My brief experiment going off KDP Select: At least I got this nifty blog piece out of it!


I lasted only a month off of KDP Select. It was an eye-opening experience. I knew that I would lose sales on Amazon without the borrows and KDP free days to keep my books visible on the historical mystery bestseller lists, but my hope was that I would be building enough sales on Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and the Smashwords affiliates, to make up for these lost sales. I even told myself I was willing to accept lower overall sales for 2-3 months in order to test the idea that having my book on multiple sites (even if the sales on those sites were lower, on average, than on Kindle) was a workable alternative to exclusivity on Amazon, which is what KDP Select requires.

But this was predicated on being able to figure out how to get my books, Maids of Misfortune and Uneasy Spirits, discovered on these other sites, because my experience is that if readers find my books, they will buy them.

But I was not able to figure out how to do this for Barnes and Noble or Kobo and I didn’t see any evidence that this was something I would be able to solve in a short period of time.

As I have written about before, there are primarily two ways a person ends up buying a book (from a brick and mortar store or estore).

They either:

1) come to the store looking for that book (or books by a certain author) or

2) find the books in the store while browsing.

For authors who are independently published and who sell most of their books in on-line stores, social media (blogs, twitter, facebook, pinterest, etc) can play an important role in getting people to go looking for their books. When a potential reader discovers the title of a book through reading a review or an interview with an author on a blog, or reading a tweet or a facebook post from a friend, they may decide to go looking for this book. The more frequently they run across that author’s name or the title of the book, the more likely they are to do so. In addition, social media usually provides direct links to the product pages of estores so that the impulse to look for the book can lead immediately to the decision to buy the book, which increases the effectiveness of this form of marketing.

Social media also has the benefit of costing less money and requiring less clout than the methods traditionally used by authors to market (reviews in print media, book signings, talks at conventions, interviews on radio or tv, mass mailings, etc).

While I don’t believe that the majority of sales I have made have come through my social media activities, I did understand that I might have to work harder to drive people to look for my books in the Barnes and Noble and Kobo stores because they initially wouldn’t have much visibility in these stores. What I didn’t expect was to have difficulty finding places on the internet that specifically targeted Nook or Kobo owners. If an author wants to connect with Kindle owners there are the Kindle Boards, literally dozens of Kindle oriented facebook pages, book blogs and websites that target Kindle owners, providing free and paid methods of promoting your book. I couldn’t find any similar sites that focused on Kobo beyond their official facebook/websites, and the small number of sites that focused on Nook ebooks generally didn’t have many followers. So beyond tweeting using the #kobo or #nook hashtags, I discovered few ways of reaching out and alerting these specific readers that my books were available on their devices.

Which brings me to the other way people find books–browsing. Whether it was in the libraries of my youth, the bookstores of my middle years, or Amazon in my senior years, I discover new authors primarily by looking on the “shelves,” being intrigued by the cover picture and the title, looking at the short description of the book and blurbs, maybe scanning the first pages, and then deciding to take a chance. This is what I want to have happen with my books, and while Amazon’s browsing experience isn’t perfect, for my books, it turns out Amazon is much better than the other two major ebook stores at helping potential customers find my books on their shelves.

I had some hopes for Barnes and Noble because my books had been in this store before and had done moderately well. While I had been disappointed in the total number of my Nook sales, I thought that if I could figure out how to get my books visible in the right browsing categories I could increase these sales. I was particularly encouraged by the fact that Barnes and Noble gives you 5 categories to put your books in (Amazon now only gives you 2), and that they had some smaller sub-categories that Amazon didn’t have where I knew my historical mysteries would shine (like historical romances in the Victorian/Gilded Age, or American Cozy mysteries.) I also know a number of people who sell well on the Nook, although most of them have at least 5 books for sale, usually in a series, and they have been able to take advantage of either the NookFirst program or have used the first book in their series as their loss leader by making the book 99 cents or free (through price matching.) But they also seemed to have their books in the right categories.

However, my plan to make my books be more visible through better category placement in the Nook store failed completely when I couldn’t even figure out where my books were showing up after I uploaded them through ePubit, much less how to get them into the right categories.

Side note: all the Kindle/Nook/Kobo self-publishing systems have the same problem in that the categories you get to choose from when uploading your book aren’t identical to the categories that show up when browsing. See my discussion of this in my post on Categories.

