Distributor Review: Kindle Direct Publishing

In this series of articles, I hope to give you the information you need to know to help you decide which distributor to use when it finally comes time to publish your new work. Whether it be a novel, a children's book, or a non-fiction title, there are distributors out there that can help you. You just need to find one that suits your needs.

Royalty Rates: 35-70%
Submission Type: Browser
Promotional Tools: KDP Select, Matchbook, Lending
KDP is a great first stop for self-published authors. Their system, which works on your existing amazon account, allows you to upload as many works by as many pen names as you like, all through your browser. It's a very simple process to publish a work, and it can be in the store in as little as 24 hours.

Your works are given a series of options to help their visibility in the massive Amazon market. Available extra details include a subtitle, series title, edition number, publisher name, a list of contributors to the work, and an optional ISBN. In addition, you can include up to 2 categories to list in and up to 7 extra keywords to associate with the work.

Formatting into the kindle format, mobi, is done automatically. You upload your file and it gets converted for you, providing you with the complete work to preview before publishing to ensure that all changes were completed correctly and all layouts and more intricate formatting details are properly represented. The system even offers a basic spell check to ensure that you haven't missed any blatant errors.

Royalty options are set between 35 and 70%, depending on the list price and territory in which you are selling. Amazon has been adding new region specific versions of their website, and their list is growing. Currently, they offer specifically to America, India, The UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Japan, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and Australia. Some regions are locked to 35% royalty unless you are part of the KDP select program, and 70% is limited to prices between $2.99 and $9.99 USD, with all other prices restricted to 35%.

KDP Select is a promotional too in which you can offer your books for free OR for a discounted price for up to 5 days in a 90 day period. This applies to each published work, and can only be one or the other. Once the 90 day period is up, the counter resets, and you get 5 new days to promote. In addition, Japan, India, Brazil and Mexico offer 70% royalty rates, and your books are eligible to be entered into the Lending Library.

The Lending Library allows users to lend your book after purchasing to their friends and family for a duration of 14 days. It also allows prime members to borrow your work for a month with no due date, for which you are paid a small royalty. The catch, however, is that if you want to be enrolled in KDP Select, you must exclusively sell through Amazon. Exclusivity means that you cannot digitally sell the work through any other means. Physical sales are still permitted.

Finally, Matchbook allows users that have already purchased a physical copy of your work to purchase the digital copy for a reduced price (below 2.99), making it more enticing for them to repurchase your work. This option is available to all works, whether they are enrolled in KDP Select or not.

While Amazon does offer a wide audience with which to advertise, it does limit its potential to some degree. The royalty options, if not enrolled in KDP Select, start at 35%, and for a $0.99 work, that's just under $0.35 per sale. If you do the math, you'll need to sell hundreds, if not thousands, of books a week to make ends meet. KDP Select makes this a little easier with 70% royalties, meaning you only have to sell half as many books, but it limits your visibility by preventing you from publishing through other distributors.

The other promoting tools can help to get your work noticed, though potential may be limited. If you work with the free giveaways, you will very quickly rise in the ranks, but only for the free market. As soon as your free period ends, you drop back down to your paid listing position prior to the giveaway, meaning your hoping that your new readers will recommend your book to others to buy. The discounted price does offer better exposure on the paid listings, but the lure of free compared to discounted is much stronger, so you may not find as many people willing to fork out a few dollars than you might hope.

In regards to its setup, the site is easy to navigate and your information is clearly presented to you. Updating a work is an easy task, and only takes a few hours to update in the live store. Your sales reports are saved for you and you can view real-time updates on your recent sales as well as previous months, previous six months, and downloadable spreadsheets. Royalty payment information is also saved and downloadable as spreadsheets. There is, however, no way to see your current account balance.

In the end, the decision is really based on what you want to get out of it. If all you want is for people to read your work, then signing up to KDP Select and offering your book for free will get you that. If you want to try and make a lot of money, then perhaps there are better options.

You can visit KDP here for more information or to sign up.