The Value of Using Amazon's KDP Select Free Days

All newly self-published authors seek to sell as many books as they can, and gain as much publicity as is possible during their first year.

I published my debut novel Vengeance by founding my own Micro-Publishing company Writers Cabin Press, Ltd.  Utilizing this company I researched the best way to publish my first book and ultimately ended up utilizing both of Amazon's Book Publishing Platforms - Kindle Direct Publishing & CreateSpace.

I am by no means an expert on how or why to publish your work.  At the time these two platforms seemed to provide the best method and quality of books.  After investing in a professionally designed book cover and a well formatted manuscript the trigger was pulled and out came two versions of my debut novel. These are a 6" X 9" Trade Sized Paperback & an eBook

Over the course of the past several months I began looking at KDP Select free days.  On April 30th 2014 my book Vengeance was free for 1 day.  During that day I gave away 2,400 copies of the book.  I had invested a total of $29.00 to do a twitter day with a vendor, and put the word out to 10 or more websites, my Facebook page, and here on my Blog that my book was free for one day.

Here's a shot of where my book was at 5:12 pm the day after the KDP Select Free Day. Sales for that one day were way up too, and the effect continued for the next several weeks.  I made a few rookie mistakes in May.  One was changing my price.  I should have left it alone until the end of the month.  The second was doing the Free Day on the last day of the month.  

Ultimately my book go to #4 in the Free Books listed in Kindle Store>Mystery, Thriller & Suspense>Mystery>Private Investigators.  The remainder of the month it was in various spots from 49 to 89 in the top 100 paid books for this same category.

What do free days do for sales?  My single free day boosted my May sales to a height I had not previously seen although the book had only been released for six weeks at this point.

It is my belief that KDP Select has a risk / reward benefit synonymous with the quality of the writing, formatting, and cover of the book being sold for free.    

Today June 4, 2014 is the eve of my second experiment with KDP Select.  My goal is to gain publicity for my book Vengeance, and to build my brand.  My secondary goal is to sell books.  This time around Vengeance will be free for a total of 2 days.

If you've self published and have a story to tell about doing KDP Select Free Days please comment.


Today, authors seeking to publish their work have many options. In this article, we focus on the two most prevalent forms. Traditionally Published and Self-published.

Traditional publishing
In traditional publishing, the author completes their manuscript, writes a query letter, and begins sending out the query to literary agents.  Sounds easy doesn't it?  It's not. While there are many websites available that provide guidance about how to write a good query, the process can be nerve-racking.  Two good sites to look at for list of agents by genre and advice on your query letter are:  Agent Query and Query Tracker.

The most difficult part of this scenario is attracting the interest of an agent.  The website mental_floss put together an interesting list of rejection letters from famous authors who later went to write highly read works. The list includes Stephen King, George Orwell, Gertrude Stein, and many more.

If you succeed in attracting the attention of these gatekeepers, the agents, who often comment that they are more likely to reject a query than accept one, you will be asked to send a sample of your work.  You'll send your precious words to them and enter into a state of mental anxiety while you wait for their response. It may or may not come.  To be fair to the agents this is no fault of theirs.  They are busy people trying to make a living and to do this they need to work with the author's that, in their opinion, show the most promise of selling large quantities of books.  

If you're lucky enough to receive a response back you will most likely be asked to edit your work.  The agent at this point is investing his or her time into you.  It is in there best interest to make your work marketable and as good as it can be.  They are after all going to earn a minimum of 15% of every dollar your work earns once they sign you on.  The editing phase can take a year or more and once you've completed everything they've asked for there is no guarantee that they'll be able to find a publishing house willing to buy and publish your work.

Some publishing houses accept queries without an agent.  These include Kensington Publishing Corp., The Permanent Press, and Academy Chicago Publishers.  Most publishing experts agree that representation by an agent is more than worth the 15% commission due to their expertise in editing, contracts, etc.  

Once the publishing house decides to publish the book they buy the rights from the author and pay him or her an advance against future royalties.  For a debut author this usually runs in the neighborhood of 8-12%, unless you're famous or are writing about something highly controversial, then it will be higher.

The best part of this type of deal is that the publishing house will get behind your book and market it.  You'll be assigned a publicist, you'll go on book tours, and you'll have the resources of the publisher working to sell your books.  Some authors get a deal like this and their book bombs.  The industry is very subjective.  The downside is that you'll loose rights to the book, and will no longer be in the drivers seat with regard to how your book is presented for sale.  Additionally publishers have in the past five years or so offered less and less help marketing authors works.  That said this is still the dream of most authors.  Having a traditionally published book gives you the best shot of making the NYT Bestsellers list.

An author who makes the decision to self-publish becomes his or her own publisher. They format their work on their own using Amazon, or other site templates, or hire a service such as Bookbaby, Lulu, or Amazon Createspace to do it for them for a fee.  Most of the bigger formatting services also offer additional services such as book cover design, proofreading, and editing.  I suggest you do some shopping and choose the service that best suits your budget.  If you're going try to save money don't choose to do it on your book cover design.  A quick look at the paperback and Kindle book covers on Amazon or Smashwords will let you know what you're up against as far as competition.

The best part of self-publishing is that in a relatively short span of time you can be holding a real paperback copy of your book in your hands.  You are an entrepreneur when you self-publish.  The easiest part of the process is writing the book.  The toughest is putting on your business hat and learning how to market your work. 

If you've written a great book it will, if properly marketed, eventually sell copies.  The more marketing you do the greater your sales should eventually be, but one thing to remember is that readers like agents are subjective.  Just because you think your novel is fabulous doesn't mean they will.  The best way to sell your books is to write more. 

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