The KDP Select Trial: Sampling KDP Select without A Long-Term Commitment
No matter what your publishing goals are and how you wish to achieve them, self-publishing often comes down to two different distribution strategies: KDP Select or wide (which consists of almost everything that is not KDP Select). Authors are torn on which is more effective, and your decision will rely mostly on what you write, who you write for, and what publishing experience you wish to create.
The good news is that if you’re not convinced either way and hesitant to commit to Amazon’s exclusivity, it is possible to sample the benefits of KDP Select without abandoning other platforms in the long run.
Before we get into that, let’s take a look at what KDP Select is and what sets it apart from more generalized self-publishing avenues.
Note that KDP Select is not the same as KDP, or Kindle Direct Publishing. KDP refers simply to publishing on Amazon to the Kindle library. Kindle Select (known to readers as Kindle Unlimited) is a subscription program that allows readers to read your books at no risk to them while you get paid per page read.
The only major drawback to KDP Select is its exclusivity requirement: you are not allowed to publish or distribute the ebook format of your book anywhere except Amazon, cutting off a substantial part of the bookselling market and making your book significantly harder (or impossible) for some readers to find.
Many authors who can’t bring themselves to rely on Amazon for everything or who want to reach a broader audience choose to publish wide. At the same time, legions of authors have come to rely on KDP Select as a prime source of readership and income, accepting that most sales already come from Amazon and that the more approachable subscription format encourages many new readers to jump in on the fun.
But do you really need to choose one way?
If you’re new to self-publishing or curious about how Kindle Select could change your publishing success, a trial run is completely doable and easy.
Sampling Kindle Select
If you decide to sample Kindle Select, you’ll have to meet its requirements first. That means taking your book off from any other platforms you’ve published it and waiting for it to disappear from those virtual shelves before you enroll it on KDP Select.
Note: This only applies to ebooks. Your print and audiobook editions are yours to keep wherever you want!
Enrolling your book is as simple as clicking a button on your book’s settings. You have to promise to keep it up for three months, the duration of your trial period. Submit it, then you’re ready to go!
One of the more impressive features Kindle Select has for authors is exclusive promotional deals: you can choose between up to five free days for your book, or running a Kindle Countdown deal. Either option is effective and fun to break to your readers.
At one point during your Kindle Unlimited trial, choose one of the two promotions to try on your book. Advertise and pitch it to your readers, and then check to see how successful the promotion was.
Near the end of the three-month exclusivity period, you can unenroll to be left out of the next cycle. This is also a good time to check out your pages read on your reports page and see how well your book made it in the Kindle Select spotlight.
If you haven’t tested similar data for your book on a “wide” scale, you can do that once your Kindle Select cycle is over. Upload (or re-upload) your book and try some comparable promotion ideas, this time on a broader scale. Track what differences you notice and which approach feels more intuitive.
Publishing wide does require a different approach, so this might not be the best way to test everything. If you write for a heavily international audience or want to build your books slowly, one at a time instead of releasing them in quick bursts, publishing wide can allow your books to gain more traction over time instead of forcing them to compete with other rapidly produced pieces.
What are your thoughts on KDP Select versus wide publishing? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below or join my Facebook group for self-publishing fiction writers for further discussion.