My term in KDP Select expires tomorrow, and I’m declining to renew it in favor of going wide. This is not a hot-button topic for me the way it is for many who’ve had to adapt their strategies because of Kindle Unlimited. I released my first (currently only) book after the program launched. I have no idea how different my sales chart might look if Kindle Unlimited were not a thing.
But my hunch is: not much. I’ve had precisely four borrows since my release. Now, I’m not taking the world by storm; my sales rank tends to fluctuate between 100k and 700k in a given week. (Funny how one sale can shoot you up 500,000.) But I can still say that four represents a pretty small percentage of my total readers to date.
And at least two of those were from people I know, versus people who found the book via browsing. Which means KDP Select, whose main benefit is supposed to be increased visibility, has increased mine by: 2. And I think that’s mainly because my book is actually really without hyperbole not visible to most KU borrowers. Not because it’s a magic stealth spy ninja book, although that would be cool. I think KU appeals most to a specific audience of very high volume readers in particular genres–mostly, I suspect, romance.
Those are not my readers. Their eyes are going to go whooshing past the thumbnail to your right without ever really seeing it. I don’t get the benefits, and there are many, of writing for that audience, but I also don’t face the same challenges. (As a side note, I think this is important to remember if you frequent forums where a lot of the indies write romance, and you don’t. What works for their genre does not necessarily work for others.) For a lot of indies, KU is a lose-lose situation. If they’re in it, they make considerably less for a borrow than a sale. If they aren’t, a not-insignificant percentage of readers will simply borrow something else and pass them by entirely.
In my case, it’s more of a whatever-whatever situation. I don’t think KU, or KDP Select, makes a big difference either way. (I also did a Kindle Countdown deal at 99 cents that did okay, but I can’t say whether I’d have had an equal number of sales at the same price point with the same promotions, without the Countdown label.) But the only way to find out for sure is to go wide and see if I can sell more than, you know, four, through other retailers over the same period of time.
And that’s really my takeaway: there’s no reason not to try stuff. KDP Select runs in three month terms. If you’re going to succeed in a small business, you have to play the long game. Three months is not the long game.
So I’ll see how it goes. I’m also knocking the price down to 99 cents at the same time, so as to have a nice low entry point into the series. (The next book comes out in about 3 months.) If those changes end up not working for me, I’ll reverse them. In, like, less than five minutes. One of the advantages I have over the traditionally published is agility. But it’s only an advantage if you use it.