Why I Won’t Be Blogging About Amazon KDP Select


Except of course that in telling you why I won’t be blogging about it, I am blogging about it. Oops.

Well, take out the word “blogging” from the title of this post and replace it with “writing instructional posts, explaining it in too much detail or advising anyone either way on whether or not you should or shouldn’t enroll your books”, and then you’ll understand what I really mean.

Of course, that would have been a much longer blog title. Too long.

But anyway.

If you haven’t heard, yesterday Amazon announced that it was giving Amazon KDP self-publishers the option of including their titles in their Prime/Kindle Owners Lending Library extravaganza.

Cue people losing their minds. Out spilled the tweets, the blog posts, the articles. The indignation, the anger, the disbelief. The contempt for the one company that has probably done more good for self-publishers than mayonnaise has done bad for my waistline. This may or may not be true but I think I read somewhere that Amazon consulted with some of its biggest selling KDP publishers before finalizing the details—a few of them are even quoted in the release. But even this isn’t enough for the aspiring masses, for the self-publishers who have sold fewer books than the average person has highlighter pens, and they’re freaking out.

Which side is right? Is this good for self-publishers, or have we just caught Amazon with their hand in our pocket? Is this a new opportunity, or just the latest step in a chain of events that ends with Amazon owning the exclusive rights to the work of every author in the world and them forcing us to burn our old books while they watch in exchange for access to a new release? Or is this just not that big of a deal and, in the scheme of things, not even very interesting?

I don’t have the answers. All I know is this:



I don’t care what you think about KDP Select. And you shouldn’t care what I think about it either. Self-publishing is not one size fits all. You have to do what’s right for you and your career, and you should be able to do it without interference from anyone else. (Has anyone noticed that Amazon have replaced the old evil gatekeeping overlords, i.e. agents, editors and Wal-Mart book buyers, in some sections of the self-publishing evangelist world? Do those guys just have to have someone to hate?) But I have to say something about it, lest I explode, and people have been asking what I think. So I’ve decided to delete the original post I wrote in a red mist last night, and replaced it with this, the minimum I can possibly say on the subject—hopefully my first and last post about KDP Select.

This is all I’m going to say about KDP Select:

I’ve enrolled one title, Mousetrapped and Backpacked Too, which is a combination edition of my two travel memoirs that isn’t and has never been for sale anywhere other than in the Kindle store. This book costs $3.99 to buy and since I avail of the 70% loyalty rate on it, I have to make it available for Kindle lending (i.e. where people who’ve bought my book can lend it to another Kindle owner for 14 days) anyway—that’s one of the requirements for 70%. Also, it sells a handful of copies a month so I have absolutely nothing to lose by enrolling it, only potentially something to gain—more readers. I don’t think I would pull a book from anywhere else just so I could enroll it in KDP Select, but here’s what I think I would do: give KDP Select a new book for the first three months of its life (the minimum enrollment period, as I understand). Then pull it out again, and upload the book elsewhere. Why would I do this? Because I wouldn’t be in the position I am today if it weren’t for Amazon. If that ruffles your anti-capitalist feathers an uncomfortable amount then maybe you shouldn’t be publishing books at all because last time I checked, publishing—self-publishing included—was a business, not a hand-holding Kumbaya session around the commune campfire.

This is all I’m going to say about the people complaining it:

You can do what you like. I don’t care. And you shouldn’t care about what I do. But I think it’s a bit rich to be complaining about Amazon ad nauseum when you publish and sell your books through them. What’s the point of protesting if at the end of the day, you’re happy to cross the picket line? I saw a comment yesterday that went along the lines of, ‘This is IT! I’ve had it. KDP Select is the last nail in Amazon’s coffin for me. I’m withdrawing all of my books from them right now.’ Now, to me, this person sounds like a bit of a raving lunatic having a complete overreaction but, you know what? I have far more respect for that person than I do the ones who keep a foot on both sides of the fence. At least that person isn’t just being contrary to get blog hits. Their anger is real. And let’s not forget: none of this is mandatory. (And despite what someone said yesterday, it is still perfectly possible to use KDP without “accidentally enrolling” your book in Select. If you can’t figure out KDP’s simpler-than-simple dashboard set-up, then you probably haven’t formatted your book right either so, no loss there.) No one is forcing you to self-publish with Amazon. No one is even forcing you to self-publish in the first place. Here’s a little tip: do you know what I do when something makes me angry? I stop doing it. Simples.

