Amazon KDP Select: How I Got Over 20K Downloads

Last month, I made GIFTED, A DONOVAN CIRCUS NOVEL, free for 3 days to celebrate my new release WITCH HEARTS. I spent weeks beforehand preparing a strategy, figuring out how to promote it, and goals that would hopefully be achieved during it. The hard work paid off, because I had over 20,000 downloads, stayed at #5 in the Top 100, and even got new reviews out of it. (Update: I have received 13 new reviews, which is definitely awesome!)

Put simply, KDP Select is a program authors can sign up with through Amazon for Kindle. You are enrolled for 90 days (and automatically re-enrolled once it’s over, so if you only plan on using it once, pay attention to your days) and your ebook can only be available on this platform. You get 5 promotion days to use throughout the 90 day program. You can use them as you see fit – 3 days and 2 later, 1 and 1, etc. Most authors recommend using at least 2 days in a row and I would have to agree – if you’re trying to get as much bang for your buck as possible, 1 day won’t cut it. (And while you could schedule all 5 at once if you wanted, you probably want to stash a day or two for later. Remember, you’re enrolled for 90 days, whether you use them or not. And no, KDP Days do not roll over to the new 90 day period.)

So I signed up for the KDP program and scheduled out my 3 free days for GIFTED. Many people differ on when to host your days, but from my research, you get better sales days (actual purchases) on the weekend, so perhaps in the middle of the week would work better. Because WITCH HEARTS released on a Tuesday, my free days for GIFTED ran on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Tuesday was my biggest download day as that’s when my scheduled promos through various sites posted them. I still had plenty of downloads Wednesday and Thursday, but there was a distinct plunge of downloads by the last half of Day 2.

Because I can’t get too technical with my numbers (Amazon doesn’t like you revealing exactly how many downloads you got), instead I wanted to offer up the links I used to research as well as submit my free days. You’ll have to be willing to put in the work, but I have yet to meet an indie author who isn’t already quite prepared for that πŸ˜‰

The biggest thing I did, at least in my opinion, was submitting my book for a BookBub submission. Many authors worry about the cost, as it can get a bit pricey. However, I found their customer service to be excellent and the results from their marketing absolutely boosted my downloads and ranking (I hit #5 of Top 100 Free bestselling books and stayed #1 in SF/Fantasy and #1 in Fantasy Adventure for all 3 days). I originally submitted GIFTED as a Fantasy novel and was ready to pay the $90 fee. To my surprise, I heard back from a real person who looked over my listing and suggested a better placement in YA – a $40 fee. The fact she helped me to put my book in the correct spot even while knowing it would save me money was a HUGE bonus to using them. (It’s not often you find businesses willing to part with extra dollars!)

Anywho, the email that went out about GIFTED on the first free day compared the story to The Hunger Games trilogy, a comparison that both tickled and terrified me. Regardless, I will absolutely use BookBub’s resources for all future advertising, especially on free KDP days. It’s worth the price, assuming you’ve got a decent marketing budget.

The Author Marketing Club has a page here for authors looking to submit their free KDP days for promotion. If you scroll down and click on the list of logos, it brings up a window where you can enter your information – just make sure to do it ahead of time, say at least a week, so you’re guaranteed to have it listed (plus, it’s just polite AND keeps you from going crazy at the last minute).

I also used a bit of marketing help from thedesertgirl on Fiverr. For $25, she promoted my days to several sites I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. I was happy to pay the small fee for her to handle it, since the day my sales started all I had to go was log in to see she’d tagged and promoted me with several book listing sites. I will definitely use her again for future free book days.

I Β took out a Facebook ad too, promoting a post about the free download days. I think I put in maybe $25 – I got a ton of new fans for my author page and feel confident it converted into at least a couple handfuls of the 20K+ downloads.

I would absolutely recommend checking out these links for other advice too. They not only list great links for where to submit your listing, but also offer tips on when to choose your days, how to promote through social media, and more.

