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Blog: My KDP Select Success Story

July 30th, 2012

Back in June I blogged about my experience using KDP select to offer my newly released book, The Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown, for free over a 2 day period in May. You can read the article at Using KDP Select Free Promotion Successfully, but, in short, my experience was a positive one with my book being downloaded nearly 27,000 times, hitting No. 2 in the Top 100 Free Kindle books and seeing an increase in sales for weeks afterwards.

Well, I’ve just used the KDP select programme again for my first book, which was published back in February. Sales had dropped from 60-100 a day to around 30 a day so I thought it was worth doing a 2 day free promotion on the 26th and 27th July. It was a very different scenario from my first use of KDP select because this time I was promoting a book that was not newly released and I knew that many of the subscribers to my email list would have purchased it already. However, I was pleasantly surprised.

The Results

  • Downloads – Over 18,000 over the two days
  • Rankings – Got to No. 6 in the Top 100 Free Kindle Store in the UK and No. 10 in the US
  • Got to No. 1 in various bestselling lists in my genre (history)
  • Sales – Obviously it’s early days but sales on the first day of it being back to paid were over 200 and yesterday’s sales were over 130, plus a good amount of borrows
  • Ranking after the promo – After it had switched to paid, my ranking settled at 472 in the US and 1604 in the UK

I count that as a success and I’m hoping that it will have a knock-on effect for at least a few weeks.

What I did to make my KDP Select Free Promotion a success

Here are all the steps I took:

As you can see, I was pro-active and it was hard work setting it all up and getting the buzz going. What made it easier was that I had a mailing list of 6,000 subscribers to my website, a Facebook page with nearly 6,000 likes and a Twitter following of over 4,000. I had a platform to help me spread the news. That’s not saying that it wouldn’t have been a success otherwise, it just would have been harder work!

42 Responses to “My KDP Select Success Story”

  1. Mike O'Mary says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Claire. I have a small, indie press, and I was doing many of these things with my authors, but not all. Very nice of you to share your experience.

  2. Greg Kuhn says:

    Clarie, I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to post this comprehensive outline of how you took full advantage of your KDP! I’m emulating your every step.

    I have one question though and I hope you won’t mind answering it. As a relatively new person to Twitter, how do I ask a Twitter service like @KindleFreeBook to tweet about my KDP? I mean that literally. Do I tweet “at” them and ask? Do I go to their Twitter page and write a tweet?

    Thank you, in advance, for your time.

    • Claire says:

      Hi Greg,
      I’m so glad that my article has been useful to you and do let me know how you get on with your promo.

      Yes, just send them a Tweet addressed to @KindleFreeBook and ask if they’d be willing to help you spread the news about your promo.

      I’ve done a comprehensive list of links at which I add to as I find more sites, Facebook pages etc.

      Wishing you success with your promo!

      • Greg Kuhn says:

        Thank you for the response, Claire, and for sharing the PDF (which I have thoroughly digested).

        A question about a follow-up promotion like the ones you did:

        (Paid World Literary Cafe (WLC) for their social media mania promotion for 28th and 29th, the two days after my free promo, to keep the momentum going.
        Paid for Digital Book Today Social Media Buzz package – 31st July to keep momentum going.)

        The two days after my promo ends will be a Saturday and a Sunday (8/25 and 8/26). Do you have any advice regarding whether I should be wary of promoting on a weekend? Should I wait until Monday/Tuesday to do my paid promo? Or is the weekend fine?

        Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

        Greg Kuhn

        • Claire says:

          That’s ok, Greg, I’m always happy to help.

          I don’t think it matters what day it is when you run your promotion and my two days with WLC were a Saturday and Sunday.

          Good luck with your promotion and please do let me know how it goes.

  3. This is so helpful, thanks so much for sharing this experience. It is hard work but you are right, we are publishers as well as authors nowadays and must put in daily a few hours work at this. I will follow many of your ideas…some I’ve done but oh, my how did you build up such a huge fan base!

    • Claire says:

      I built up my fan base accidentally by blogging about Anne Boleyn and Tudor history – see http://www.theanneboleynfiles. My blog had been going exactly three years when I published my first book in February 2012 and had over 900 posts, over 750 pages and an active forum. It’s quite an interactive site and I think that’s because I reply to people’s comments and encourage discussion. So, I had that platform, plus the Facebook page, Twitter etc., when I launched my book.
      I’m glad you found my article helpful.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I’m slavishly following your guidelines to promote my free days from August 25-27th. I can’t figure out how to reach those Twitter services to ask them to tweet my books. I’m a bit of a twitter moron. Any advice would be appreciated.

    author, Interview With a Jewish Vampire

    • Claire says:

      Hi Erica,
      All you have to do is write a tweet addressed to that twitter id, e.g. “@KindleFreeBook please could you help spread the message about my Kindle free promo…” with an amazon link to your book. Hope that helps.

      Wishing you lots of success with your promo,


  5. Vinny says:

    Great write up Claire

    I am glad you used our Facebook page to submit to. I wanted to let you know that we also have a website where authors can submit their books to.

    When a book gets submitted to our site it also goes out on our Twitterfeed and usually to our Google+ page So authors get their books triple the exposure. This of course is all free.

  6. Hi Claire! I was wondering where all those free book submissions on my Facebook page were coming from :) Thank you for including the BookGoodies Facebook page on your list.

    Since Delin mentioned author interviews, I wanted to let you know that we have a podcast for authors and author services that we post on Authors can submit their book information, Kindle Free Days info and request to be interviewed on our podcast.

    And congratulations on your successful KDP promotions!

