Is it Time to Leave KDP Select and Diversify?

Is it time to move on from Kindle Direct Publishing and diversify by using services such as Pronoun, Smashwords, Kobo, and Nook Press?

Here’s a question that every self-published author needs to ask themselves in 2017: Is it time to leave Amazon KDP Select and diversify? As 2016 came to an end, I asked myself that very question, and here’s my discovery.

I started releasing my serial series Wild Space back in May of 2016. I decided to make them Kindle exclusive, so I signed up for KDP Select or Kindle Direct Publishing Select for those not familiar with the term. KDP Select forces your book to be only available on Amazon’s website for purchase or to be part of their Kindle Unlimited reader program for 90 days. After 90 days, you can choose to keep them in KDP Select or you can pull them out. But during this period of time, your books cannot be available for purchase anywhere else.

I had great success with the first 90 days of KDP Select, however, as I re-enrolled for another 90 days, I suddenly found my sales and page reads falling flat. I tried a few marketing techniques to get them fired up again, but I just couldn’t get the ball rolling again. So I asked myself, is it time to break free from KDP Select and try something new?

In October, I selected to not re-enroll my books in KDP Select. Immediately, any momentum in sales or page reads I had, disappeared completely – even though I had one month left in exclusivity. I’m not saying that Amazon stuck it to me, because I’m a small fish in a big pond – but I did notice an instant loss of sales and page reads when I chose not to renew my KDP Select contract.

Coincidence? Probably. But for the record, I’m not the only person to have noticed this.

As November rolled around, I started to set up my books on Smashwords (for distribution to libraries), on Pronoun (for distribution on iBooks and GooglePlay), on Kobo, and on Nook Press. The second the books came off exclusivity through Amazon KDP Select, I was ready to launch the books on the other platforms and start a new journey. Granted, I had no idea what to expect, but I was ready to go. I set the first book up as free and the rest at 99 cents and I was off to the races in December.

As the new voyage into diversifying my books began, I noticed that my Kindle sales were non-existent but immediately, my Nook sales took off. For every five free books that were acquired by Nook readers, three of those readers came back and purchased the rest of the series. I was shocked at this result. I have read all the reports that said that Nook is dead, yet my Nook sales were doing what Kindle hadn’t done. By the end of December, I had sold more books through Nook than I did through KDP Select.

Now, I’m not saying that this will ring true for all authors, but these are my results. Sales on iBooks, Smashwords, and Kobo haven’t impressed me at all, but Nook sales blew my mind. I was getting solid results.

Another thing I saw was the return on investment.

I set up the first book in the Wild Space series to be permafree and the rest at 99 cents. For those not familiar with the term permafree – permafree is the act of setting your book up on a site that allows you to set your price at free and then asking Amazon to price match the book at free. On Nook, I found that for every 5 free books, 3 readers would return and purchase the rest of the series. On Kindle, for every 15 to 20 free books, only 1 reader would come back and trickle through the rest of the series.

So why is that?

I don’t have sales data to back up my theory, but I believe that Kindle readers are used to snagging free books and most of the time they sit on them – perhaps never even reading them. I’m a Kindle user and I can attest to that. My library is packed with free books I’ve never read.

Meanwhile, Nook hasn’t had the same amount of attention paid to it by independent authors. While Kindle Direct Publishing has soared, Nook and the others have been vastly ignored… which may make it an untapped potential. There are not nearly as many authors giving away their books for free on Nook as there are on Kindle, so the Nook readers find more value in those free books and may very well read them.

Another theory I have is that Kindle readers are converting to subscription based reading and are purchasing far fewer books. When I weigh the difference between sales on Kindle and sales on Nook, I am far better giving up my exclusivity and branching out to other platforms, because my sales on the other platforms are destroying the few sales and reads I was getting on Select.

I’m thrilled with the results I’ve found in diversifying. I don’t miss KDP. I’m finding a new audience that I would have never found had I not taken the chance and diversified.

Is this the right move for you?

I’m not sure. But maybe its time to experiment and find out. If you are exclusive on Amazon and haven’t been impressed with your sales, let your KDP Select expire and branch out for a few months and see what happens. If the results don’t impress you, go back to KDP Select and have the piece of mind in knowing that you are right where you need to be.

When I started my self publishing journey in 2009, I was sold on being exclusive through Amazon, but now I am convinced that every author needs to weigh their options and look at the possibility of branching out to other platforms.

You might just find – like me – that it’s time to see if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. I have found that it is.

The Four Tools You Need to Publish Your First eBook for Free!

In today's post, I'll share four valuable tools so you can self publish your first eBook for free !

Have you always dreamed of publishing that “Great American Novel” you’ve had brewing in your head for years? In today’s market, it couldn’t be easier to publish your story in eBook and print formats. Best of all, you can do it at no risk or cost to you but the time you put into it. I’m going to share with you the four tools I use to publish an ebook for free.

Years ago, when the market was just growing, I started publishing ebook’s for free using the same tools I use today. I am using variations on those tools now, such as I pay for my word processing program now, but the free tools are still available – and possibly, you already own them.

I used to blog on the self-publishing world quite a bit and so I had all these posts on my blog at one time. But at some point I revamped my blog and deleted all of those posts. I’m going to begin leading people through the self-publishing process again – and I’m starting with this post. If you want to keep up to date and not miss any of my self-publishing posts, be sure to subscribe to my eNewsletter. You can SUBSCRIBE HERE!

Now let’s get to work.

