Saturday, February 25, 2012

KDP Select Free Days Part 2: Or My Sloppy Attempt To Make Sense Of It All

Ok so here it is... After weeks of intense research, hours of reading  blog posts until my reading glasses fogged over, laboring over charts and graphs worthy of CSI, I am happy to announce I have found the magic formula for success using the KDP "free" promo!! Ok, I exaggerate a bit. Not to say that a "magic" formula doesn't exist out there somewhere, but much like the Road to El Dorado, remains somewhat elusive. If I am to be truthful, there is one thing that emerged  from my "research" above all else,and it's how varied the experiences have been thus far.  This post is my meager attempt to make sense of it all, sort through others' experiences and try to find the answers to some questions I have as my next 3 day "free" promotion of JUDGMENT TRAMP approaches (2/21-2/23 in case you were wondering :)
So in my attempt to gather all the various threads of thought on the KDP Select's free book promo, there were certain questions I wanted answered. I'll try to go through them one at a time and summarize what I've learned, citing other authors and blogs along the way. Many good folks have reported on their experiences and far more coherently than I , so I encourage you to check them out.
1) Obviously the number one question: Was it a positive or a negative experience for most people? I can say for certain,with few exceptions, that among the writers who have posted about their experiences, most were happy that that they participated, some ecstatic even. Results range from barely lukewarm (see Red Mojo Mama(Kathy Lyn Hall) to approaching "KDP saved my book" and "beyond wildest dreams" territory. (See John Betcher, Rob Blackwell, Ellis Vidler, David Kazzie, David Wisehart). Positives far outweigh the negatives in reports by participating authors. Of course, I suppose there is that possibility that only those with success stories to share are sharing, but from reports it would appear that KDP Select has been a boon for many. The immediate results have made a lot of people happy, but still there is a long term, wider impact that is still unknown, and for some the jury is definitely still out. (See Derek Haines and R. S. Guthrie's post/discussions)
2) How many days should a promotion run in order to gain the most, and which days are the best? Most seem to agree that a promotion needs to run a minimum of 2 days for the book to gain momentum.  One exception was Colette whose letter was posted on Ashley Barron's blog. She felt grouping the free days together  was "a waste" and felt it more beneficial to spread them out for advertising and exposure of your book.  In general though, one day just doesn't give enough time to gain the downloads needed to propel a book into the bestseller lists. As Katie M. John says in her excellent post, "It would seem (from very early analysis) that it is better to block the promo days together. Allowing more time for the book to travel up the freebie charts gets it far more visual coverage on the Amazon sites" 
 As for what days seem the best? No clear consensus, however Pixel of Ink warns against the first of the month as there is a glut of free books offered on those days. What seems to make the most sense to me is to offer your book for free during the week. People who get lots of sales report most of them happen over the weekend. Therefore, wouldn't the best strategy possibly be to offer the book for free during lower sales days and watch it soar into the best seller ranks, where it will be ready to attract sales on the weekend when more people are looking to buy books? (Hint: I am going with this strategy this week, will let you know)
3) Does having more than one book published make a difference? As I mentioned in my post, My Results With KDP Select's Free Days Part 1  one of the reasons I elected to try the KDP Select program was because I had just published my first book on Amazon and felt I had nothing to lose. Worst case scenario, I figured, my book would gain some exposure, maybe pick up a few readers, and of course, those all important reviews. I still think it was a good decision for me. Obviously, if you have more than one book, and you are published elsewhere, other factors  need to be considered. In terms of gaining the most success possible, and by that I mean the whole shebang-exposure, readers, ranking,sales,reviews- it is infinitely better to have published more than one or two books.  In general, it seems that writers who had an expectation that their other non-promotional books  would see increased sales were not disappointed. Katie M. John reported, "Around 40% of the giveaway copies translated into #2 sales."  This was especially true with books in a series. Pushing one book up the ranks gives more opportunity for readers to find you and your other books. Makes perfect sense. However, once again, this theory is challenged by exceptions. as David Kazzie and Rob Blackwell have both demonstrated. Both have only one book published on Amazon and enjoyed incredible success with the promotion.
4) How were sales after the free promotion ended? This is a little bit of a mixed bag. Initially sales improved for most, while some saw sales plummet. Some like Cheryl Tardif have continued to see an increase in a book's sales. "My thriller THE RIVER is selling more per day than it was per month. My daily average has slowly been INcreasing, not decreasing as I thought it would, even weeks after my free promo ended."  Diane Rapp ( just reported today on a World Literary CafĂ© Chat forum that before her free days she was "lucky to get one sale a day and now I'm averaging 40 plus some Borrows."  Again, no hard and fast rules here. Genre matters, reviews matter, luck matters... but, in general, the free days affected post-sales in a positive way,  even if slightly. However, if you were like me, and had 1 review, no platform, no exposure on Amazon, and were essentially clueless at the time of your promotion, then it was less likely your sales would continue to improve after the promotion ended. I feel less clueless this time around, time will tell if I actually am.
5) And what about those borrows? I have to admit to being utterly mystified by this. One of the surprising things to me is the number of borrows that are made by Amazon Prime members  of the lower-priced books. Don't get me wrong this is great news  for indie authors participating in the KDP Select program. After all, with every borrow, you get a slice of the Prime pie. I believe for Feb. the royalty for each borrowed book is $1.60. Maybe it's me, but I never expected my $2.99 book to get borrowed. It would be nice (none to date), but I expected Prime members would use their once-a-month free "borrow" on the higher priced e-books. I mean if you have only one free borrow a month... If anyone understands this, I'd love to hear the explanation, but the fact remains many writers have seen borrows increase along with sales. 
6) One of the biggest questions as a newbie to the whole internet self-marketing thing was, what kind of advertising should I do? How do i promote my book during the free days? I am confessing here and now, I feel  as if i was an infant to the whole social media, twitter, facebook thing in December, and I only feel like a  toddler a couple months later. I am slowly getting my feet wet. I think I'm catching on to expanding my network with Twitter(and finding it kind of fun). I'm branching out into other places with a friend who is much more savvy in these things than I. I know that the more i'm out there promoting my book, building my community, and gaining exposure, the better, but it is slow going for me. This is another blog post because I am in total awe of those of you who seem to have your toe in everything and STILL write. The short of it is, I feel I am in a better spot this promotion than last, but recognize I have a long way to go. I will keep plugging away and learning from the more experienced Indie writers out there! For today, I'll share a few resources I've found. I know this is a very short list. Feel free to add on in the comments! 
 Karen Baney has a very good post with some tips to follow and Jeff Bennington is about to release his ebook The Indie Author's Guide To the Universe in which he reveals his successful methods for indie authors. He has blogged to great extent as well. I do plan on investing in this book when it's released later this month. 

