Amazon trying to re-Kindle interest in KDP Select: The new “Countdown Deals”

I published my first ebook, Yseult, in January 2012, pretty much simultaneous with the introduction of KDP Select. I opted in and set my first promotion for a mere week after publication — and I didn’t have a clue how lucky I was. I got a couple of quick reviews as a result of review copies I’d given away, and my brand new little baby (or rather big fat hunking baby — the hard copy book comes in at over 600 pages) got picked up by no less than Pixel of Ink, which at the time was *the* way to ensure that a freebie promotion would be successful.

Back then, using free days with KDP Select was an excellent way for a new indie writer to gain exposure and (after the free run) sell books. That first month as an indie publisher, I sold 242 books. I added more titles, mostly collections of my previously published short stories, and by spacing regular free runs across all my titles, I could increase my visibility as a whole and ensure that I continued to sell books.

But then Amazon made a couple of “corrections” to how free downloads were counted towards popularity and sales rankings (the infamous “Amazon algorithms”), and they hid the top 100 free book listings on pages that didn’t as easily show up when browsing. Free days became less and less effective as a marketing tool, to the point where it now is basically useless, unless you have a simultaneous ad running on Bookbub (which is very pricey).

Nowadays, you have to pay to give books away.

As a result, I and many, many others have been pulling out of KDP Select. Why have your books exclusive to Amazon when it doesn’t do you any good, right? Now Amazon has introduced something new to make Select more attractive to writers again: what they call “Countdown Deals.” This is how it works:

– Your book can be discounted for up to seven days. The duration of the sale is visible on the book’s page on Amazon, as well as the regular price, so that readers can see that they really are getting a “deal.”

– Your royalty rate remains the same even while the book is on sale. So instead of getting only 35% on a book marked down to 99c, you get 70%. The income is still naturally quite a bit less, but if it results in increased exposure, it’s worth it. And it certainly beats giving your book away.

– Amazon has set up a dedicated “Kindle Countdown Deals” page at www.amazon.com/kindlecountdowndeals – but of course there is no guarantee your Countdown Deal will get listed.

I don’t have many books in KDP Select anymore, and those that I do are basically there because I forgot to take them out, or I’m too swamped to upload them elsewhere. But hey, I’ve decided to give it a whirl, see if it’s any better than free days. Amazon has made it quite easy to set up a promotion. Here’s a screen shot of the first page of my books:

On the dashboard, you click on “Manage Benefits” and then just fill in the details for your sale. I decided to go with a seven day, single price 99c sale of my short story collection Dragon Time to test the waters, starting tomorrow Nov. 4 and going to Nov. 10. You can also have a sale where the price gradually returns to normal. For example, for my Dragon Time sale, I could have increased the price halfway through the sale to 1.99 if I had wanted to.

It will be interesting to see what good this does, if any. I’m suspecting the exposure won’t be enough to make KDP Select attractive enough to return to, at least not for most of us. But we’ll see — starting tomorrow.

I will naturally report my results when the promotion is over.

Related posts:

E-book promotions: Countdown – meh. Permafree – yay! (kinda)

“Promoting Ebooks with KDP Select”

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25 thoughts on “Amazon trying to re-Kindle interest in KDP Select: The new “Countdown Deals””

  1. By the time I had enough books out to make a free promo worthwhile, KDP Select was no longer producing good results. So I’ll be curious to see how the countdown deal does, too. I don’t like the idea of exclusivity either, but I sell so little on the other platforms, it might be okay if it actually gives results.

    I got 4,000 words my first two days of NaNo, so far so good! I always try to bank a few, as there’s usually one day a week where I don’t have time to even crack the ms open. Good luck with yours!

    1. Yeah, that’s the other consideration, Jennette — I sold a whopping 2 copies of Yseult on B&N last month, and I haven’t sold anything on Kobo for ages. If KDP Select becomes more attractive again, It won’t be a tough decision to return.

      Great going on the words! I want to get up to those daily word counts too so that I can also have a few days off. 🙂

  2. I’m not hitting my daily wordcount of 3500 yet, but I’m close … we can smellssss it we can, my Preciousssss …
    … I have noted that my writing comes in what I call ‘scene bursts’. I write furiously until a scene is done, then I have to take a break, even if it’s just getting up and putting the kettle on for tea.It’s been so long since I wrote this intensely (probably before I found out about the cancer) that I can’t remember if i always wrote like this, or it’s something new.

    1. That’s till amazing, Widdershins! I’m going to try to hit that today — yesterday was a family day, and I didn’t get much wordage done, so I have to catch up.

      Glad you’re whipping your muse back to work, despite the cancer. *hugs*

  3. Thanks so much for posting this info. I haven’t yet self published but I was intending to go with Kindle and was thinking about KDP. Will be something to consider when I get nearer to that goal. And well done for making progress on NaNo. I’m doing it again this year and have already found it useful as it has forced me to get on with a very difficult section of my WIP which I had a bit of a psychological log jamb with.

  4. A helpful summary of why KDP Select may not be a good first choice for an indie writer. Thank you, Ruth, for sharing your experience. The comments that follow (and your update) are useful as well! I’m doing NaNo at a slower pace, but really happy to be participating. I can’t imagine pumping out 3,000 to 4,000 words in just a few days. Aaargh! But write on!

  5. Cheers for yet more interesting info. I did receive Kindles update email, but it got eaten by gmail somehow. I’ll be interested to see how it goes. I’m not doing NaNo this year, but best of luck with yours. Sounds like you;re doing well. 🙂

    shahwharton.com

  6. I’ve never opted into Select. There have been a few times this month where I actually sold more on B & N than Amazon, and I would have lost those sales if I was exclusive with Amazon. Plus, I want my readers to have a choice. There are so many different opinions on all this, but I say do what works best and feels right to you. We’re in this business to sell books so we can make a career out of it. That’s becoming really hard right now.

  7. Amazon KDP select was superb in 2012, worsened in 2013 and I did some research. I wondered why Canada and Australia sales were so poor, well turns out that Canadians are Kobo and Nook lovers, so being exclusive to Kindle meant being invisible to those markets (practically). Hence for the first time ever, I am withdrawing from exclusivity with Amazon, and expanding to Nook, Kobo, iPad and so on. Nearly half the market has other readers, so it’s crazy to miss out. Amazon is being clever on remaining quiet about the latest trends, but the figures on quite a few websites about Nook and Kobo and Apple iPad speak for themselves.

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