Tag Archives: KDP Select

A Chronicle of the Amazon Page Flip Controversy: Or, how to piss off a ton of your vendors all at once

For the past several weeks (and in some case months), authors publishing through KDP Select have been noticing a massive decrease in pages read (KENP = Kindle Edition Normalized Pages). I blogged about his before here and here, mostly about how it has hit me personally. In this post I would like to attempt a summary of what’s been going on and what the authors affected think might be causing it.

Most of what I know comes from a discussion thread on Kboards, a forum for indie authors. The thread was started on Oct. 2, and authors quickly began chiming in with information on decreasing numbers of pages read on Amazon. A few authors said they had seen no decrease, but the vast majority have observed decreases of between 30% – 90%.

Naturally, once we noticed that we weren’t the only ones taking a huge hit to the pocketbook — and it wasn’t just because everyone who borrowed our books had started hating them after reading the first page — we started to collectively look for answers. We also started writing Amazon Support to complain and try to find out what was going on. In the new KDP Select system, authors have no information on how often their books are actually borrowed, only how many pages are read. But all of us keep records of sales and income, including KENP, which makes it easier to compare notes.

Soon, authors began narrowing in on the new “Page Flip” mode as a possible culprit. Page Flip was announced on June 28, but it was several weeks later before it was available on most newer Kindle devices. This fits with many authors noticing a decrease in pages read beginning in around August. If you don’t know what Page Flip is, here’s an article about it in TechTimes.

Once Page Flip was identified as at least one possible reason for the decreases authors were seeing, a number of those on Kboards tested it for themselves, including David VanDyke, whom I reblogged a couple of days ago. But in this context, it’s important to take a look at one of the passages in that post again:

“Using my KU account, I borrowed one of my own low-selling books that gets fewer than 100 page reads per day, normally zero. I used my iPhone and the Kindle app, so that the book opened automatically in Page Flip mode and kept it there. I paged through the entire book. Result? One (1) page read exactly, up from zero (0). Yup. One. Just as many others are reporting on KBoards and elsewhere.”

Now, all this time, Amazon is apparently getting a deluge of complaints from angry authors. Since we were sharing things in the discussion thread on Kboards, we were all well aware that we were getting the same canned responses. Here is the first one a number of authors received, starting on about Oct. 4:

“I understand you are concerned about lower than expected pages read in your reports. We’ve thoroughly reviewed all of your KU/ KOLL borrows and can confirm that the pages read displayed in your dashboard are accurate.”

On Oct 5, Amazon posted this announcement on the KDP support forum:

We’ve recently received a number of contacts regarding KENPC counts and have been investigating each case to make sure our KENPC reporting is timely and accurate. We regularly monitor pages-read systems for accuracy and to ensure we are recording all legitimate reading activity, including a month-end audit. In the past week, we uncovered one timing-based reporting issue affecting less than 0.2% of pages read which we fixed on 9/28. We are also now in the process of completing our September month-end audit.

Should you have specific questions about your account, please contact us at https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/contact-us.

Followed on Oct. 6 by this announcement:

We have completed our monthly audit of September pages-read data. We regularly monitor pages-read systems for accuracy with a particular focus on making sure we have correctly filtered out fraudulent reading activity, while including all legitimate customer behavior. Total audit adjustments for the month were an increase of roughly 2% of pages read (though the amount will vary from author to author). We are currently updating reports and changes should be visible within the next day.

We expect the September fund to increase again compared to August and will release the new figure by mid-month as usual.

Thanks for the recent questions from some authors about how Page Flip is being used by customers and its possible impact to pages read. Page Flip is designed to make it easy to explore and navigate in books while automatically saving your place, and that is how customers are using it. We checked for effects on pages read before launching Page Flip, and investigated it again to re-confirm that there is no impact. We do not see any material reading volume happening within this feature, but we will continue to monitor it closely.

And this on Oct. 12:

Some authors have asked questions about Page Flip’s usage not counting towards page counts. Page Flip is a navigational tool. By design, using it for navigation does not count toward pages read. We are monitoring Page Flip usage data and it is not being used for reading in any material way. We will continue to monitor for any changes in reader behavior.

This statement is patently misleading. Either Page Flip does record pages read and Amazon just isn’t including any reading done in this mode as counting towards KENP, or it doesn’t “by design”, and Amazon doesn’t have any data on which to base any assumptions regarding reader behavior when using Page Flip. But as you can see from this promotional Amazon video, it is quite possible to read in this mode:

Kindle Page Flip mode

Amazon’s argument is essentially that since Page Flip wasn’t designed to be used for reading, using it that way doesn’t count toward pages read, whether they are actually recorded or not.

