(This is a comment I originally made over at Adventures in SciFi Publishing in response to episode 156--which has a fabulous interview with Dan Wells, BTW--and I thought I would post it here as well.)
I think everyone is taking Kindle Select way too seriously.
For some authors KS makes sense. These are the indie authors who, for whatever reason, already don’t have their books up at other outlets. I don’t know why authors do this, but I know there are authors out there who do. In which case, KS has no real downside.
Other authors may want to try it out for awhile, particularly if they don’t have many sales outside Amazon. It may make sense for one title, but not another. Up to the author. But no one is “forcing” them to participate.
Personally, I chose not to participate. I want my titles to have the widest possible distribution, aside from the fact that I generally don’t approve of exclusives. (Unless SciFi Book Club wants an exclusive on the hardcover edition of my book. In that case, I am totally on board. ;) Email me, please!)
I also don’t like the payment arrangement. If they want to offer up a straight royalty, it might make more sense. But I don’t like the “pot” and I won’t participate in a program that encourages that model.
And that’s my choice. No one is forcing me to do anything.
People need to keep in mind that Amazon, like all publishers, is a business. They are not in the business of making friends with authors. They are in the business of growing their market share and making money long term. (Please see Kris Rusch’s recent article on traditional publishers and their suppliers for a more detailed insight.)
Amazon is not evil, nor are they the indie author’s best friend. They’re a business. They distribute books. I supply books, as a business. End of relationship. If I don’t like their model, I can go elsewhere. Hell, I have one story that I don’t distribute through Amazon because they won’t let me sell it for free from the get-go, and I have chosen not to make any money from that story. Therefore, even though I would get more exposure via Amazon, and even though I’ve gotten two of my other stories to show up for free, I don’t “sell” that story with them.
(Note: I sell my novel for $4.99, and short stories for $0.99, and have a few freebies so people can see if they like my writing. Plus I give away a new free story every Halloween, because I like to. My novel sells. My short stories sell. There is no race to the bottom unless you choose to participate.)
Also, I disagree with the freaking-out about KS titles getting extra ranking. So what? I don’t worry about my ranking. I sell copies of my works every month, through many different channels. That’s all I care about. The ranking system is too fluid to lose sleep over. Besides, Amazon SHOULD pimp its partners. Just like a publisher can buy co-op at a bookstore, these authors are essentially buying co-op with Amazon. That’s just business, and frankly, doesn’t effect my sales one way or the other. Someone else’s success does not diminish my sales. Hell, if I’m lucky, one of those best-sellers will be an “also viewed” for my book or something.
In short: worry less, write more. That’s how an indie author will succeed in this biz.