When you publish a book on Amazon, you have a choice to make.
You can choose to enroll in KDP Select (kindle direct publishing) or can choose not to enroll in the program.
(I'm not ready to publish just yet. But I'm trying to plan my strategy. Most of the advice in this article is based on the “Author Strong” podcast by Mat and Nancy. Because they have recently done a few episodes on the topic of Kindle Publishing).
Possible advantages to enrolling in KDP Select:
- Your book is placed in the Kindle Unlimited program.
- Promotional perks. You can set your book to “free”, or choose a handful of days in which to “discount” your book to go along with promotional deals.
- The contract only lasts for 90 days. So you can always choose to pull out of the program after 90 days. If you don’t pull out, the contract will automatically renew.
Possible disadvantages to enrolling KDP Select:
- Exclusivity. You cannot sell the same book on other platforms (itunes, kobo) while it’s in KDP.
- You can’t make your book “perma-free”. It must be priced .99$ or higher.
Unfortunately there is no universal advice for how to publish your book. Every author and every individual case is different. That’s why self-publishing is so great for those people who are willing to get involved with the process, try new things, experiment with different strategies, and find what works for them.
To me it seems like a good strategy to start with Amazon and KDP, simply because Amazon is the largest retailer. And because for 1st time authors it will be easier to focus on one thing. In the long run, I think any self-publisher would say, "at some point you want to cast your nets wide,” and experiment on multiple fronts. But for beginners, Amazon and KDP are the simplest, fastest way to jump in.
One popular strategy is to write a trilogy, or a series, and give away your first book for free. This way you attract readers to your series. You’re just trying to get them interested, and if they are, they’ll continue to read through your series.
For this reason, you might want to keep that first book OUT of KDP so that you can keep the price at free. From what I understand, the best way to do this is to use a service like “Draft to Digital” who will publish your book and distribute it to platforms like kobo and itunes. Then, since Amazon price matches works form other platforms, Amazon will also sell your book for free, even though you’re not in KDP, and of course that book won’t be available on KU either.
I have heard many success stories of people who put all their time and gusto into one novel. They had one work that they really believed in. They did their research, paid a lot to promote it, and had great success.
But I know that for most people it doesn't work that way. Most self published authors have 5 or 10 or 15 works before they start making decent income.
For now, my rough plan of entering the self publishing world is to write a three-novel series. I’ll give the first book away for free, and then sell the second and third books for $1.99 or $2.99.
It’s definitely daunting to think about all the options. But the only way to learn is to jump in there and learn from your own experience. It makes sense to me that publishing medium to short fiction, and publishing often (every couple months) is a good way to align yourself with the growing trends.
The self-publishing podcasts have been enormously helpful for me. By far the best ones are:
The Creative Penn with Joanna Penn
The Rocking Self Publishing Podcast with Simon Whistler
But I also listen to the “Sell More Books Show,” “The Self Publishing Podcast,” and now “Author Strong” for self publishing advice.