_ and even when it was on the free ebook promotion thing, it did not get that many downloads, and to be frank, I was really disappointed that the readers had not been hooked on this. But the pertinent question, I think, is this: is the Amazon KDP Select platform something for authors to embrace?
I think that there seems to be no straight answer to that, but if the near-consensus opinion on the internet among authors is anything to go by, then it is something that an author should be thinking of falling into with their eyes wide open. Authors need to have a diversification of the concentration of their works across different platforms and not for them to think to allow only one distributor to have leeway with their work because of the fact that this might be really detrimental to their growth in the industry. Can you even imagine someone like Tess Gerritsen giving her works only to Amazon for distribution to the exclusion of all the other channels? There, I think the answer to that question is pretty clear now.
So, writers, maybe it seems that Mark Coker of Smashwords had something right when he advised authors to not think of having their works available only through one channel. Think of throwing the options wide open.
Ani Ugochukwu Kingsley
Author of The Wedded Whore
Available here: On Amazon.