Most indie authors head straight for Amazon's KDP program when they want to self-publish a book, and for good reason. Amazon is the leader in the ebook market, and their system is incredibly user-friendly. Personally, I don't advocate this -- for formatting reasons, I always advise going to Smashwords first. Some indie authors can't go to Smashwords first, or at all, because of KDP Select. Some indie authors swear by KDP Select; they think it's great. Before you sign up for it, learn the truth about KDP Select, and make sure you know what you're getting into.
What's KDP Select?
When you go to Amazon to present your ebook to the world, you're going to find something called KDP Select. This is a special program for indie authors that allows you to run free promotions on your books, and if you spend any amount of time on the Kindle forums you'll learn that many indies love it.
The program certainly has its merits. Listing your book on Amazon's free list is a great way to get a whole lot of downloads (not sales, because you can't earn any money on free). This means you're potentially getting a whole lot of readers, and this is why so many self-published authors sign up for the program.
The best thing KDP Select has going for it is the free promotions. It's a good incentive, I'll admit, especially for indie authors who really want to spread the word about their work. But free promotions have a dark side, too. Kindles, Nooks and other ereaders hold a whole lot of books. Plenty of ereader owners download books because they're free. How long are those free books going to sit on those readers before they get a second or even a first glance? No one knows. Maybe it won't ever get looked at.
Yes, you're going to get downloads from running free promotions, but this doesn't necessarily translate into readers. Once the free promotion is over, the majority of indie authors find that their book sales go right back to where they were prior to the promotion. Sales rankings change quickly in Amazon, and a brief spike is commonly accompanied by a quick fall.
KDP Select isn't the only way to fun a free promotion, either. You can generate coupon codes on Smashwords to give books away for free, and you can even create special promotions to give your books away for free on your own blog.
The Dark Side
There's one huge drawback to KDP Select that makes it a deal-breaker for lots of indies: it's an exclusive arrangement. Once you list your book with the program, you cannot sell your book anywhere else until you pull it from the program. This means you can't sell it at B&N, Goodreads, Kobo, Apple or another other online ebookstore. Amazon does have the biggest chunk of the ebook market...but they don't have the whole pie. Once you enroll a book in KDP Select, you're automatically limiting yourself and shutting yourself off from a wide group of potential readers because you're only selling your book in one place. Is it really a good idea for indie authors to limit themselves...in any way?