Amazon KDP vs. KDP Select: Which is the Best Option for You?

Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is a free self-publishing service that authors can utilize to publish eBooks and paperbacks. EBooks published through KDP are available to Kindle owners on Amazon. KDP offers a variety of useful features including free file conversion, sales tracking, and tools to help you format specific types of books (e.g. children’s books).

Boasting a straight forward interface, KDP’s self-publishing service is commonly considered intuitive and easy to use. The service can be accessed by utilizing your existing Amazon account and password (or by creating a new account if you’re not a current customer), and from there it’s just a matter of following the prompts and uploading your manuscript. Publishing can take as little as five minutes and your book generally appears on Kindle stores worldwide within 24-48 hours. No further commitment is required. Amazon’s KDP website has many resources to help you get started.

For the paperback version of your book, KDP uses print on demand, meaning they print the books as they are ordered using digital technology. When you set up your paperback version of your manuscript in KDP, your printing costs will be calculated based on your page count and ink selections. These printing costs get subtracted from your royalties so that you don't have to pay any costs upfront or carry any inventory.

In addition to making your book available to millions of readers, KDP also offers a number of other advantages. These include allowing you to keep control of your rights, choosing from a variety of list prices, and making changes to your book at any time. In addition, you can claim your Author Page through Amazon’s Author Central hub, where you can add your biography, photos, blog posts, video trailers, and more.

Considering this wealth of features, what could KDP Select possibly add?

In a word…more.

KDP Select allows authors to tap into more expansive Amazon benefits for their eBooks including:

Higher Royalties in Select Countries - Enrolling in KDP Select makes your eBook eligible for 70% royalty earnings on sales to international customers in Brazil, Japan, India, and Mexico.

KOLL – KDP Select makes your eBook available on the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. KOLL, a program open to Amazon Prime subscribers, offers members who own a Kindle one free download per month. This is a great way for readers to discover new writers.

Kindle Unlimited – KDP Select also enrolls your eBook in Kindle Unlimited, a monthly subscription program that allows Kindle owners to essentially borrow books in much the same way as they would a library.

Promotional programs – With KDP Select you also have access to promotional tools. You can schedule limited time promotional discounting for your eBook (Kindle Countdown Deal) or a Free Book Promotion (for a limited time, readers worldwide can get your book free).

Sounds great, right? Wondering where to sign?

You may want to hold the phone – after all, there is no such thing as a free lunch. As you may have suspected, all those benefits do come with a condition. Amazon bases its condition on exclusivity. That’s right, for a period of three months, authors cannot make their enrolled eBooks available on any other purchase site, including your own website. You can, however, continue to distribute your book in physical format (paperback, hardcover) during this time period. After 90 days, authors are free to opt out of the program and return to basic KDP.

So which is right for you?

Before coming to a decision it may be prudent to do some due diligence. Consult your author network. Find out how the program worked for them. Were they pleased with their experience? How were their sales? Consider researching other books in your genre that participate in KDP Select. How do they rank in comparison to the sales ranking of authors at your level on other sites?

Whether you choose basic KDP or KDP Select to publish your books with Amazon, be sure to abide by their publishing terms and conditions, and have a clear understanding of their program policies.

Most importantly, keep in mind that no one option is a magic bullet. Neither will guarantee you an instant bestseller. As with any sales platform, you’d be wise to weigh your options carefully. To truly capitalize on Amazon’s many rewards, ensure that your choice is aligned with your goals and used in conjunction with a solid marketing plan.

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