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My Experience with KDP Select

My Experience with KDP Select

Guest post by Kirkus MacGowan

Like many other Indie authors, I wasn’t sure what to think about the KDP Select program at first. I created a blog post awhile back asking authors with experience in the program to share their thoughts. Click here if you want to check it out or want to learn more about the program.

I searched the internet for information about KDP Select. Not about the program itself, but about how things work, or about any author’s particular experience. I’d heard rave reviews and I’d heard others who say they barely gave a book away.

Little Preparation for the KDP Select Program

While I won’t go into detail, I’ll share a few things that might make you think twice about the KDP Select program. I mean that in a good way.

As far as promotions go, I could have prepared more. A few sites featured my book on the promotional days. I wrote extra blog posts for the week hoping to draw attention from potential readers. Beyond that, most of the promotions came from a combination of friends on Twitter and Triberr.

As reported in previous blog posts, The Fall of Billy Hitchings has reached as low as a 190K rank on Amazon paid, and as high as a 14K rank. This is overall on the Kindle store, not in any particular genre. The typical book will reach the bestseller list at around the 5-6K mark overall, depending on the genre.

Making the bestseller list for mystery, thriller, paranormal, and romance seems to be the hardest. This also depends on the subgroups. I haven’t completely figured those out yet, but I’ll explain more in a bit.

I promoted my giveaway 4-5 days before my book was free on the KDP Select program. This explains why I went from a 30K rank down to about 190K in one week. Everybody knew my book would be free!

The night before, I climbed into bed wondering which group my book would fit into the next day. Would it rocket up the Amazon free bestseller list? Would I even come close?


When I woke up, I logged onto my computer right away (not fast enough for my wife). The Fall of Billy Hitchings was already on the bestseller list! Not by much, but it was there on Mystery & Thrillers. You could have watched the numbers roll. As a joke, my wife and I refreshed the screen repeatedly. We were upset if there weren’t at least ten downloads every second (not really upset, but we pretended to be).

Obviously, this didn’t keep up, but it went plenty well.

My book peaked on the second day of the giveaway. The Fall of Billy Hitchings made it as high as 31 overall on Amazon free, and 11 on Mystery & Thriller! That’s here in the United States. It also made the bestseller list in the United Kingdom and in Germany. It was 2 in Mystery and 3 in Thriller in Germany at one point, and 7 and 8 respectively in the UK.

I gave away around 10K copies of my book. 10K! I repeat that to myself sometimes because it seems so crazy. Two days after I finished the program, my book climbed up to the Amazon Paid bestseller list in Suspense. Sadly, I think it would have spent more time there if I had promoted better. I promoted up until the day of the giveaway and none afterward! If I’d realized the effect KDP Select would have on my sales, I would have promoted for a full week afterward.

I mentioned sub-genres earlier. Here is where I made one of my mistakes. Suspense is a sub-genre of Thrillers. I simply had my book in Mystery & Thrillers, thinking my book might magically jump into the suspense column because of tags or something. Luckily, I realized this the day after the program and switched my book over to suspense as well. This is what allowed me to reach the Suspense bestseller list a few days afterward, though The Fall of Billy Hitchings only made it to the top 1500 overall on Amazon paid.

So there’s the result of my experience with the KDP Select Program. My debut book is a bestseller on Amazon free in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany. It’s a bestseller on Amazon paid in the United States. Not too shabby for my first go-round.

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3 Responses to "My Experience with KDP Select"

  1. Terry Tyler says:

    I’ve told you about how successful my free thing was – without it, I wouldn’t have got my books known in the way I have, and they wouldn’t still be selling. I realise that it’s massively easier to get higher in the chart in the UK! But I went from my lowest point of 123,000 + in the Top 100 (all genres) top number 24. Without the KDP select free promotion, I’d still be selling just a few a week. You have to promote it though, as you’ve found out – I think my after sales were greatly improved by the fact that I didn’t shut up about the books for at least a week afterwards. Even during the free weekend, you can’t just sit there and wait for the downloads to roll in!! As you say, though, it’s more about name recognition. I’m writing this comment as a reiteration of what you have said, for other readers of your blog who haven’t tried doing the free thing yet, by the way! DO IT!

  2. Hi Terry. 🙂

    Like my promotion with KDP Select, I do promote, but probably not to the extent I could.

    That being said, the two months leading up to the program I averaged around one sale per day depending on the price. Interestingly enough, when I lowered the price to $.99 for a promo during that time, my sales only increased by about ten percent. Not worth the change.

    The first week or two after the program aren’t an accurate representation of what your sales will continue to be. I sold more in the first two days after the program than I had total before.

    Now, almost a month after the program, I average six times the sales I had before. However, it’s slowed down quite a bit the past week.

    There are just so many variables to consider including what your goals are. My sales and rankings now are great, but at this point it’s more about name recognition for me.

    Hope this makes things a little more clear. Sorry about the rambling. I am a writer, afterall. 🙂


  3. Terry Odell says:

    Will you be reporting back on sales figures? After all, a high ranking in ‘free’ is only part of the program. I’m trying to compare my results with a Nook program to actual sales figures, not free rankings at KDP Select.

    Of course, since it’s a debut book, it might not be easy to decipher sales.


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