KDP Select Free (or 5000 copies)

“Consider gain and loss, but never be greedy and everything will be all right.”

number of free units

It’s been an amazing journey self-publishing my Winston Wong cozy mystery. A truism of self-publishing is that e-books sell better than print copies. With that being said, let’s delve into digital sales…

KDP Select: Yes or No?

Being a part of KDP Select means that you will sell your e-books only through them for a select period of time (90 days at a time, with an option for renewal after). The pros are: 1) Amazon is a big e-seller, 2) Amazon rankings and reviews really influence potential customers, and 3) Amazon has special promotional tools for KDP Select (Free and Countdown). The giant con is: You get locked into Amazon for all digital sales.

So I decided yes and implemented their…

Free Promotional Tool

You get five “free” days where your books can be given out gratis. This time can be split up in any number of ways across each 90-day window when you’re enrolled in KDP Select (e.g. 1 day, 2 days…5 days in a row).

What I Did

I went for the two-day special. I advertised in bargain e-newsletters to highlight the deal that ran on May 26th and May 27th. (I decided on two days because I heard that one day didn’t give enough of a boost, and five was too long.) Special thanks goes out to C.M. Skiera who provided great book promotion links!


I found my freebie book featured on sites, like Ask David, Awesomegang, Book-circle, ebookasaurus.com, ebooklister,  itswritenow, theereadercafe, and Readcheaply. I received about 5000 downloads, which resulted in a definite spike in sales (~70) and borrows. It’s also netted a few new reviews on my Amazon page.


There is an ongoing debate on whether authors should give away their work. Is it helpful to boost sales? Or does it devalue the profession?

For me, I thought it was beneficial just to get my name out there and increase visibility.

What do you think about free books?


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  1. Thanks for the info about KDP Select. I was wondering what that was about.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with authors running a free promotion. I’ve seen some authors who have series offer the first book free permanently, and it really seems to up the sales of the next ones in the series. Or, for a new-release like yours, it makes sense to up its visibility. It’s a glutted literary world out there. Anything that helps get a book noticed is good.

    • Jennifer J. Chow says

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Carrie. I also hope new ventures like your Kindle Scout opportunity help put more authors on the map.

  2. Veronica Roth says

    I agree with Carrie. I’ve printed some 10K greeting cards just as self promotion tools, and not to start a greeting card business, but I’m thrilled when I sell some to card stores. Sending your work out into the world is one of the best things you can do. (good karma included) :D

    • Jennifer J. Chow says

      10K cards? Wow, that’s a lot. I’m curious to see what those cards look like–I’m sure they’re spectacular!

  3. I love free books but I feel an obligation in most cases to review the book for the author. That review can be reviews on Good Reads and Amazon or a book review on a blog. I think it is the lease you can do to give back to the author.

    • Jennifer J. Chow says

      Interesting, Carol. I feel an obligation to review books that I enjoy. I’d rather spend my time promoting someone whose work I like than reviewing every single book that comes my way.

  4. Kindle Select seems to have worked for your novel, so I’d say you made the right choice. I do like the free promotional goodies attached. Are you locked into 90 days with Amazon or forever?

    I do read free books only if the “look inside” is provided. I approach print books the same way. First, I read the back cover and the first two pages. If my interest is sustained and the writing is good I either buy or borrow.

    Using KDP Select for visibility can work either positively if the book is a good read; negatively if the book is poorly written.

    I have to say I pass on 98% of free e-books by debut authors when I look on Amazon. That number is high because I’m not a fan of the most written genres: fantasy, sci-fi, and romance. The other things that detract from a download is no, few or poor reviews, bad cover, and no “look inside.”

    You provided some good info, Jennifer. Thank you.

    • Jennifer J. Chow says

      Thanks for the great analysis, Mona. For KDP Select, it’s a 90-day period at a time. That means you can continue when that timespan expires…or not. I’ve been hearing that genre books make up a lot of free giveaways; I’m not sure if that’s due to the sheer number of fans or whatnot.

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