Both the Amazon and Kobo product pages lists a book’s browsing categories, not so Barnes and Noble. When I went to the categories and subcategories I thought my books might be in and scrolled through, looking for my books, either my book would be missing or the pages would freeze before I got through the hundreds of pages, so I could never determine if they were there. Arggh. (And of course this means a potential customer wasn’t going to find them either.)

So, I did what I had done to get my books properly in the right categories on Amazon when I was first figuring out how browsing worked in that store, I wrote the Barnes and Noble/Nook support staff, first asking what 5 categories my books were in and next asking how I could get them into the 5 categories I wanted.

And got no reply. Not even an automated, “we have received your email and we are working on an answer.” Nothing. So I resent my request a week later (mentioning that this was the second request and that I would appreciate some response.) Nothing. So then I wrote the Director of Digital Content, asking if she could direct me to where I could find out the answers to my questions and asking if she could give me advice on how to better market my books for the Nook. No reply.

Bangs head.

I do believe that if I got my books into the right categories that I would begin to have decent sales on the Nook. I am assuming the books I did sell were primarily to those people who went into the bookstore looking for them (based on my tweets and facebook postings), but I don’t think it makes sense to go another month or two hoping I will finally get an answer, and that my books will finally start showing up where I want them to be. I am leaving my short stories up in this store, and maybe I will eventually get these stories into the right categories and begin to get more sales. If this happens and my sales of these stories increase enough on the Nook, I may try again with the full-length novels.

I also had high hopes for Kobo, after reading about their new self-publishing initiative, WritingLife. What was particularly attractive was that they are letting indies price their books at free, without an exclusivity requirement or time limit. But, despite the promise that they had been consulting with indie authors in beta testing, Kobo’s WritingLife is not yet ready for prime time when it comes to browsing categories or free promotions.

I was pleased with the ability to designate three categories on Kobo and my books actually showed up in the categories I put them in. The problem was that these categories are currently very limited. Most distressing from my perspective, there is no historical mystery category (which is the subgenre that is most aligned with my books). Also, if you put “historical mystery” in as a keyword search there were 51,000 books (many which didn’t appear to be historical mysteries), which says to me the search function isn’t very useful as an alternative way for readers to find this kind of book.

The categories my books do show up in the Kobo store (mystery-women sleuths, historical fiction and historical romance) contain a lot of books, with none of the sub-categories that the Nook has, which also makes it difficult for a book by a relative unknown such as myself to become visible in them. I was facing the old chicken and the egg problem (how do you get a book up high enough in a category for people to find it without sales, but how do you get sales if no one ever sees your book?) This is where I hoped Kobo’s free option would help––as it has helped so many authors who have used the KDP Select free promotion option.

However, when I put my short story, Dandy Detects,up as free on Kobo, I found that Kobo has a very ineffective method of making free books visible. While I don’t know how the Kobo ereader itself works, if you are using the Kobo ap there is no way to find free books because there is no way of finding out what books within a category or subcategory are free. This is true for the on-line Kobo bookstore as well.

For example, in Barnes and Noble’s Nook ebook store, if you click on the mystery-women sleuth category, you find 2338 books, and you can order these books by price, with the free books showing up first (15 of them). By the way, my short story Dandy Detect, which should be in this category as a 99 cent book, isn’t there (sigh).

For Kindle, if you look on the device at the best seller list under the “mysteries-women sleuths” you can look at the free list separately for this subcategory, and in the online store you can see the paid list to the left and the free list to the right in this category. Today the free list for this category is 53 books––so it is easy to have your book visible if it is in the midst of a free promotion. Visible not just to people who are looking for free books, but visible to people who are looking at books that are for sale––maybe the newest Anne Perry––and just glance over to the right and notice a free book that looks intriguing.

In the Kobo store, the mystery-women sleuth category (3303 books) can be sorted by price, but the lowest price is 99 cents, so no free books are visible. Instead, you have to click on the free books link on the home page of the estore, a link that is not available on the ap (I don’t know if it is on the Nook itself). Then there are two options. The most straightforward––on the surface––is a link to one of 6 categories, one that is called “Free Mysteries.” But when you click this link only 20 books show up, most of them public domain, and none of them Dandy Detects. Dead end, and frankly if I was a consumer I would try this category once, and never again.

