With the creation of Kindle Direct Publishing, Amazon revolutionized the literary world.
The program allowed self-published authors to get the marketing machine of Amazon behind their books. It also empowered readers to gain access to thousands of books for a very low price.
And while, over the years, authors and readers have debated on whether or not KDP has been a welcome development in the world of books, it is definitely an option that many authors can and should consider.
In this article, we’re going to look at what is Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, how it works for authors, and whether or not it is a good fit for you.
Kindle Direct Publishing is a program offered by Amazon for self-published authors to promote their books using Amazon’s services.
Part of KDP is making your book available in the Kindle Unlimited subscription service. Kindle Unlimited is a program where readers pay a small fee to gain access to a large number of Kindle books in the program. If you decide to make your book a part of the program, you get paid for the number of pages of your book that are read by Kindle Unlimited subscribers.
Every day, you can access a report on your KDP dashboard that tells you how many pages readers read of your books. You are then paid a rate that varies month to month per page that is read.
In exchange for being a part of the Kindle Unlimited subscription service, Amazon asks that you make your book exclusive to the Amazon platform. In other words, you cannot have a book that is offered via Kindle Unlimited and also available on Apple’s iBooks store, for example.
If you’re wondering whether or not this is a good arrangement for an author, the answer is that it really depends.
But there are definitely some attractive reasons to make your book available through Kindle Direct Publishing. One of them is the promotion by Amazon.
As you can imagine, Amazon likes it if you make your books exclusive to their platform. As such, it’s going to be far easier for you to get more exposure on Amazon. Amazon likes to reward books that are exclusive to them. They show preferential treatment to books in the Kindle Direct Publishing program. Not a bad thing. In fact, many authors who are just starting out find that they love the exposure they get by making their books a part of the Kindle Unlimited service.
It’s far easier to convince someone to take a chance on a new author if the book that they are getting is already part of a subscription that they are paying for. If you’re trying to get readers to invest a few dollars into a new author with no guarantee that they are going to like the book, you’re going to have a much harder time.
As such, many new authors see that they make more money by being a part of the Kindle Direct Publishing program. More readers are jumping in and reading their books, and because they are getting paid per page, they can see their incomes go up substantially.
The benefits multiply when authors publish multiple books in a series. If they write captivating books, then they are able to get readers to move from one book to the next quickly and easily, because their books are part of Kindle Unlimited. They get credited for more pages being read by readers, and they continue to make more money.
But before you run out and sign up for Kindle Direct Publishing, let’s look at some of the drawbacks to the service.
It’s true that the Kindle Direct Publishing program can benefit authors, but some of them feel that it is not worth the trade-offs.
First of all, some authors simply want to be credited for the full sale of their book. This is especially true of more expensive books. Instead of getting paid per page, they want to get their full 70% royalty on the sale of their book. And while books in the Kindle Direct Publishing program do make sales, a larger portion of the revenue is generated from the pages read in the Kindle Unlimited service.
The biggest drawback to the Kindle Direct Publishing service is the exclusivity requirement. This is because of two big problems.
First, many authors do not want to put all their eggs in one basket. When you do this, you assume the risk that Amazon could change their program at any time, punishing authors.
Make no mistake about it, Amazon understands the value of keeping authors happy. They do provide a number of tools and services for authors to make money in their service. That’s the whole point of the Kindle program existing. It makes no sense for Amazon to make a bunch of rules designed to punish authors.
Regardless, relying on one company for all of your revenue may not be a smart move. Even the most minor change can deeply impact your business and its revenues.
Also, there are times when Amazon feels that you are participating in fraudulent activity. This is generally an automatic situation, and unfortunately Amazon can switch off your sales at any time. If you make your book exclusive to Amazon and they do this, you can go from making thousands of dollars every month to making $0 every month overnight – and your income won’t return unless you file an appeal (and win it).
While you can’t assume that this is going to happen all the time, it does happen. And it’s worth keeping in mind.
Also, in the interest of readers, there simply are other places where readers buy their books. You might find that you have a large contingent of readers who want to read through Barnes & Noble or Apple. In these cases, you won’t be able to offer your book to them because your book is exclusive to Amazon.
If your goal is a long-term business, you want to be able to put your product in the hands of the most readers as possible. That may mean forgoing the Kindle Direct Publishing program so that you can release in other bookstores.
This is the biggest trade-off.
If you join the Kindle Direct Publishing program, you will receive a certain amount of marketing built into the service to an extent. In other words, it will be far easier for you to get your book in front of more readers. They just will be exclusively Amazon readers. You have a much greater chance of breaking out quickly when your book is available in Kindle Unlimited.
However, if you want to go wide, you’re going to have to take up the marketing mantle yourself. This means that you are going to have to educate yourself on marketing and advertising in any number of ways. Exposure you get automatically from Amazon will still be there, but to a far lesser extent.
Facebook ads, joint giveaways and promotions, and other promotional sites are going to be very valuable to you if you decide to publish wide. You’ll have to take the time and energy to learn these platforms, understand how they work, and figure out the way that you can use them most effectively for your business.
Ultimately, it’s a matter of preference. Many authors join the Kindle Direct Publishing program and swear by it. Other authors insist on going wide and learning how to promote their books themselves, because they believe that this is beneficial for the long-term health of their business.
Like many decisions you make in self-publishing, there is no wrong answer. Just understand that, if you do decide to join Kindle Direct Publishing, you will lock your books into a contract for many months. If you change your mind, you will have to do so before you’re locked in.
It’s worth experimenting on both sides. If you have a couple of book series, you may want to consider putting one into Kindle Direct Publishing and leaving one without so that you can test the waters a little bit. Find the best fit for you, and then you can build your business as you see fit.