Finally, here is the answer email most authors are getting when complaining that since the introduction of Page Flip, their pages read have taken a nosedive:

Thanks for providing these details. The business team audited our systems using the specific information you shared regarding pages read and sales and did not find any systematic issues impacting your results.

Once again — how can they really know? Are they interviewing their KU customers to find out how they are using Page Flip? Do they even have data on the number of pages “navigated” rather than read?

Page Flip does not seem to the be the only cause of the huge losses many authors are seeing in their income from Amazon, but speculation regarding other things like another change in algorithms computing rankings, or some new policy to combat scammers and fraud, or the effects of the new “Prime Reading” program (you can read about this here and here) can remain only that — speculation. Eventually, with more data, Kindle authors will probably have a better grasp of how sales and pages read in the new Kindle environment translate into rank, but whatever is going on right now is just too new for any realistic conclusions. By contrast, Kindle authors have proven by testing it on themselves that reading a whole book in Page Flip mode only results in one page read. Searching for “Page Flip” either on Google or Twitter is all that is necessary to see that readers ARE using it to read books.

So why is Amazon not addressing this problem, and basically telling us authors that we are suffering from a collective hallucination? Speculation on Kboards is rife about that as well. It’s been pointed out that Amazon has been taking a beating financially after introducing Kindle Unlimited in Japan. A number of people think KU has become too expensive for Amazon and they want to phase it out. But why then not just do it, rather than making a huge number of your authors angry at you first? We will probably never know.

Anyway, to get back to me, after I received the (very insulting) email about the page reads in my dashboard being accurate, I sent them this very angry email:

Given the admission by Amazon that Page Flip does not count pages, combined with extensive evidence on the Internet and Kboards (among others) that readers are using Page Flip to read ebooks — not to mention that Page Flip is the default mode on a number of devices — Amazon is guilty of breach of contract regarding my books that are in Kindle Unlimited, by which I am to be paid for each page read for borrowed books. Since that is not possible with Page Flip, I hereby regard the exclusivity required by Kindle Unlimited as null and void. If I am not being paid for pages read, I see myself as free to publish elsewhere, seeing as Amazon broke the contract they had with me.

The next day, I received notification that the last four books I still had in Select had been removed. Now I no longer have to sell my books for one KENP — or half-a-cent — each. I just have to learn how to sell on other platforms. 🙂

Wish me luck!

Note:
If you found this blog post helpful, perhaps you would be interested in the book, Starting Out as an Indie Author! You can learn more here.

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Jutoh Page-Flip Hack

If you need to make your books non-page flip compliant in Jutoh, here’s a quick lesson.

Source: Jutoh Page-Flip Hack

Note: I haven’t tried this myself, since I don’t have Jutoh, but I have unpublished Yseult for now, since Amazon hasn’t allowed me to get out of KDP Select. I can’t do that with Shadow of Stone, since I have a promo I’ve committed to coming up. But for me, Yseult is the main culprit for lost pages, since it is over 900 KENP long. That’s a lot of money lost when reads only count for one page. 😦

My emails to Amazon still haven’t garnered any more than canned responses, and I haven’t yet decided what else to do, other than go wide when my books are freed up from Kindle Unlimited.

Bye, Bye, KDP Select; Or, How I Got Screwed by Amazon (and You May Have Been Too)

I blogged a couple of days ago about how some kind of software glitch seems to be swallowing authors’ pages read, and posted the email I sent to Amazon about it.

Well, two days later, still no answer. Two days with a total of 24 pages read, when my daily average is closer to 1000. For all of October, I have have had less than half the pages read that I usually have in a single day. My pages read have flatlined, my rankings have tanked, and my sales have come to a halt. It looks like I’m going to have to start all over again — all over again.

I have since learned that the problem of the missing pages is probably connected to Amazon Kindle’s new feature, Page Flip, a navigational tool meant to be used to search books for specific passages. Unfortunately for authors, Amazon does not seem to have included a function to register pages flipped through. So if a reader who borrows a book from Amazon uses this function to read the book, it only counts as one page read — even if that reader reads all 900 pages of Yseult. (As a side note: today, the ranking of Yseult went from 200,000-something to 79,000 — with no sales and only 20 pages read. That makes absolutely no sense at all, unless at least half of those pages read are borrows, and all of those people borrowing the book only read one page. Go figure.)

