Preparing for Your KDP Select Free Days by Rex Jameson

[Editor Note: This step-by-step list is a great guide for promoting your free book through KDP Select. We used Rex’s methods to promote BAD BOOK at the end of June and had good success.]

Back when I first started using KDP Select, I used the Squidoo list by theinformationlady to promote my KDP Select promotion periods. I have had some pretty lousy results from Select recently, and I decided to revisit this and try to ferret out the proper way to do this. Here is my current process for promoting KDP Select titles:

Step 1: Make sure you have reviews BEFORE you settle on your promotion dates

Shortly after I published The Goblin Rebellion, I scheduled a KDP Select 2-day promotion over a month later and informed all the major sites without having any reviews for the book in place. I didn’t receive any emails back from ENT or POI, but I was in conversations with 2 book bloggers and had given away 50 copies at LibraryThing to try to garner some reviews. There were at least five people, counting the book bloggers, who told me they should be able to hit the promotion deadline.

None of them came through.

I sent an email to Greg at ENT and informed him that I would be extending the promotion for one day in case that would help him in promoting The Goblin Rebellion, which was the sequel to a book with 19 reviews and a 4 star average–figuring maybe he would assume the same quality had been put into the sequel. Greg informed me after the promotion was over that ENT is no longer featuring books with no reviews. Shortly afterward, two four star reviews popped up on The Goblin Rebellion, well after the promotion had ended. 700 downloads over 3 days and 0 sales after the promotion period later, I learned this lesson the hard way. Make sure you have reviews ready before you schedule a promotional period.

Step 2: Say hello to my little friends!

The list from Squidoo is obsolete. Most of the major book bloggers that redirect the most readers to your free promotions have changed their procedures. Here’s an updated list of what you should be doing.

At least two to four weeks in advance if possible:

1. Ereader News Today (fill out form 2 weeks+ ahead)

Estimated free downloads: 800-1200, depending on genre, cover, blurb, etc.

2. Pixel of Ink (fill out form 4 weeks+ ahead)

Estimated free downloads: 800-2000, depending on genre, cover, blurb, etc.

3. Books on the Knob (fill out form 2-4 weeks ahead)

4. Indie Books List (fill out form ~2 weeks ahead)

5. Indies Unlimited

Indies Unlimited runs a feature every Friday called “Freebie Friday.” If your book is going to be free, check out Indies Unlimited on Thursday for a post called “Freebie Friday Ramp-Up”, and it will require four things: 1) Title, 2) Author, 3) one sentence blurb, and 4) link to where the book will be free (and the dates).

Think about the one sentence blurb before hand. For instance, with my book Lucifer’s Odyssey, it might be “A civil war rages across the heavens between Lucifer and Jehovah, but it’s not the story you thought you knew…” I know, I know. Distilling your book into one catch phrase can be a headache, but you may be able to find help at the Writer’s Cafe.

On the day of your free promotion:

On Twitter:

Send a twitter message to the following twitter handles (include @kindlenews for instance along with your Amazon book url), which will retweet your promotional books. Most if not all of these are automated systems that aggregate free lists of books.

Estimated free downloads: 200-400, depending on genre, cover, blurb, etc. @kindlenews


On Facebook:

Ebooks Free Free

Authors on the Cheap: Read the guidelines for posting this. You need price/ratings/genre and a link to the Amazon page.


1. Try to wait 4+ weeks before doing another KDP Select promo for the same book, regardless of the downward trend of paid sales afterwards. If you redo a promo period too quickly, you’re very likely to hit the same readers who downloaded your book previously on ENT, POI, KND, etc. and even if they pick it up again, it won’t be as good of a promo period on the 2nd attempt. Waiting a month seems to give you a much better chance of getting high downloads, which should help translate to better paid periods.

2. It will take 2-5 days for paid sales to start rolling in after a free period. Do NOT panic and redo your promo period for reasons outlined in #1.

3. The best genres for these things appear to be 1) Romance and 2) Thrillers. Both of these can sometimes generate 8-20k downloads in a 2 day stretch O_O. Cover, blurb, price before free, etc. can affect this. Other genres can sometimes hit this kind of number. I remember a science fiction book hitting 8k+ on KB. Reviews and awards can help give more credibility. Genre specific sites (like DearAuthor for Romance) will supercharge your free downloads, so contact them.

4. Read Step 1. Don’t just skip to the sites and Twitter handles on this post. You need reviews to get picked up by ENT, POI, or KND nowadays.

5. You’re aiming for as many downloads as you can over a 2 day period. Only extend to 3 days if you are within the top 100 free list. The more downloads you get, the more it will count toward the popularity lists which will result in more paid sales.

