The Dope on Kindle Select

Note: When I say ‘the dope’, that is me being hip, not me referring to myself.

Alright kids, let’s talk about KDP Select (Amazon Kindle’s exclusive ‘we will crush you if you defy us’ program). My first 90 days are about up for ‘Joe Café’. I almost forgot to use all my free promotion days (what can I say, time flies, and I am a moron). It will be free today, tomorrow, and Saturday. Tell your friends…tell your enemies, your postman, your hairdresser, your twitter followers and Facebook pals, your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. But this isn’t just an ingenious way to promote the three free days I almost blew…no, my friends; I am actually going to educate you (but seriously, the more people that download the book FOR FREE, the better my daughter’s bones will develop due to nutritious meals – no pressure – she likes eating recycled paper just like the rest of us).

Real talk? I was not comfortable going Select. I don’t dig monopolies and corporate bullying and all that jazz. But, when I published ‘The Biker’, ‘Joe Café’ had already had a pretty good run. So, I figured what the hell. The first free day I did, the book was downloaded over five thousand times. Now, who knows if five thousand people actually read it. But it was still a pretty cool feeling. I ran it free for two days and moved a lot of copies. Then it went back to being free to borrow for Prime members and $3.99 for everyone else, but my sales went up. Nothing crazy, but I started selling more books than before. It wasn’t Prime customers borrowing it for free…people were laying down the money.

The fact that the book was moving (and overseas, too – that was new – and awesome) meant it was getting more attention. I got more reviews. I got more interviews. I believe it has helped sales of ‘The Biker’.

So, here’s the deal. You let Amazon have your book exclusively for 90 days and they will ‘promote’ it. It will be free to borrow for Prime customers (they can borrow one book at a time and pay $70 a year for the privilege – and faster shipping, etc.). You get 5 days where you can offer it for free to everyone. And you get paid a cut of the total pie – the pie being authors who are in the Select program.

I kind of perversely wanted Select to fail. But Amazon knows what they are doing. It works. And I will keep doing it. My plan is to keep publishing novels on multiple platforms and then moving them to Select after the sales slow.

Bottom line, I have made a lot more money in the last three months with Select than I did before. Not ‘buy a new car money’, but definitely more. I’ve got to assume that my audience has expanded. And that can’t be bad.

Right now, ‘Joe Café’ has 4.7 out of 5 stars with 45 reviews. There are a few 4’s in there that haunt me (edit: this was meant to be a joke…I am not that deluded…put down your pitchforks) 😉 , but that’s solid. I’ll take it. My ranking is not super high right now, but man it got up there during the free days.

Amazon is way ahead of everyone else and that makes them the smart place to put your bet down. I still don’t like the idea of my book only being available on Amazon, but you can’t argue with the numbers. It’s nice to make a little money, and it is nice that more people are reading my work. Hopefully that translates to them seeking out my other books, stories, music, etc. I know of several instances where this definitely happened. Someone I didn’t know liked ‘Joe Café’ and bought ‘The Biker’. And my sales for both are better than ever. So, I guess I’m Amazon’s bitch. Such is life. Free books are cool. And you can pick up a copy of ‘Joe Café’ from now ‘til Saturday. Grab a copy. Tell your friends. You can always return it. And yes, people return free books – only a handful, but still. That is the one part of this whole thing that baffles me.

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JD Mader is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and author of the novels JOE CAFÉ and THE BIKER – and co-author of the mighty Bad Book. For more information, please see the IU Bio page and his blog: (and musical nonsense here: JD Mader).  Mader’s edgier works can be found at


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.

40 thoughts on “The Dope on Kindle Select”

  1. Afternoon of the first free day and JC is ranked #22 for literary fiction in the Kindle Store. Just an update. It works, y'all.

  2. Oh cool. I've never tried to return a free book. I wonder how I'll convince the the CS person that the book wasn't worth nothing? Time to plan…

  3. Works for you. I put my book on Kindle Select and it is languishing there. How did you get 45 reviews? That's the question. BTW I just downloaded it and if it's no good I'll return it. LOL Wanna read my book?

    1. The reviews? You know…I don't really know. Whenever I know someone has bought my book I tell them how much it would mean to me if they'd write a review. A lot of writers have read it and written reviews. Some people have written reviews out of nowhere. I don't get nearly the same amount of reviews for 'The Biker'. I think 'Joe Cafe' is an intense damn book and people either hate it and return it, or want to say something about it.

  4. Dude, 4 Stars ought not to haunt. They mean excellent. 5 Stars means off the scale, stone cold classic. To me, anyway. I haven't gotten one yet, but a 3-Star would still mean it's good.

    Anyway that's a tangent. Select is interesting. I'm watching it closely but with only one book, and it's on Smashwords too, I haven't taken the plunge yet. Perhaps when the sequel's out?

