Sunday, January 29, 2012

How Amazon's KDP Select Saved My Book

Gather round, my fellow writers.
Click to visit my Amazon page


I have a tale to tell.

As I write this blog post on Sunday, January 29, 2012, The Jackpot is No. 68 on Amazon's Paid Bestseller list.

(UPDATE: The book ultimately reached No. 34 on the list on January 31, 2012, and remained in the Top 100 for a total of nine days. It hung in the Top 1,000 Paid for another week or so after that.)

(UPDATE #2: I ran a second free promo in late February 2012, and although it wasn't as successful as the first, I went back into the Top 1,000).

(UPDATE #3: I was included in Amazon's March 2012 Big Deal promotion, which due to prime placement for the book, got me back into the Top 200 for another 10 days or so. I also went back to No. 2 on the Legal Thriller bestseller list).

Here's a screen cap of the highest ranking for posterity.



CUE FLASHBACK SOUND FROM LOST

On the evening of January 24, my book was dead in the water. And I mean dead, like a mob witness who's been taken care of. After a promising start last summer, sales crashed, completely, totally and spectacularly, despite wonderful reviews (from people who didn't even know me!). From December 1 through January 24, I sold 21 copies on Amazon. One on BN.com. And that was it. Barely enough to fund a lunch date for me and my wife. The previous couple months hadn't been much better. To be honest, I was trying to forget the book even existed as I worked on my new manuscript, my internal doomsayer wondering how badly I'd effed my career with a self-publishing disaster.

Now, I'd first heard about Amazon's KDP Select Program during the holidays. Here was the deal: In exchange for providing Amazon a 90-day exclusive, authors get their book(s) listed with the Lending Library, which allows Prime members to borrow books electronically. Second, authors would be able to run free promos -- for each 90-day period I enroll in Select, I could make the book available for free for up to five days, divided however I liked. 

At first, I wasn't sure what to think about it, especially given the exclusivity requirement. Part of me was aghast -- how dare they ask me to pull my book from the other retailers! And then something occurred to me. Between October 1 and December 31, I had sold a grand total of .... ONE book on all the non-Amazon platforms -- that one sale on Barnes & Noble. 

Now I had heard anecdotal evidence that running a free promo later translated into real sales. There seemed to be no real explanation for this, other than the fact that a ton of free downloads gave a book good exposure on Amazon. So with nothing left to lose, I decided to give it a shot. 

I pulled the book down from all the other e-retailers (Number of People Who've Since Asked Me Why My Book Isn't Available on the Other Retailers = 0), and in the wee hours of January 25, The Jackpot went free for a two-day run. At that moment, the book had logged nine sales in January. I woke up at 6 a.m. and was surprised to see that the book had already been downloaded nearly 100 times. I knew these were downloads and not sales, but still, it was exciting to see a number other than 1 or 2 under the monthly sales tab on my Amazon report. 

The download rate increased steadily during the course of the morning, and by lunchtime, it was being downloaded more than 1,000 times per hour, occasionally pushing 2,000 per hour. And it was rapidly climbing the Free bestseller list. It got featured on a number of the big Kindle reader blogs that showcase free books each day (this was easily my luckiest break, especially since I didn't know that people often submit their books to these sites in advance of their scheduled free dates). By Wednesday night, the book had hit the top 10, with about 14,000 downloads. Thursday proved to be nearly as successful, with another 11,000 downloads, and the book spent much of the day ranked No. 5. 

As the day wore on, I became increasingly anxious about switching back to Paid status. What would happen? What would 25,000 free downloads mean for real sales? I was nervous.

I woke up early again Friday the 27th and checked to see what was going on. The book was back in Paid status, and it had been borrowed through the Lending Library for the first time. I noted a few sales hit as I got ready for work. This was pretty awesome, as I hadn't been sure what to expect -- remember, I'd only had nine sales in January, and I was set to top that while eating breakfast. Now I had heard that the big sales bump for Free-to-Paid came about three days after it came off of Free status, but I didn't know how accurate that was. Regardless, I didn't want to get my hopes up on the first day.

Then sales started to pick up. It went from 225,000 to 38,000 to 10,000 on the bestseller list in short order. Then it hit 4,573 (the best ranking the book had ever had), and although sales continued to pick up, it only rose a few hundred spots in the afternoon. I pictured the book doing mighty battle with other books in the 1,000 to 5,000 range, and I wondered if this was the Wall. Was this the place where my book would have to make its stand? 

And then it broke through. It hit No. 549 by late afternoon, and No. 151 by dinnertime. It settled at No. 76 by the end of the night, but the sales kept rolling in, even late on a Friday night. It's currently ranked No. 1 among all Kindle legal thrillers, No. 2 among ALL legal thrillers, and even No. 44 in Fiction and Literature, which I really like because it sounds very official. 

MY THEORIES AS TO WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED

This is my guess as to how a book that couldn't muster a sale a day became an Amazon bestseller, virtually overnight.

Early Friday morning, the book continued to appear on the Free bestseller list, even though it switched back to Paid. There was a little bubble above the price marked "Why is This Not Free?", and if you scrolled over it, you got Amazon's explanation about it (although I can't quite remember what the explanation is) -- regardless, the now-$2.99 book was getting bestseller exposure even though it wasn't really a Paid bestseller. This only lasted for a couple of hours, but I think it helped get the ball rolling.

Also, I had so many free downloads, the book began to appear in other books' "Customer Also Bought" pages. Amazon doesn't seem to care if these books mix together on the Also-Bought lists, so many more people were seeing the book once it switched back to Paid status, even though all its prior traffic was due to free downloads.

Other factors that might have kept things snowballing: I write in a pretty popular genre (suspense/thrillers), and I've got a pretty cool cover.

It should be noted that several other books (from different genres) that made it to the top 10 Free List on the days I was there seem to have experienced similar success when switching to the Paid list. One book, Fresh Powder, has made it all the way to No. 26.

HERE'S THE BAD NEWS

Also worth a discussion -- what doesn't help or boost sales. I hate to say it, but I'm gonna. My blog, my Facebook fan page and Twitter feed didn't help push the book beyond the confines of my regular following.

I like blogging, so I never have done it simply as a sales tool. But any sales generated as a result of my blog posts have been minimal at best.

As for Twitter: I think I'm a decent enough Tweeter -- I interact with people, I retweet interesting content, and a good number of my own tweets get retweeted. I venture outside the insulated Twitter world of writers. I like the people I interact with on Twitter and on my Facebook fan page, and those are good ways to get my blog posts out or to tell one-liner Twitter jokes (to be honest, I think Twitter is really effective for sharpening writing skills). And I don't use Twitter as a place to shill my books (I've probably sent a dozen or so self-promo Tweets, most in the days after I initially published the book).

But it's probably been ineffective as a book marketing device. Now perhaps I don't have a big enough following for it to make a difference. I know one thing -- of the few hundred books I'd sold before all this happened, a good chunk were bought by my family and friends. I did very little self-promo, especially on Twitter, because I know how poorly other authors' self-promo tweets worked on me. And the tweets I did send? Probably didn't make a lick of difference. I hadn't run any advertisements, but I had purchased two (ironically, the first one doesn't even run until Feb. 27, and the second won't run until March 31).