The second option Kobo gives you is to follow these 3 Step instructions

Step 1: Perform a search using any keyword

Step 2: Filter your results by “Free Only” from the pull-down menu

Step 3: Select your download from the search results

This does work, and Dandy Detects did show up under key words like mystery, historical mystery, fiction historical, but the separation from paid books and the browsing categories means that this method isn’t going to produce the traffic that it would get in either the Kindle or Nook stores where there is a connection between the paid and the free listings. In addition, the Kobo method depends on the consumer to come up with the right key words.

I suspect that these problems (no way to find free books through the Nook ap, limited free books under the Free Mystery link, and the lack of connection between paid and free books) have meant that Kobo readers aren’t accustomed to looking for free promotions the way Kindle readers have become since the introduction of KDP Select.  Even more frustrating, when I downloaded a free copy of Dandy to my Nook ap I discovered that the dashboard for WritingLife doesn’t report free book downloads so I had no way of knowing if anyone is finding it.

The only evidence I have that a few people eventually found the story (probably because I have been tweeting about Dandy being free) is after a few days a small number of other books started to show up in the “You Might Like” listing on Dandy’s product page. But I don’t know how many copies have been downloaded, I don’t know when they were downloaded (so I can’t connect up with my marketing), and, so far, putting Dandy up for free hasn’t translated into anyone buying either of my full-length novels or even the other short story. I also haven’t seen any movement in the total ranking of Dandy in the categories––so I don’t know if I put it back to paid if it would show up any higher in these categories. In short, at this point the Kobo option of putting a book up for free doesn’t seem to help sell books.

While I imagine that the Kobo techs, who have responded to my questions (unlike Barnes and Noble), will try to solve some of these problems, until they do and Kobo readers get used to looking for free books, I don’t anticipate free promotions being as successful as they are currently on Kindle.

Again, as with the Nook, I will keep my short stories in the Kobo store, keep Dandy free, and see if over the next few months some of these problems are resolved. But I don’t want to continue to let my sales on Kindle stagnate on the promise that the conditions for selling in either the Barnes and Noble or the Kobo stores will improve dramatically in the short term.

So…Back I will go to KDP Select next week, when my books have been successfully unpublished in the other stores, and then I can get back to writing and doing an occasional KDP promotion.

Obviously, I would love to hear if any of you have tips on how to get books in the right categories for the Nook, or have had better success with selling on Kobo. But meanwhile, if any of you are Nook or Kobo owners, my novels will be available for these devices until Sunday, August 12, and my short stories will continue to be there indefinitely.

47 Replies to “My brief experiment going off KDP Select: At least I got this nifty blog piece out of it!”

  1. This is fascinating! Like you, I have found that when my books are visible, people purchase them. It’s simply a question of letting the public know they exist. I had terrific success with my KDP select free days last week and have seen a significant spike in sales since. I had assumed that when my select period ended I’d go back to Nook (I still haven’t gotten it together to publish on Smashwords or Kobo) but will give it a second thought now. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    1. Dear Joanne,

      If you were already making good sales on the Nook, you might still want to give going back a try-particularly after you have a feel for how many borrows you get. I made about $267 in a four month period with my Nook sales, before I went on KDP Select. The last 4 months on KDP Select I made $2,500 on borrows alone. As you can see I was going to have to have some indication that I could achieve that level of sales when I combined all my non-Amazon sales together to make it worth while. I just didn’t see it. But I do know that there are authors out there who do have better luck than I did, and you might be one of them. Either way, good luck on your post promotion sales!

      Mary Louisa

      1. My Nook sales were meager. Maybe 25 total in three months. The best spike I had was when I started announcing I was taking it off Nook! I think BN does themselves a disservice by not offering ways to increase visibility. At this point, I feel like all my friends who have Nooks have the book, and if nobody else is going to know it exists, it might make more sense to keep it where it is. Though, that said, I don’t think I’ll renew KDP select immediately.

  2. Honestly, marketing a book is far harder than writing it! You are a beacon, Mary Lou, because your experiences save many wrong turns for the rest of us. If there were a medal for your explorations, I’d gladly pin it on your chest!

  3. Thanks for sharing your experience with Kobo and Nook. I am a techie dweeb but was nevertheless just about to try putting my book up on other sites rather than Amazon, but if YOU couldn’t figure out a way to make your books visible, then I wouldn’t stand a chance. I need to watch listen, and learn some more. ( baby steps, I think, so I don’t get so overwhelmed.) Please keep sharing your experience and knowledge with the rest of us.