The Four Tools You Need to Publish An eBook for Free

Tools for Writing Your Novel

This is a gimme and you knew I was going to say it. You need a word processor to publish an ebook. Most people already own one, but there are only two I suggest you use. Forget about Google Docs, forget about whatever Apple’s version of a word processor… there are only two options here. One is free and the other one you pay for – and possibly you already own it or can get it from someone for free.

When I started out my self-publishing journey, I used OpenOffice. This is a free software that is available for Mac’s, Linux, and Window’s Operating Systems. It works just like Microsoft Word and is easy to pick up and use. If you don’t already own Microsoft Word and you don’t want to buy the program or subscribe to Office 365, I highly urge you to use OpenOffice. You can download the free, OpenOffice software, HERE!

About a year ago, I fell in love with Microsoft all over again. I was designing a number of brochures and promotional material for a local church and I started to use Microsoft Publisher. I decided that I needed Publisher for myself but I didn’t want to pay the hundreds of dollars it cost to buy Microsoft Office outright. Then Microsoft rolled out Office 365, which is a subscription based service. I pay $10.95 per month to have access to every Office program Microsoft offers and it is well worth the price. Plus, I don’t miss $10.95 per month. People might say, “But you’re paying more than it’s worth after a couple of years worth of monthly payments!” But that’s not true.

When Microsoft rolls out the newest version of its software, mine updates for free! I get the latest version of Office as soon as it comes out so I am always up to date. That’s well worth the price I pay. Plus, as I said before, I don’t miss $10.95 per month. But I sure would miss $399 if I paid for the software package outright. And then I’d have to shell out another $399 if I wanted the latest version.

So if you are like me and won’t miss $10.95 per month, just go with Microsoft Office 365. It’s worth the investment and plus, every step by step publishing video I produce to share with you all will be done using Office 365. It will be easier to follow along. If you already own a version of Microsoft Office, you’re already good to go.

You can download Office 365, HERE!

Again, there’s nothing wrong with OpenOffice. It’s a fantastic, free option. But I’ve fallen in love with Microsoft all over again.

Tools for Creating a Cover

The next tool you need to create and publish an ebook for free is a cover creator. I do all my covers myself using Adobe PhotoShop. One of my friends upgraded to the newest version of PhotoShop so he gave me his old copy of PhotoShop CS3.

PhotoShop isn’t one of the easiest programs to learn, but I self taught myself and I have great success with it. PhotoShop also has a hefty price tag on it, but not anymore. Like Office 365, PhotoShop offers a subscription service starting as low as $9.95 per month. If you want to use PhotoShop to design your covers, I suggest either finding a used copy or subscribing to it. You can subscribe to Adobe’s software packages, HERE!

I free alternative to PhotoShop is GIMP. This is just as powerful as Adobe’s product and the best part about it is that it’s free! I have to admit, I’ve never used GIMP. But I do have friends who use it and they love it. One of them actually prefers it over PhotoShop. If you want to build your covers from scratch, this might be a great option for you. You can download GIMP for free, HERE!

How about building an ebook cover for free but not having to do it from scratch? There are tons of options out there. You could try having someone make a cover for you on Fivver.com. I’ve seen some great work come from there. Or you might want to try Canva. I’ve heard a lot of great talk on what Canva has to offer.

Basically, this is just a drop and drag program that is completely online with nothing to download – except your final product. It can be free or you can buy add on’s to spruce things up. Again, I’ve heard a lot of authors speak highly of this service, so give it a shot if you don’t want to build your cover from scratch and you want to do it for free. You can find Canva, HERE!

Tools for Converting Your File Into an eBook

Next, we need to convert our Word file into an eBook format. Guess what? I have always produced my ebooks for free using this option – and it’s the only one I’m going to share because I can’t imagine the need for anything else.

I use Calibre to convert my Word files into Mobi format for Amazon Kindle books, and ePUB format for Nook, iBooks and Kobo. It works slick and offers a ton of features to trick out your eBook. I’ll be sharing how to use Calibre in future posts and videos.

It’s available for Windows, Mac’s, and Linux operating systems. You can download Calibre for free, HERE!

Tools for Distributing Your eBooks

Finally, we need to sell our books somewhere. There are tons of options but I only suggest four places and really, if you want to keep it simple and maximize your sales opportunity, there’s only one option.

My number one choice for publishing my books (and if you want to keep it simple) is to open an account with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP for short). The overwhelming majority of eBooks sold are sold through Amazon. For every $10 I make in eBook sales, $9.50 of that comes through sales on Amazon. Nobody else comes close.

I also publish on Barnes and Noble Nook Press site, Kobo’s Writer’s Space site and Smashwords. But again, all of those combined don’t come close to matching the sales I see on Amazon’s site. I can’t stress enough how much more valuable KDP is compared to all the rest.

However, I’m going to give you the links to all four of these sites so you can make your own decisions. Plus, there are people who have success at these other sites. I just haven’t seen it myself. Keep in mind, these links are just for publishing eBooks. We’ll discuss print books in a different post. As for eBook publishing, here are the links you’ll need:

Amazon KDP – CLICK HERE!

Nook – CLICK HERE!

Kobo – CLICK HERE!

Smashwords – CLICK HERE!

So those are the valuable tools that I use when I set out to publish an eBook for free. I hope you find this content helpful. I’ll be posting a ton more on self-publishing. To be sure you don’t miss a thing, subscribe to this blog and subscribe to my FREE, monthly eNewsletter to keep  up to date.

Until next time…