Self-publishing authors of the world: Amazon wants your books, and it doesn’t want to share them. Amazon today announced the creation of “KDP Select,”a $6 million fund intended to pressure independent authors and publishers into offering Kindle book exclusives for at least 90 days. The program rewards exclusive authors on a monthly basis based entirely on what percentage of total sales their work contributed to Amazon.
Here’s how it works: $6 million is allocated each year and split into $500,000 per month. That $500,000 is awarded to publishers based entirely on how many purchases that author’s books generated during the month as compared to all books enrolled in the KDP Select exclusivity program. So, according to Amazon, if 100,000 books sell during a month and your book sells 1,500, you will earn $7,500 in additional royalties for the month. Those who join the program will also get special tools to better market their books on Amazon, like the ability to offer their book for free for up to 5 days every 90 days. We assume Amazon would pick up the tab for any sales during the free period.
“By choosing KDP Select, independent authors and publishers have an opportunity to make money in a whole new way and reach the growing audience of Amazon Prime members,” said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President of Kindle Content. “A short 90-day commitment allows authors and publishers to experiment at very low risk. In addition, free promotions are a new tool for KDP Select authors, and we hope to add more such tools over time.”
While the offer sounds great, the incentives will diminish as more authors join the plan. Amazon is allocating a fixed amount of money each month, about $500,000. The minute a really popular book joins that plan, all other participating members will see their royalties sliced by huge proportions. The question is: would a few thousand dollars extra each month be worth not participating in the Barnes & Noble e-book ecosystem, or Kobo, or Google Books, or any of the other major e-book retailers. Amazon is definitely the largest store in town, but it is no longer the only viable option for e-books. We suspect that many authors are going to have to break out the calculator this holiday season. The plan starts right now, in December.