Amazon is logically more concerned with providing an ideal experience for readers, their customers, rather than addressing the concerns of vendors, especially if they are such prawny content providers as I am. (“prawny” = opposite of big fish)

As a result, I sent Amazon an email today, requesting to have all my books still in Select removed as soon as possible, before the end of the three month period. KDPS has been good to me over the years, but I’ve realized now how Amazon truly feels about me, so it’s time to say goodbye to Select.

I can only suggest that everyone else with books in Select take a good look at their numbers for the last few months and decide what they want to do. Page Flip was introduced on June 28, but for most authors on Kboards, it has only become a serious problem in about the last month. And for readers, all I can do is ask you not to use Page Flip to read the books you borrow from Amazon.

Some authors on Kboards have suggested that Amazon is deliberately trying to lower the payout for authors, or get rid of those of us who aren’t successful enough, but I doubt it. I think instead that this is a prime example of Hanlon’s Razor: never attribute to malice that which can adequately be explained by stupidity. And here, add disinterest to the mix.

So, for now at least, I’m out. Bye, bye, KDP Select.


Been nice knowing you. Maybe we’ll see each other again someday.

Possible glitch in pages read (KENP) for Kindle Unlimited books

Since the beginning of the month, the numbers of pages read of my Kindle Select titles has gone from a daily average of about 800 to a measly 50. Okay, it’s only one week, I kept trying to tell myself, it will pick up again — and then I read this thread on the Kboards: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,242225.0.html

It looks like it’s an actual glitch on the part of Amazon, and one that they’re denying, to boot. Which means that a lot of us may be out of a lot of money, and no way to fix it or be reimbursed for our losses.

So instead of writing, I composed a letter to Jeff Bezos and KDP Support:

Hello,

Since the beginning of the month, I have a seen a dramatic drop in the number of pages read (KENP) of my books that are in Kindle Unlimited. My averages vary widely, from a few hundred pages on a slow day to several thousand pages on a good day. Since the beginning of the month, however, my best day was 123 pages, with most days being below 50. (See attached screenshot of my dashboard.) This is a particularly strange development for my long fantasy novels: several days in a row one page read per day, when I usually have several hundred pages read a day.

I would greatly appreciate it if you could look into this for me. Pages read are a significant percentage of my writing income, and without them, KDP Select would no longer be interesting for me financially.

Thanks in advance,

Ruth Nestvold

Amazon Author Page:

https://www.amazon.com/Ruth-Nestvold/e/B0045AWCHU/

KENP Nestvold

If you are a Kindle author with books in KDP Select, I strong recommend taking a look at your KENP averages for the last couple of months. A number of authors on the Kboards have been seeing problems since September and even earlier. The only way to get this fixed is for all of us speak up.

Kindle Unlimited KENP Read up 17%!

Good news for a change! Via Chris McMullen:

IMPROVEMENT IN KENP READ RATE Here is some good news for KDP Select authors and for Kindle Unlimited subscribers (indirectly, since this good news for authors benefits the readers, too). The KENP p…

Source: Kindle Unlimited KENP Read up 17%!

Last chance (for the foreseeable future) to get Dragon Time for free!

I’m slowly but surely taking my short story collections out of KDP Select, and this time it’s Dragon Time. But you have a few days to get it free, if you are so inclined. 🙂

Here the description:

A collection of four previously published fantasy tales by Ruth Nestvold: “Dragon Time,” “Wooing Ai Kyarem,” “To Act the Witch,” and “Princes and Priscilla.”

Dragon Time: In Unterdrachenberg, time has stopped. After the death of his queen, the dragon king is mad with grief. Only a human woman can enter the dragon’s lair to fix time — a magic that is forbidden to women. Katja is the grand-daughter of a clockmaker, and she has watched her grandfather work with time for many years. But can she fix it on her own? More importantly, is she brave enough to try?

Wooing Ai Kyarem: Ai Kyarem calls no man lord. But what if the powerful Kubai forces her to choose?

To Act the Witch: Brilliana is a famous actress for the Duke’s Theatre, yes — but she is also a Witch. And it is up to her to save the Age of Magic.

Princes and Priscilla: As princess and heir to the kingdom, Priscilla really should marry a prince and ensure the succession. Unfortunately, Priscilla has other ideas.

