The cost of free – Experiment #1?

I have decided to try an experiment. I don’t remember the steps of the scientific method – something about a hypotenuse – so, it will be a very qualitative experiment. Here’s the deal. I recently published my second novel, The Biker, on Kindle. My first novel, Joe Café, still sells here and there, but it’s not flying off the shelves. I plan to release The Biker on Smashwords and Createspace, but, for now, I’m happy with leaving Joe Café on Kindle. So, I met at the crossroads with some marketing folk from Amazon and we signed some KDP Select documents in blood.

The weird thing about this is that I think KDP Select is a bad  thing. It makes me Amazon’s bitch. Basically, it means that Joe Café will be free for 90 days, I get to promote it as free for five, and I somehow get a cut of all the books that are loaned out during the three month period. I’m going to be honest with you before this becomes embarrassing for all of us – I don’t quite “get it”. But that’s never stopped me before.

The catch – or one of the catches – is that I can’t publish Joe Café anywhere else during the 90 day period. Cool, I wasn’t planning on it. And, a whole crapload of people can get my novel for free for a few months (I’m gonna have to wait on that yacht I’ve been eyeing). Whatever. Amazon is smarter than all of us. It’s a great idea from their standpoint. For me, well, it seems kind of fascist, but I’m trying to get past that.

When Amazon first started this program, we Indie writers got our sweatpants all in a bind about it. I was one of the ones that thought, ‘screw the man’. I said it quietly of course because I am deathly afraid of Amazon’s hit squad.

So, why the change of mind? It’s quite simple. Joe Café is a good book. I know I’m biased, but quality, intelligent people have read it and said that they liked it. I’ve gotten lots of good reviews (and most of them I didn’t even bug people to write). But it is…how shall I say this…a novel I wrote while trying to conquer a personal issue of grand, crushing, gnawing proportions. It is not a happy book. There is beauty in there, but there is also brutality…a lot of it. The kind of brutality you write when you are sweating profusely and wishing you were dead.

Now, I still have no problem with this. I like dark fiction. I like Cormac McCarthy a LOT. But, something tells me that Joe Café ain’t gonna make me rich (unless of course it gets made into a movie because for some reason we love dark, disturbing MOVIES whereas dark, disturbing books are somehow immoral…you know, like the Bible). Anyway, my new novel is a little more reader friendly. It’s the first in a series. It’s more “marketable”. There’s a love story. So, my hope is that, like cheap heroin, Kindle readers will read Joe Café and come twitching and bitching for more. Then they will buy The Biker in droves, and then I will buy a yacht. Really, I don’t see how this plan can fail.

I feel a little like I’m doing Joe Café dirty…it’s a book I love very much…it deserves better. I feel like I’m making it my two bit crack whore of Indie book marketing. But, what the hell. Yachts don’t buy themselves. So, I have my hypotenuse. Next I will find control groups or focus groups or a Ford Focus or something and make graphs and tell you all how it worked out for me. Cross your fingers. And pick up a copy of Joe Café on the 16th and 17th  (today and tomorrow for you number haters). It’s free. Tell your friends. You can save yourself enough for a few tacos at Taco Bell.

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JD Mader is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and author of the novels JOE CAFÉ and THE BIKER. For more information, please see the IU Bio page and his


Author: JD Mader

JD Mader is an award winning short story writer and novelist. 'Joe Café' and 'The Biker' are out now, as well as 'Please, no eyes'. and the collaborative 'Bad Book'. Mader has been writing for half his life and has no plans on stopping any time soon. Learn more about JD Mader at his blog and his Amazon author page.

25 thoughts on “The cost of free – Experiment #1?”

  1. Hi J.D.

    I started reading your book Biker two days ago. I would usually have it completely read by now, but … I am writing and it takes a lot of my brain power away. 😉

    Anyway, I am 1/3 done and really am enjoying the book. I really like the character – manly, man – because except for my husband, I don't see those kind of males too often any more. Great job.

    Also, I don't usually read thrillers too often since I started writing supernatural. So I will very likely read more of your work.

    BTW I am very happy with Smashwords. I have most of my works there as well as kindle. Hope you have a great time. And if you are already there, I'll favorite you.

    Yours, Cyn

    1. Awesome Cyn! Thanks so much. Please do drop me a line when you finish, I'd love to hear your thoughts. You can find me here or on FB. Cheers!

  2. I need to go over and read the fine print again. I thought the book was only free to those who subscribe to Prime and then you had 5 days where you can offer it free to everyone.

    I had heard good things about the program so I hope it works out for you!

    Many blessings,


    1. Hey EJ, there is a great, huge, massive chance that I don't understand the logistics completely. 😉 Thanks for the well wishes. All the best,


  3. Great minds, and all that … I've pretty much done the same thing … my first tome, NORTHERN CROSS, is on Smashwords, so couldn't enroll it in KDP … second, HEADWIND, is only on Kindle, so I enrolled it. Now, here's the way I understood the deal … it's free ONLY to the folks who are members of KDP Select … I think they pay some sort of premium to a pool and can download all the books they want … the authors whose books are downloaded share in the pool money. In the meantime, the book can still be retailed to those not in the KDP thing. Does that sound accurate? Anybody?

    1. Congrats Chris! That's great. You also (as far as I understand) get 5 days during each 90 period you're enrolled to make the book free to EVERYONE, not just Prime members.

  4. I'm doing something similar with my first book, although not on Amazon. I'm pimping it out on my website shortly, free in return for shares and retweets. Feeling very guilty, yip, I'm betraying it. But it's the book I cut my writing teeth on. It's cross-genre and a bit limited in appeal. The next one will be sexier and all that, I've learned stuff. I'm still avoiding its disappointed little gaze though, and feeling like I kicked a puppy.

  5. "something about a hypotenuse" – this made me snarf Pepsi. Not pleasant, but the laugh was much needed. Good luck with your experiment. 🙂

  6. By the looks of it, you're climbing up the free chart (#179 as of this moment). I had a great experience with my free day last month and hope to repeat it again soon. It can really work wonders.

    Good luck!

  7. I've just bought it : )

    I liked your post. I'm not a big user of my kindle at the moment but when I've read your book I will write a review on Amazon UK. It is very, very rare for me to read anything without knowing what a novel is about, so this is a bit of an experiment for me too!! Best of luck, I'm a writer too, I know what blood, sweat and tears come with the territory! Keep us updated with how your experiment pans out.x

  8. Looks like you are succeeding with the experiment. Now I need to make a decision along the same lines. I just sent out my ms to be set up on Smashwords but it's not there yet. maybe i ought to hold off on one of them for now and try this. Like you, I believe in the quality of my book.

  9. Glad this is working for you. I just ordered Joe Cafe and will definitely leave a review when I get to read it (probably in March since I have a lot on my plate in February). But I noticed you are up to #45 in the top 100 Kindle Free!!! How exciting for you. All those folks who get Joe Cafe for free and like your writing style are sure to hit The Biker! What a great way to end the week. Have a good weekend.

    Many blessings,


  10. Haha love the voice you have in your writing. 🙂 Good luck and I hope it goes well. 😀 I've been contemplating KDP for my upcoming novel, but I'm speculative as well.

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