where the writers are
Is Kindle Select worth it for authors?
'Mrs Jones' - racing up the paid Kindle charts after a KDP Select free e-book promo

 

As you may know, Kindle have come up with KDP Select whereby they demand 3 months exclusivity in return for allowing you to run a promotion of a free e-book for 5 days and getting a share of a $500,000 pot when your book is borrowed by Premium Kindle customers who pay a fixed annual fee then get access to all the books submitted to the KDP Select scheme for free.

Night Publishing publishes regardless of commercial opportunity and our books can be in any genre from popular Romance and Crime to unpopular autobiographies of unknowns and lit.fic. Books. Commercially, we don't care - if it is a book we think some readers will enjoy (even only a handful), we will publish it.

We tested 9 books with free promotions over the Christmas period. Of those 9 books, all got at least 200 free downloads, 5 got over 1,000 free downloads, 'Obsession' by Nigel Lampard got over 4,000 free downloads and 'Mrs Jones' by B.A. Morton got over 15,000 downloads.

Ah, you say, but that's giving the book away. What happened next?

Let's stick with the giving-the-book-away bit. When authors write their book, one of their biggest dreams is that someone will read it – it won't just disappear. With what must be at least half a million books being published a year, there is every chance that your book will only be read by a handful of people. With this promo of the free e-book, even highest quality but obscure fiction like Lizzie Eldridge's 'Duende' (about the ferment of artistic and philosophical ideas leading up to the Spanish Civil War) gets its shot at gaining 200 readers from those who downloaded the book.

And, yes, for 7 of those 9 books, paid sales are in handfuls a day, but that is better than the more likely handfuls per month.

For 'Obsession' – a wonderful Hitchcock-style psychological thriller – the 4,000 free downloads have turned into 219 paid sales in two days + 25 borrowings for that share of the $500,000 pot. It is now ranked #1,530 on US paid Kindle and #2,861 in the UK.

The performance of 'Mrs Jones' has been much more spectacular. It has had 1,706 paid sales in 2 days and 71 additional borrowings, now being ranked #368 in the US and #98 in Kindle.

Both books are currently climbing the charts.

In contrast, Brendan Gisby's superlative 'The Bookies Runner' was given a paid promotion from a Kindle satellite recommendation site on December 22 and has had 511 paid downloads since. However, as with most paid promos nowadays, its sales are decaying day-by-day.

So, 'The Bookies Runner' with 13x 5-star ratings and 1x 4-star rating out of 14 reviews on US Kindle, and despite a 300+ one-day sales hit, is declining. In contrast, 'Obsession', with 1x 5-star review in the US and no reviews in the UK, and 'Mrs Jones', with 4x 5-star reviews in the US and 5x 5-star reviews in the UK, are rising.

Indeed, most of the 9 books we tested in the Kindle Select promo had only one review, and several had no reviews at all.

So, overall, I would say with a portfolio of books, Kindle Select is definitely worth a shot. It gets our low commercial potential writers readers, and it gives the more commercially viable books a chance at taking off sustainably, a feat which paid promotions have not been achieving for us over recent months despite big promotional sales bumps of 500 extra sales each and books that have all been an average of 4-star+ in the reviews.

We will enlist all our new books in the Kindle Select scheme and, interestingly, several of our authors, having read the figures we have disclosed over on Night Reading, want their books pulled from other e-book distribution (a somewhat lengthy process) so as to join the scheme too, just to get more people reading their books, even for free.