Last time, in my post How To Sell In Peru, I discussed the decision self-published authors have to take about being exclusive to Amazon, or going wide.
This is because when we upload our material to Amazon we’re given the choice to join their Kindle Select scheme. Signing up to this scheme requires giving Amazon exclusivity to your eBook.
However, this gives authors the opportunity to earn a 70% royalty rate in other countries like Brazil, Japan, India and Mexico, and it also enrols our books into the Kindle Unlimited/Kindle Online Lending Library service. This enables some of Amazon’s customers to download Kindle books for free (for a limited time – which is why it’s treated as ‘borrowing’, because the reader doesn’t own a copy). Amazon recompenses authors through their KDP Select Fund, the balance of which is announced each month. How much you earn is calculated by various means, including the number of pages readers who’ve ‘borrowed’ your book have read.
So, if an author signs up to Amazon’s KDP Select service they cannot use a distribution service, such as Smashwords, or Draft to Digital, to distribute their ebook to other eBook platforms, like Apple, Kobo, Nook, etc.
However, it’s worth remembering that the decision to go exclusive with Amazon is not set in stone, forever. You can change your mind.
Firstly, the Amazon KDP Select programme is for eBooks only. Even if an author signs up to KDP Select, there is nothing stopping the author creating a print volume of the same book and making that available on Amazon, and then using a distribution service like IngramSpark to make the physical book available in other bookstores and library services.
Secondly, the Amazon KDP Select programme asks authors to sign up for three months at a time. It’s not forever. If an author signs up, and then changes their mind, as long as they log in to their account and unticks the box to auto-enrol for another three-month period (after the first three-month period of exclusivity has ended), their eBook will then be withdrawn from the scheme. It will still be available, on sale, on Amazon. But Amazon’s customers will no longer be able to ‘borrow’ the book for free.
You may wonder why authors would enrol in such a scheme. Some make good money from the Amazon’s Kindle Online Lending Library. There are certain genres, for example, where readers devour books at a voracious capacity, and the Kindle Online Lending Library suits them. Authors in those genres often earn more money from the funding Amazon pays for these borrowings (you could think of it a bit like PLR scheme for print books) than they do from actual eBook sales.
It’s another benefit of being an independent author. It gives us the freedom to experiment. We can, if we choose, go exclusive for 3, 6, 9 or 12 months on the KDP Select scheme to see how things go. After that, we can make a decision about whether to remain in the scheme, or withdraw. As soon as we withdraw, we can then distribute our ebooks to other platforms.
It’s also worth remembering that signing up to KDP Select is done on a per book basis. Once you sign up one book, you do not have to sign up any other books you may write to the scheme. Authors can enrol specific genres into KDP Select, and keep their other genres, or non-fiction books, out of KDP Select.
If you write in a series you can enrol one book and none of the others. It’s entirely up to you.
Going exclusive with Amazon’s KDP Select programme is not a once-in-a-lifetime decision. Nor is it a sign-up-one-book-and-you-have-to-sign-up-every-book decision. It’s a per book decision, for a minimum of three months.
There’s no right or wrong, as such, when it comes to being exclusive or going wide. It’s whatever is most appropriate for the particular book you’re publishing at this moment in time. And several months down the line, if you want to change your mind, you can.
Going wide, or being exclusive may not always be an easy decision to take. But it’s not a decision that you have to live with for the rest of your life.