My experience with KDP Select free days

By Eric Ralph

English: Amazon Kindle wordmark.

English: Amazon Kindle wordmark. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

KDP Select promotional days are a much-discussed topic in the artisanal publishing world. Some authors swear by them. Others hate the idea of giving something away for free. I decided to offer one free day on April 1 as a release date special. I thought the potential reach would be worth it.

Of course a free day is not a magic elixir, but a tool that needs support of other efforts to make it effective. As such, here are the things I did to support my free day.

  1. Beta readers Recruited in Google+ communities two months or so prior to launch, I asked my beta readers to give feedback on my novel and to write reviews upon release. I asked for reviews prior to the free day, and had two review on launch, both five stars.
  2. Free ebook promo sites I submitted to twelve sites using the Author Marketing Club tool. I was fortunate to have Freebooksy featured the book as a humor-related promotion for April Fools Day.
    • Tip: Get all your info together first. Your Amazon link, blurb, author bio, promotion dates, and contact information.
    • Tip: Recognize different deadlines for different sites. Some want a month’s notice, others two weeks, others two days, and one the day of promotion.
    • Tip: Be sure to verify the requirements for ratings/reviews first. Some won’t promote a book without at least a certain number of reviews and a certain average rating.
  3. Google+ Contribute to communities to build presence. I joined the Free Day Promotion Club (small but growing) to promote it and submitted to communities that allow promotional postings. I also posted in my own feed.
  4. Twitter Tweeted links 3x throughout the day. I responded to tweets about the book when others mentioned downloading it.
  5. Linkedin Prior to publication I identified influencers and let them know about the promotion so that they could spread the word.
  6. YouTube I used XtraNormal to create a funny video from a chapter of And God Said..An Absurd Tale of Love, Power, and Paperwork.
  7. Friends and Family I told everyone I was writing. I sent emails about the promotion and included information on how to get the book if they don’t have a Kindle using free Kindle apps for phones, tablets, or computers.
  8. Business cards I used VistaPrint to create business cards with my information and the book cover. I asked servers at restaurants, cashiers, and people with tablets or smartphones if they read ebooks and gave them a card.

The results were fairly good. Despite not having many reviews and missing out on some of the ebook site deadlines, over 625 people downloaded the book. The book peaked at #354 in overall free downloads, but spent most of the day as the #1 free book in the Satire category. I haven’t gained much in paid sales or reviews yet, but I’m hopeful reviews will come soon. It’s difficult to tell what effect the individual marketing efforts had. My Twitter links got only 3 clicks. My business cards generated at least 4 downloads, while Google+ communities generated at least 3-6 downloads. Of course that leaves the vast majority unaccounted for.

Lessons Learned: I would definitely do a promotion again, but I would definitely changes some things I did to promote it.

  1. Start early. Give yourself enough time to promote the day ahead of time for maximum effect.
  2. Get reviews first. At least ten for maximum coverage.
  3. Choose non-holiday weekdays. I think I may have been hurt by the Easter holiday, but helped by April Fools since I write humor.
  4. LinkedIn works. But it needs more time. I’ve heard from several people that I needed to let them know earlier so they could promote it more effectively.

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