This was taken from  Kindleboards
  to consider notifying in advance of your promotion:
Pixel of Ink - they have an onsite form specifically for freebie notices
Ereader News Today - use the admin addie on their Contact page
Kindle on the Cheap - email form onsite
Free Kindle Books and Tips - email Michael: kindle at gagler dot com. (You can also post on the facebook wall for free)
You can also announce the freebie at Authors on the Cheap on Facebook on the days it's free in addition to sending the notice to Kindle on the Cheap.

There are many more sites like this popping up, but, aside from Pixel of ink,  i'm not sure how many  of these have made a difference. 
Well, as I wrap this up, my thriller, JUDGMENT TRAMP, is poised begin a 3 day free promotion in the Kindle Store. This time I have some reviews, I've sort of figured the twitter thing out and have the promotion listed on several FB sites, threw a little Pixie dust around my computer, and I'm good to go...  It's free 2/21-2/23 by the way..if you're so inclined.. 

*Update Wow, as I got further along writing this, I realized what a wealth of information has been shared by other authors out there. I couldn't possibly include everyone and I know i missed many of you. Instead of listing everyone's blogs here, i've decide to add a page. I'll start putting that up in a day or two. I think everyone's thoughts on KDP Select gathered in one place would be very helpful. Feel free to add your post or one you found helpful to the comments anytime! 
**Please go to my "Gathering of KDP Select Experiences" page for additional reports and updates by authors who have enrolled in KDP Select.

** By the way, my book has been free for approximately 19 hours as of this writing, and I've doubled my average hourly download from last time, and will most likely go beyond my 2 day total for my first KDP promotion in Dec. by the end of the day.  I am currently ranked #89 in Mysteries & Thrillers! (Insert fist bump,here.). I never broke into a top 100 last time so, so far, so good for this old toddler. Stay tuned! 8^D


  1. Thanks for trying to make sense of it, Jeff! Clearly a lot of work has gone into all this research.

    I'm still thinking about the idea and it's very appealing. Your findings are making me more convinced that it's a good idea.