The thing that bummed me out the most, though, was the complete disconnect between hits on my viral animated videos and book sales. The videos continue to draw about 1,000 hits per day -- amazing, right? But my research suggests that this translated into no more than a few dozen sales -- a couple hundred at the very most. Why? Who knows? Maybe there isn't much overlap between Kindle readers and folks looking for a quick chuckle watching a video. I had truly believed that these videos would serve as effective billboards for me, and that people would make that jump from my YouTube page to Amazon and buy my book. Yeah. They didn't. In fact, not only did they not buy the book, very few even made the jump to my Amazon page (maybe half a dozen a day) to look at the book.


Click to visit my Amazon page

So. I'm not sure what any of this means. I learned that the Internet is a very, very noisy place, and that just about everyone is selling something. I learned that people aren't sitting around thinking about your book as much as you think and hope they are. I learned that all this time we worry about social media is probably best spent worrying about something else -- like writing books.

Much like I will never quite understand why my So You Want to Go to Law School video went viral the way it did 16 months ago, I don't know exactly why my book finally took off the way it did. No idea how long ride this will last, but obviously, I am very thrilled and will enjoy it as long as I can.

So, if you've been thinking about trying KDP Select, I hope this gave you some additional insight into the program.

Good luck! 

182 comments:

  1. Wow! that's awesome. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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    1. My book hit Number 6 on the bestseller list for memoir and biography when I offered it for free. I, too, enjoyed sales after pulling it out of free status, but not the kind of sales you had. Either way, it worked. I went from zero sales to 60 people buying "Again in a Heartbeat, a memoir of love, loss and dating again" in a matter of days. It was a thrill . . . and still is.

      Delete
    2. That is awesome. What a great way to finally get your book moving, thanks for sharing. I published my book on Amazon in Dec, and it's not moving like I hoped. I also put it on KDP lending but that hasn't gone anywhere either. Will have to check out offering it for free. Any advice?

      Delete
    3. Miranda,
      I am thinking I will try it again; putting it on the KDP Select free store. You get 5 days to promote every 90 days you make your book exclusive to Kindle. I used 2. That jumpstarted 65 sales. It's worth trying it again before the 90 days are up; and then renewing on KDP Select and doing it again during the next 90-day period.

      Delete
    4. I'm really glad you posted this. I saw jumps with KDP Select, but not the dramatic sales you saw. One of them hit#1 in humor/parenting/families, but the total sales weren't as mind-boggling as yours, so I think it doesn't take as much to be #1 there as it does for legal/thrillers.

      That said, I'm selling more through KDP Select than I did prior to jumping in, so I'd say it works for me, just to a lesser extent (so far - grin).

      Delete
    5. Norm,

      Thanks for the comment -- great to see you had success with your book as well. As I've said to others, the Select program turned out to be just what my book needed.

      David

      Delete
    6. This is a very honest and straight forward account of your experience with KDP Select. I is very inspiring and helpful. Thank you for your share. I stopped writing for a long time because my sales on Amazon were next to nothing. I have noticed that KDP Select jumped my sales up about 25 times their normal monthly amount. They have since jumped back down. I guess that is just how it goes. The most beneficial thing that has come out of it is that it has motivated me to keep writing.

      Delete
  2. It climbed because the ranking is cumulative based not only on sales, but also on how many people went to your amazon page, even if they didn't download a copy. So if you had 25K people downloading the book for free, those page hits counted toward your paid ranking, too.

    Congratulations on breaking the top 100. I'm not sure I'd count that as being a bestseller, but it's still a nice ranking.

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    1. Interesting -- I had never heard that was how they calculated it. Where did you learn that? Amazon is always so mysterious about everything.

      Delete
  3. Hi David,

    Thanks so much for this detailed and very honest post! You went into detail on a lot of things I've wondered about, and you've given me some ideas of what to do when I eventually finish my own novel. Interesting that the videos didn't do as much for book sales as you'd hoped. Of course, the video could help you in other ways that aren't as obvious. A popular critic might discover the video, then discover your book. One review from a top national critic might give book sales a huge bounce!

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    1. Hey Scott

      Thanks for the comment -- yeah, the video-book disconnect was disappointing, but it's a good lesson learned. And of course, the videos helped me in so many other ways, plus as you point out, maybe they're helping in ways I haven't considered yet. Maybe I should give them a pass on this one!

      David

      Delete
  4. Got here via Chuck Wendig's post about his own upcoming use of KDP Select for his novella Shotgun Gravy, and now will probably buy your book. Here's why: you have a great premise and a solid first chapter, at a price point that makes me feel I can take a risk on a new-to-me author. Just needed to land on the book page somehow. I probably would have felt the same if I'd encountered your book from your videos, but clearly this method reaches more people who'd be book buyers.

    However, I strongly dislike Amazon's monopolistic behavior and closed-ecosystem for the Kindle. And I have no need or likelihood of reading The Jackpot immediately, as I have lots of books on the to-read e-pile. Are you going to enroll in the exclusivity period again, or 90 days from now will I be able to buy the book elsewhere? I'd love to buy it via your own site best, but I'd take Google eBooks second (so I could buy via indie bookstores I want to support) or B&N third.

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    1. Hi Josh,

      To be honest, I'm not sure what I will do when this 90-day period is up. I am just trying to process the results of this thing, and want to be sure not to make a misstep -- something I am notoriously good at!

      thanks for reading, and I appreciate your interest in the book!

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the reply. Heck, if I get in the mood for a thriller, I might crack and get it from Amazon anyway. I know authors are often worriers, and I don't want you to worry further about your currently chosen sales system. Amazon is smart, and effective at getting books to people cheaply--I just really don't see their methodologies ultimately resulting in more good books of the kind I want to read available to me.

      I expect I'll be following along occasionally, though, so thanks for the blog post.

      Delete
  5. Thanks for sharing the data!

    I've been interested in trying KDP Select but, oddly enough, I can't afford to. My B&N sales for Too Close to Miss have been vastly outstripping my Amazon sales since mid-December. This makes me an extreme rarity among authors, and it's probably due to several of the factors you cite above (lucky pairings in the "Users Who Read This Also Bought ..." algorithms, only for B&N instead of Amazon).

    Congratulations on your success, and please keep sharing what you learn.

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    1. John

      thanks for writing -- interesting and great that you're doing well on BN.com. thanks for the good thoughts!

      Delete
  6. But it's evil! Amazon is evil! They give me sales!

    /sarcasm

    Glad to see yet another person having success.

    Jim Kukral
    http://www.digitalbooklaunch.com

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    Replies
    1. thanks buddy -- definitely a big big fan of the the sarcasm here!