*     *     *     *     *

Rex Jameson is the author of the Primal Patterns series of novels and the Perspectives series of novelettes. He lives in Pittsburgh with his wife Jenny and a cadre of psychotic calicos who sometimes ambush him in his sleep. He recently earned his PhD in Computer Science from Vanderbilt University and is thoroughly nerdy. You can learn more about Rex at his blog, on Facebook, or his Author’s page.

A version of this post previously appeared on Rex’s blog on 4/26/12.

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49 thoughts on “Preparing for Your KDP Select Free Days by Rex Jameson”

  1. Great article. Some other suggestions…. from our list.

    Send requests to following to get your free book listed a few days ahead of time to give the site owners time to post your book.

    • All Things Kindle (FB) – Be sure to read the Info page for directions on how to get listed.

    • Kindle Boards (under Book Bazaar)

    • Digital Book Today
    • World Literary Café – does monthly lists of Kindle freebies

    Thank you Rex, for such wonderful advice.

    1. None of these can hurt, but I will go ahead and share my experiences with the Kindle Boards specifically. I have done paid advertising on KB (~60 bucks from what I remember), and I have updated my Book Bazaar threads. The paid advertisements resulted in ~4-6 sales (this was the ad:….

      I have never seen more than 4-5 free downloads come from a Book Bazaar posting, and I believe this is for two reasons: 1) the churn of the Book Bazaar at Kindleboards is so high that you are off the front page in minutes, 2) they don't allow you to rebump your page repeatedly in the Book Bazaar (I believe it is once per day allowed or they will likely moderate later posts out and potentially even lock the thread if they feel you are abusing the system).

      For my free period list, I try to focus on avenues that generate the most downloads for my investment of time. Sure, there are dozens of other places you can submit things (and some of them on this list are only included because the time required is short enough that I don't feel I am wasting my time–i.e., they don't appear to have much impact by themselves). The absolute best venues that drive downloads that I have seen are ENT, POI and KND in a very distant third. The Facebook pages, and I have discussed this with several authors who have tried them, appear to have way more author subscribers than dedicated readers (and we're not sure the authors are really following them that closely).

  2. Awesomely, awesomely helpful. I've spent the past week planning out my Free weekend. I thought I was being brilliant. I bow to you one thousand times and would kiss your feet if I could. Thanks Rex. I be followin' you now.

      1. For what it's worth, my book has strong connections to rock and roll and altered states of consciousness. I'm doing my free deal next month on the 43rd anniversary weekend of Woodstock. One thing that's clear is the need to get things rolling with a lot of folks as much as 4 weeks in advance. Anyway, thanks again.

        1. Sure thing. For your particular case, I would work especially hard to see if you can get an endorsement or blog entry from a rock-and-roll friendly site on the 43rd anniversary or around that time frame. With a specialty book like yours, it can't hurt to go where the readers are, and a rock-and-roll blog might be a good venue to help kick start that free period. Good luck, regardless!

    1. Thanks, Jim! It gets really frustrating going to the sites and digging for the free submissions sites each time (been there, done that), and this cuts down my time to broadcast a free period to minutes instead of hours. I hope it helps you too!

  3. Great advice.

    I have to admit some of the sites that were great for indies have become less open and feel more like a version of the traditional model where you must jump the hurdles to get in.

    I guess the difference is that if you jump the hurdles, you get in and with the traditional model, jumping hurdles is all you may ever do.

    1. It's become a real hassle–to the point where some of these pages are hidden on the site in single paragraphs of a wall of text. I understand where these sites are coming from. They are deluged with hundreds of requests a week, and the management of that overhead can become absurd for the site managers. I have a feeling many of them are trying to limit the submissions to those who will spend the time to browse their sites and read all of their information (and maybe come back to use their site).

      However, for many of us, we have other things that we need to do–like write the next book and focus on our day jobs that keep our writing careers going :D! Hope this helps!

    2. Wow, man. I read all three of your blogs on your experiences. You make me feel rather much like I'm going to need Viagra to make this work…or, rather, maybe we all need to inject KDP with some.

      That said, I do think you gave too much detail in your description…for what it's worth. Fiction is a peach…easy to bruise. Non-fiction is a straight Red Delicious and easy to write a blurb for. Instructional and How-To just require positing a problem…a cool glass of water, cuz everyone's thirsty.

      All told, though, I bought PE and will read it this week. It better be good, guy…

      1. Hah, well thanks for going through them. KDP Select was somewhat of a hassle at first, especially some of the bugs that are still in the system (do not try to cancel a Select day–you'll probably just lose the day and Amazon will not refund them). The system is mostly smoother than it was, but it's also nowhere near as effective as it once was for paid sales afterward. That mostly is because the free downloads used to count as full paid downloads in the algorithms when looking at the best-seller lists–rather than the paid lists–which many customers use to find titles within your category.