Laura Howard – Finding Bliss – KDP Select Layering Strategy

Interviews with India Authors – My KDP Success Story

World Lit Cafe – Maximizing Free Days on Kindle Select

A Place for Aspiring Writers of Fiction – Benefits of KDP Select Days

Before your days, make sure to submit your listings to all of the sites you can find like these (Pixel of Ink, Free Booksy, etc.). I also have amazing friends (authors and readers alike) who shared out my posts on Facebook and Twitter, hosted me on their blog for the day, and/or promoted it however they could. Next time, I hope to better implement a hashtag on Twitter (#WitchHearts/#Gifted) that will catch on with any of my communities.

On the day of, make sure you’re posting on all your networks! Use your Facebook fan page to your advantage and talk it up. Same goes for Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc. Write up a blog post announcing it and make it live that morning so it reaches your fans and followers early. Ask your fellow writing groups and author contacts to share it out Β (and make sure to offer to repay the favor for them). And for all that is holy, thank every. single. person. who shares, RTs, and helps to promote YOUR product. We wouldn’t get far without them.

33 thoughts on “Amazon KDP Select: How I Got Over 20K Downloads

  1. Heather Sutherlin (@HeatherSutherli) says:

    This is fabulous info, Liz! Thanks for sharing your experience. I did not have such luck with BookBub and got a vague email back saying I’d been denied, but no explanation why. That was disappointing. I’ve always heard very good things about them. Maybe I’ll try again. Do you feel this contributed to your sales for Witch Hearts?

    • LizLong says:

      Thanks Heather! I definitely think it helped my sales for WH. I’ve also heard that BB can turn folks down, though I’d originally thought that was because the author had too few reviews – not totally sure about that. I was really happy with them though and hope if you decide to try them again it works out.

  2. James W. Lewis says:

    Congrats on your success! BookBub is definitely the grand daddy for massive downloads and book sales nowadays. Thanks for the reminder on fiverr. I’ve been trying to figure out ways to use them.

  3. James W. Lewis says:

    Congrats on your success with KDP Select. BookBub is the bomb! It’s definitely the best advertising service for authors right now. I used it for my discounted novel (at $0.99) and also did great in sales. Part of that experience led me to write a similar blog to yours entitled “50 Reasons Why My Debut Novel Sold 10,000 Copies!” As for KDP Select, I had some initial success, but decided it’s best for me to have wide distribution.

    • LizLong says:

      Thanks so much for your comment! I think if you’re an unknown like me, there’s certainly nothing to lose by participating, right? After my KDP days are up, I’ll be trying out a wider distribution as well to shake up all the platforms πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by!!

  4. LizLong says:

    I received this from another writer and wanted to share with you – great comment, thanks Daniel!

    Great article, Liz. I, too (like Heather), got denied by Book Bub. I guess telling them my book was the best thing since the Harry Potter series didn’t work. But ebookbooster is another option. It submits your title to around 40 promotional sites for $45. I’ll see how their mass setup works. But I’m also trying to spread the word about my future KDP giveaway for my latest book by emailing every reviewer of my books, any blogger that might mention it, my MeetUp connections from my book groups, etc. I’m sure if you find anyone with a big fan base to mention it on their blog, you’d get a big number of downloads. Ah, there’s the rub. Good luck with that. FREE is great, but anyone who mentions it is, at least in small part, endorsing the book, saying it’s worth one’s time to look at it. So I’m not counting too much on that strategy.

    You can compare the relative “worth” of each promotional site you submit to by checking their rank at Alexa. I found huge differences in rankings for the different sites so I obviously concentrated on the more highly ranked ones first.