      Delete
  7. I liked your 'viral' videos and shared a couple of them but overall I found all the 'visit my amazon page' popups to be invasive and annoying. I get the promotional angle but in the end it annoyed me enough that I didn't want to visit amazon. Tone it down a bit and people might be more receptive.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Freeze,

      Interesting point. You may well be right, and to be honest, it didn't seem to drive any traffic to my page, perhaps for the very reason you state. Something to consider.

      thanks,
      David

      Delete
    2. Links to your amazon page should go in the video description. Never use those annoying overlays on a YouTube video. I turn those off the second any video starts. They are always intrusive and annoying.

      Glad your KDP experiment worked out!

      Delete
  8. Hi, and congrats on your recent success - good to see someone other than the 'big names' (no offense!) doing OK out of eBooks. You can probably expect another jump in sales, btw - you've been linked to from John Gruber's Daring Fireball...

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    1. Hi Peter -- yeah, I'm stunned by this sudden burst of comments and hits. Amazing!

      Delete
  9. Congratulations, David. Visited this post (like many others today I imagine) because of the plug on DaringFireball.net.

    Your experience with video is similar my own in some key ways. I make a decent living from selling e-books (saveyourself.ca), but I’d like to sell more.

    I was persuaded by various marketing gurus to invest in a series of videos to promote my books. It’s the most expensive and time consuming project I’ve ever dared to take on, and the initial response seemed really great: lots of views, easily outcompeting many similar videos. But … near zero impact on sales.

    Throughout the whole process I worried about exactly that problem: what good does it do me to get views on YouTube? I need people to visit my website and read my free samples, not watch videos! Sure enough, the percentage of people who go from video to sample is so piddling that it’s just not worth it, a terrible effort-to-reward ratio. I can see how an extremely determined and expensive effort might earn me a large enough audience that it would, in time, become worthwhile … but jebus, I am a writer, not a video producer!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thanks for sharing your experience with making videos -- yup, sure seems like there isn't much overlap. I wouldn't trade the videos for anything (they helped in many ways), but I now recognize them for what they are -- a quick burst of entertainment.

      Delete
  10. A writer who writes "The previous couple months"…? You're missing an 'of'. And no, just because lots of people use 'a couple xxxx' doesn't mean it's not wrong.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. And that would be what's called a troll.

      Delete
    2. The pseudo-adjectival "couple" bugs all hell out of me and many others, but I've never heard of anyone being annoyed by its being used as a noun followed by "of." Why do this, deliberately at least? It's a simple mistake, unless you're writing dialog for an obviously uneducated character. A copyeditor would have caught it. Copyeditors do searches for "couple" just to look for this. I'm assuming now you didn't hire a copyeditor or proofreader. What other problems can I anticipate in this book? Is it amateur-hour all around, or is this an isolated glitch?

      Delete
    3. @G12, did you ever hear the phrase that starts, "if you have nothing nice to say...?" You might want to heed those words, because in this case it opened you up for the following correction: you put the period outside of the quotation marks around the word "of." That is not correct. And just because you were taking a direct quote from the blog when you decided to capitalize the word "the" in your first sentence doesn't mean it's not wrong. Something to think about the next time you climb aboard that horse of yours.

      David, this is my first time reading your blog. It gives me hope. Thank you for sharing your experience!

      Delete
    4. I can't believe I'm commenting on this, but here goes...

      @ the previous Anonymous poster: punctuation goes outside of quotation marks in British English. American style put punctuation inside the quotation marks, but ignorance, influence from software development syntax, and personal preference have led to a recent rise of British style in America as well.

      @G12: So what? Are you jealous that someone made #1 on Kindle without a copyeditor? Are you a disgruntled and/or unemployed copyeditor? Why not politely offer the author your copyediting services instead of bashing him over the head? Refer to: How to Wins Friends and Influence People.

      Delete
    5. As the second anonymous poster in this string, I want to thank the third anonymous poster for his comment. :)

      If G12 is from the UK... I apologize on that point. The fact that I'm willing to apologize, though, kind of emphasizes my point. No one is perfect, and some people should really think twice before they start to cast stones.

      Delete
    6. Aye, yi yi - pull the stick out, will you? Grammatical rules for intimate-tone blogs are a bit more fast and loose than those for, say, a college text. Communication is the key. I think DK communicated his story very well, and I for one would like to thank him for it, not correct his grammar. As we say down South, it was real good. :)

      Delete
    7. Too many dicks on the dancefloor. I'm speaking OF you Anonymous, G_12 and Mike.

      Delete
  11. Re your social marketing efforts: Just popped into your FB page and note that you do not enable friends. I think FB would work better for you if you interacted with people as FB friends. Merely an opinion is all, and of course I could be all wet.

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  12. Got here via Gruber and enjoyed your post. I will be checking out your book, as well. Good luck!

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  13. Congratulations! And many thanks for sharing your story.

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    1. thanks, M.J. -- glad you enjoyed the post.

      Delete
  14. David,

    Thanks so much for writing about your experience. This is such a period of transition we live in, especially us creative folk. Self publish, publisher? How to get the word out? What's effective and what's a time waster?

    This opened up some interesting areas of thought though.

    Am really interested in hearing about the rest of the ride and what you do indeed do after the 90 days are up.

    Hmmmmmm..... Found hidden chapters that alter the books ending perhaps?

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    1. re: the hidden chapters -- umm, let's hope not. not quite sure what you're referring to. Feel free to e-mail me at wahoocorner AT gmail DOT com if you'd like to discuss further.

      Delete
  15. Good Stuff. A friend recommended your link and I am glad he did and I am glad I read it.

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    1. Thanks, Robert. Glad you enjoyed the read.

      Delete
    2. Your experience hits home, but we are still at the "dead in the water" stage! Great reviews, upcoming reviews to be published and mentions in various Porsche related magazines and still slow Amazon sales, and nothing from B&N or iBooks. I'm following your example and will let you know how it goes. Can you please let me know how long it took to not see your book available from B&N once you "un-pubished" in Smashwords?

      Delete
  16. I have an odd question - when you initially joined the promotion manager and it asked you for the Name of your promotion, what did you call it? Did that have any effect on the outcome?

    I wonder odd things. I'm sorry.

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    1. Ward -- I think I just called it Free Book, although I can't recall if that was just a drop-down menu option. I really don't remember exactly.

      Delete
  17. You're getting Fireballed (lots of readers from daringfireball.net which typically kills the server). My suggestion is in the text above, point out that there's a button at top to your novel in the lightest of fashion. Might drive even more links.

    Have to agree, annotations on videos are terrible or pointless (I don't use Flash but HTML5 so I don't even have the option. Like the link in the description much better. Loved the crack about Harry Potter in SYWtWaNovel though it was mindless fun.

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  18. On the "getting Fireballed" topic, I found your blog via the fireball link. Found it interesting, grabbed the sample from Amazon, read it during lunch and bought the book. So being popular clearly leads to being more popular :-)

    Best of luck.

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    1. Stripes,

      Thanks. I really do appreciate it.