        1. Ha ha! 🙂

          I have a standalone book David. I still did this. 17,000 free downloads, and while my book isn't selling as well as your compatriot's (EB James :), it is doing better than it was before. And I have 35 good (okay, one's terrible!) reviews.

          1. Interesting, Rasana. 17,000! Was yours originally on Smashwords? I think I have a sentimental, idealistic desire to continue with Coker's great experiment there and it's hard for me to break that. Not saying I won't, period, just that I'm stubborn. 😉

          2. I went directly with KDP. Sales plateaued to 2-4 books a day after the initial rush. I'm going to go the book blogger route now. I used 2 days out of my 5, not inclined to do more. I don't know whether I'll opt out of the exclusive on Amazon or not – I've had steady borrows of my book.

  5. I agree with David. By me, five stars is stone cold awesome. Four, pretty damned good.

    I reluctantly went Select, too. This should be interesting.

  6. Good stuff JD. Always nice to hear others experiences with Select. I've had similar numbers but it has tailed off a bit during my second 3 month run. I only have one book out, so that might have something to do with it. All in all, I like it, too.

  7. Glad it worked so well for you. I did it once and am doing the freebie again for my second one this week. My results were not as stellar as yours but I was pretty happy with the results.

    1. Thanks Yvonne. You got to flog it. And flog it. Until people hate you and download it to shut you up. That's what I do. 😉

  8. n00b question JD – if KDP select promotes your book wouldn't it be better to put it there /first/ so it builds some momentum before spreading it to other sources?

    1. I think that's a valid approach. Personally, I want to see how the book does as a normal purchase. Plus, I think the # of downloads you will get with Select is directly related to how much attention your work has garnered. For instance, people tell me a lot that my book rings a bell or my name. They may never have read anything I've written, but you see something enough times….

      Hise, Kat, and I wrote Bad Book, which is a really funny book…straight to Select and it isn't flying off the shelves. You want all the cheapos to take advantage of downloading a book they've 'heard about' for free.

  9. This is interesting for me right at this particular moment. That's because my new novel, "Dead Set on Tuesday", which has been Kindle Select for a couple days now (nothing earth shattering yet), is going to go freeeeee beginning just after midnight tonight, (meaning it's free on Friday) through Sunday. So I'll be watchin' closely to see what happens. Both during and after. I am REALLY hoping I get something like the reaction you got, senor Mader.

  10. I'm also curious to see if anything happens to my earlier books, which are right there on my author's page at Amazon, along with "Dead Set on Tuesday," and yes, I know I managed to get the name in there again.

    1. I hope you kill it, brother. It will be interesting to see…how much prior existence influences downloads. I don't know whether the fact that Joe Cafe was on people's radar's helped or not…?

      1. If it was on people's radar. That's the imponderable thing. We're excruciatingly aware of our work, but who knows how many eyes paused and considered, really? And at the same time, what effect do my two earlier books, especially The Space He Filled, have on whatever I'm putting out there now? It's kind of the same question, and kind of not. Oh, well. Thinking too much about all this can get you dizzy. I'm going to hit the sack and see what's shakin' about this time tomorrow night. One question: where did you look to see where it was ranked, etc? I could stand to avoid groping around in the dark for information like that.

        1. It can definitely drive you nuts. I'm curious to see. Let us know so we can pimp the shit out of it….tomm right? And the rankings are in 'product details' under the description and shit. Good luck, brother.

      2. Dan — interesting stuff. As of 9:30 A.M. Friday I had 89 free buys, right there FAR outstripping the number I got for anything, anywhere before. It's listed at #17 under Free Police Procedurals. I'm putting on my seat belt and hoping the brakes fail…

      3. Hey, Dan — it's at #915 out of all the free kindle books, and number ELEVEN among free Police Procedurals. Holy crap. What's in this stuff?

  11. I'm testing the programme with a new release rather than taking one of the others off other outlets. What's your opinion of best days of the week to do the free promotions?

    1. I gave that a lot of thought. I think the end of the week. People are downloading stuff for the weekend. I think Friday and Saturday are big. Monday people get busy again, but I base this on my own suppositions only. Good question.

  12. Got to say I don't like KDP Select because it's too much like short-term gain for long-term pain – what will be the rules and payouts if/when it's the ONLY place readers go for their ebooks?

    If you and other Indies can make it work for you, JD, then more power to your elbow (with my sales I certainly can't talk), but to me KDP Select does a pretty good job of equalling what lawyers call "abuse of a dominant market position".

  13. Hi J. D. Mader,

    I love your post about Amazon Select! Laughed all the way through and noted the good points you made. I downloaded "JOE CAFE" and can't wait to read and Review.


    Michael Phelps


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