KDP Select vs. Publishing Wide: Why I Enrolled my Short Fiction Back in Select

Photo by Aliis Sinisalu on Unsplash

Last year around this time, I was busy moving all of my shorter indie books — my short stories, novellas and collections–out of Kindle Select (for the uninitiated, that’s Amazon’s promotional program for self-published e-books that requires you to publish exclusively to Amazon, but which also makes your books available to Kindle Unlimited and Prime Lending subscribers) an into the worldwide e-book marketplace.

This week, I delisted them from all those other markets and moved them back to Select.

While going wide with my short fiction was a worthwhile experiment, I believe it was also a failed one. In the beginning, it seemed like the right decision. The books sold a few copies on iTunes and Smashwords and, while the royalty deposits were small, I was being introduced to new readers outside of the Amazon eco-system, which is a worthy goal all by itself.

But sales petered out fairly quickly, and I didn’t have the time to constantly promote these titles in order to keep them going. I participated in a couple of sitewide sales on Smashwords, but that didn’t do much to breathe new life into them. And as I got busy writing a new novel, plus the upcoming Broke Author, plus doing a revised edition of my first indie novel in preparation for releasing the sequel, these shorter books became an afterthought.

Afterthoughts don’t help indie careers grow.

And so after a lot of thought and some research, I decided to move them back into Select — and into Kindle Unlimited — based on the following logic:

  • Short fiction seems to do better in KU than in wide release. This has, at least, been my experience. When my shorter books were in KU before, I got a small but steady stream of revenue from Amazon, and I also got the occasional unsolicited review. This has not been true since taking them wide. Here’s a good post from Hugh Howey about other benefits of having your short stories in KU–it’s a few years old, but I think a lot of it still holds up.
  • KU readers seem to be more willing both to take a chance on new authors and to read shorter works. This makes sense considering anything they choose to read is already paid for, which makes it all feel like free.
  • KDP Select provides tools that make it easier to run regular promotions to keep drawing attention to your books. It’s also a fairly simple matter to go in reguarly and tweak categories and key words for each title in order to improve visibility and discoverability with new sets of readers. This episode of The Creative Penn discusses that process in depth (transcript included for those who prefer to read).

With all of that in mind, it seemed like a pretty obvious choice.

I’m still working out my business and publishing plan for 2019, but I’m pretty sure that in the coming year I’m going to be experimenting with a model of continuing to release short fiction exclusively in KU (perhaps after first sharing it on Wattpad or with my author mailing list subscribers) while releasing full-length novels and non-fiction books to a wider audience.

What about non-Kindle readers who want to read my short fiction? Eventually, when I’ve got enough of them to justify the printing cost, I’ll collect them into a paperback edition, which won’t be seen as competing with KU.

At any rate, that’s the plan for my current self-publishing model. I’ll keep you posted and let you know how it goes.

Questions? I’d love to answer them in the comments. I’d also love to hear about your own experiences with KU/Select vs. publishing wide.


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