Back in the good old days, before Amazon started tweaking their sales algorithms, an indie author would have been crazy not to enroll a book in KDP Select. You could put your book free for a few days, give away thousands of copies, and get a lovely bounce in paid sales when the promotion was over. Some indies made their careers from that bounce.
Of course, even in the heyday of Select, curmudgeons muttered darkly about Amazon being an evil corporation that would turn on indies when we least expected it, and so we shouldn’t be putting all our eggs in one basket, and so on. And some authors had books that sold pretty well at B&N and Kobo (although perhaps not as well as on Amazon). For these folks, Select might have been a temptation, but not enough of one to entice them into publishing with Amazon exclusively.
And then Amazon gradually eliminated the bounce. These days, authors who take advantage of Select can still make a book free for up to five days in a three-month period, but the book’s ranking will be in the cellar when it returns to paid sales.
In place of the bounce, Amazon gave us the Countdown Deal. But I’ve yet to hear of an indie who has found the Countdown to be a roaring success. For one thing, Amazon doesn’t really promote it for you, other than setting aside a separate page that nobody seems to know about. For another, it’s difficult to advertise. The Countdown Deal program has been around for six months now, but the vast majority of promotional sites have yet to offer an ad feature specific to the Countdown. The problem for the promotional sites is timing: their subscribers might turn on them if the price of a featured book has bumped up to the next increment before they have a chance to click through.
The best advice I’ve heard for using the Countdown feature is to skip the countdown part. Just make your book a single price for the duration of your sale. Then you get the advantage of the higher royalty rate for any sales you make, and a promotional site is more likely to pick up your book.
My current strategy (if you can call it that) is to have only certain of my books in Select. For example, I’ve placed the five individual books of my Pipe Woman Chronicles series at both KDP and Smashwords (which of course also makes them available at B&N, Kobo, and all the rest). But the omnibus edition is available only at Amazon, and it’s enrolled in Select. So every ninety days, I can either make it free or knock the price back substantially. I’ll do the same thing with Land, Sea, Sky this fall: publish an Amazon-only omnibus edition, but leave the individual books of the trilogy available everywhere.
But that’s just me. What has been your recent experience with Select? Is it still worth it? And if so, why?