Does KDP Select drive more sales? 9

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KDPbannerDoes KDP Select drive more sales?

You’ve all seen the enticing headlines: enrol in Kindle’s KDP Select Program and you can share in $1.5 million.

And all you need to do in return is make your book exclusively available through Amazon.

Sounds simple right? But does it actually work?

Like all good things, I’m sure there are loads of people who can attest to massive success, but I’d be willing to bet that most of them were successful in the early stages.

It really doesn’t matter what happened in the past. What is important is “Are people making lots of money if they join now”?

Does Kindle Direct help your overall sales or hinder it?

I can’t speak for anyone else but myself, but I will share my experience in enrolling my books in the KDP exclusive program.

And I must say, the results weren’t stellar! I certainly didn’t see even a minuscule share of those promised millions. In fact, I didn’t see any additional money at all going exclusive.


Prior to going exclusive:

I enrolled my book, The William S Club in KDP back in February 2013. In the months just prior to that, I had completed both a Google Adwords campaign and a Facebook advertising campaign.

In addition to those advertising avenues, I also sent the book out and started getting reviews posted on Amazon and Goodreads.

My monthly sales figures and freebie numbers for September 2012 (when the book was published – February 2013 (when it went exclusive at Amazon) are:


September 2012:


·         US/India – 8

·         UK – 1

Other Markets:

·         USA – 1

·         Free books downloaded – 11

Total Books September: 10 paid + 11 free


October 2012:


·         US/India – 16

·         UK – 8

Other Markets:

·         USA – 1

·         Canada – 1

·         Europe – 1

·         Free books downloaded – 4

Total Books October: 27 paid + 4 free


November 2012:


·         US/India – 11

·         UK – 2

Other Markets:

·         USA – 3

·         Canada – 1

·         Australia – 3

·         Free books downloaded – 13

Total Books November: 20 paid + 13 free


December 2012:


·         US/India – 8

·         UK – 2

Other Markets:

·         Australia – 2

·         UK – 1

·         Free books downloaded – 3

Total Books December: 13 paid + 3 free


January 2013:


·         US/India – 16

·         UK – 3

Other Markets:

·         USA – 7

·         Free books downloaded – 3

Total Books January: 26 paid + 3 free


February 2013: (went exclusive on Feb 14)


·         US/India – 20 sales and 1330 free books downloaded

·         UK – 2 sales and 236 free books downloaded

·         Germany – 1 sale and 58 free books downloaded

·         France – 1 sale and 20 free books downloaded

·         Japan – 1 free book downloaded

·         Canada – 1 sale and 16 free books downloaded

·         Brazil – 1 free book downloaded

Finishing off in other Markets:

·         USA – 2

·         Canada – 1

·         Australia – 1

·         UK – 1

Total Books February: 30 paid + 1662 free


Total books sold = 126

Total books given away = 1696


During KDP exclusivity:


March 2013: (fully exclusive)


·         US/India – 12 sales and 1157 free books downloaded and 2 borrows

·         UK – 2 sales and 422 free books downloaded and 1 borrow

·         Germany – 0 sale and 26 free books downloaded

·         France – 1 sale and 4 free books downloaded

·         Japan – 0 sales, 1 free book downloaded

·         Canada – 0 sales and 21 free books downloaded

·         Spain – 1 free book downloaded

·         Brazil – 1 free book downloaded


Total Books March: 15 paid + 1633 free + 3 borrows


April 2013: (took off exclusive in mid April)


·         US/India – 13 sales

·         UK – 3 sales

·         Germany – 0 sales

·         France – 1 sale

·         Japan – 0 sales

·         Canada – 0 sales

·         Spain – 0 sales

·         Brazil – 0 sales


Total Books April: 17 paid 


KindleIt took me another month and a half to start earning on my other networks after the interruption in sales, which meant my overall sales went down as a result of the KDP Select experiment rather than up.

In the two months I took part, I sold 45 books through Amazon. The two months prior to that, I sold 39 books across all my markets. So while the sales went up, they didn’t go up anywhere near enough to justify giving away 3295 books!


Nor have I seen the supposed bounce back in sales that was supposed to happen in the months after the giveaway periods – or the increase in reviews. In fact, the vast majority of my reviews have come from Goodreads Giveaways and Read 4 Review programs, or from review programs I’ve run on my own blog.


At the end of the day, I am not convinced making my books exclusive on Amazon has any benefit to me at all. The only one who benefits is Amazon.


The ONLY benefit I saw in listing my book for free was a temporary spike in Amazon’s foreign markets, which I have not been able to replicate since. I managed to sell a couple of books in Germany and France, as well as Canada. But the flip side of that is that I get consistent sales in foreign markets on my other networks.