      Delete
  19. Count me in the "link from daringfireball" column. The sample chapter was pretty darn good so I shelled out the couple bucks and am planning on reading it next weekend on my flight from Detroit to LA. Congratulations!

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    1. Wonderful -- hope you enjoy it.

      Thanks.

      Delete
  20. Funny how these things work.

    You said that your blog, tweeting, and FBing had little impact. Maybe not when you really wanted it to happen. But I'd guess that this blog post was born from an idea for a tweet or Facebook post. Whatever the case, your blogging has kindled quite a fire.

    You had built them, so they were already in place when it really mattered.

    Congratulations!

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    1. I found this link through "St. Louis Pubisher's Association" FB group page.

      Delete
  21. Another DF referee. At $2.99 I don't need to read a sample, it's got enough good reviews, and a good enough synopsis, that I happily put down the money. Even if I don't like it I'm out less than the price of a coffee, and if I do like it I'm happy I got a bargain!

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  22. This was so informative and interesting. Good for you! Thrilled to hear that the book took off! Interestingly, I mentioned it to my eye doctor the other day when he told me what genres he liked to read. Expect sales to SKYROCKET now!

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    1. Hi Jenny,

      Glad you liked it -- and it's great to see a familiar face here!

      Delete
  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  24. Okay, this is getting crazy, I'm rather new at leaving comments on Google blogs. I deleted my first comment because the apostrophe in my name showed up as symbols, then I mistakenly replied, deleted that... I'm really not this stupid.

    Here's what I wanted to say to you:

    Thank you for this and congratulations. I really needed to hear your story. My book is about where yours was before you ran the free promotion and it's quite discouraging, but you gave me a sliver of hope. I put my book on KDP Select and am now trying to decide when to make it free. Soon I think. I was planning to wait for more reviews - I only have five now, so I'm not sure. Maybe it doesn't matter. It feels a little like playing the lottery.

    Damn apostrophe! I love it but it screws everything up and often I can't use it. I predict it will be obsolete in the near future!

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    1. Nancy -- no worries.

      Glad you found the post encouraging. I wish you the best of luck. No way to know how something will turn out until you try it!

      -David

      Delete
  25. Did I miss you telling what your sales actually became? If you left it out on purpose, that strikes me as cowardice. But if I just missed it then we know I did not read carefully enough. :-) I'm glad your book went well. And despite the missing denouement, I liked your story (this blog, not the book).

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Cowardice?

      I think he was very forthcoming about his PERSONAL experience in the interest of helping others swim in the KDP Select waters. Why would you call him a coward, just because he didn't (by omission or otherwise) not include his exact sales figures? What a sense of entitlement.

      Oh wait, am I just feeding a troll?

      Delete
  26. As non-fiction, technical, self-publisher I pine for hearing similar stories. Yet, it seems the self-publishing world revolves around fiction. So, I'm experimenting myself for 90 days to see what happens.

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  27. My gut tells me you're right, David. I didn't want to take up space on your blog with my comments, so I posted them on mine. http://marcusdehart.com/site/2012/01/30/the-power-of-social-media/
    When I get some more time, I'm going to check out the KDP Select options and figure out how I can take advantage of it. Thanks for the insight.

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  28. Yes, like Eben Visher, I too wanted to see a toal sales number to make this story complete for me. Otehr than that, great read.

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  29. Thanks for the honesty about KDP select and congrats on the sales bump - my own eBook is doing decent at non Kindle outlets, but I'm seriously considering trying KDP.

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  30. I wanted to thank everyone for their thoughtful comments and advice. For those who commented about my videos -- you'll be happy to know I've started to take down the in-video pop-ups about my book. You're right -- they were intrusive, and detracted from a fun little video that I'm still really proud of (and didn't help much at all). The description under the video will include links to the Amazon page and to this blog, and I think that's reasonable.

    Those that sampled or bought the book -- huge, huge thanks. A writer's dream come true.

    And for those picking at my grammar -- you guys rock too. I'm a card-carrying grammar ninja as well! I hate grammatical errors and cringe when I find one in my work.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Argh! Yet another thing which makes me wish I'd gone with Select! Instead I figured I'd get onto Kobo, as their device has been selling really well in England where I'm from. It struck me that all the great Indie authors in Select would be tied up with exclusivity, leaving me competition-free on Kobo!
    If it works I'll come back and let you know - as of yet, Kobo still haven't got my book up and people like you are making a killing through Select...
    Ah well! The very best of luck to you, I hope the roller-coaster carries you even further. For me... well, I'm going to have to start weighing the pro's and con's a little more carefully. But who knew? Well, everyone but me it seems :0)
    Tony

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    1. thanks for the good thoughts. Do let me know how your own experiment works.

      Everything is a shot in the dark -- you never know what will work until it works or doesn't.

      Delete
  32. Thanks for the interesting post.

    I'm coming at this from the other side--I've made my living as a fiction writer for many years and now the business I know so well is disappearing.

    What will be the value of a book? $.99? $2.99? Free? Will the fiction publishing industry survive or will it become redundant? Will B&N go by way of Borders? Will independents find a niche? Will there even be paper books in ten years?

    It may be that it's going to take a new kind of writer to figure it all out--and it sounds like you're one of them.

    Congrats on the success!

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    1. Kyle -- thanks for the good thoughts.

      As for your comment. Definitely food for thought. I love the opportunity that e-publishing has given me, but I do wonder what it means for the future.

      Really appreciate your stopping by.

      Delete
    2. Seems like technological change usually ends up being good for everyone.

      Even as a guy who benefits from the status quo, it's hard not to secretly cheer for the leveling of the playing field. Even after 12 novels, I still remember my bulletin board (called "The Wall of Shame") finally succumbing to the weight of my rejections and falling to the floor.

      I'd love to experiment with all this new tech. Maybe one of the NF ideas that have been bouncing around in my head for so many years? Who knows.

      Here's to your continued success!

      km

      Delete
  33. Thanks for sharing this. Very interesting!

    I'm going down a similar road--I scoffed at giving Amazon exclusivity until I thought about it and realized I wasn't getting any sales from the other retailers, anyway. My numbers aren't quite as impressive as yours, but one of my eBooks had about 2500 downloads over 2 days of free, and then, when it came off promotion, it showed up on 3 different Top 100 lists and has been selling/getting borrowed 50-100 times/day since.

    Now, I'm only 4 days removed from that 2 day free promotion, so I'm still keeping my fingers crossed. I also recently raised the price (to a nominal $1.99) to see what it does to sales and rankings. I'm ready to drop it back to $0.99 if that's what it takes to keep momentum going.

    Like you said, after months of nothing, it's nice to finally see some movement in sales.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Scott, congrats on your success. sounds like you're getting great traction from your free promo as well.

      Delete
  34. I can't help but wonder how Gruber (and others) linking to your blog post affects your sales.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Congratulations! I've had much more modest success with KDP Select, but then the two books I signed up were poetry and a short story collection -- not the most popular categories. However, both of them made it to the Top 20 in their categories, and they both got a bump in sales after the free promo ended. One thing I heartily agree with is that social networking is not the panacea everybody thinks it is. I get almost no sales from Twitter or my blog (okay, I don't update my blog as frequently as I should, but still). I saw a slight rise after I got on Google Plus, but nothing amazing. I think it's much more effective to just keep writing good stuff, and eventually the word will get out about you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John,

      Thanks for sharing your experience with Select.

