Can You Blog a Book and Use the Amazon KDP and KDP Select Programs?

ID-10065943In November 2012 I wrote a post about publishing your blogged book as a Kindle ebook. It only referenced the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program, not the KDP Select program. At this time, I’d like to update that information since I get asked about this often. Also, it has ramifications for your blogged book. Additionally, it’s not uncommon for those blogging books and booking blogs to get scary notices from Amazon when they upload their books to the KDP program. I want you to be prepared and to understand what is happening.

When you finish your blogged book and decide to publish it as a Kindle ebook, you have two choices, KDP and KDP Select. The KDP Select program asks you to give Amazon exclusive rights to sell, or distribute, your book for 90 days. That means you do not have the right to sell it anywhere else in digital format during that time period. Notice that I used the word “rights.” You are giving away distribution rights when you opt for this program. What you gain is the ability to give your book away for free for a number of days during that exclusive period as a promotional tool, or provide readers with limited-time discounts through Kindle Countdown Deals. You also receive the promotional perk of having your book included in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. However, your book will not have the opportunity to gain readership in the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or anywhere else until you leave the KDP Select program.

Additionally, if you choose the KDP Select program, you will have to take down all but 10 percent of your blogged book, or only blog that small a portion—which defeats the purpose of blogging it to begin with.

If it sounds as if I’m not a proponent of this program, you’re right. But you can read more about the reasons you might not want to use KDP Select from Smashwords.com founder Mark Coker. This post offers his objections and references other posts he has written including one for a blog of mine.

Blogged Books and Booked Blogs CAN be Published on Amazon

Let’s start with the basics: The claim you may have heard elsewhere that Amazon’s KDP program does not allow publication of blogged material at all, is false. As a blogger, you can choose to publish your blogged material in an ebook with the normal Kindle program (KDP) or the KDP Select program; both allow blogged material. (You also can use CreateSpace to produce a print on demand book.) According to Brittany Turner, an Amazon representative, “KDP does allow writers to sell material previously published on the Internet, as long as they are the rights holder.”

That said, know that you will be asked to prove that you own the rights to your blogged book.

Beware the “Temporary Hold” Email

When you upload your blogged book on Amazon as a KDP ebook, or even as a print book on CreateSpace, you will be asked as you fill out the application if you own the rights to the material. Later, once you’ve actually uploaded your document to the system, Amazon will discover the material in your book also exists on the Internet—on your blog. At that point, it will put a temporary hold on publication to determine if you do, indeed, hold the rights to the material. That’s when you may receive a scary email notifying you that this has occurred.

For example, one of my clients called me in a panic when her blogged book was not immediately approved as an Amazon Kindle book in the KDP program. She was on a deadline to get it released. She was waiting for the approval to come through, but instead she received an email telling her the book was under review. Subsequently, her Amazon account was blocked. A few days later her account was “unblocked,” and the ebook published, making her release late and causing her a fair amount of stress.

You can make sure your Amazon Kindle (or CreateSpace) experience is a pleasant one by understanding why things happen the way they do and being prepared for the process. Let’s look at what normally happens and why.

Turner explains the process: “When submitting content that is also freely available on the web (such as content from their blog), a temporary hold may be placed on the book until the author confirms they have publishing rights to the book and control where the book is distributed.”

You then have to prove the content in your book came from your personal blog, and not someone else’s blog, and that you do, indeed, have rights to the content and to decide how and where that content is distributed. “These should both be true for someone’s personal blog,” says Turner, which means you won’t have a problem getting your blogged book approved via CreateSpace or through the KDP Program.

Proving to Amazon You Own Your Blog Content

When you get that email from Amazon saying your book has been placed on temporary hold and asking you to prove you are the rights holder, don’t panic. Simply comply with Amazon’s requests. Remember, the fact that you blogged your book means getting one of these emails is an inevitability if you self-publish using Amazon.

It’s best to be prepared, so here’s what you will need to provide when that email shows up:

1. The URLs for all websites where the content is published.
2. An explanation as to why the content is available online.

Turner noted that this information must be sent to Amazon within five days. “Once that occurs the book should be cleared for sale shortly after,” she said. “If authors have questions they can always get in touch with us here: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/contact-us.”

Don’t expect to be able to call anyone with questions or to have a conversation. They won’t call you either. Your only communication about the rights to your blogged material will be by email.

I know finding your book on temporary hold may be disturbing—even annoying, but keep in mind that this action is to protect you. You wouldn’t want someone to publish your blogged material in their book, right? To ensure that doesn’t happen, Amazon verifies ownership of previously published material on the Internet.

It’s all good…and you can still publish your blogged book.

KDP vs. KDP Select

Now, KDP Select is a different story entirely if you have blogged your book or booked your blog.

When you sign up for the KDP Select program, you cannot distribute your ebook anywhere other than Amazon for at least three months—including on your blog. If you visit the site, you can read this explanation of the program’s exclusive publishing agreement:

“When you choose KDP Select for a book, you’re committing to make the digital format of that book available exclusively through KDP. During the period of exclusivity, you cannot distribute your book digitally anywhere else, including on your website, blogs, etc. However, you can continue to distribute your book in physical format, or in any format other than digital,” Turner explained.