    1. Thanks,

      I am hoping that someone from Nook will read this and understand how frustrating their system is for indie authors who know from experience their books are salable, if we can just get them visible. We don’t want to be exclusive, but Nook owners are being denied access to good books if they can’t find them, and it isn’t up to us to support Amazon competitors if they don’t serve our interests. This is no way to be competitive with Amazon.

      Mary Louisa

      1. The navigational difficulties aren’t just affecting authors. I got a Kobo when they first released, and while I found it great at first, there were some annoying software glitches and the Kobo site just wasn’t very customer-friendly. It was ok if I was searching for x book by y author, but browsing? Impossible.

        Over time, I found the easiest way to browse for books was to search on the relevant Amazon categories, find a title I was interested in, then see if it was available via Kobo. Not all titles were available on Kobo, and when they were, the Amazon price was cheaper at least half the time.

        Needless to say, as soon as the Kindle was available in my local market, I bought one. Since then I’ve only bought three books via Kobo – the Hunger Games trilogy, because I found a 90% discount voucher.

  4. Thank you for this detailed report about your experience with the non-Amazons. I was going to go broad with my book when it comes out late next month, but now I’m reconsidering. It looks like marketing takes a lot more time than writing! Which is not something most writers want to hear… I hope you’ll keep us posted on your sales progress.


  5. Thank you so much for doing these posts. A friend sent me your link and I’ve been spreading it around, as well (I also bought your books and look forward to reading them). I fought the idea of KDP Select because I don’t like monopolies, which is clearly what Amazon is aiming for. But I eventually gave in on my first book in the series. Sales have definitely spiked on that book, with a trickle down effect for the others. My Nook sales were so minor, that this was a smart move financially, although I’ll continue to keep the rest of the books on both B&N and Amazon. I plan to do some free days when the next book comes out in a few weeks. I’m anxious to see what happens. I also have found Nook to be extremely non-responsive, while Amazon has impressed me time and again.

    Thanks again!

  6. I only published a few months ago, and I have four contemporary romances (huge category) on Amazon and also on Smashwords, where I opted in to Diesel, Kobo, B&N, Nook, etc. It’s early days yet but actually my books are doing about the same on both sites, slow but steady. On both sites I really have no idea how I’m being found, but I am, considering the size of romance categories. I am going into the 3rd full month for 3 books and the 2nd month for one of the ebooks. I tried KDP select for the first in the series and it made a small upward blip for about 2 weeks where it hit #40 in Fiction, Contemporary, and then settled back down to the 200,000’s. I wanted to have more exposure than Amazon so I did not renew the KDP after the first period.

    1. I have heard from a number of sources that romance does particularly well on the Nook compared to Amazon, I suspect because of the greater variety of sub-categories and the fact that romance is actually listed as a category on the Nook (unlike-for example historical fiction, which you have to find by first clicking through Fiction.)

      I think that if a bookstore does a good job in making books of certain genres or sub genres visible with a wide variety of books then readers get trained that this is a good place to browse, and keep coming back looking for books.

      I would never discourage someone from selling widely, if they feel they are being found. My books given their categories were just not doing well in any of the Smashword affiliates or Nook or Kobo where I published independently.

      1. I had thought about doing Nook separately, that was before I realized you had to have separate ISBN’s for every ebook edition. I know some don’t require one (I was thinking initially you could use the same ISBN for a title, no matter where it’s placed), but I want my ISBN’s to identify which edition is which so I have used my 10 ISBN’s for my first series and one other book, all on Kindle and Smashwords. I’m now considering buying 100 ISBN’s since I am working on a 3rd series and then I may upload the current books to Nook.

      2. Dear Grace,

        I know that there are some reasons for people to have separate ISBN’s for all their editions, and I suspect if I was young and looking towards decades of self-publishing I might do what you are doing. However, I haven’t felt the need to buy ISBN’s from Bowker. Neither Kindle nor Nook require ISBN’s–they assign ASIN which are store specific.
        My print books through CreateSpace were given a free ISBN, and I took Smashwords free ISBN for some books, and paid for one for others, and haven’t seen any difference.

        All I am saying is after nearly 3 years of having my books out there, I haven’t experienced any negative effects of not having separate ISBN’s for every single ebook edition.