  2. Great post, and you clearly did a lot of research (including finding my post on the topic). As an update, I just held two more free days this week, and the book did extremely well (with free downloads). It hit #12 in the entire Kindle free store at its peak. I have some more thoughts on WHY it did so well, which I'll blog about once I can see how sales did afterward, but one thing I think I can say now is that reviews make a huge difference. When the book went free this time, it had a 4.8 average with 40 reviews. To a lot of potential buyers, they don't even pay attention to what my book is about -- they just get it. This helps explain why in the U.K., the free day netted maybe 75 "sales" a day versus in the U.S., where I "sold" more than 10,000 in the first day. In the U.K., there is only one review vs. 40 in the U.S. store. That's my theory, anyway. There could be other factors in play.
    Look forward to reading more about your experiences, Jeff.

  3. Thanks for the update, Rob! I think you are spot on with the review theory. Something I have to work on. My book is doing better than last promo in Dec. but not as well as I'd hoped. However, I only have 6 reviews as of right now. I would love if some of these "buyers' came back and reviewed which has, of course, been one of my goals with this from the beginning. As a reader myself if i see 40 great reviews, that's all I need to know to give the book a shot. I look forward to your blog update!

  4. Hi Jeff, thanks for inviting me to pop by again.

    When I had WHALE SONG on the free promo over Valentine's Day, my free downloads were well over 30,000. And my after sales not only skyrocketed me onto the Top 100 Bestselling Kindle ebooks (the overall bestsellers, not a genre list), I was floored. That's the first time I've made that list. And with it came thousands of sales in a short period of time.

    What's interesting to me is that WHALE SONG has always been a high seller for me--and it's not like my other books. It's a YA/Women's fiction crossover with a small element of mystery.

    My next most successful ebook on KDP Select was my techno-thriller THE RIVER. Again, thousands in after sales and over 20,000 free downloads.

    The next most successful was DIVINE INTERVENTION, a paranormal suspense with some romance. Another large surge in sales, though not as high as the two above.

    I'm now testing a romantic suspense, LANCELOT'S LADY. It's not doing as well. I think suspense/thrillers are probably the top sellers, with maybe YA or women's fiction next. Romance, not so good. But we'll see. I'm testing another romance, one of my author's books from Imajin Books.

    Regarding the pool for lending, as I predicted a while ago, Amazon really over-quoted the amount when they gave their example (I believe they showed $1700). If you make $17-$150 in a month from one ebook you'll be lucky. :-) I've already received my check for January. The payout for 2 ebooks was in the above range. lol

    Cheryl Kaye Tardif
    International Bestselling Author
    My KDP Select Experiment Results

  5. Thanks so much, Cheryl, for stopping by. Your results are truly inspiring! As in, you inspire me to reach those some day! :) I definitely recommend your series of blog posts on the subject. Very extensive, and I appreciate how forthcoming and specific you were about your results. Thanks for taking the time to share!

  6. Hi Jeff, interesting post and something most authors are talking about at the moment. Would love to talk to you further - if you have a moment Email me at I run an author website and would be interested in talking to you. Linn

  7. Linn- I sent you an email. Thanks!

  8. I thought I'd pop by and give you an update, since my last comment is so out of date.

    I have now earned over $150,000 as a direct result of KDP Select. That is far more than I've EVER earned. And I've only ever had one traditionally published title by a crappy publisher that went bankrupt.

    I believe my Select success is a result of figuring out how to leverage my time and promos--something I talk about in my marketing book: HOW I MADE OVER $42,000 IN 1 MONTH SELLING MY KINDLE EBOOKS.

    I currently average about $18,000 a month with Select, and I'm on track to earn over $200K this year--just from Select. a result of my success with KDP Select, Amazon noticed me and put 2 of my titles on special promotions.

    AND...a senior editor at Penguin contacted me to discuss a book deal, which did not pan out, but I have an open invite to contact her again.

    AND...2 literary agents noticed me because of Select, and the chairman of Trident Media. I signed with Adrienne Lombardo at Trident Media as a result.

    None of this would have happened for me this year if I hadn't enrolled most of my titles in KDP Select. And I'd be back to earning $1200/month instead of $18,000.

    Does Select work?? YES! If you know how to work it. :-)

    Cheryl Kaye Tardif

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Cheryl-Congrats. on all your success! That's incredible! Thanks for the update! Your book sounds like it's well worth the read :) Pop in now and then and let us know how you're doing, will you?
    ~Jeff 8^D