    And much thanks for recommending thedesertgirl at Fiverr. I’ve scoured that site for social networking and have signed up for two gigs. The first one seems very suspicious — I paid $15 — as they promised a lot of tweets/messages, but the screen shot they sent me as proof shows a Facebook page of — I’m 99% sure of this — a totally fictitious person. All of his friends and followers and music and movie likes have a huge slant toward Asian names or refer to music and films in languages I can’t determine. He’s supposedly from California. I’m still arguing with them on via email. But I’ve communicated with a second guy in Israel who seems legit for what he’s promising. So all I’m saying is do your homework before submitting there.

    Best of luck.
    Daniel Berenson
    Freaky Dude books

  5. Shoshand Powell says:

    Hi, Liz: I am compiling a list of self-help resources, such as books, CDs, etc along with brief descriptions . Is it ok to include click-bank links to drive them to a site where they can purchase items and I would get a small commission? Is this something KDP would allow? Thank you!

    • LizLong says:

      KDP doesn’t mind you selling anything from your website as long as it isn’t your ebooks if you’re exclusive to the Select program at the time. Once you’re out of the program and just on KDP, you’re free to put your books back up on your website. Anything else, I believe, is fair game.

    • LizLong says:

      The reason I didn’t share before is because I read somewhere that Amazon doesn’t like sharing exact numbers. Since I doubt they monitor my blog, I’m happy to share that the rest of the month, I’d say I made about 300 sales, which is a LOT for me! Small beans to most, I know, but totally worth my efforts and paid off what I’d spend and then some.

      • P.C.R. Monk (@pcrmonk) says:

        It’s important conclusive info that authors need to keep expectations from becoming disillusions, Thanks for your honesty, and I do agree that one step (or rather 300 in your case) in the right direction is far better than none at all. Thanks again for sharing this.

  6. Enki says:

    Thanks for info Liz, I find it very useful.
    Is there a way to find out how many of one’s book has been downloaded?
    Enki Ruthven (Advance to Ataraxia)

    • LizLong says:

      Hi Enki,
      Do you mean a way to found out how many books I had downloaded? Or a third party or..? Sorry just want to be sure I understand the question. KDP lists all those things when you have an account with them and run your free days to see your own downloads, but Amazon frowns upon sharing out exact numbers.

  7. Claudette Alexander says:

    I always like to read of people who had success with KDP days. I read good and bad. I read that Amazon changed their strategy and things had changed with the downloads. I just finished my free promo and I was happy for the fact that I landed at #1 in four categories in the freezone with 4500 downloads, I have already received two reviews within five days of my promo ending. i am back to the high numbers in the paid zone but it was still good seeing my novel SUNRISE FROM AN ICY HEART: A MEMOIR at the top spot for five days. My next goal is to figure out how to get my novel out of cyberspace and onto a visible page at Amazon.

  8. Colby says:

    Very helpful Liz….thanks. I maintain a repository/blog (I’m an Author) of helpful sites, research strategies, apps, info, technology etc for all things book related, as an Author…. for Authors, e.g, I’m listing the sources from your post. I highly recommend other Authors set up a place to “DUMP” all of the great resources, ideas and helpful sites they come across [You can’t bookmark the entire world:)]. For me, I set up a free blogger site, set the “secret” publishing email address and can easily send nearly anything I come across (and may need later) to the my blog via text messaging, email etc. Thanks again for the info!

  9. Merlin says:

    Great info thanks! I’ve written one historical fiction novel and am pushing on with the second (greatly delayed due to necessity to earn real money). Combining your info experiences with others it seems like knowledge + effort = success or you don’t get something for nothing. I’m not surprised there are people out there in the e-world who actually market books for bucks having accrued all they need to know, so kudos to you for sharing this with us all. Big smiles to you πŸ™‚ and have a great day!

    • LizLong says:

      Thanks so much for reading! I’m glad you found it helpful. You are right, there is a LOT of information out there. I need to go catch up on a few new updates, too! πŸ™‚

  10. Trish Heinrich says:

    Thanks for the great advice. I have pinned this to my Author Business Pinterest page so I can refer back to it as the day approaches for the launch of my first book. And, I absolutely love the clean layout of your site! So nice to navigate.

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