        Mary Louisa

      3. Very interesting. Because I read several places about the different ISBN’s for each edition, I elected to do that, and for various reasons I have my own publishing company Questor Books, which the ISBN’s are attached to. In looking over smashwords again they do state they have no claim basically by you using their free ISBN, which is good. So I guess I could have gone either way, buying or using the free ones. I’m mid fifties but I do plan to do decades yet of publishing. 🙂 I’ve already been in far longer than that. Thanks for the quick responses.

  7. Thanks so much for sharing this information. When I self-published my historical mystery ‘Ode to a Dead Lord’ about a year ago, I thought there was no way I would ever go the KDP Select route and limit myself to Amazon. But having seen my sales on Nook, etc., practically disappear during the last few months, while my sales on Amazon have steadily increased, I’m ready to give KDP Select a try when the next book in the series comes out in a few months. I thought that perhaps Nook recently changed how it did things, but from your post it sounds like it was never that easy for readers to find historical mysteries. So, again, thanks for the heads up.

    1. Dear Jolie,

      Your first mystery looks delightful, and yes, I suspect that the problems with categories on Nook may be a problem. One of the benefits of going onto KDP, even if just for a month, is that you could up the price to at least $2.99 (and my experience is that at this point in time 99 cents only works as a loss leader for a whole series of books),knowing that doing your free promotion will do what the 99 cents was supposed to do for you, get readers to take a chance on an unknown author. Doing a free promotion will also get you visibility in the historical mystery bestseller list, which should bump up your sales. You can always go back to the Nook since republishing is easy.

      Mary Louisa

  8. Hi. I first discovered Maids of Misfortune on Barnes and Noble. I have since acquired both of your books and both stories for my Nook. Please don’t abandon Nook. I am eagerly anticipating your next books and stories.

    1. Dear Laura,

      I am so glad you were able to find my books for your book, and I promise that any new short stories will go up there immediately, and when my next installment in the series is published (probably not until spring or summer 2013), I will make it available on the Nook, even if for a short time. If you are subscribed to my blog or have “liked” my Facebook author page you will be alerted to when my works go up on the Nook.

      Thanks for your input and support.

      Mary Louisa

      1. Thanks for your reply to my comments. I am relieved to hear you will still publish to Nook. I enjoy reading your blog posts and look forward to Annie’s next adventure!

  9. Thanks for being brave enough to try the non-KDP expereiment, and generous enough to share your expierences in such detail. One of the things which caused me to give up on B&N for Nook and go to KDP Select was the lack of any response from B&N to my several requests for a bit of information I needed for getting books to reviewers.
    Ruth (M. Ruth Myers)

  10. Thank you for posting this because I have been wavering. I’m on my third enrollment with KDP Select – my first three months were fabulous, my second slightly less fabulous, but my third is back to fabulous. I’ve toyed with dis-enrolling just to see how I’d do on B&N and Kobo, despite the fact that when I was there before my sales were abysmal.
    You just told me how I would do!

  11. Thank you so much for sharing with us because I’m releasing my second book next weekend and I think I’m going to take another look at KDP select rather than go the bn and Smashwords, etc. route. This is a frustrating experience sometimes because in addition to writing, marketing, blogging, researching, and reading things from other indie authors I work a full time job and it’s hard to wrap my head around everything I need to know about self-publishing. It’s through valuable resources like you that the rest of us begin to figure out the pieces to this big puzzle.
    R. Leonia Shea

  12. Thanks for this excellent piece. Go try to find your own books on Kobo. Why do they expect consumers to know keywords? I tried to find some of my books using their very titles. No go. Then I used my keywords for them. No go. I was in the New Age Astrology category by the way (I write astrology books). When I put in “The New Astrology™” I got THE SECRET”
    Finally, I resorted to using my own name. Up came all 28 of my books. Then I wrote to Mark Lefebvre who is the Kobo honcho who deals with the sales of indie authors’ books. He’s conscientious. He always answers me. But sometimes he can’t DO anything about my issues because they depend on some other department’s inefficiency. I still haven’t heard the answer to my last question to Mark “What the heck kind of search engine is that?” I will keep you posted. Suzanne White

  13. I just put my Regency Romances on KDP Select and was wondering if I should try other publishing sites when the 90 days is up. I’m new to this, so thanks so much for letting us know what your experience was like. I just finished Maids of Misfortune and loved it. I look forward to reading more.

