I recently ended my novels enrollment in Amazon's KDP program; it was in their lending library from January through March of 2013. Maybe my experience will help some of you decide if it would be worth your while to join.
I ran my first giveaway on one weekend in January, my second was a two day promotion starting on St. Patricks Day, and the third was a one day giveaway at the end of March.
The book was borrowed by 267 people: 163 in the US, 94 in the UK, 6 in GER, and 2 times in Canada.
What I have concluded is that the KDP program is a very effective tool to get your book into reader's hands, but it should be used as part of a larger marketing and promotional plan. Let me explain.
Whats good about the KDP program:
If sales of your book are slow to lackluster, for whatever reason, giveaways are a fantastic way of putting your book into reader's hands. Your book is suddenly available to people all over the world. Ten years ago, it would have cost you thousands to advertise in a single U.S. magazine. My book has been downloaded, borrowed or purchased, over three hundred times in the U.K. alone. And it feels just as incredible as you think it does when someone in Europe likes your book.
Amazon's KDP program is also cost effective. It costs me $20.00, per copy, to ship three paperback novels to the winners of my Goodreads.com giveaway. I had to order the books from Createspace and then ship them to three different cities. Not cheap, worth every penny, but not cheap. I have yet to give the paperback away overseas because of the shipping costs.
What's bad about Amazon's KDP program:
Amazon KDP customers do not win or buy books, they borrow them. It does not bind them in any way to review it and it does not mean you will be getting ANY reviews, or likes on Facebook. But that can be said of any giveaway. I just thought it was worth noting. I gave the book away in 2012 on Goodreads, 201 people requested it, 3 women won a copy, one of them gave me a review (a four star review on Goodreads). 267 people borrowed my book on Amazon.com during my last KDP enrollment, and none have reviewed it.
Keeping the book in the program can kill your bottom line. You will miss out on the money you could have made from those people who actually are willing to pay to read your story. The Amazon KDP program is a great way to get the book out there, but if sales are good, you may want to reconsider. Not only will Amazon not be paying you for the units borrowed, you can't sell your e-book anywhere else. You cannot sell, or give away your book on any other digital device during your membership. You are under an exclusive contract to distribute your book digitally only through Amazon. That's okay for three to six months, but as the months pass you may want to receive compensation for your hard work. I stress this point because I am not a big believer in giving your work away for free, or for 0.99 cents for that matter, I'll tell you why some other time. I dream of becoming a working author one day, able to pay all of my bills from my writing, so giveaways are just one of the tools I think a writer should use to distribute their book.
There are more good reasons to enroll your book in Amazon's program than not, but don't forget to try some of the other venues available for book promotion.
Well, I hope this post helps some of you. Until we meet again I will continue writing into the wind.