      And yeah, lately, I wonder more and more about the usefulness of social media (beyond its inherent fun, which it definitely is).

      Delete
  36. Congratulations, I have had some success with the free promotions, but not the same as you are experiencing. I might have missed this part of the post, but did you do something specific to promote your free promotion? I have managed to get my book into the top 34 for free in genre with a twitter and FB campaign, but I can't seem to get any higher than the top 1200 in free.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. P A

      I submitted to Pixel of Ink (on the morning it was already free) -- they accept submissions of free books, although I think most people submit in advance of the scheduled free date. It also got picked up by some other large sites.

      Other than that, I did the same as you, FB, Twitter.

      Delete
    2. Thanks, I just found out about pixel of ink (or pixelo fink as I first read it) and ereadernewstoday I'll be trying them for my next campaign at the end of the month. Good luck with continued sales.

      Delete
  37. I saw your post at Joe's place and came over here. All I can say is, THANK YOU! Your experience sounds eerily similar to mine, including the sales and the recent decision to go KDP Select, which I just did on January 21. But, I hadn't placed my recently KDP Select title to free status. I thought I'd wait until I was close to pubbing my second book, but, based on your experience, why wait? I think I'll see what happens to 4 Gigs of Trouble (not legal thriller, but mystery/thriller nonetheless)if it's free for two days.

    You said your blog hadn't really translated to sales. Well, this one post translated to a colleague (me!) who will be watching for you. And hey, I like legal thrillers, so why not give yours a try!

    ReplyDelete
  38. P.S. Dave...just went over to Amazon and bought The Jackpot. See, your blog can account for at least some sales :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww, thanks -- that's great to hear. And good luck with your novel. Feel free to come back and share your experience, if you'd like.

      D

      Delete
  39. I came to the same conclusions as you regarding Amazon's program and signed up for it last week. I blogged about the results, but to summarize it here: I put one of my titles -my best selling title- up for free for one day, and had 2,000 downloads. Sales were slow the following day, only about 14, but they jumped up to 50 the next day and 100 the next. I peaked at almost 150 sales in one day (for that title alone). I have stayed in the top rankings of three separate lists (top 10 on two of them and in the top 20 of another). My overall Kindle Store ranking hasn't been close to yours, peaking at only 650, approximately.

    The results are not quite as fantastic as yours, but for a $3.99 young adult fantasy novel, I think my book is doing quite well. I'm selling more in a few days than I used to sell in a month. There isn't a doubt in my mind that this happened because of the Kindle Select program. It remains to be seen how this will play out over the coming weeks. I'd like to think sales will continue at this rate and lead to higher sales on my other titles, too. If not, well it's been fun and I'll definitely try it again. I too, am sold on this program.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jamie,

      Those sound like really great numbers for that genre. Congrats. Interestingly, my actual sales numbers have been relatively steady each of the five days since the free promo ended.

      Delete
  40. Excellent examination of the kdp select process. thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Congratulations on your success and thank you for your honesty and for sharing your experience with KDP so openly. I am waiting for my former publisher, iUniverse,(they are taking their time way beyond the stated "30 days notice" clause) to pull my ebook from other sites so that I can register my novel under KDP terms of being offered exclusively on Amazon.

    I would like to hear from you and other authors, if success with the "free days" depended on which days of the week the books were listed as being free. Do weekends work any better than say, Mondays and Tuesdays?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dianne

      I went with the middle of the week, as I had heard that those are big days for people looking at things online.

      I personally have a gut instinct that weekends are not a good day, but I have no data to back that up. I just feel like people try to unplug on the weekends more. I know I do.

      Good luck!

      Delete
  42. Congratulations on your success and thank you for sharing your experience! I followed my brothers FB wall post to this blog and I have to agree with him that this analysis very interesting not only as an insight to self publishing writers but also because you covered so many different marketing channels. The question how to get people to 'jump' from one platform to another and 'decide' to buy a product. Exactly what Facebook/YouTube etc. are battling with... So very interesting, how this all will look in 5-10 years.
    Your 'book sales battles' was a great read on top of it:)
    I live in Japan, my brother in Poland. I'm a Prime member and had a choice to read your work for free today but bought it instead;) Both Facebook and blog got you a sale today.
    Congratulations and enjoy those lunch dates!

    ReplyDelete
  43. May I ask who did the art work for the cover? It's great!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gary,

      the cover artist is Dave Fymbo. He's a fellow Kindle author as well. Here's a link to his cover art services page.

      http://designingebookcovers.blogspot.com/

      Delete
  44. Congratulations on seeing The Jackpot move up on the charts and for sharing your KDP experience with us. I read The Jackpot shortly after you published it and I think I wrote on your blog back then that I wish I'd written it myself (high praise alert!)

    I'm actually surprised that the book has been floundering for a while and glad to see that it's now getting some exposure and sales. Looking forward to your next book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks Natasha -- I remember that comment well -- one of the best compliments I've ever received.

      David

      Delete
  45. Hi David,

    Thanks for sharing all this info. While I'm probably years away from needing to use any of it (my book is just going on sub now), I found it really interesting! Best of luck with your book!

    Tara

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Tara, and good luck on submission!

      Delete
  46. David:

    First of all, congratulations! I am going to publish my book, Confessions of a Middle-Aged Babe Magnet, as a KDP Select very soon, so I loved hearing about your experience.

    You mentioned sending out an advance notice about an upcoming free promo. How do you do that?

    Chad

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MABM (great title by the way)

      there are a few large Kindle sites that cater to readers -- Pixel of Ink, Kindle Nation Daily, E-Reader News Today. I think you can submit to all of them in advance, or at least send e-mails to them. There are probably others I haven't listed that I can't remember.

      Delete
  47. Congratulations! I think it's exciting that a title that wasn't doing too well could be so rejuvenated.

    From my own experiences, Select has proven to have more pluses than negatives.

    I've been reading everything on it and conducted my own experiment to determine if it was worth signing an exclusive contract. I also wanted to know if it would affect my other titles' sales.

    You can read about my KDP Select Experiment (8 Parts now) at http://www.cherylktardif.blogspot.com

    Cheryl

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheryl,

      Thanks for sharing your experiment -- I started reading this afternoon. Very interesting.

      Delete
    2. Hi again, David. Thanks for checking out my KDP Select Experiment.

      I recently added another part (Part 9) with more details on my after sales. All in all, it's been a great success. I've enrolled 2 more of my titles and I have 2 others that I'll add once they clear distribution.

      Check it out at http://www.cherylktardif.blogspot.com

      Delete
  48. Thank you for sharing your experience! Your novel really should be a bestseller. I hope your sales continue to grow.

