It’s been several months since Amazon opened Kindle Select publishing. The pot of shared monies varies each month. In this program you can share part of the money based on how much your book is borrowed and shared. To be eligible for this program you must make your book exclusive to Amazon for one quarter at a time and the first week or so you make the book free. I’ve seen a lot of authors tweeting and trying to drum up support for their books in the Kindle Select Program. I won’t pretend to know more about the program than that. When I heard some talk about the program at first I rejected it and still do. But after listening to a podcast earlier today about it my eye’s opened a bit on seeing the other side of the coin about it.
I’m of the crowd that you should not offer your e-books, or any other book for that matter, for free. We authors are in the business of writing to make money for our labor and creativity. We, I hope, would love to support our living with the earnings we make off of our imagination. This is a hard feat in itself and giving your work away for free defeats that purpose and hurts other independent authors as well. Now there are many sides to the story here, and I do understand that some give their material away for free in order to gain momentum and in the end earn a greater profit. I have yet to experience this. Even if that says my writing “sucks” the only thing that happens when I offered any of my books for free was people downloading MANY of my e-books...for free. Never did I gain or experience a spike in sales after this. Case in point...Smashwords has Read an E-Book Month in March every year and I participated in it with free novels. Many were sold...after March no one came back and paid me for those downloads nor did their word of mouth lead to sales spikes. My experience is free does not drum up greater sales.
Back to Kindle Select. Why would any of us chose to give Amazon exclusive control? Does not Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, Diesel, Apple, and others have readers willing to buy your story? I heard the case that since Amazon holds over 80% of the e-book market the other 20% is really not that significant. I look at it this way. Why not utilize every part of the market? Amazon Kindle is great and I applaud them for being what they are...a great business. I totally see and agree that they would try to crush their competitors and gain as much if not all the market they can. I don’t hate them, actually I love them. I enjoy having my e-books for sale on Kindle and will continue to do so, but why give them full control?
Why did the e-book revolution start? Was it just because of portable reading devices? No, not at all (although we need those to read e-books). Traditional publishing fueled the fire for the revolution. Poor royalty rates, short shelf lives, bad contracts, and the general disrespect for the author is what they did to start the revolution. E-book technology has empowered the Indie author to gain access into publishing where we would never have a chance with the traditional publishing houses. No more for the elite, we are now able to swim with the big fish and carve out a path of our own choosing.
Hypothetically, if we give Amazon exclusive control (let’s say all of us go to Kindle Select) and the other distributors go under Amazon will ultimately become what traditional publishing was. Why? Because there would be no competition and if they dropped their royalty rates from 70% back down to 35% or below we would have nowhere to go unless we start another publishing company to rival. I personally don’t think this would happen, but I am a little stunned by the amount of Indie authors running to give their work away for free and become exclusive to one company. It is truly your choice as a writer/author, but think about the other avenues to get your work out there for purchase.
One way to play with Kindle Select is cycle one book in and out of it at a time exclusively if you think that would give you more exposure.