  7. Claire says:

    Thanks, Delin, I will check out that link.

  8. This is fantastic information, Claire! Thank you so much for sharing. Can you tell me what you did to build a sizable email list?
    I’ve been blogging for about 2 years and 6000 subscribers is mind-boggling to me. I’d appreciate any advice you have to offer.

    • Claire says:

      Hi Marcia,
      I blogged regularly (3-4 times a week) and offered a free report/article, which I then actually changed to a “welcome basket” with a few reports in it. Hope that helps.

      • Thanks, Claire! A writer friend, Diane Capri, asked if possibly a lot of your subscribers purchased the book before it went free since she felt that you might have had more downloads with such a large group on your subscriber list. Thanks for your time, Claire.

        • Claire says:

          Yes, I would think that many of my subscribers had downloaded it before as the book had been published quite a few months before. I had 27,000 downloads when I did a free offer on my second book, just a couple of weeks after it was published and I think that was higher because it was a newer book and people hadn’t had chance to buy it yet. It’s hard to know. I was still happy with over 18,000 downloads though and the knock-on effect on sales lasted for many weeks and it’s still selling strong.

  9. Claire, Thank you for your generosity in sharing the method you used to create a success story. Self publishing and self-promoting can be frustrating and overwhelming at times and it is such an encouragement to have those people like you who are willing to share what they know. Good luck with all your future endeavors.

  10. Garry Rogers says:

    Thank you for so generously sharing your promotion details and results. I owe you.


  11. Beth Camp says:

    Thank you, Claire, for these very helpful tips. As a new indie author and KDP member, I too offered a free day for my short story collection but had no idea of the number of wrap-around steps that I could take. Result = 157 downloads.But what’s exciting is this whole learning process. I do write historical fiction, so my short story collection now out is a way to learn the self-pubbing business. Posts (and sites) like yours are amazing resources.

    One question I did have was about subscribers. I wasn’t sure what you meant or how you tracked them. Are these people in your e-mail list? Do you have a separate e-mail account for writing related promotion? Thank you so much for sharing and being a terrific role model to us all. Beth

    • Claire says:

      I run and through that site we have built up many subscribers using a free report. These subscribers were actually built up over several years before I wrote my books. They are managed by an autoresponder – I recommend but there are others too. Once you get over a few tens of email addresses you really need an autoresponder to manage them all, allowing people to unsubscribe and generally keeping within the law. Don’t forget that most website hosts won’t allow you to do bulk email anyway.

      Hope that helps.

  12. Lynda Bester says:

    Please help!! the articale above is absolutely great, but i do have one question. How long before the time (of you book going ‘livel) do you begin to do all the above? And also, I know KDP is exclusive for three months, but does that still mean you can adviertise on goodreads? Sorry for my ignorance

    • Claire says:

      Hi Lynda,
      The list of things to do in this article are mostly what you do just before the actual free promotion. They are done after the book is live on Amazon KDP.
      The exclusive 3 months is only if you want your book to be included in the KDP select scheme where people can borrow the book and where you can do these free book promotions. During that time, no other digital versions of the book can be on sale. So you can (and should!) advertise your book everywhere you can. The limitation is just that you can’t sell a version on another platform such as the Apple store. Hope that helps, and good luck with your book!

      • Lynda Bester says:

        Hi Clair. Thanks for the reply. It most certianly does help. One more question..okay two (sorry) when you say ‘digital’ i assume you mean ebook. Does that mean you can sell actual ‘paper’ books anywhere while you download is on KDP? and last question. Createspace is part of Amazon, (as far as i know) so are they excluded or included? Thanks again for a brilliant helpful blog.


  13. Filipa Silva says:

    Tks for all the info! After reading your 27.000 downloads original post, and now in the middle of the 2 day free on KDP for the first time, I was getting depressed for only having 3,405 downloads (in a little more than 24h)…
    But now I see that you had a 6,000 subscribers head start:)
    Coming after you:)


    • Claire says:

      Hi Filipa,

      Thanks for your comment. 3405 downloads for your KDP promotion is very good – that’s more than most people get, especially if they don’t work really hard to promote their promotion. Well done indeed, and I wish you a huge success with your book!

  14. Amy Metz says:

    Hi Claire,
    Thank you for sharing this great list. It will be so helpful when I promote the free days for my novel.
    In case any of your readers are interested, I wanted to let you know about a page I put on my blog to help Indie authors promote their work. “Marketing For Dummies (And Indies too) is full of free sites and marketing ideas. My blog address is: I hope it helps other Indies!
    Amy Metz

  15. Jeff Carson says:

    Hi Claire,

    Thanks so much for the resource. I followed your list pretty closely for my first promotion, missing a few of the opportunities because I was too late, etc…but it was a great success! I ended up with 14,329 downloads, and some great sales traction for both books when the first book went back to paid.

    I just thought I’d say thanks, as I’m back here AGAIN to look at your page for the next promotion lol.


    • Claire says:

      That’s brilliant, congratulations! I’m going to be updating the list soon as some sites have changed their policies regarding promotions and there are new sites cropping up too.

  16. Alex says:

    How are you finding things with KDP now? My impression is that it is much harder to get thousands of downloads these days…

  17. Robert says:

    Just an FYI for Twitter accounts that promote tweets about book promotions is @kindlebookpulse

  18. I’m going to do exactly as you’ve done! Thank you so much. It’s a lot of work, but you’ve done even more than I do! Outstanding.

  19. Kathleen Maher says:

    This list was fabulous! Some of it I knew about, but much of it was new. I appreciate the work it went into compiling and sharing!

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