Examining KDP Select Free Days Part 3: After the Event

“Sleeping Beauty” is just 99 cents for your Kindle!

Last week, I wrote two posts analyzing my experience with a two-day free event for my short story, “Sleeping Beauty,” through KDP Select. If you missed them, you can read them here and here.

They were two of my most popular posts in the past few weeks, which I interpret to mean people are very interested in how KDP Select works for authors, whether it’s worth it, and what they should do if they try it for themselves. Let’s face it, Amazon isn’t exactly forthcoming with its technical numbers. If another author is going to put information up there — whether it’s someone as successful as J.A. Konrath or someone more unknown like me — people are interested in it.

So with that in mind, I’m going to write two more blogs on the subject this week. Today, I will look at what I need to do differently in the future based on the returns last week’s event got me. Thursday, I’ll consider whether I should unpublish State of Grace from B&N and Smashwords and go exclusive with KDP Select for at least 90 days.

Quick Review

STATE OF GRACE is just 99 cents for your favorite e-reader

My methodology for last week’s event was spending several days before the event laying a foundation. I announced it on my blog, on my Facebook page, on Twitter, and on Goodreads. I wrote several content-rich blog posts about “Sleeping Beauty” to help create some interest in the story, and I put the first four scenes up on Goodreads for free, so readers could get a taste.

During the two days the event ran, I posted announcements with links on my personal Facebook page, my fan page, and on the pages of four different Facebook groups of which I’m a member. I also tweeted the event three times a day.


The results were these: I gave away 522 copies of “Sleeping Beauty,” which blows away sales from all of my other books put together. My Amazon rank for “Sleeping Beauty” and State of Grace rocketed up into the mid-60,000’s and -70,000’s. Immediately after the event, I sold three copies of “Sleeping Beauty” and two copies of State of Grace.

But since then not much has happened. “Sleeping Beauty” has fallen back down into the 260,000 range, while State of Grace has fallen into the 108,000 range on the Amazon bestseller list. Both are improvements to be sure, but it’s pretty clear that the momentum from the surge is over.

Lack of Follow-up

I think it’s pretty easy to identify how the drive I built last week fizzled over the weekend. After the event, I didn’t do much. I wrote two blogs discussing the event, and they were both well read. In those blogs, I gave a link to the story, so it would be possible for people to buy it with only a few clicks. And I think it’s reasonable to assume that the State of Grace sales were due to the teaser for the book I put in the back of “Sleeping Beauty,” meaning that tactic probably worked.

But after I temporarily raised my profile with the free event, I did nothing to keep it up there aside from what I had been doing before — blogging and tweeting. What I needed to do was some advertising. I needed to get the word about John R. Phythyon, Jr. out there further, striking while the iron was hot from the free event. That’s what I plan to do with the next event.

Revised Methodology

I’ve set my next free event for next week Tuesday and Wednesday (October 2 and 3). I will be following roughly the same pre-event methods I did for the last one (see “Examining KDP Select Free Days Part 1: Raw Data” for a complete breakdown).

However, I will do some advertising on the back end of the event to try to sustain the momentum it creates. I have purchased a 14-day ad on Digital Book Today (digitalbooktoday.com). It was pretty inexpensive. I got the silver package, which only cost $50. I would like to have spent more for better placement, but I’m on a budget. The ad begins running on October 3 — the second day of the event, so it should dovetail nicely (and, yes, I planned it that way).

I am also looking at several other affordable ad campaigns. World Literary Cafe has a program that lets your book be the featured sponsor for only $40 a day. They have some other promotional opportunities that “Sleeping Beauty” either doesn’t qualify for or falls outside my window, but I have my eye on them for future events.

There is also an inexpensive ad through Kindle Book Review (thekindlebookreview.net) that is pretty affordable at $25 a day (max of three days) that requires a 4.0-star rating, which “Sleeping Beauty” currently has. I am looking at this possibility too.

And Facebook has offered me $50 off an ad for getting to 50 likes on my fan page. An ad targeted to fans of ABC’s Once upon a Time would seem to be an effective tool.

I’ve got to crunch some numbers to see what I can afford and see if dates inside my window are still available, since they often fill up fast. However, in the week since my first free event began I’ve learned two very important things:

  1. Offering your book free through KDP Select is an effective method of raising your profile.
  2. The effects of doing so don’t last long, so you have to do something on the back end to capitalize on the attention you garnered.

I don’t know if paid advertising is the right follow-up, but I haven’t tried advertising yet, and, if Jeff Bennington’s advice in The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe is sage, immediately following my next free event seems like a good time to take a shot at it.

I’ll be sure to post results here again so you can see if my investment was worth it.


6 thoughts on “Examining KDP Select Free Days Part 3: After the Event

  1. We tried KDP with Witch Song, and it was a phenomenal success. My ranks went up and very slowly dropped, but even months later, they remain higher than before. I recommend putting the first book in a series up on KDP near the second’s release.

    And write series. They sell each other.

  2. Amber,

    Thanks so much for the advice. I am near publication of STATE OF GRACE’s sequel and have been contemplating doing exactly what you suggest — enrolling it in KDP Select and making it free just ahead of RED DRAGON FIVE’s release. Nice to hear it works for someone else.

    Thanks for reading and for your comment!

  3. I tried KDP Select a few months ago and decided to never do it again. From other author accounts, there was an Amazon change that affected placement of free books on their top 10 lists. The first month was very effective, resulting in a fantastic bump in sales immediately following the free promotion. But, alas, the good times are over (at least for me). I’ve found a better method for free books: I made one of my short stories free on Smashwords and Amazon matched it. Because of that, that free story has bumped sales in one of my novels on Amazon.

    • James,

      Thanks for the counter-opinion. I’m still contemplating what to do, and I like hearing the good with the bad (as, I’m sure do other readers).

      Like you, I have a short story free on Smashwords that I designed as a loss-leader for STATE OF GRACE. I then published it to Amazon and B&N. Neither has discovered it is free at Smashwords and matched the price. ‘Spose I need to alert them again.

      Thanks for the comment!

      • For my short story, it didn’t take long for Amazon to match it, probably a couple of weeks after I made it free on Smashwords. If you want to read about my KDP Select experience, I wrote three blogs on my site (the last is dated Jun 13, 2012).

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