    And just to add to your information - I found your book on the 99 Cent Network and connected to Amazon through their link. That was my discovery process. I downloaded your book because of the reviews. As a reader, I think the Goodreads and Amazon reviews were the most influential in the decision to download (for me anyway). Had your book just been Tweeted, linked on Facebook or reviewed on a blog I would probably have ignored it. I hope this helps.

    Also - you might be interested to know that when I searched for your book later, it only showed up on Amazon.com. My geographic location always re-routes me to my county's Amazon equivalent (.ca in this case)and a search there only turned up unrelated books. So I wonder... does the Select program only reach the U.S. market? Or Select international markets?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, E.

      thanks for sharing your path to the book. It's always educational to discover how a person makes her or his way to the book. And I'm glad to know what a reader finds influential -- reviews vs. Tweets, etc. Very helpful.

      Thanks again.

      Delete
  49. Congratulations on your success! I wish you much more in the future. Thank you for the inspiring information here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Katy. And thanks for reading.

      Delete
  50. Great (and dare I say inspiring?) post. I was iffy on what I thought of the Select program, because while I'm a big fan of Amazon, I'm no fan of monopolies, and I didn't want to contribute to one. But your point about not selling any books on Barnes & Noble sort of puts that notion to bed. I have two books coming out this month; I'm going to try Select with one of them, and see how it works.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup, that resistance to pulling down your book is pride talking. As Marcellus Wallace said in Pulp Fiction -- f*ck pride.

      1 sale in three months on BN. AND that was at 99 cents. Amazing.

      Delete
  51. David, great stuff. I've had a similar experience and have maintained a #1 Ranking in my category on the first of January and the 31st of January. For me that has been huge. It's fluctuated out of the top spot a little bit, but all because of a Free day on Amazon.

    I too struggled with the concept of exclusivity, but look back now as its a no-brainer.

    Would love to here how the story progresses for you. Please give us an update toward the end of your first month.

    thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks Jim -- I will try and give an update a little bit down the road.

      Delete
  52. My novel GHOSTS ON THE RED LINE is available for both Kindle and Nook so, like you, I'd need to pull it from BN Nook in order to qualify for KDP Select. Couple of process questions: How does Amazon follow up to determine that the book is no longer available for the Nook? How quickly does BN remove the book from Nook availability and then, when the 90 days are over, reinstate it for Nook?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Peter,

      Not really sure how Amazon checks -- they may do random scans of the other retailers. BN took it down that same day I clicked unpublish. I'm still in my 90 day Select period, so no idea how long before BN will reinstate it.

      Delete
  53. Interesting post and I'm pretty much finding the exact same thing with my Wish Granter series....We went free with book one and then had a nice bounce. We're presently free with book two and that's giving book one another bounce. Can't wait to see what happens to the second book's rankings when it moves back to $2,99 tomorrow. This is a fascinating ongoing experiement - and possibly a way to produce steady income.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. indeed a fascinating experience -- and nothing would be better than this becoming a steady source of income.

      Delete
  54. Hi David

    Congratulations on your success with KDP Select. Very interesting to hear about your experiences. Although you mentioned your sales figures before you tried the free days, you don't mention them afterwards except to say they are much improved. Any clues for us?

    And although earlier on in the comments it seemed to suggest that you just publicised your free days on Pixel of Ink, FB and Twitter, did I see later on that you also used Kindle Nation Daily and E-Reader News Today as well? Any others you'd recommend?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Zoe

      those were the ones I used -- Kindle on the Cheap is another one I think I might have shown up on. They have a Facebook page (I think they have several actually, so review each one to see which one is best for you).

      Delete
  55. great to read david, your kdp experience very much
    mirrors what i know has happened for another dozen or so
    writers, i love it, with the exception of my free day that ran
    on feb 1. weird but myself and a few other folks didn't get any
    bump....my reports don't even show many downloads....

    so, will roll up my sleeves and run again shortly...write on brother!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andy

      I think the general consensus is that Feb. 1 was a lost day for Amazon -- the sales didn't update, but they kept recording them. I had a large influx of sales yesterday (but my ranking didn't change), and I think those were the ones from FEb. 1

      Delete
  56. Wow. I'm going to link to this in my Sunday twitter wrapup at Pump Up Your Book. This was so helpful. I'm getting ready to jump into the self-publishing arena just because I want to do these experiments - I thrive on experiments. Not saying mine will do as well or worse or whatever, I just wanna see. ;o)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dorothy -- great, glad you found it useful!

      Delete
  57. Congratulations, David on your success. So glad I found this encouraging blog.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Inspiring and enlightening - thank you. You mention "I pulled the book down from all the other e-retailers" how did that work for you? I've unpublished my novel on Smashwords, but it's still showing up on other retailers' sites. Really appreciate any tips on achieving the exclusivity thing.
    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eva

      I ended up contacting Diesel, Kobo and Sony directly, and they all had the book down within than 48 hours (actually Sony took about 48 hours, the others were down that same day). they all had really good customer service.

      Apple took it down on its own relatively quickly, 4-5 days, but it was down before I even started contacting the other three I mentioned.

      Delete
  59. Hey David, I followed your freebie ride on Kindleboards. Was dazzled then, am still dazzled. Well done!

    My mystery/thriller Volcano Watch had a two-day run shortly after yours, and I had good results: over 10K downloads and 250 sales of the other book in the series. After the promo, sales of both books soared for several days. It's begun to slow but that's okay because sales pre-Select were (cough) on the slim side.

    The coolest thing is that I'm hearing from readers and getting new reviews. That's why we write, eh?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Toni,

      I watched your experience on KB as well -- especially great is that the freebie pushed the other book sales as well. REally interesting info.

      Delete
  60. Hey Susan, thanks for the advice. That's just what I'm going to do. Wish me luck!

    ReplyDelete
  61. Absolutely fascinating! Thank you and Congrats!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks for reading the post, and for the good wishes, Jessica.

      Delete
  62. I'll tell you what the hell happened, you wrote an awesome book and people figured it out!! This is AMAZING! Thanks so much for sharing your story, Dave. It's encouraging for all of us. (And your videos are the reason why I will buy your books--it worked for me)

    CONGRATULATIONS!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Bethany -- FINALLY, the videos sold a book!!!! Whoo! :-) thanks!

      (I sure ask a lot of those videos.....)

      Delete
  63. David - amazing post. Fascinating! And hey! Just wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the Kreativ Blogger award this evening. : )
    http://nataliesharpston.com/2012/02/08/sharing-the-love-kreativ-blogger-award/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks Natalie glad you enjoyed the post - and thanks for the Blogger award! Very cool!

      Delete
  64. David, I've followed your story since seeing it on Daring Fireball. If you don't mind sharing, when your book was in the top 50 Paid, did that translate to sales per day in the 10's of downloads per day, or 100's per day, or even higher? It's fine if you want to keep that confidential, I'm just curious. Thanks, and thanks for walking all of us through the process.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tom

      I'll direct you to Theresa Ragan's very helpful blog, in which she sets out a chart illustrating roughly what sales you need to hit a certain ranking on Amazon. It's her best guess based on her sales (and she has a ton of them), and I think it's pretty accurate. Worth checking out.

