KDP Select: Is It Still Worth It? Thoughts for 2013

kdp select 2013Yes, I’m going to talk about KDP Select again.

I’ll let you in on a secret. My previous post on how to maximise your KDP Select free days is rather popular with the Google searchers. Maybe it’s because of good SEO, or content, or whatever — I don’t know. But the fact that tonnes of people seem to hit this post every day makes me determined to keep my KDP Select experiences up to date.

Where do I stand on KDP Select going into 2013?

Pretty much in the same place, with a few alterations. I’d recommend reading my last post on KDP first. That’ll get you to grips with the basics behind my philosophy and attitudes towards Amazon’s brilliant tool.

Done? Of course you haven’t, but what the hell. Here’s a few updated attitudes in light of a recent KDP Select promo of What We Saw, my debut novel.

1.) When coupled with promotion, KDP will put your book into the hands of tens of thousands of new readers.

I hear a lot of authors complaining about how KDP Select just isn’t effective anymore. It was a bubble, and that bubble burst long ago.

To that notion, I call bullshit.

Here’s why: I just gave away 11,000+ copies of my novel, What We Saw, over a two day period. It’s a standalone debut novel, so no, you don’t have to have a series, and no, you don’t have to have loads of books.

All you need is promotion. Free promotion.

I’d highly recommend signing up over at AuthorMarketingClub if you want to get the most from your KDP Select promo, and submitting to every single one of the websites. At least a few will mention you, and when they do, they’ll get you from the hundreds to the thousands, and beyond.

What We Saw was mentioned by Free Kindle Books & Tips — one of the ‘big three’ — which no doubt boosted its free run.

2.) Show no fear and you’ll go far

I spoke about the whole ‘aspiring author’ problem earlier this week. I think that sometimes, it’s natural to be a little afraid about doing such a major promo. Thousands of readers… maybe tens of thousands. Sounds great, right?

But what if I’ve made a mistake in my book? What if my cover isn’t good enough? What if…?

And before you know it, ‘Well I’ll just use this promo as a test run. Maybe it’ll do okay.’

And you end up with just a few hundred downloads, perhaps sinking to the lower regions of the Amazon charts as a result of limited exposure.

Every KDP Select free day should be treated as a major promotional opportunity. It should be seen as a way to boost sales and increase visibility. Sure — getting your book into the hands of hundreds is okay, but I’d bet only a few of them will read it, and even then you’ll have no chart exposure to help you push on.

Drop those fears. My last post pretty much covered everything in this respect. If your book ticks all these boxes, you’re good to go.

Which leads to my next point…

3.) The marketing doesn’t stop when the book moves from free to paid

Another problem authors appear to have with KDP Select is the lack of impact it has on post-free sales. Again, I disagree with this because What We Saw is selling at a better rate now than it has at any other stage this January.

Why do some people not sell any post-free while others flourish?

Again, it all comes down to promotion. I’d recommend putting aside £25-£50 for every KDP Free promo and invest it in promotional opportunities. I’m partaking in WLC’s ‘Social Media Mania’ package today to keep things going, as well as a couple of others. Choose your favourites and go from there.

4.) If a book isn’t performing in KDP Select, pull it from KDP Select

Sounds simple really, but if a book isn’t grabbing many downloads despite promotional efforts (I’m talking somewhere below 1,500-2,000ish), then pull it from KDP Select.

Edward Robertson describes promoting a hard sell as ‘pushing a boulder’, and I rather like this analogy myself. Silhouette, my sophomore short-story, never managed to pull in more than 1,000 downloads despite my best efforts, so instead of persevering with KDP Select, I made it available on Smashwords, Kobo, and other stores. It grabs the odd sale every now and then on Amazon, and will no doubt increase in popularity when I have more books out, but for now, I’m experimenting making it available everywhere.

I think I’ll pull Something in the Cellar from KDP Select next month too. Although I achieved around 5,000 downloads last time, topping the short story charts, I didn’t see enough of a post-free boost to warrant giving away so many copies. I think short stories in general have a hard time in Select, particularly with reviews (‘but it waz so short!’) so perhaps make them as widely available as you can. Maybe make one perma-free when you have a few books out.


We’re well into 2013 now, but how have my views on KDP Select changed since day one? Not a lot, really. For short stories, KDP Select probably isn’t worth it, unless you’re a seriously prolific short story writer. For novels, particularly newer authors (say, 3-6 novels available), I think it’s worth it. A free promo once every 90 days seems to be enough to give a book a temporary shot in the arm.