Praise for “Dragon Time”:

“‘Dragon Time’ is a beautifully told tale. It’s easy to feel empathy for Katja; she has just enough flaws that we can love her, and not so many that we lose respect for her. The play of plot and emotion was especially lovely; the ending satisfies completely, and the love in the story positively shines. While the story has ancient treaties, magician-clockmakers, and, of course, dragons—everything needed for a good fantasy story—it’s the love that stands out the most. It’s a story I’ll go back to time and time again—pun intended.”

– Keesa Renee DuPre at Tangent Online

***

When I first started moving from traditional to indie in 2012, short story collections of my previously published fiction could actually make me money. Now, that is no longer the case, on Amazon at least. Short stories, either as singles or collections, don’t even work as loss leaders to get readers interested in my longer works. But on Draft2Digital, I still sell shorter works. As a result, I’ve decided to quit trying to sell anything under novella length through KDP Select for now.

Anyway, Dragon Time will be free until Dec. 14. Enjoy!

Promoting your 99c sale revisited: Yseult, A Tale of Love in the Age of King Arthur

Yseult: A Tale of Love in the Age of King Arthur

About two years ago now, I pulled Yseult and Shadow of Stone, my two big doorstopper Arthurian novels, from KDP Select and went wide with them. Unfortunately, I was never able to get any traction with them on other sales sites, even with a couple of permafree titles. So when Amazon changed it’s payment model for borrows, I pulled them from all other sites and re-enrolled them in Select. At official KENPCs (Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count) of around 1000 pages each, when those are books are read to the end as borrows, they earn me almost four times as much for a borrow as in the old system — and they earn me more than for a direct sale too. 🙂

But as I have pointed out before, you can make neither sales nor a borrow if you don’t get your book in front of people. This summer has been crazy busy, and I haven’t had a lot of time to set up advertising. Now I finally have a Countdown Deal set up for Yseult this week, during which I will be testing a few more 99c promotional gigs. BookBub is not among them. I am trying to find out what advertising opportunities are out there for which you do not need to shell out hundreds of dollars. Next week, I will post my results, as well as summaries of several other 99c promotions I’ve done in previous months with the ads I bought for them.

Another thing I’ll be tracking is the ranking of Yseult. Before the promotion started, it was at #511,349 on Amazon.com. I have already had two sales, and now it is at #97,793.

This week, I’ll be testing the following ad sites:

Book Barbarian – Aug. 31 ($8)
Booklovers Heaven – Aug. 31 (Free)
Manybooks.net – Aug. 31 (Free)

Books Butterfly – Sept 2 ($50)

Bargain Booksy – Sept. 4 ($40)

I’ve also applied for a number of other free ads, but I haven’t received confirmation that my book will be carried, so I’m assuming it won’t be running on any of the other sites besides ManyBooks and Booklover’s Heaven.

I deliberately spaced the more expensive paid ads with a day in between so that I’ll have a better idea which ones are actually effective. When I’ve done this kind of thing before with a different ad every day, it ends up being hard to figure out how many of the sales are from the ad of the day, or from the ad that ran the day before.

Watch this space next week, when I will post my results, and provide a summary of ads for other 99c sales I’ve tested. 🙂

Starting out as an indie author: Rolling with the changes

Starting Out as an Indie Author

Last week, I posted about eBook pricing in the “Starting out as an indie author” series. Among other things, I mentioned a strategy often used by erotica authors: publishing short stories with KDP Select, charging $2.99 per story, and relying on borrows through Kindle Unlimited to make money.

Shortly after I had finished that blog post and published it, I received an email from Kindle Direct Publishing announcing new Amazon payment per borrow calculations — a payment scheme that will make the above-mentioned strategy for erotica authors obsolete. Here the pertinent passage from the email in question:

As with our current approach, we’ll continue to offer a global fund for each month. Under this new model, the amount an author earns will be determined by their share of total pages read rather than their share of total qualified borrows. Here are a few examples illustrating how the fund will be paid out. For simplicity, assume the fund is $10M and that 100,000,000 total pages were read in the month:

• The author of a 100 page book which was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).

• The author of a 200 page book which was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $2,000 ($10 million multiplied by 20,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).

• The author of a 200 page book which was borrowed 100 times but only read half way through on average would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).

Right now, no one knows what Amazon’s per page price will end up being, but with the monthly pot being divvied up by pages rather than borrows, it is safe to assume that 20 page erotica short stories are going to end up with significantly less than $1.40 per borrow, the payout in previous months.

What that means is, the authors who were relying on the above business model to make money are going to have to react to the changes and come up with new strategies, such as pulling their stories from KDP Select and going wide, or bundling their short stories to make longer works and take advantage of page count, etc.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about this — I actually think the new payment structure for borrows will be much more fair than the previous model.