      Delete
  65. David - Thanks for asking all of us to gather round to hear your tale. It got me off the fence on when to pull the trigger on the KDP select free days for my YA novel 'The Summer Set'. I did it last night after reading your post. My experience was very similar to yours. The exception was that I never (on this first day) received the amazing 1000 download boluses you received. However, since about noon, there has been a steady stream of downloads. It averages about one every 15 seconds, or 240 per hour. I am currently #125 overall, but reached #2 in Kindle Store/Fiction Fantasy and #1 Kindle Store/Fiction Fantasy/Historical. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jay, thanks for sharing your experience -- great to hear that the promo has been working for other folks as well.

      Delete
  66. Let me first add my congratulations, David, on the success of your book and your informative post. To any authors who remain unconvinced of the potential for success that KDP Select can offer, let me relate my recent experience.

    I completed a first novel (historical fiction with a time travel twist) in early 2007. I made some agency inquiries and contacted the few publishers willing to consider unsolicited manuscripts, but in return received rejections and plenty of chirping crickets (no response at all).

    Undaunted, I prepared the book for self-publishing with Book Surge (now CreateSpace). My son is an environmental artist for a gaming company and designed a killer cover for the book. It was exciting to open the box containing the 50 copies that I had ordered to give away to friends and family and for marketing. I sent out plenty of unsolicited copies packaged in clear heavy polyethylene (so they wouldn’t miss the killer cover) and waited patiently for the mainstream publishing offers that were sure to follow.

    More crickets.

    Over the next year, I was able to score a few favorable reviews (solicited by me) on Amazon and after a Kindle edition was published in 2010, I was again on the path to fame and fortune as the sales volume grew to an incredible 4 or 5 copies per month. The paperback was priced at $15.99 and Kindle edition at $4.99.

    When I first learned of Amazon’s KDP Select program I was skeptical. To permit “borrowing” an electronic book seemed a little odd and I couldn’t see much value in the free promotion days. After all, the book was a good one in my opinion so why would I want to give it away for free? But when the month of January this year had come and gone and I had sold ZERO copies, I signed up and scheduled a free promotion for Saturday, February 11. When I first checked the sales report that afternoon I was astonished to see the number of downloads. By the end of that day the total had exceeded 7,000. On Sunday, with the price back to $4.99, the sales total for that single day exceeded the total number of copies that had been sold during the previous four years. Now ten days later, the daily sales volume has dropped considerably but conservatively speaking I expect that the February total will exceed 800 paid copies plus over 150 “borrows”. I also received three more 5-star reviews (that I didn’t have to solicit!). Print version sales are also benefitting plus some good results for a recently posted Kindle-only sequel to the first book.

    I’m honestly thankful for the KDP Select experience. I guess it saved my book, too.

    Here is something that may be useful to other Kindle authors: I found the KDP month-to-date sales report less than convenient when trying to keep track of daily volume, so I made up a spreadsheet that computes daily sales from the cumulative numbers reported at the end of each day. With it you can track daily sales and borrows for several books for an entire year, all in one file. You can download it from this page (it’s FREE):

    http://skyscientific.com/publishing.htm

    ReplyDelete
  67. Thank You,
    The given information is very effective
    I will keep updated with the same,


    Manufacturing of home furnishing

    ReplyDelete
  68. Realizing you're only part way through the 90-day lending program, I was curious if you could share any numbers or opinions about the Prime lending itself. If this is sensitive data, you'd rather not share, I understand.

    The other KDP Select reviews I've read don't seem to speak to the lending traffic itself, so I'm wondering if that's just a minor factor in the big picture.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Walter,

      I've had a lot of success with lending -- much more so than I expected.

      Delete
  69. Wow, I'm a real latecomer here... But congrats to you. I'll be taking the plunge myself in a week or so. Can't wait! I'd love to see a follow up post on this, see what happened to your numbers many weeks later. I'm sure better than last year's.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Elle,

      Thanks for reading, and good luck with your book!

      Delete
  70. Thanks for the great info. We're publishing a biblical religious fiction novel in June, and seriously considering the KDP Select program. From what I've gleaned, it seems that it makes sense to use it some time after introduction. It looks important to have established quite a few excellent reviews first to help in getting those sales right after the free period.

    Has anyone used this program when introducing a new book?

    Sharon Beck
    Aldine Publications, LLC

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sharon -- An author named Phoenix Sullivan has an interesting strategy for using KDP Select to launch a book. It's a good read and worth checking out. Google the name and you should be able to find the blog.

      Delete
  71. Thanks for this.

    My Dad's book "Sojourn in Silesia" is currently (today) having it's 1st outing in KDP Select and is going great guns. It's encouraging to read your blog.

    Good luck for continued good sales figures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. awesome to hear -- best wishes for your continued success as well.

      Delete
  72. Actually, I don't think you are giving your blog enough credit. I'd never heard of The Jackpot. I stumlbed across this blog googling KDP Select, but now I'm probably going to buy the book because the story behind its success is so interesting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. September,

      Thanks for the comment, and of course for your interest in my book.

      It's so ironic that it turned out like this, isn't it? I've had many people tell me that they bought the book after reading this blog in which I talk about how much blogging didn't help sales!

      The Internet is a strange creature.

      Delete
  73. Thank you for this. I'm publishing my first book this week -- Martuk ... The Holy -- and, realizing I have A LOT to learn, it's blogs like this that are helping that inevitable learning curve be a little less steep. In fact, I didn't even THINK of the free book element and certainly not about reaching out to blogs that feature free Kindle books to be (hopefully) included on their list.

    Again, people like you who generously share their experiences make it just that much easier for the rest of us. So, thank you very much.

    Have bookmarked you and look forward to returning to see what else you got to say! :)

    ReplyDelete
  74. David
    You have inspired me. I am a newbie on Kindle. I don't have a clue how to tell where my book is in the top sellers if it isn't in the top 100. I have googled it and can't find an answer.

    You talk about being 3,000 something but how do you know this.

    ReplyDelete
  75. I bought this e-book last week and zipped through it, loving every minute of it. I purchased it because it sounded like something I would enjoy, having no clue that you had gone through all this in seeking an audience for your work! Then I recommended it to my brother up in Michigan. He just emailed me to tell me that it is only an e-book, which I hadn't known. He doesn't have an e-reader, so he is out of luck. I thought it was wonderfully entertaining and hope to see more of your work in the future.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Anonymous! Really glad you enjoyed it -- and I commission you to convince your brother to switch to an e-reader!! :-)

      Delete
  76. Bob via Francis Dupuis sent me. great article, thank you. what are your total paid sales to date?

    ReplyDelete
  77. I'm so so annoyed right now. I just enrolled in the Select program...It's not as user friendly as one might expect. For instance, it boasts that an author can check "real time" performance of their book(s). Um, HOW? I've Googled the term, everything and still can't figure out how to do it. Gosh, it's already nerve wracking to put it on the program in the first place.
    Any help would be appreciated. Greatly.