So I’m going to take my own advice, and stop talking about this now.

Let’s never speak of this again.

Now as an antidote to all this unpleasantness, here’s a picture of a cat and dog who are friends:

Or maybe a little bit more than friends. House pets with benefits, perhaps. Either way, LOOK AT ALL THE CUDDLY CUTE FLUFFINESS.

Nice Catherine will be back on Monday. Have a good weekend!

29 thoughts on “Why I Won’t Be Blogging About Amazon KDP Select

  1. Nick F says:

    Dear Catherine (my guiding light),

    I’m a bit confused. I read this post on my first cup of coffee so forgive me if I’m not exactly clear. As I have been putting the finishing touches on my first novel, you have been my “go to” person on what lies just ahead and your opinion means a lot.

    The bottom line: I do NOT have to do this to have my book listed on Amazon, once published. Am I correct? (Because I’m not doing it).

    I have yet to explore the Kindle Dashboard as I mull over other things I need to be doing (editing, rewrites, finding a good deal on an editor, cover artist, and other matters). I would certainly just appreciate just a simple a yes or no on this question.

    On a side note…I really wish you would consider doing a post on your thoughts, experiences and etc with iTunes (or whatever Apple’s service is called).

    Sorry if this comment sounds a little panic driven, but the post made me very nervous.


    Your faithful reader in the States,


    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Nick, there’s no need to panic, now or ever. This is optional. You can still use KDP as you did before, i.e. publish your e-book on Amazon, without going anywhere near Select.

      Honestly I have no feelings one way or the other on iBooks (Apple’s store). I distribute to them through Smashwords and have had some sales, but your formatting has to be spot on to make the cut. Still, if you follow the Smashwords Style Guide to a T, you shouldn’t have any problems.

  2. Lindsay Edmunds says:

    Can’t think why anyone would wax indignant about KDP Select. It took me about five minutes to figure out it isn’t right for me now. Maybe with another book, in the future. My Christmas season advice: stop reading those blogs (don’t know what you can do about people who ask advice other than what you have just done). My brief impression of self-published authors’ reactions was much more benign: more along the lines of “I’ll look into this” or “I’ll wait and see.”

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Unfortunately I can’t avoid it completely because part of my job (the self-publishing guide, speaking engagements, delivering self-publishing courses) requires me to know what’s going on. So I’ll just have to count to ten instead! 🙂

  3. rachelenichols says:

    I’m not sure what the fuss is about. I only plan on self-publishing as a last resort anyhow–and only plan on selling 80 copies if I do. Self-publishing fiction is usually more of a hobby than a career. No offense to people like Catherine who are doing a wonderful job of it.

    As long as people have the option whether to download their books or not, who cares? Why get all bent out of shape? If you don’t want to sell your books with KDP, then you don’t have to. :/

    • Nick F says:


      My confusion is that I dont understand it.

      Opting out of the KDP Select thing doesn’t mean that my self pubbed book will not be listed on Amazon?

      That’s my question, basically.


  4. Diane says:

    Hee. Oh, I can’t be bothered with this one at all. But I have noticed that so many writers — including traditionally-published ones — are demonising Amazon for er, being a business, the only thing it’s ever intended or pretended to be. I saw yesterday that part of its US app is now to basically bribe people to use it rather than brick-and-mortar bookshops, and people are OUTRAGED. Cheeky and a bit mean, yes. But er, it’s called competition. I don’t want Amazon to be the only shop in town either, but I do want to use them sometimes. (Especially as I love my Kindle and Waterstones charges a lot more for new releases.) Indie bookshops are going to have to work out a way to compete, maybe by slightly lowering prices and greatly improving service, rather than wringing their hands and blaming the “bully”. Every problem in publishing is not Amazon’s fault, but it’s really easy to say that it is.

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Yes, yes, YES! I saw that too, about Amazon’s app. Both the announcement and the ensuing craziness. I think these people need to do two things: (i) educate themselves on what a business is and (ii) look at the spine on the books they pay more to buy from independent bookstores. Oh, what’s that on there? Is it…? I think it might be… OH YEAH IT’S THE LOGO OF A MAJOR CORPORATION.