  14. I’m wondering if KDP select works better for some categories and not so great for other categories and also if name recognition comes into play. In other words, new authors may not get the same results. You seem to do well in the historical but when my first book in contemporary romance and women’s fiction was in KDP (1 book at the time, Echoes from the Past, as stated in my previous comment — very large categories), the sales were almost non existent. So I’m thinking these are factors for anyone considering KDP who writes in a large category. Now that I have 5 books on Kindle (none of them in KDP) I believe that has contributed to increased sales to some degree. (books uploaded May through August 2012). Also, I don’t as yet have reviews, so ultimately, there are a lot of factors that play into sales. I am doing equally well on Smashwords, and plan to put all 5 romances on Nook this week. Originally I was going to bypass Nook but when I read your info about the romance category seeming to do well there, I decided to give it a go.

    So my curiosity would be, in the very first 6 months you were on KDP, how were your sales? Did it take time to build up in the program where you really started to sell?

    I am currently charting my sales for the first year to see how things go and will be posting my experiences on my blog as I go along. Thanks again for the info.

    1. Dear Grace, For reviews, I tried something on Facebook. I have a lot of friends there (around 4000) so I posted on two of my pages that I would give people a book if they would write a review. I was doing a series of 12 astrology books so I asked for peoples’ signs and email addresses. They sent them and I spent a whole day sending out 100 e-books from my computer. I used the Mobi versions because anyone without a kindle can easily download the reader for their computer. I now have glowing reviews on each of the 12 books in the Kindlestore – sometimes 2 or 3 reviews. I suppose it’s vaguely shady to bribe people to write reviews. But I don’t think Best Buy of Google or Whole Foods worries about shadiness when they do promotional stunts. All I know is it worked and I would gladly do it again. Cheers, Suzanne White (my Facebook page has been hacked. I have to wait 24 hours to get it back up)

      1. Thank you! My Facebook fan page is finally getting some new likes so that is a good game plan. I planned on something similar to this with each of the books once I got thiings going, and yes, the first 4 are the Women of Character Series and the 5 just out is the first book in the Women of Strength trilogy. Thanks.

    2. Dear Grace,

      When I put up my first book, Dec 2009, KDP Select didn’t exist, and yes it took a good 6 months to get any sales and reviews at all. However, what really started my sales was a combination of bringing down my price to $2.99, getting my book into the right categories, and doing a promotion with Kindle Nation Daily shorts with my short story.

      Categories are crucial, and I recommend (have you read my posts on categories?) that you try to find at least one category for each book and each book store where the total number of books in the category is smaller, so you do have a chance at visibility. Some times this is done by looking at a related non-fiction topic (for example my Maids of Misfortune, because it was uploaded when Amazon let you have 5 categories, is in a history-us-west category where it has done consistently well.) Barnes and Noble certainly has a lot of options–if you can just get your books in the right place–so I would certainly not discourage you from working hard to get your romances placed well there.

      I do believe that right now, if you have 5 books published, that working to get them in as many bookstores as possible, in as many different categories as possible, is probably a good strategy. You may then find that one or more of them does better in Amazon than others, and that might be the one(s) you want to put into KDP Select and do some promotions on, and if it goes well, it may help bring your other books along. KDP Select promotions did help me get higher number of reviews as well, but there is always the downside that some of them may not be as positive because someone took a chance on your book who probably wasn’t a fan of your genre.

      Ultimately, as least with Amazon’s algorithms, over time sales do help bolster your success in promotions. Since total sales seem to be part of the equation, the longer your book has been out, the more total sales, the higher your book will end up after a promotion. So even if a promotion doesn’t do a lot for immediate sales, it does help built up the base of total sales. I don’t know if the other bookstores work this way with rankings, but I suspect they do.

      Are your books in a series? I ask because several authors I know are doing really well making the first book in their series permanently free (when they have at least 5 books).

      Hope this all helps, and good luck on your sales.