        From analysis on the Kindleboards, it is believed that there are now at least three best-seller lists, one with the old algorithm that gave us higher placement via KDP Select titles, and two newer ones which are more often used to display results and give only fractions of the free downloads to paid downloads (and seem to have a very short decay period of as little as 24 hours for free downloads to even count in the ranking).

        Short and sweet: KDP Select isn't as good as it used to be and we're not as favored in the listing as we once were, but it will still produce some sales given enough free downloads.

        Which book were you saying seemed to have too much description? Or do you mean in the blog posts? And what is PE? Cheers!

  4. Thank you for sharing.

    "I have to admit some of the sites that were great for indies have become less open and feel more like a version of the traditional model where you must jump the hurdles to get in"

    I've been thinking the same thing. This article give me some hope.

    Thanks for taking the time to write it.

    Cat 🙂

  5. Great info, but I'm done with KDP Select. I just don't see the benefit of removing my books from other channels for 90 days anymore. I wrote about my experience on my website.

    1. I'm going to have to agree with you for the most part on this. Lucifer's Odyssey will be the last book in KDP Select and it leaves on July 25. I had a great run. Tens of thousands of downloads and thousands of sales. It introduced a lot of people to my work, but I have also had people contact me to express frustration at not being able to obtain Nook versions of other books.

      Yes, KDP Select helped me sell books, but I am not a fan of permanent exclusivity to a single retailer. There is still a possibility of using Smashwords and other means to make books free in the future, so free is not off the table, but exclusively free through Amazon is for me.

    1. Hey, I'll admit that I originally collected this information for myself. But if I can get 6-10k downloads from the steps, then so can anyone else, and I hope you guys find the listing useful (and I'll try to keep it updated when things change)!

  6. Wow, there's so much to learn in the book marketing process. This has been extremely helpful as I launch into the eBook space. Thank you.

    1. Best of luck on your marketing, but I feel it's important to note that the most important marketing you will ever do is releasing your next book. If you find yourself spending most of your day foruming, posting advertisements, etc., then you may be missing out on keeping your loyal fans happy with more things to read. Good luck!

  7. Your article exhibits the kind of generosity that makes the community of Indie writers as close as it is. Thanks for lending a helping hand to the rest of us, Rex.

    1. I have received far more help than I have given. Resources like this website and the Kindleboards are what keep us all moving toward our goals of disseminating our works widely, helping each other grow as writers, and hopefully becoming self-sufficient in our writing so we can keep doing what we love to do. Cheers!

  8. Great information. I had almost decided to give up KDP and not try a free promotion again. One BIG question. How do you know where the sales bumps or downloads are coming from?I only see stats on my Amazon statement.

    1. The answer to that is volume and talking to other authors. On several occasions, I did not get picked up by ENT or POI, and I could tell just what effect the others had by looking at the data as it came in in real-time from Amazon.

      That being said, Amazon data reported on the KDP interface is no longer as fresh as it used to be. I have heard of and have experienced 12+ hours of stale sales data on the KDP interface.

      There also was the massive, massive amount of data posted to the MEGA_THREAD for KDP Select data on the Kindleboards here:… . If you want to see the good, the bad, and the ugly from KDP Select experience, go to that thread, but it's now 176 pages long and takes a while to get through.

  9. I haven't done free days yet but this was super informative and I now feel like I can be prepared and maximise the opportunity when the time comes. Thanks for this great article and advice.

  10. It's so nice to get some direction on this. I got into KDP kicking and screaming. My free days get loads of hits but nothing in the way of "borrows" until "1" last night (after a 4th of July week promo). I guess you could say I'm not very impressed with the program.

    I followed all the info above for another try in August. Fingers crossed. If nothing, I'm going to put them out on Smashwords where they sell like hotcakes!

    1. Borrows are a real crap shoot. The best thing you can do for borrows is to try to run a free promotion at the end of the month because people tend to use their borrows when the system resets at the beginning of the month. So, you want your book to be coming off its free promotion just as the month turns. Good luck!

  11. Thanks for posting this. My most recent free promo has just started. Fortunately, I do already have several positive reviews for my fantasy romance DANGEROUS TALENTS…<img src="; width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />
    . I also gave the free sites more lead time, but not as much as you suggested. I'll give them even more time when I promo the sequel. I made use of the Twitter and facebook info this morning.

    Thanks again!

    1. Sure thing, Frankie! The Pixel of Ink notification window is actually much larger than necessary. The truth is that Pixel of Ink will feature whoever it wants to feature, whenever it wants to feature them. I have heard of people submitting to it with only two days notice and still getting featured. The POI audience is overwhelmingly female, and so they tend to favor certain types of books far more than others. For instance, a sci-fi book has roughly a snowball's chance in hell. A fantasy book will need to be very obviously favoring a female readership (think Debora Geary's Witch books–which are very good). A romance book with excellent reviews is very, very likely to get a mention. Good luck!

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