Amazon’s KDP Select Rules Suck!

Let’s be honest: despite a lot of misgivings from authors surrounding the ethics of Amazon (lots of anti-Amazon feeling online from authors, just do a search as there are too many to list here, and that’s without Amazon not paying its UK taxes), the majority of readers these days buy their books from them, and it’s the first place an author will go to check their sales rank, especially if they’re an indie author. Without Amazon, where would the self-published, independent author be, especially if he or she has an eBook edition available for download? Hands up those authors who on the onset of the eBook thought, ‘I want to make my book available as a download. I know, I’ll put it on Nook, Kobo (boo hiss!) or iTunes.’ Liar! Unless you published directly to Smashwords (the eBook publishers of blessed reverence for many), if you have a paperback version first, you go to Kindle because it’s heavily publicised and Amazon knows its onions when it comes to marketing its products (we have an Amazon fire stick for the telly you know), because it revolutionised the way an indie author could make their work available to readers without it costing beggar all, and because it got there first. (Actually, I saw an eReader for sale in a WH Smith shop (boo hiss!) long before I knew about Kindle, so that last statement probably isn’t true…)

As a paperback and Kindle author and reader myself, and knowing how Amazon has revolutionised publishing for indies, naturally I check the sales ranks for Amazon first, though my paperbacks are available worldwide in reputable stores like Waterstones, Book Depository and Barnes & Noble; I’m also aware that not everyone has or even uses a Kindle. I know a lot of people prefer Nook (until recently not available for UK and European readers) but for now I’ve had to bin it off (as mentioned elsewhere!) or a Kobo (boo hiss; scroll down to my comment!), or even iTunes and Google Play, and naturally I wanted to widen my scope and reach more readers, so I made plans to upload all my books to those platforms. As I’ve probably mentioned elsewhere, the indie publisher I use automatically uploaded my first two works Goalden Girl and Abbie’s Rival to Nook at Barnes and Noble and iTunes (for overrated prices), which is why I wanted to re-upload them and upload the others so they’re more affordable, and to make them available in the UK and in Europe, but in the case of Nook it all went boobs up, didn’t it? Yes, it did…moving on…

Anyway, Amazon has this KDP Select programme, too enticing to ignore. During certain times of the year when there’s a Silly Book Day going down – like World Book Night for instance – who amongst us will want to ignore the chance to make their titles available for FREE for promo purposes? This year, I jumped on the bandwagon: struggling with paperback sales and with Kindle sales being soooooooo slooooooooow, I thought to hell with it: I’m going to put all my titles onto KDP Select make everything free on Kindle to everyone and his terrier for a limited period, not just for those on Kindle Unlimited and Prime. What happened? Throughout the Kindle-buying world they downloaded: from the UK to the US to Canada to Japan to the Netherlands they went for it! Something for nothing and the books for free! Over 400 downloads I counted, but not one brass farthing in royalty did I earn ‘cos of the free thing (I was never in it for the money, anyway, but you know what I mean…) I even got a review for Goalden Sky out of that promotion on Amazon Canada, albeit one word (and don’t get me started on even trying to get reviews!) but I was given four stars!

Imagine my chagrin when I got a snot-o-gram email from Amazon informing me that because Goalden Girl and Abbie’s Rival are available on iTunes (interesting they ignore Barnes & Noble and Nook!) they have to remove both from KDP Select, but they will still be for sale for anyone who wants to pay 99 p/99 cents for them. I’ve had a few of these emails since, because I’ve sneakily added those two titles to KDP Select again for promos at other times, not least for the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital Comic Con (where I had my appendix out when I was 3 and to which I donated my paperbacks as well). After all, Goalden Girl is the prequel to Goalden Sky, so to offer the latter for free would be daft without offering the former…

It annoys me that Amazon should demand exclusivity for Kindle titles on KDP Select when it comes to promoting eBooks. Why should it? What gives it the right? Why can’t I have my eBook available in more than one place so that I can broaden my readership, then promote my titles for free via all hosts without being told off? In my opinion the answer is that Amazon works more for Amazon’s benefit than it does for the author or the reader; it knows people will go to them before they go to any other online shop for books, because it sells all sorts of other stuff people want but can’t be bothered to go shopping for, unlike its competitors. Indie titles are hard to get in bricks and mortar shops and Amazon knows it.

I hold my hands up here; Amazon is handy and I buy most of my stuff online from Amazon.co.uk. OK, ‘fession over.

It has us well and truly by the short and curlies, and why’s that? It’s because we, the indie author, lets it. Right now there’s little we can do about it. Will it stop me adding my titles to other platforms? No; such a shame Nook is a pile of rubbish and those running Kobo are a bunch of losers…

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