But there’s a lesson to be learned from this that’s important to all indie authors, whether they write erotica or not: the “rules” of self-publishing are constantly changing, and we have to learn to adapt as we go.

An example: I pulled my monster epic fantasy novels, Yseult and Shadow of Stone, from KDP Select some time ago, because I didn’t feel like “giving them away” for the minimal amounts made by a borrow. But if Amazon is now paying per page read, it makes KDP Select much more interesting for a 200,000 word novel. So I went back and counted my sales on all other venues for the last year and a half, and it comes to a little over 60, less than half of which are for Yseult and Shadow of Stone.

As a result, I will be reacting to the current changes by pulling my Pendragon novels from other retailers at the end of the month and putting them back in Select for at least a while to test the waters. On Kboards, people are speculating that the per page payment for borrows could be higher in the beginning, in order to entice people with longer books back to the fold. If that’s true, it would be nice to be able to take advantage of it.

I don’t know yet if this is actually going to be a change that will be good for me, but it’s worth a shot. I’ve gotten to the point now in my indie career where I’ve realized everything is in flux, and I have to learn to roll with it.

It wasn’t always that way. When I decided to go indie with the English original of Yseult, after I had gotten the rights back from Random House Germany where the book had been published in translation, I got incredibly lucky. Amazon had just introduced KDP Select, and I decided to go with it, since I still needed time to learn how to publish with other retailers. In order to get some initial traction, I did a free run shortly after publication, once I’d gotten the first couple of reviews. Yseult was picked up by Pixel of Ink, which back then was what BookBub is now, and it was downloaded almost 10,000 times — a lot in early 2012.

That put my book in several bestseller categories and made it a hot new release. As a result, in my first months as an indie author, I was easily selling hundreds of books a month. I had plenty of previously published short stories, and I bundled them in collections, which I regularly offered free while I worked to get Shadow of Stone ready for publication. For that first year, with staggered free runs and no paid advertising, I was able to continuously increase sales.

Then Amazon changed their algorithms. A book that was downloaded for free no longer counted as much towards “bestseller” status and thus was not as effective in making me and my books visible. The strategy that I’d been using to sell my books was no longer working the way it had been, ever since I first started self-publishing.

I started using paid advertising. I managed to get a couple of BookBub ads. I had a couple of amazing months as a result — but there was no longer any lasting effect, as far as I could see, at least not compared to those first months.

A couple of things happened. Short story collections no longer helped in getting eyes on my novels, and I realized I had to get more longer works out.

And I got frustrated. My sure-fire strategy had turned into a limping loss leader. So I basically gave up, which led to my “year of marketing dangerously,” which I’ve mentioned before.

The moral of this little story is: if you ever have any success, put it in the bank, because you will need it when success leaves you again. (James Lee Burke once said something along those lines, but I can’t find the exact quote, so I have to paraphrase.)

The other moral is: try to keep abreast of changes in the market and adapt accordingly. What worked all through 2012 no longer works mid 2015. While some will say – DUH – we are only talking a little more than two years here, not a lot in the big scheme of things.

I have no idea if this brave new world will ever settle down — but if you want a comfortable life, you shouldn’t be a writer in the first place. 🙂 That basic fact has not changed with the self-publishing revolution, despite the few exceptions. The responsibility is ours now, more than it has been in a long time.

Starting out as an indie author: To KDP Select or to not KDP Select

Starting out as an indie author

Recently, a friend of mine expressed surprise that when you publish through Amazon (KDP or Kindle Direct Publishing), it is also possible to generate income when someone borrows your book. I’ve been aware of this for so long, it never even occurred to me to point it out in this series. The possibility of making money from borrows is just one of the ways Amazon tries to entice authors to make a book exclusive with their platform.

And since they introduced Kindle Unlimited, borrows have gone way up. Maybe too much for comfort, but it’s just something we authors have to take into consideration when deciding where and how to sell (or loan) our books.

Why there is money in borrows

The thing about the borrows is, if you commit a book to KDP Select, they have to give you something more for that than promotional opportunities, since you are theoretically giving up potential income through other sales channels. So every month they announce a big pot of money, which at the end of the month gets divvied up among all the borrows. In December 2014, for example, I was paid $1.43 for every borrow I had. And it ended up being a significant percentage of my income for that month, since I had over 50% more borrows than sales. And while the income per borrow might be less than it would be for a sale at $2.99, it is significantly more than for a book selling below that.