      M. Louisa

      1. I am going to write to Mark Lefebvre and Mark Coker etc and remind them they are competing with Kindle Select and should do something to keep us all from defecting to Select in order to sell more books. Can’t they do some extra marketing or think up an incentive which will keep us selling with them? How can they expect to compete with Kindle if they don’t offer anything that is more attractive to authors. A higher royalty? More promotions. Interviews? Professional reviewers. Newspapers do it. Why can’t they. Offer authors something better so they won’t run away and return to Select. Seems like they are half asleep or else too busy being CEO to realize what’s going on in the trenches. I will send them both to your Blog M.Louise. They should know how we are all feeling about this. Thanks. sw

  15. I started out with two books on both Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Amazon’s Kindle. The difference in sales was stunning. I sold so much more on Amazon that I eventually took down my books at B&N and placed them, along with two others, in the KDP program. My free days sent two books high onto the Free Bestsellers’ List, then onto the paid lists. I had two on the 100 Kindle Bestsellers’ List at the same time, and my paid sales have soared. I’m a KDP believer. Another book will go free for the first time in September and the fourth in October when I’ll assign a fifth book to the KDP program. I’m a believer.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge along the way, Mary Louisa

    1. Thank you too Polly. I am thinking of going back to KDP Select too. I don’t like the exclusivity aspect. But I wrote to both honchos: KOBO and Smashwords to say I thought as Amazon competitors they might keep more authors away from KDP Select if they offered us better royalties or some sort of promotion or marketing that Amazon does not. I received very courteous replies. Kobo says they are trying to think up things to offer us. Smashwords (defensively of course) says we should all be on all the retailers sites.

      I wonder. Suzanne White

  16. Great post. I had the same experience. Barely any sales on the others. I could count them on one hand. I just recently put both my books back on kdp select. And I’m thrilled.

  17. As I am just getting ready to self publish, this post was a huge help! I was trying to figure out why people would want to limit themselves to Kindle Select. Your article help to answer some of my questions. Mine is non-fiction on Native Americans, both history and current events, so categories is something I’m going to look closely at. I’m going to read your post on that.

    I am reading Uneasy Spirits right now and really enjoying it. I didn’t read Maids of Misfortune yet, but I don’t feel I’m missing anything either. You fill in nicely any back story needed here and there as to the first book, without giving anything away. So Uneasy Spirits is working well for me as a stand alone. I found out about your second book via a twitter link via someone I follow. I’ll have to go back now and read the first book when I’m done with this one.

    Thanks again for the analysis of your experience!

  18. Thanks for this – I very much appreciate learning from others’ experiences and advice.
    I published my eBook in September (having published the paperback through Lulu in April). I chose to use Smashwords to simply the process of creating and distributing the various eBook formats, and created a Kindle version myself though Amazon KDP (since Smashwords can upload only a small subset of their catalogue to Amazon).

    Unsurprisingly, Mark Coker (founder of Smashwords) advises against giving Amazon exclusive distribution rights by enrolling in KDP Select (whilst recognising that there are benefits to the programme). Of course, I couldn’t be sure one way or the other, but I didn’t wan’t to limit the distribution of my book for 90 days, only to find that this was a mistake and the programme wasn’t working for me.

    Since publication I have sold a few copies of my Kindle, but none (so far as I’m aware) for Kobo or Nook or Sony. This might suggest that I should have enrolled with KDP Select. Except that my most successful channel – and certainly the one where I’m getting the most visibility – is iTunes.

    I’m a ‘nobody’ – a first-time, self-published author with no experience and no marketing budget – so I always knew that getting people to know about my book (let alone buy it) was always going to be an uphill task. And yet, to my surprise and delight, I discover that my book currently appears on the iTunes main screen for both it’s category and sub-category (in the ‘New’ section) and that – perhaps because of this exposure – it also appears in the corresponding ‘Top Paid’ books lists.

    Of course, this doesn’t prove that KDP Select wouldn’t have been a better option, but certainly, if I’d chosen to opt-in, I’d not have had this exposure and sales through iTunes.

  19. Excellent post.

    I’d like to add my 2 cents as a reader (and reviewer) who owns both a Kobo and a Kindle. In the first year I owned my Kobo, before I could buy a Kindle here in New Zealand, I purchased (yes, for money) about 100 books from the Kobo store, as well as downloading a bunch of free titles. But the Kobo browsing was awful – I’d usually browse on Amazon, find something that looked interesting, then search by title and/or author on Kobo.

    Then Amazon started selling Kindles in New Zealand. Want to know how many books I’ve bought from Kobo since?


    There was a short-term promotion on the Hunger Games trilogy and I got all three books for about $5. And how many books have I bought from Amazon? Dozens. Less than when I only had a Kobo, but that’s partly because I now have a review blog and am able to get a lot of review copies from NetGalley, blog programmes, and direct from self-published authors.

    By the way, Amazon have changed the look of the Top 100 pages, so the Top 100 Free are no longer just to the right of the Top 100 Paid, but on another linked page.

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