Thoughts On Amazon’s KDP Select Program (aka my own personal experience with it)

Blarg. I was planning on writing this one like, a month ago. But better late than never, eh? Yeah, whatever.

So, this is by no means the definitive “SHOULD YOU OR SHOULD YOU NOT” on KDP. This is just me throwing in my two cents into the now ocean of opinions regarding whether or not you should try out Amazon’s KDP Select. Spoiler alert: I liked it.

Now, down to the nitty-gritty stuff.

What is KDP Select?

It’s a program for self-publishing authors on Amazon. Basically, you promise to only distribute your novel through Amazon (and CreateSpace), and they’ll promise you 75% of the royalties, plus a bunch of other benefits.

If you’re making a shitload of money on Smashwords, for example, then this probably isn’t the best deal for you. However, if the most sales you get is from Amazon, then this should be kind of a no-brainer. Also, if you’re just starting out and have no idea which is what and where to begin, then here’s a little tip: the most sales you’re gonna get is probably from Amazon. So yeah, it’s better to start there anyway.

Now I’ve talked to some people before, and the fact that KDP requires exclusivity for Amazon is generally where most authors have a problem. That’s where the dealbreaker is. Personally, I wasn’t planning on publishing on Smashwords or B&N anyway, so it was the obvious choice for me.

You mentioned other benefits, asshole. Go back and talk about the other benefits.

Ah yes, the other benefits. Now here comes to fun part. The biggest goodie that comes along with KDP Select (other than the 75% thingy) is the promotional tools that come along with it. Namely, the Free Book Promotion and the Kindle Countdown Deal.

What the hell is the Free Book Promotion?

It’s exactly what it sounds like. For a short period of time, your book will be free to download.

What the hell is the Kindle Countdown Deal then, smartass?

This is a rather interesting tool, if I should say so myself. It’s a schedule-based discount program. So like, on day 1 your book is $0.99, on day 2 your book is $1.99, and so on. To be completely honest, I haven’t really tried this one out yet, but it definitely sounds fun to use (well, maybe not fun, but you get the point).

One more thing: you can’t run both the Kindle Countdown Deal and the Free Book Promotion at the same time. Which is hassle, I suppose, but can’t be helped.

Alright, enough boring stuff. How well did you do?

I decided to use my first novel, She Pulls Off the Interstate, as my first real tryout of the Free Book Promotion program.

A bit of a shameful plug, but you get the picture.

A bit of a shameful plug, but you get the picture.

Now, I wish I had thought this out before and snagged more screenshots, but I suppose you’ll just have to take my word for it. Before running the program, my novel had 3 reviews and only a couple of purchases. Lee Child, I am not.

By the end of the promotional deal, I had ~9500 free downloads, which in turn lead to around a 800% increase in sales (which still turned out to be chicken scratches, but hey, I earned each and every one of those sales).

As you can see, only 3 reviews.

As you can see, only 3 reviews.

The biggest benefit I got from this, however, was more reviews. Currently at the time of this writing, I now have 29 reviews for an average score of 3.4. This made me very happy.

Also, as you can see, at the highest point of the promotion my novel was #36 on Amazon’s Top 100 Free Books, and at a freakin’ #1 on it’s own genre, Free Crime and Fiction. Which also made me feel very happy.

So let’s pretend that I care. How did you do it?

Apparently, getting around 9500 free downloads is not the norm. So here’s a couple of tips to help you out, cause I’m egotistical that way.

(Before we begin the list, I’m going to assume that your book is in fact readable. There’s no point in running anything if it has not been properly edited.)

1. Get a good cover.

No fucking brainer here. People will be less likely to download your book if it’s got a shitty cover.

2. Schedule your promotion at least 6 weeks ahead of time.

The specifics here is a little hazy. I’ve heard some people say 4 weeks is okay, but personally I did 6 weeks. This way, you can promote buzz for it much easier.

3. Schedule your promotion sometime between Monday through Thursday.

Most people buy stuff on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The last thing you want is to cut in on your potential sales.

4. Have at least a couple of reviews of your book beforehand.

The recommended is around 5-8 reviews. Obviously, I didn’t go by the recommended number. This probably did actually hurt my numbers, but I couldn’t help it. If you’re a struggling self-published writer, then you too should understand the difficulty in procuring those first few reviews.

5. Use every single promotional tool you have available.

Now this is the biggest part. You can’t just schedule a Free Book Promotion and do nothing about it and watch the downloads roll in. You have to promote it. How? Well, the most obvious thing you can do is promoting your deal on websites that specialize in telling others about free books on Amazon. A good starting point is the Author’s Marketing Club: http://www.authormarketingclub.com/. While most of its goods are for premium members only, the tools that are freely available are a great place to get a footing.

Also, most promotional websites require you to notify them at least 4-6 weeks ahead of time (this ties in to point number 2 above). So the earlier you notify them, the better.

And use Facebook, Twitter, etc. as well. There’s no such thing as over-promoting.

Well, that wasn’t helpful at all. Anything else?

Nope, not really. That’s really all I got to say. I love KDP Select, and I’m totally not getting paid by Amazon to say that (Dear Amazon, please pay me). It’s been a great tool for me starting out, and I’m sure to use it again in the future. I suck at conclusions, so here’s a link to my book on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00G1JN3A8/

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2 thoughts on “Thoughts On Amazon’s KDP Select Program (aka my own personal experience with it)

  1. Congrats on your success with KDP Select. I tried it with my novellas, but ultimately decided wide distribution is best for me. I’m starting to sell more in other markets, so that exclusive requirement is a strong deterrent.

    • Definitely understandable. The exclusive distribution is the hardest thing for a lot of authors to swallow (as it well should). It’s a tough commitment, to be sure.

      Just out of curiosity, what other markets have proven to be the most successful for you?

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