Naturally, it makes no sense to go for the borrows when you are selling books priced at 4.99 hand over fist. A borrow would make you less than half what a sale would at that price. Or if you are selling like gangbusters on Barnes & Noble or Kobo, going exclusive with Amazon makes little sense either. But for someone like me, still struggling to get this indie career thing seriously profitable, a borrow (which the customer doesn’t have to pay for after all) might be the reason a reader takes a chance on a writer (me) she doesn’t know yet.

If you do sign up for KDP Select for a book you publish, it is only for a period of 3 months. You are not signing away your rights to Amazon in perpetuity. Personally, I consider it a very good way to go for a new book, in order to get some eyeballs on it. Because not only might you be able to generate income from borrows, you also have a couple of additional promo opportunities at your fingertips.

Promotional opportunities: Free runs and Countdown Deals

If you’ve enrolled your book in KDP Select, you have two options for promoting your book per enrollment period: Kindle Countdown Deals or Free Book Promotions. You may only choose one promotion per book per 3 months, but you can use them in many different ways.

Free Book Promotions:

Any book enrolled in KDP Select can be offered free for up to five days, consecutive or non-consecutive, during each 90-day enrollment period. That means you can choose one day at a time, or offer your book free for multiple days in a row. You can also stop a free promotion in progress, but it may take several hours for your book to go off free.

So why would anyone want to give their books away for free? We want to make money on this business, right?

As I’ve mentioned before in this series, one of the biggest challenges facing a new indie author is visibility. Done right, a free promotion can help create visibility for a book. But the free run itself needs to be promoted or it will have little effect. I maintain a regularly updated list of places where a free run can be announced here.

Countdown Deals:

In 2013, Amazon introduced “Countdown Deals” to make Select more attractive to writers again. This is how it works:

– Your book can be discounted for up to seven days. The duration of the sale is visible on the book’s page on Amazon, as well as the regular price, so that readers can see that they really are getting a “deal.”

– Your royalty rate remains the same even while the book is on sale. So instead of getting only 35% on a book marked down to 99c, you get 70%. The income is still naturally quite a bit less, but if it results in increased exposure, it might well be worth it.

Amazon has set up a dedicated “Kindle Countdown Deals” page at www.amazon.com/kindlecountdowndeals – but of course there is no guarantee your Countdown Deal will get listed.

In my experience, while you still make money when doing a Countdown Deal, the promotion doesn’t generate as much interest as a free run, and once your promotion is over, the effect vanishes again pretty quickly. I’ve talked more about some of my results here. Of course, if you shell out the big bucks for a Bookbub ad during your sale, your results could be very different. OTOH, given the high cost of a Bookbub ad, it might be more likely to be worth it if your book *isn’t* in Select and is available through multiple channels.

Conclusion:

This may sound like I’m a huge proponent of KDP Select. That is not the case. At the moment, 9 of my 22 ebooks are enrolled in the program, mostly short story collections that don’t sell all that well anyway, but that I can use to promote my novellas and novels. The thing is, I take a very pragmatic approach to where and how I sell my books. When sales on B&N, Kobo and other channels dwindle to nothing, then I’m quite willing to pull them there and put them back into KDP Select for a while to see if I can get more traction that way.

But I do think that going exclusive with Amazon can be a very effective tool for a new ebook without reviews that readers might be skeptical of taking a chance on. Free runs can generate reviews as well as visibility. And reviews are not only necessary for readers to have something besides “look inside the book” to decide if they want to spend MONEY on your brilliant work of staggering genius, they are also necessary for promoting your book on other sites. In addition, for readers enrolled in Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime, the possibility of being able to borrow your book for free rather than plopping down 99c for it just might make a couple more readers take a chance on it. Might sound harsh, but it’s true — even 99c is too high a price to pay for some readers if they don’t already know the author. Which is why a 90 day enrollment in KDP Select is worth at least considering if you are just starting out as an indie author.

Important info: How Amazon’s sales algorithms work

Probably the biggest German site for indie authors, Die Self-Publisher-Bibel, recently did an extensive test of sales rankings on Amazon with books published deliberately for that purpose. They wanted to test three basic assumptions about sales algorithms used by Amazon:

– Price influences sales rank
– Enrolling in KDP Select influences sales rank
– The dynamics of sales influence sales rank

The results are eye-opening. Fortunately, they have also published an English version on their site. I highly recommend it to anyone involved in self-publishing:

http://www.selfpublisherbibel.de/test-how-amazons-algorithms-really-work-myth-and-reality/