Anatomy of a Free Day with Amazon KDP Select

My regular blog readers know that I’ve written a bit about Amazon’s KDP Select program, and that I’m hesitant about its effectiveness in selling books (at least for most authors).  As I’ve reached out to others to see what they’re doing, I came in contact with a lady named Sandy Jones.  She is the marketer/promoter for her husband, indie author Patrick Jones, who has written The Wolf’s Moon.  Sandy has recently jumped into the Select program and she’s been documenting her results.  She has kindly written a guest post for me.  Read on for her assessment of a couple of rounds of free days.

Anatomy of a Free Day with Amazon KDP Select

Patrick Jones - The Wolfs MoonThe world of self-publishing is a unique and interesting journey, to say the least!  There are so very many variables to consider when marketing a book.  By listing your book with Amazon in the KDP Select program, Amazon allows you to claim five free days within a ninety day period.  In return, Amazon gives your book visibility to the general population in the form of advertising.  Whether or not this avenue is advantageous to everyone is the topic of many articles and blogs.  Just to name a few variables, the sale of a book depends on such factors as:

  1.  The genre of the book itself
  2. The population of readers on any given day of the month.
  3. The actual month itself
  4. The actual year itself
  5. The illustrious secret algorithm that Amazon employs in visibility
  6. Market trends on holidays
  7. On which platform(s) your book is listed
  8. Book cover and formatting
  9. Social media platforms utilized to promote your book
  10. And, finally, solar flares.

That is not to say that it can’t be done.  As the wife of the author, Patrick Jones, of The Wolf’s Moon, I have spent the last year and a half trying to sort through the maze of self-publishing.  My purpose is to somehow fill in the blanks so that The Author can actually continue to write!  Little did I know this was a job that entailed working 10+ hours a day plus weekends!   It is not an easy journey.

I wanted to share some of the information I have gathered from two 2-day free events with Amazon.  It took a while just to get to the point where I could understand some of the complexities of the industry.  I have created a simple template to share with you in order to record your information whenever you begin a new campaign. You can print out this template and record the numbers manually if you like.  For the purposes of this look-see I am limiting the data to February 1 & 2, as well as Feb 13 & 14, 2013, a snapshot in time.  I will also draw some amateur conclusions from this set of data.  It is not meant to be representative, as on any given day the data may not reproduce from one instance to another due to the variables noted above.



  1.  Sometimes having two free events within the month can limit the effectiveness of the campaign.  If you note the first two-day event on Feb 1 & 2, you will see a normal progression.  If you note the second free event, you will see stagnant results on Feb 13 & 14.
  2. If you choose a holiday to run a free event, the results can surprise you, as in this example.  Here, we had an event before and on Valentine’s Day.  I discovered that Valentine’s Day is reserved for the Romance genre, and rightly so!  The results were poor on Valentine’s Day.  This may also have been due to the Twitter functionality those days as hackers were rampant on those days.  Nonetheless, we did not realize any momentum than or on the days following the free event.  The Wolf’s Moon is a Mystery Suspense Thriller.
  3. I just chose the U.S. data as the other nationalities were consistent with the above data, with smaller totals.  One important note is that we saw no Borrows for the international market.  Another important note is that we only saw free purchases from U.K., de (Germany), and ca (Canada).  We had 1 each from Japan and br (Brazil) and 3 from it (Italy).  We did not see any buys from those countries, with the exception of 1 in the U.K.  I have not figured out the strategy to capture the visibility in those areas.  This would be a good discussion topic to see what others have experienced in the international market.
  4. We noted that the visibility continued for about seven days, tapering off near the 7th day.  Whatever the algorithm entails allows a limited window of visibility for the book.
  5. This data also is dependent on the effort extended by the marketer, as well as the outlets used to broadcast the free event.  Evaluate the sites that offer free advertising and determine your strategy.  You may need to tweak this as you move forward.
  6. With the new affiliate changes to the businesses that offer free advertising for free days, the results may be very different as we move forward in the industry.
  7. And finally, it could also be the phase of the moon.  One thing is for sure…an age old saying, Garbage in, Garbage out explains the necessity to track your results and draw conclusions from good data in your own realm, in order to utilize it when constructing your next campaign.  At this point in our journey, we are learning how to capture the data throughout the campaign in order to accurately evaluate the big picture.

In essence, the self-publishing adventure is both frustrating and exhilarating.  The good news is this: One of my supervisors once told me that anything worthwhile builds character.  Another fantastic benefit is that we have met a lot of great friends in the industry, doing the same things that we are.  Always remember to pay it forward, and help the next generation of authors through this journey.  Chad Savage with Sinister Fonts said it best, Just believe with all of your heart.

Thanks, Sandy, for some great research on your KDP Select days.  I would love to know what kind of results others have had with KDP Select.  I am always curious how some people get thousands of downloads and lots of sales, and others don’t.  Please let us know what worked, or didn’t, for you.

Here’s more information about Patrick Jones…I wish him all the success in the world!

indie author Patrick Jones

Patrick Jones







Book Trailer:

About Renée Pawlish

Award-winning author Renée Pawlish writes the bestselling horror book, Nephilim Genesis of Evil, the Reed Ferguson mystery series, short stories and non-fiction ghost stories.
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6 Responses to Anatomy of a Free Day with Amazon KDP Select

  1. Sandy Jones says:

    Thank you so much for featuring “The Wolf’s Moon” by Patrick Jones. I look forward to working with you as we search for answers that will help all of us in the industry. Suffice to say that simply the friendship of everyone makes the journey worthwhile. I will be very interested in the blog post of your endeavors in the industry. Authors helping authors. What could be better than that?? :)

  2. Pingback: One Author's Experience with the KDP Free Promotional Program (It Went Well!) | Vik Rubenfeld Author Blog

  3. Great job, Renée, a very convincing, thoughtful analysis. My own experience with KDP Select was near-disastrous. At first, I thought I was doing really well, lots of downloads and my short story collection Death on Facebook shot up in the ranks of literary fiction at #17! I was so happy and so sure this would be followed with a bump in sales. Nothing happened! The only thing that did happen was that the row “other customers also bought” got filled up and my book looked less lonely…

    But I haven’t sold a copy since then – and that was back in…early 2012!! IN the age of Internet, that’s a century ago.

    Mike Shatzkin recently blogged about the difficulties of online marketing and I think he’s hit the main reason for it: the size of the screen! You think I’m joking? Not at all! Just think about it: when you enter a physical bookstore, you’re hit by dozens, even hundreds of book covers and titles. You can flip through them here and there (btw, for me that’s pure bliss!) But online you can do none of these things and you see at best 4 to 6 titles! Then you give up, tired of refreshing the page. And this means that your average customer will only look at the top selling titles – people keep buying from the same list, the top 100, and everyone else gets kicked back in the eternal Internet dust!

    So the use of going free? Of twitter to guide people to new reads? All the reviews you try to gather- is all of this useful in terms of book sales? I’m not sure, I can’t prove anything but I do wonder…

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      In my opinion, it’s very hard to get those free days to generate continuous sales. I got a nice little bump right after some free days last year, but it didn’t last. What concerns me for those that have figured out a system is that it’s great while Amazon has the KDP Program, but what happens when they change it? How many of those authors will continue to sell? And how much traction will they have lost when they go to other sales channels?
      Very interesting what Mike says, and it certainly seems to make sense. And I’m like you, I love browsing in bookstores, but I don’t online. How many are like us? And how do we sell to those?
      Thanks as always for your comment.

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