  5. Tahir says:

    This is the funniest thing I’ve seen all day; if my chair wasn’t so sturdy I would have fallen off it. From every other blogger talking about this you would think that that this catastrophic event should be on the Myan calendar. On a serious note, If I’m a prime Amazon customer I would use my monthly quota to borrow an ebook that costs 100 bucks (and they do exist) and not 2.99. But then that would leave more of the pot for any KDP selecter’s that do get borrowed. My brain hurts.

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Sorry Tahir for some reason your comment got caught in the spam filter (?!) so apologies for only seeing it and approving it now. But yes, Mayan calendar indeed! What would they do if Amazon did something *actually* bad, like lose the 70%? I almost want them to, just to see what happens. Rioting in the streets? Probably!

  6. Mark says:

    I think it’s only fair you release the red-mist anger post free into the world.

    Particularly as I woke up to an email from Smashwords Forum headlined: KDP Select is for suckers. Don’t Join.

    And also, did you hear how they compared this to the Irish famine? I’m pretty sure this was a personal slight on us Irish. Therefore we should be angriest of all. Right?

    I am trying to stoke the fires. Unleash the beast!

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Alas the other post was cannibalized for this one and then deleted so I’m afraid you’re going to have give up this mission to bring on the red mist! 🙂 Just imagine this post plus some swearing, some very mean things and some stuff that might even get me sued for libel and/or slander.

      I will say this though (while restraining myself from going into a full blown rage): isn’t it funny that Smashwords is on board with agents self-publishing their clients work —a terrible idea, I think, and a whopping big conflict of interest—but sending out “Writers Beware” warnings about an optional add on to your Amazon KDP existence that you don’t even have to use? And if I read “force” or “forced” in the SW announcement about it one more time, I was going to be sick. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO FORCING OF ANYTHING, BECAUSE YOU DON’T HAVE TO FREAKING DO IT!

      Then I read, again, in relation to SW, that yes, most self-publishers find the majority of their sales come from KDP, but that’s because, it was explained, they have the biggest share of the e-book market (um, YEAH) and that by enrolling your book in KDP (i.e. an exclusivity deal), you’re reenforcing their market share and eventually, their monopoly. So by selling books with the person who is already selling most of your books and ignoring or relegating to second string the person who hasn’t really sold very many of your books at all, you’re… um, what are you doing? Becoming a socialist, maybe? I’m confused. And now you know how I feel about COMPLETELY INAPPROPRIATE METAPHORS AND COMPARISONS, but you know what that reminded me of? It reminded me of when I used to be an angry atheist (I’m just a mild-mannered atheist now) and I used to discuss religion with people of faith. I’d say something like this, “If God is real, why doesn’t he just show himself? Why doesn’t he just talk to us?” and the believer would say something like, “Because God is divine and humans can’t understand divine beings; it would be too much for us. So he can’t.” And I’d say, “SELF-CONFIRMING DELUSION.”

      As the Irish famine thing, I’m not even sure who should be offended. Presumably we, the Irish, are the self-publishers stupid enough to go along with tenant farming, but are the British the big bad Amazon who are forcing us to do it? Because if so, I think they should be as offended as us.

      And what’s next for self-publishing? A metaphor involving the Holocaust?

      *counts to ten*
      *breathes deeply because counting to ten doesn’t work*
      *pops a Xanax*

      (Oh, Mark. You are SUCH a bad influence.)


  7. Peter Jones says:

    It could just be me, but does that kitten look like it’s elbowing the puppy out the way so that it can be first in line for something? Cuddly Cute Fluffiness? Hmmmm. I think not 😉

  8. Theanne says:

    Enjoyed your post…I’ve shopped for just about everything at Amazon (for years)…no body from Amazon has every come around and slapped me silly till I bought from them. How difficult is it say “no” I don’t want to do this?

    One of these days I’m going to get around to ordering one of your books, really I am! I’m old I forget!

    I discovered you have one of my blog friends “on my (your) Google Reader,” Peggy from Organic Growing Pains…Peggy was one of my first blog followers, back when I had a little bitty gardening blog!

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Thanks Theanne! I think something missing from all this Amazon bashing is the concept of free will. You don’t HAVE to shop from there, you don’t HAVE to self-publish there (or anywhere) and you absolutely don’t HAVE to enroll in KDP Select. That’s why there’s an enrollment process—because you have to opt in if you want to take part. But “Amazon Gives You An Option to Do Something” doesn’t make a good headline, so they have to minimize that fact to get hits and readers.

      Peggy is actually my aunt! If you haven’t come here through her blog that’s an amazing coincidence! 😀

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