How the Amazon KDP Select Program Works (Nonfiction Authors)
If you enroll in KDP Select, Amazon requires that you give them exclusive distribution rights to your ebook. This means that you cannot distribute your ebook via the Barnes and Noble Nook, iBookstore, Smashwords, etc. In fact, you can’t even sell your ebook directly through your own website.
This is also one of those policies that frustrate independent authors and publishers because it’s Amazon’s way of trying to monopolize the ebook market.
The KDP Select program offers several options:
Price Promotions – This is one of the most popular KDP Select features because it allows authors to opt to make their Kindle ebooks available for free or at a low cost, such as $.99, (Kindle Countdown Deals) for a brief period of time. This can be a useful strategy for fiction authors who write series books. Getting the first book in in a series into as many readers’ hands as possible can lead to sales of other books in the series.
For nonfiction authors, this program rarely holds much value, unless you have numerous titles and perhaps want to bring new life to an old backlist title.
Pro Tip: If you want to lower the price on your ebook to free (which is only allowed to KDP Select participants), try dropping the price on Smashwords or via another ebook retailer. Amazon typically participates in price matching so if it notices your book is free through BN.com, it will likely get marked as free through Amazon, too.
Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Lending Library – When you enroll your ebook in Kindle Unlimited and/or the Kindle Lending Library, readers who participate in these programs can read your Kindle ebook for free. You will then be paid based on the percentage of the book read and a global fund that Amazon creates each month to compensate its authors.
Payments earned with these programs are lower than if you were to sell the book outright, but Amazon insists that you can reach more potential readers by participating. The theory is that readers who wouldn’t otherwise find or purchase your book will be more likely to read it because they can access it for free with their Amazon Prime membership.
Note that you can also enroll in Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Lending Library in other countries.
We feel this program better serves fiction authors who want to reach a bigger audience since avid fiction readers tend to participate in programs on Amazon where they can access free and low-cost titles en masse. Nonfiction readers, especially for niche titles, tend to choose books based on searching for the topic, and less often based on casual browsing.
Royalties – The KDP Select program touts that participants receive increased royalties earned on ebook sales in India, Brazil, and Mexico. Instead of earning 35% royalties, you’ll earn 70%. This might matter to you if you generate an incredible number of sales in these countries, though that is rare.
Bottom Line: The KDP Select program may work well for some fiction authors, but for nonfiction authors who carve out a niche, it won’t likely bring enough benefits to make it worthwhile to give Amazon exclusive distribution rights to your ebook.