Taking The Plunge With KDP

So I’ve decided to take the plunge. I’ve never been a fan of exclusivity but I’m also not a fan of the artist’s purgatory better known as corporate America—a place to which I’m currently slave until this whole writing thing takes off. And if I’m going to be completely transparent here, I mean totally and shamelessly honest, The Things They Didn’t Bury has been on sale for almost 3 months and I have sold 10 copies. Yes. 10. Every single one of them to someone I know by name.

Discouraging? Definitely. But I’ve got patience, I’ve got the will to experiment, and I’m just wrapping up book 2 which means my virtual shelf space will no longer be the equivalent of a black hole by the end of June.

A lot of writers seem to be split on the subject of KDP and going all in with Amazon. It’s controversial and a little scary—especially for us indies who tout our independence like some war wound we acquired while trying to learn HTML and format our e-book for free, or from the amount of money we got misled out of while trying to find a decent cover artist. It’s intimidating to put all of your eggs in one basket, and according to some ideology, just plain wrong.

My biggest trepidation with KDP was its effect on readers. Luckily all 10 of mine have kindles but what if some didn’t? Would they feel slighted? Would it matter at all? Obviously, exposure is everything, and as a new author my goal is to reach as many potential readers as possible—whether through my blog or other social media, through ad space, reviewers, or retailers. And I wanted those readers, regardless of which reading device they owned, to be able to discover my books.

But here’s the issue. I can make my book available on every e-book retailer, I can make the file DRM free, I can give over a hundred copies away for free, which I did. But I’m still a new author—an obscure anomaly that no reader is scrambling for, that no reader is seeking out, or even giving a second thought. In fact, none of them even know I exist.

So even before tackling the hurdle of actually selling copies of my book to strangers, I have to conquer the hurdle of being invisible. And I think KDP can help me with that.

Now, why would I want to participate in KDP free days when I’ve already given away over 100 free books, none of which have translated into any sales? Well, first of all, giving away free books is always a gamble. There are a lot of factors at play. When I reached out to book reviewers I sent out almost 150 emails. Approximately 30 responded saying they would review my book, and in the past 3 months only about 10 of them actually have. Maybe they got busy. Maybe they just didn’t like the book. These are things I can’t control.

Other things I can’t control are who enters a giveaway I may be hosting on my blog or someone else’s. Maybe they don’t read contemporary fiction but they entered anyway just to see if they’d get lucky. Maybe they enter every contest they find. Maybe they don’t even read. Finding the right readers, the right audience—it’s like finding a needle in a haystack—and them finding your book, well that takes a needle, a few stars aligning, and some divine intervention. And when you consider the size of a blog’s online readership versus the size of Kindle owners, they’re not even comparable.

Amazon is huge.

So while I may enter into the abyss that is KDP Select, competing with every other self-published author and free book on the market and getting sucked into further obscurity, I also might find that one reader who is looking for a book just like mine. That one reader who will tell their friends and their family and the clerk at the grocery store and that guy across from them at the gas pump. They’ll tell their Facebook friends and twitter followers and the people in their Friday night book club and their Sunday morning bible study.

That’s the goal. So I’ll start with KDP, trading temporary exclusivity for the hope that I’ll find my readers, one by one until one day all I have to worry about is writing amazing books for them and all they have to worry about is reading them.


14 thoughts on “Taking The Plunge With KDP

  1. I had mine on KDP for over a year and had more people ask me why I wasn’t on Nook than I had borrows from KLL. That said…I know others who have seen great success from it. Keep us posted on how it goes for you…I may have to give it another shot.

    • At this point I really don’t feel like I have anything to lose. Of course I uploaded my book to barnes and noble, but not only did that not result in any sales, it was also time consuming and I didn’t find their pubit! website to be very user friendly. And who knows? I may end up having the same luck with KDP. That’s the thing about self-publishing. There are so many horror stories out there and tales of incredible success that seem impossible to replicate. But every experience is completely subjective. I will definitely keep everyone updated on my blog on how I’m faring on KDP. Fingers crossed it’s worth a try!

  2. Yes, I am eager to see how this works for you. I don’t expect to be ready for publication with my first book until late summer now and I’m weighing various publishing routes. After going to a workshop Saturday in which I learned of Ray Bradbury’s terrible battles for creative rights, I’m more than a little gun-shy and will need to investigate any option thoroughly.

    Thanks for this timely topic.

    • There are so many options available to writers these days. I still feel overwhelmed when it comes to thinking about purchasing ISBNs or dealing with copyright issues. I was recently encouraged to draft up a work-for-hire contract for the artist who is doing my book covers–something I didn’t know I might need later on. Every day I learn about new opportunities to thrive in this industry as well as new ways I might have the rug pulled out from under me. But if I were to concentrate only on the horror stories I’d never get anything done, let alone put anything out there for people to read. Sometimes I think a lot of things just depend on luck. Of course we can try and learn as much as we possible can in order to make informed decisions but there will always be the possibility that someone may screw us over. And while a lot of people are wary of Amazon becoming a monopoly, in this moment, I have to do what might be most beneficial for me. So hopefully it works out for the best but we’ll see!

    • Thanks! I’ll definitely update everyone on my progress…well as soon as smashwords finally takes down my book from all of those other online retailers. They sure do like to take their time with that.

    • Absolutely! I mean, that’s what I’m hoping for. There’s just no other retailer with that kind of reach and that amount of consumers. And with their recent purchase of Goodreads, I’m hoping that will only mean even more opportunities for independent authors.

  3. Good post! I self-publsihed with KDP in 2011, sold 45 copies of my short story anthology, and I’m preparing to publish a dark fantasy novel. I find e-publishing to be an exciting endeavor and a great avenue for writers–despite the pitfalls. Thank you for visiting my blog. Best of success to you! d:)

  4. It sounds like a hard decision, but it also seems that you have put a lot of thought into the best thing for you. And the reasons you have are great ones. I hope it all goes really well for you, and that it translates into lots of positive exposure and book sales. Good luck!

    • Thank you so much! I did do a lot of thinking about it. I’m not a fan of exclusivity as I don’t think it’s the best thing for readers. But I know that I’ll re-publish to all platforms again eventually and I’ll publish my books DRM free so readers can convert the file to work on any device they have. Hopefully that will make up for it in the meantime.

  5. I think KDP is a good idea initially, especially for the free days, as your sales rank will shoot up when it is free and that supposedly converts to sales for a bit afterwards. KDP Select is only 90 days, so after that period you can then push it out to all the other formats and venues if you decide Select isn’t for you.
    I’ve not used Select, as my short story is free anyway so for me it was just getting my name out there so I could hopefully start building a platform. I think when I publish a novel for money, I will probably start out with the 90 days on Select and decide from there. I’m definitely interested in hearing how it will work out for you!

    • Exactly. I don’t see KDP as a long term solution. I just see it as a convenient way to gain some exposure, which is what every author is fighting for. I’ve got some great reviews so far on Amazon and I have a really great cover so I think those two things will really work to my benefit during those free days. I can’t wait for my book to come off of the other platforms so I can give it a shot and let everyone know how it goes! Thanks for stopping by!

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