That means you can’t upload it to other distributors, such as Smashwords.com, Barnes & Noble or Bookbaby.com. The only one who can sell the ebook version of your booked blog or blogged book is Amazon–not even you. And the only people who will be able to read your ebook are those who own a Kindle or who use the free Kindle reading apps on their devices.

That explains why one of my blog readers left me a comment on the original post on this topic and explained that she contacted a Kindle Select rep and was told: “You may offer a sample, excerpt or teaser of your KDP Select-enrolled book on your website, as long as it doesn’t include a substantial portion of your book’s content. Up to about 10 percent of the book’s content is a reasonable amount.

“Keep in mind that a sample of your book is also available on your Amazon.com detail page, and we recommend linking to your detail page from your other sites.

“You may also put similar samples on other websites. We strongly recommend you clearly indicate in the title of your sample that it is a sample, so that there won’t be confusion regarding availability of your book on another sales channel.”

This book blogger received difference information because she was asking about the KDP Select program, not the KDP program. As Turner pointed out when I asked her about these details, “The new case you’re referring to is when that KDP book is then enrolled in KDP Select. KDP Select is an optional program where an author can choose to make their book exclusive to Kindle for 90 days. When an author chooses to enroll their book in KDP Select, they’re committing to make the digital format of that book available exclusively through KDP. During the period of exclusivity, they cannot distribute their book digitally anywhere else, including on their website, blogs, etc. However, they can continue to distribute their book in physical format, or in any format other than digital.”

But Your Blogged Book Isn’t for Sale on Your Site…

What if you have blogged 75 or 85 percent of your book—the first draft minus a few chapters—just as I’ve taught you to do? If you enroll in the KDP Select program, rather than the KDP program, that’s a real problem.

I realize, as you probably do, too, that having the blogged version of your book published on your blog doesn’t technically represent “selling” your book.” You may not even think of it as distributing the book. The people at Amazon don’t see the distinction. They also don’t care that the version on your blog is the first draft, is different from the final ebook version because it hasn’t been revised and edited and has 25 percent less content. Their rules are hard and fast: You must only have 10 percent of the book online at the same time that you have your ebook for sale in the KDP Select program.

The Problem

Think about that… What will you do with the other 65 or 75 percent during that time? Take it down and create a ton of 404 errors? I don’t think so. Shut down your blog? Then why did you bother blogging it in the first place? And, as I said, blogging just 10 percent won’t build you a platform. (It would test market your idea to some extent, but that’s about it.)

I’ll reiterate: If you publish your finished blogged book as an Amazon Kindle ebook (KDP), not as a KDP Select ebook, you can distribute your book using other channels, and you can keep all those precious posts intact and published on your blog. You won’t have lost any rights, and you can continue enjoying the fruits of your blogging labor as well as the benefits of having a Kindle ebook.

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici |freedigitalphotos.net

Comments

  1. says

    This is a great reminder of an issue I’m sure many authors don’t even think about during the blogging process Nina.

    It makes me wonder how much an author would have to change from blog to book for it not to be an issue in Amazon’s eyes. When I rework blog posts into e-books, the e-books are usually derivative works based on the content in my posts rather than compilations of posts edited together, though I know there can be a thin line between those two options. Any thoughts on how similar the end copy has to be to the original blog posts before they flag a book and put it on hold?
    Jennifer Mattern recently posted..Quick Tip: The Pomodoro Technique for Authors

  2. says

    What a great article on the Amazon experience. Except that you called both sections “KDP Select”. I assume the first instance you spoke about was “KDP” instead. :)

    I’ve often thought about turning some of the content on my blog into a book. Perhaps it would not be so difficult to do on Amazon as I had feared.
    Wendy recently posted..Book Review: Outlander

  3. Nina Amir says

    Thanks, but I’m not sure what you mean. I was very clear about KDP vs.KDP Select throughout the whole piece.

  4. Nina Amir says

    Jennifer,
    I’m not sure exactly, but I would hasten to bet that if you’ve edited and combined and revised, you might have something different enough. And if not, just don’t use KDP Select. What the big deal?

  5. Angie says

    My question for you is;

    Let’s say we’ve already finished the full manuscript, went through several edits to prepare it for traditional publishing, only to fall back and say “I’d rather self-publish.” Do you think it’s good idea to start blogging your book and already have a release date for the physical and e-book copy that would wind up during the blogged book and NOT after it’s all blogged?

  6. Nina Amir says

    Angie,
    Only if you finish at the point when you have completed the book minus the parts yo plant to not blog. My plan advises that you leave about 20-25 percent off the blog. I am also not a big advocate of blogging a book that has already been written, although it can be done–and I have done it.

  7. says

    I’m glad to see someone finally explain this process. I received one of those scary emails from Amazon after I published my first book. I write nonfiction/personal growth and outside of my blog I’d written a number of articles on related subjects in an attempt to begin building my reputation and brand. A lot went into that book so I was understandably freaked when I heard from Amazon. It didn’t help that at the time there was some sort of purge going on targeting nonfiction books and quite a few authors in my Facebook group reported their books had been removed from publication. Fortunately I kept a concise record of my articles and I sent a list with links to Amazon. My book was never removed and about a week later I receive a very nice email thanking me for my patience and assuring me my book was in no danger of being removed. Whew!

  8. Nina Amir says

    Marquita,
    So glad your book wasn’t taken down! It is an annoying little thing Amazon does, isn’t it??

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge