No actually, as it turns out. Only via Amazon, and almost never via email attachment. The road to getting most things right as an Indie publisher is a steep learning curve. Knowledge is unlikely to magically appear if you can’t even imagine what questions to ask, and haven’t much of a clue what knowledge is required anyway. Most of us learn from mistakes, both large and small, along the way, and what with the continually changing and growing world of self-publishing, we really are learning all the time.
Having up to now had some of my books published for sale on Apple and Smashwords and all the rest, I wasn’t concerned about Amazon KDP Select rules as they didn’t apply. Now though, after MONTHS of working really hard to get them off Smashwords supplier sites, I’m being as careful as possible not to break any of them. I’ve decided that for this year at least, my current books will be published exclusively with Amazon and CreateSpace. With CreateSpace extended distribution my paper books are still sold by Barnes & Noble, and with the perks of KDP Select, I’m very happy with the status quo.
One rule that many of us might not have known before, is that with KDP Select you can only distribute your eBooks through Amazon. You can send copies to “professional reviewers”, but not to anyone else. This appears to include not being allowed to send out digital books as prizes in competitions. You can only distribute free books via Select’s five free book promotion days every three months. Any eBooks distributed BEFORE you sign up for KDP Select are alright, so don’t panic if you did that while not signed up for Select. You can send your paper books to anyone you like though as prizes – you’ve bought and paid for them after all.
You are not allowed to gift any eBook in exchange for a review, and if you do ever review a gifted eBook, make very sure to add a disclaimer to your review on Amazon. You are not allowed to swop reviews. I do review the books of some authors who have already reviewed some of my books, but only when I’ve bought the book, read it, and honestly liked it. I think you’re safe doing this if you don’t do it often, and are also reviewing the books of mostly unknown to you authors, but certainly don’t make review swopping part of your Indie trip, or you could find your book booted out, and your reviews taken down. If you write books on grammar, writing a scathing review of another author’s book about grammar might be taken as breaking Amazon’s rule of reviewing the books in your own field. All in all, with reviews, authors should definitely tread lightly – and certainly read Amazon’s policy on them so as to be safe, rather than sorry.
In fact, reading Amazon’s terms before we all zoomed off to publish would probably have saved some of us intrepid Indies a bruised knee or two. I’ve figured out that the two US dollars extra I pay for any eBook I buy from Amazon is for the privilege of having an account there as a non-US citizen, and this is fine with me, because it is a privilege. Buying eBooks from Amazon is a lot simpler (and mostly cheaper even with the surcharge) than buying them around here. I could never figure out why my royalty payments were different for my novels when they had the same prices though, until I got stuck into that old fine print. Turns out that your royalty at the higher rate is X minus relevant VAT minus cost per megabyte book file size. Authors pay for the delivery of their books every time a reader buys them. It’s only cents per MB, but it is a good thing to know when you’re planning on publishing a book chock full of images. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned along the Indie path, is to always read the fine print, and the best advice I could ever give to a new self-publishing author just starting out on this road, would definitely be to figure out the rules first. Happy scribbling fellow Indies.