    ReplyDelete
  78. @thecubiclerebel - the way I check my latest sales is by visiting kdp.amazon.com and clicking on the reports tab at the top of the page and then choosing 'Prior Six Weeks' Royalties'. I'm not sure if there is a better way, but this is the only way I know of.
    Kindest,
    Leila

    ReplyDelete
  79. This morning I woke to the dilemma you faced at the beginning of this post. Your article gave me EXACTLY what I needed - a clue as to how it could be in my best interest to give exclusivity to a book seller who wants to sell for free when they're not lending. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks, Victoria -- glad you found the post useful.

      Delete
  80. Very helpful blog post. I wondered myself about any overlap time. My book The Dark Lake went all the way to #19 in free kindle but as of day 1 in paid--no sales. Go figure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anthea,

      Yeah, unfortunately, the general consensus is that sometime around mid-March, the big bounce that authors were getting from going Free to Paid had started to wear off.

      look at the positive though -- you've got your book on a few thousand more Kindles, and if a fraction read it, then you're on your way to building a fan base.

      Good luck!

      Delete
  81. Great post, David. Very inspiring and useful information. All the other stories from those replying are insightful as well (most of them). I particularly agree with your assessment that appearing on the sales pages of other books' "Customer Also Bought" pages probably is a big help after the Free promotion is over.

    Do you have to promote the free promotion period, or does it pretty much take care of itself?

    Continued success to you.

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  82. Congratulations Dave you make it to the top, and 25k visitors wheww.. that'ts cool.

    Rock on Dave!

    ReplyDelete
  83. Wow, this comment thread has been almost as good as your original post. So, it's six months later, give or take. Have your views changed? Have you tried KDP Select program a second time? Any new evidence one way or another? Hoping for an update.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Phil

      I did try it a second time, about 5 weeks later. It was also successful (but not as successful as the first run).

      From my own observation, it seems people are still having success with the strategy, although admittedly, maybe not the lightning-bolt success that some others and I had early on in January and February.

      That said, I wouldn't be surprised if Amazon has some other things up its sleeve for KDP Select participants to keep the program attractive.

      Delete
  84. Thanks for the insight, found your blog post from a Tim Ferriss tweet, I am putting together a short book and was considering Amazon as I am a Prime member with a kindle and I also sell through Amazon and Ebay, thanks again

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks for visiting H.A.! - good luck with your book

      Delete
  85. I browse lots of free books, read a couple of pages, and then disregard most of them. I have a finite life span (damn you DNA) and therefore even books that don't cost me money have to be worth the time I invest in them. There's too much great literature out there to read schlock, even if it's technically "free." I read the first few pages of your book and liked what I saw, so I bought it. Are you going to do a comparison to see how many books you sell after a Tim Ferris shout out?

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    1. thanks Durden - I appreciate your taking a chance on my book. Good idea to track sales following this exposure. We'll see. Thanks again.

      And I'm with you that there are too many good books out there to read schlock -- I put down books in a heartbeat if they don't hold my interest.

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  86. Wow, this is truly helpful. I think I will try to keep all this in mind! Blessings!

    Raquel

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  87. That's interesting, because I have found that a number of people have stopped using KDP Select as it seems to have become less and less effective over time. Some people say that in buyers' perception free = valueless. I think for my future publications I will go with it for the three months and then withdraw it to sell elsewhere.

    Also - as your blog seems popular (and I am enjoying it's discovery on my par) - have you thought of getting a 3d book cover and selling it with PayPal on your blog as well as through the other digital publishing arenas?
    Worth a thought...

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  88. I always put my books into Select, but not much happens. After reading this, I am going back & look at the Program very carefully and maybe make some changes if amazon will let me.
    Thanks for your story.

    Rocky FW LeMar

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  89. First off, congratulations!

    I'm a huge Non-Fan of KDP Select . . simply because I have had zero borrowers in over 2 months. However, I have had over 300 free downloads during my five day free promo period.

    To me, exclusivity just limits my potential exposure. Once my 90 days is up, Smashwords, here I come.

    I think KDP Select does work well for certain genres, but I have yet to hear Epic Fantasy doing well.

    Jason Lee

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  90. David,
    What was your experience like regarding returns? I too offered my book for free using KDP Select. I had over 1000 downloads and it did put my book at #1 for it's category. I think it's a good thing for authors starting out.
    But the returns bother me a bit. Mine had hovered at 8% of total paid downloads for each month. What is your experience?

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    1. Rush - there were a number of returns, yes. I don't remember the exact ratio. but I sold more than enough to make up the difference. I think returns are to be expected when you're going from Paid to Free and back again. People don't realize a book has gone free and want their money back, or they buy it thinking it's free. part of the deal, I suppose!

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  91. many thanks for sharing your story.

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  92. Thanks for the info. I've been doing this too with young adult fantasy and horror. As far as independent authors, though, I don't know where else to go. I have plenty of work piled up behind me to choose from, years of being rejected by agents, and a belief at least in my own tales ranging from love stories, fantasy stories, ghost stories, urban fantasy, even horror. I've decided to showcase some young adult fantasy since that market is doing very well. Thanks for the blog. I hear so many pros and cons about self-publishing, it's hard to know where you stand. I think if anything, a good story is hopefully gonna get people's attention.
    Peace.
    Brandon
    www.brandonberntson.com
    http://bberntson22.wordpress.com/

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  93. Awesome information!! Thank you for sharing it!!

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  94. Just pubbed my book of poetry&prose w/a few hand drawn illustrations. Out of a 2 day (not sequential) free download I got a whopping 28. And one buy @$3.99 Print book grand total of 7!! Damn and it's good writing. Everyone on FB saw the lead up for weeks. Photos, small videos. Let people know on CreateSpace&Amazon community. Also word of mouth and a few pertinent publications. Ah the life of a poet. And my writing is not obscure or academic. Neither is it Hallmark. What to do with my book which btw is entitled Limn the Mask.

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  95. Cool! This is very encouraging. I am almost at the end of my free period and have been wondering how the transition from free to paid will be. I have so far had over a thousand (free) downloads, so not nearly as good as you had, but it still feels like a lot to me! Lol. Hopefully it'll translate into sales next week!! ;D

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  96. This is as interesting a thread as the post itself. I write three different book series. The first is a series of Sherlock Holmes pastiches that sell well and I do not have any interest in scheduling free days, but because they are in KDP Select the borrows are worth making them exclusive to Amazon for now. However, I have two other series of books that are not doing as well.One is a hardboiled detective series and the other series is a zombie trilogy. Both always sell well initially, the first month or two, and then trail off dramatically. After reading the experience of the blog author and of the authors who have responded in this thread I am going to schedule some free promotions for the first book in each series. I'll let you know what happens.
    Steven Ehrman
    The Sherlock Holmes Uncovered Tales
    The Frank Randall Mysteries
    Zombie Civilization

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