And I’m sure there are other ways to achieve sales in foreign markets that doesn’t involve giving away thousands of free copies of your books.


As for those supposed rentals that net you a share of $1.5 million…  My 3 loans netted me about $5. Would be great if I could get 3000 loans but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. How does one go about getting people to loan their books?

I was so unimpressed with Amazon’s exclusive program that when I published my second book, Vampire Origins: Project Ichorous, I didn’t even bother trying the KDP Select program.

From now on, all my books will be published both on Smashwords, through their premium distribution channels, and on Amazon Kindle.


So how about you? Have you had a better experience with KDP Select than I have?

Did you see a greater share of the millions promised?

Or, like me, have you been overwhelmingly underwhelmed?


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About Riley Banks

Riley Banks is the author of Vampire Origins, and The William S Club. She blogs about books, entertainment, and writing. For more information on Riley Banks and her books, go to

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9 thoughts on “Does KDP Select drive more sales?

  • Stacey Cotrufo

    My current book is currently part of the KDP program and so far? Not impressed. My previous book was not part of the program and I felt that it got more exposure than the new one is from Amazon. My previous book, The Christmas Cottage, was available through Amazon, B&N and Smashwords. Amazon was the sales winner, hands down – 15,000 books in 9 weeks as opposed to 40 on B&N. But the follow up book, Ever After, which is under KDP, has had about 1,000 sales after 4 weeks. I did the free weekend thing, actually did 3 days, and ended up giving away 13,000 (yikes!) books. That one hurt. And I’ve had over 100 borrowed.

    All in all, I’m just not impressed. I still get some complaints that the book isn’t available on Nook but I’m okay with that. I just wish that Amazon did a little bit more to promote books that were exclusive to them AND return the Like button!

  • Riley Banks

    I agree that they should promote books that are exclusive to them. I mean, really, they ask us to give up other avenues. They should then be promoting the crap out of those books – featuring them higher in search lists and so on.

    Must say, I’m gobsmacked at your sales figures! Well done. And judging from your interview here, you hardly even advertised for your first book. Again well done (and hey, slightly jealous).

    The 15,000 copies of your first book that you sold, did they happen because of the free days, or do you think they would have happened with or without the free days?

  • Stacey Cotrufo

    It was like all of the planets aligned! I wrote a little romantic Christmas novella as part of NaNoWriMo and pretty much as a spur of the moment thing, put it out there for sale at the end of November. It was just a case of right book at the right time. Everyone wants to read a Christmas romance during the holiday season apparently! I never did the free days, it was all word of mouth. It was mind boggling. The problem is that because of that success, I don’t think I’ll ever come close to it. I know the follow up isn’t doing anywhere near those numbers and so I’m disappointed – and I know I shouldn’t be – but it’s hard to not compare the two.

  • Riley Banks


    Have you got revenue from the borrows – because that’s kind of what is promised in the promotion, isn’t it? That you’ll get a share of $1 million based on how many people lend your book. I actually got my first ‘lending’ today. Not sure how to promote lending and encourage people to do it.

  • Stacey Cotrufo

    I haven’t gotten any revenue as of yet – but then again, “Ever After” has only been part of the promotion for about a month. I probably won’t see those royalties for another month or two. I don’t understand how it all works but to be honest, as of right now, I’m not seeing it as incentive enough to put the next book with them exclusively.

    What kills me is the number of freebies I ended up giving away. That’s a LOT of potential sales that I lost while thinking that it was a great way to promote my name. When I think of what my royalties would have been on that? I feel a little ill…

  • Kendell Shaffer

    I had the similar results with KDP as Riley with my book, KALIFORNIA BLU. Not too impressed with KDP. And agree that it would be nice if Amazon helped to promote. I understand if you become one of the top 100 Free Books, then they will. I made it to #441. So even though I had a lot of free downloads, I am back to the same place I had started and wished I had at least gotten $1 for each download. Not sure how to find if my books have sold overseas. How do you find that?

  • Marina Martindale

    I’m no longer offering it, not only because it does absolutely nothing to increase sales, but it also increases the odds of it ending up in the hands of a “troll” whose only purpose is to write a scathing review to tarnish your book and hurt your sales.

  • Riley Banks

    Good point Marina. That was another downside from releasing it free to all and sundry on Amazon. I got a string of reviews from people who said they didn’t know the book had sex scenes, or it’s not their usual genre but they picked it up free. Of the 1600 odd books I gave away free, I wonder how many were actually from people who enjoy the genre and would possibly be future customers?