Keep writing more books and don’t worry about promotion too much, other than the sort I’ve described in this post. New releases = more popularity = more sales = more money = making a living off doing what you love: writing. That’s the ultimate goal, right?

Use KDP Select as a platform to start your journey towards that ultimate goal. There are few better platforms, that’s for sure.

This post now has a sequel. You can access it here

Where do you stand on KDP Select? Have you had any good or bad experiences that you would like to share?


  1. Ryan
    I pulled ‘A Construct of Angels’ from KDP Select as soon as the 90 day period expired, feeling that exclusivity might be strangling my book. I then uploaded the book to Smashwords, Kobo, and Scribd in the hope that I would reach more readers.
    Since then I have sold no books on Amazon, none on Kobo, none on Smashwords and Scribd shows 27 Free (Premium) reads with no purchases.
    I miss KDP Select already…it was slow, but steady.
    I AM correct, aren’t I, that to qualify for KDP Select, the book must be exclusive to Amazon?
    I know that this sales slump can probably be put down to slow marketing. However, with a full-time job, I have little time to do much more than word-of-mouth, Blogging and Tweeting. I have doubled my Twitter following, increased my blogging followers by more than 50% in January, but still…no interest.
    However, all this has made me more determined to finish my sequel and get more material on-line.

    • Andrew – firstly, good for trying other routes. It’s always great to work out how the other websites work for you. The truth is, Kobo/Barnes & Noble/Smashwords are worse than Amazon for visibility, which happens to be pretty good (but still tough, obviously).

      I think you hit the nail on the head – the key is releasing more works. But I think a little bit of marketing helps. It’s wise to plan a free promo well in advance — I learned this the hard way with my short stories. For this particular free promo, I planned it last November, started contacting sites around then.

      And I waited, patiently.

      Fortunately, it’s paid off, then again I think fortune only accounts for 10, maybe 20% of it.

      How has it impacted my post-promo sales? I don’t like going too in detail with figures, but we’re talking in the hundreds over a three day period.

      I no longer ‘market’ as such – I’ve seen enough failings with people throwing everything into Twitter campaigns and shiny launch days to shy away from that. All I do, and will do, from now on, is tell my followers when I have a new release out, ask them to share it, and go from there.

      Then I start planning for my first free promo. Marketing outside free promos is pretty pointless, unless we’re talking about the following week, where I’d say it’s crucial to sustain visibility.

      Good luck, and keep focused on the new book. I know I’m doing the same. It’s a tough old road but a rewarding one nevertheless, huh?

  2. Thanks for the common sense advice, Ryan. There’s a lot of opinion on this subject, so it’s good to get some clear sight.

    • No problem, Harry. Glad you found the advice useful. Good luck implementing it should you decide to take the Select route.

  3. Sir,
    You have a great blog.
    Do you have any tips (aside from “write a good book!”) for increasing your chances of getting mentioned by the likes of Free Kindle Books & Tips (and/or the other two of the “big three”)?
    Many thanks.

    • Hey, thanks for the comment and the kind words. Glad you’re enjoying the blog.

      As for approval tips, it’s an interesting one. I’ve never managed to get onto PoI, but EReaderNewsToday and FKBooks&Tips I’ve had a little more success with. The main things I’d advise is to make sure you have a few reviews for your book as well as an eye-catching cover. Both of those and a bit of luck, of course!

      All the best,

  4. Amazing posts, Ryan. Inspiring. It’s good to see someone who works as hard as you do get ahead. Absolutely Terrific. Kirk Alex. (Author: Lustmord: Anatomy of a Serial Butcher; writer/Director Lunch Meat, a horror flick I was involved in back in the mid-80s.)

  5. Hey thanks for the great post Ryan, very helpful and informative to a KDP Select newbie like me; I really appreciate it.

  6. I’ve only just discovered your comments on KDP Select and
    must say they are some of the clearest and most honest I’ve
    read online.

    I discovered, or rather tripped over this form of promotion
    nearly a year ago. I didn’t know what I was doing but did
    manage to get a few downloads and even more importantly a
    couple of good reviews.

    Recently I’ve read more widely and as my novel is a romance I am using
    Valentines Day as the focus of a three day give-away.

    I would just mention I’ve used The Independent Author Network
    http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/free-ebooks.html in my promotions.
    You have to be a member but membership is free.

    Thanks for all the good ideas on your blog.

    • Thanks, Philip. Please note that a lot of the data in this post has been updated to reflect the fast changing environment. Check out this post (and the post that follows it) for updated KDP Select thoughts: http://ryancaseybooks.com/kdp-select-free-part-4/




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