Should I Publish Exclusively on Amazon KDP Select?

First of all, I should say that we love Amazon here at That’s probably obvious, since links to Amazon book pages are all over our website. Amazon’s self publishing tools are clearly some of the best in the industry, and given the company’s market share, any author would be a fool not to have a selling presence on Amazon.

With that said, publishing only on Amazon is probably a poor business decision for most authors. There is one exception to that rule, which I’ll explain at the end of this article.

Amazon KDPFor those not aware, Amazon “KDP” stands for Kindle Direct Publishing. Amazon’s “KDP Select” refers to a program that requires authors to sell a book exclusively on Amazon in exchange or some compelling features, including:

  • Enrollment in Kindle Unlimited (KU)
  • Enrollment in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL)
  • Free Book Promotion (readers worldwide can get your book free for a limited time)

Despite those very generous perks, here are seven good reasons why selling exclusively on Amazon is a bad idea for most authors.

It’s Tough for New Authors to Get Found on Amazon

What’s the only downside of Amazon’s terrific publishing platform? Every author in the world seems to be using it.
For new authors, that means that with each passing year, you’ll have to put an increasing amount of effort to get found on the site amidst the throngs of new writers coming onto the site. And let’s face it – there’s no quality control, so it’s not an environment where the cream rises to the top automatically. It’s simply crowded, with few good ways for readers to navigate new authors on the site.

For that reason alone, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

And let’s hope that Amazon keeps rolling out new ideas like Countdown, which seems to have a positive effect when applied in concert with other marketing programs.

Amazon Isn’t King Everywhere

Amazon is certainly key to cracking the American and U.K. markets, at least for eBook sales. However, platforms such as Kobo, Tolino and iBooks have very significant sales worldwide, and in some countries even have a larger presence than Amazon. You may be surprised by how much income you can actually make.

Book marketing expert and author Joanna Penn writes, “I have found that my sales on the other German platforms match Amazon almost exactly. My sales in Canada primarily come from Kobo, and both Kobo and iBooks break sales down into 50+ countries.”

Should you choose Amazon KDP Select, that’s a tremendous amount of readership – and money – to leave on the table.

The Nook (by Barnes & Noble) is Still a Gold Mine

If you follow financial news, you may be aware that Barnes & Noble has experienced major financial issues over the past few years. Many stores have closed, and this has come to pass despite its terrific eBook reader, the Nook.

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But you’d be a fool not to publish there. Why?

First, Nook still claims 8% global eBook market share. That number may erode over time, but it’s still a very big number with lots of opportunity.

Second, the Nook has done an absolutely terrible job of telling self-published authors about its terrific publishing platform, Nook Press.

The result? Fewer authors competing with you for book sales!

Lastly, Nook doesn’t fool around with complicated lending libraries, and its readers are accustomed to paying full price for books. That means more money per book in your pocket.

Amazon Free Book Promotions Appear to Have Diminishing Returns

During the early days of Amazon’s free book promotions with KDP Select, success stories were common. But scour the community threads these days, and it seems that good results are few and far between. Here’s a typical one that was posted within the past week: “Free promotions are not going to help the bottom line unless you have a backlist of titles for cross sales. Most authors see a very limited exposure based bump after a free promo but it does not do much long term.”

iBooks is Still Growing

Publishing on iBooks got a bad rep early thanks to the need to use complex formatting by 3rd party publishers to go live on the platform. That’s much better now thanks to their relatively new publishing platform.

And can you really walk away from 11% market share?  Come on.

Having a Single Revenue Stream is Just Bad Business

If you ran a law firm, would you rather have 5 medium-sized clients, or one huge one?

Look no further than Amazon itself for the answer to that question. The company came to the conclusion that a single revenue stream was too risky a business model, and is now one of the most highly diversified organizations on earth.

So diversify your revenue streams. It’s just smart business.

The Kindle Lending Library is the Equivalent of Spotify for Books

If you follow music news, you may be aware that musicians now make paltry sums on their recordings thanks to the rise in online streaming services like Spotify. The good old days of CD royalties are disappearing fast, and if things like the Kindle Lending Library take hold in earnest, book royalties will be next on the chopping block.

The first step is for writers to resist this model. Be brave.

Finally, Here’s the Only Time You Should Enroll Exclusively in KDP Select

Do you publish short stories alongside your novels? Great! Then consider putting those out on Amazon KDP Select.

There’s virtually no other platform that provides such an equitable platform for short stories. And since you’ve put comparatively little work into them, you won’t be leaving money on the table by letting Amazon Unlimited or Prime customers read and borrow them. In fact, you should actively use them as a loss leader. If your stories are very good, then readers will explore your full-price titles.

Feel strongly about this subject? Tell us in the comments!

Bella Wright

Bella Wright blogs about books, film and media.

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