self-publishing success for indie aiuthors


Yes, you should use KDP select – here’s why (using your free promo days to launch your book marketing).

Free giveaways are the two-handed sword of indie book promotion; it’s the secret advantage that we have over traditionally published authors and the ideal way to launch your book. But everybody’s doing it now – can you really get so many downloads these days?

A few weeks ago I launched Write, Format, Publish, Publish Promote, and I also set my earlier book, Book Marketing is Dead for a KDP promo at the same time. I got over 7,000 downloads, not bad for a non-fiction book, and those books have earned $500 (in real money) this month.

But I wanted to see if I could go bigger. A friend of mine was having trouble marketing his book, Purified. When he said he couldn’t run a free promo with KDP because the book was already listed on Smashwords and other sites, I told him to just turn off Smashwords and wait a couple weeks, until the book was unavailable. Then he could sign up for KDP Select and start his promo.

Last week, on 5/28, we got started.

During 5 days he got 17,324 downloads.

Just to put that into perspective, if you were paying for book advertising at .10 per click, that’s $1,732.40 dollars worth of advertising that didn’t cost you anything (and getting them to download the book is actually even better than just getting them to click on the ad.

You may argue that actually, those are just 17,324 more people who won’t be buying your book because you’ve given it away for free, but there’s no way you would have reached those numbers with a book for sale, even at 99cents.

And in the grand scale of things, even 17K readers is not a huge number – but it’s a damn good start. If only 1000 of those readers liked the book and start sharing and talking about it, your book will continue to be successful and hit bigger and bigger numbers.

(On the other hand, getting 17K downloads is no guarantee towards future success – but it’s a good strong push in the right direction).

Here are the steps I used to get these results

First I used for a few services like adding the book to all the major Facebook pages for free Kindle books. I also used a service on Fiverr to submit the book to all the free kindle book websites and blogs. I could have done this manually but it’s easier to pay someone.

I didn’t use BookBub – because it costs several hundred dollars and I wanted to stay under a budget of $150 (but it’s worth the investment, so you should probably apply if you can).

I did make some fancy images and post them on Facebook and Twitter, then I used Facebook ads and “Boosted Posts.”


I like Facebook because it lets you target people very specifically, for example I could put my image in front of people who liked “James Patterson, Robin Cook, Stephen King,  Scifi, thriller, horror, Frankenstein, indie author” and other related keywords.

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My ads reached 18,438 people but only got 169 clicks – which means the advertising probably wasn’t well spent (although, a lot of those people could have just opened Amazon and searched for the book rather than clicking directly.)

On the other hand – all you need to do to get a ton of downloads is get up to the top of the “Free Kindle” book list on Amazon

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You need to hit #1 fast and early – once you show up as #1 Amazon will be promoting your book for you. So even though I was paying too much on Facebook for those 169 clicks; getting that many downloads quickly may have pushed the book up to #1 faster.

What happens after the KDP free days?

After the KDP free days you should keep the price low – some traffic will still come expecting a good deal, but may be willing to buy the book for cheap.

You can also list the book on some 99cents sites:

free KDP promo

Brian reports:

By far the best promotional site I found was  Carman DeSousa seemed to go out of her way to promote Purified with Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.

Ideally, after the free KDP promo, you want to hit #1 on the paid listings to keep selling, and then slowly raise the prices each week. You’ll earn more consistent money at 2.99 or 3.99, but getting a ton of readers is the only way to go huge, get a mega bestseller and quit your job.

The book was doing well enough at .99 to stay pretty high on the bestseller lists; Amazon even emailed me to see if I wanted to buy it (I’m not sure how many people got similar emails, or if those are very customized).


kindle free book promo

Brian sold 227 paid the first week at .99 but is experimenting with higher pricing now.

But is it worth 3 months of exclusivity?!

The problem with KDP select is you only get 5 days of free promo, but you can’t sell on other sites for three months.

Or can you?

The agreement you sign with Amazon is that you can’t sell on other sites for 3 months – and if you do,  you’ll be kicked out of KDP Select and lose all your benefits. I’m not saying that I recommend doing this, but you can sign up for KDP Select, do your 5 free promo days and then put your book out on Smashwords. Once your book shows up on other bookstores, you’ll get a notice that your book has been removed from KDP select because you broke the contract – but your book will still be up on Amazon for regular sale.

Morally questionable? Yes.

And potentially risky, if Amazon decides to ban you or remove your books.

The (only) argument against KDP Select is that you may lose more money from not selling on those other sites than you made through your enrollment in KDP Select. And it’s a good argument.

Except eking out a living from 100 or 200 sales a month is not sustainable (especially if you’re paying for advertising). You need thousands of sales. To get them, you need to be on the bestseller lists, and KDP Select can be a good way to get there and stay there.

Spreading out your eggs into many baskets = security and reliability.

All your eggs in one basket = a potential winning lottery ticket.

“Go big or go home” – not  practical advice for everyone, but for those who aren’t willing to settle for a few sales a month.


I feel I need to warn you that “gaming Amazon” is not something to be lightly treated. Amazon is the mob king; the king of the jungle.

We are all ticks along for the ride. Bite too deeply and the beast may scratch us off.

Treat Amazon with respect, because it holds all the power. On the other hand, publishing is a game, and you need to do what’s right for you and take some risks that could have big payoffs..




Written by: Derek Murphy

Derek is a book cover designer finishing a PhD in Literature. These days he spends his time building tools and resources to help indie authors publish better on his blog, Read More


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