• Jennifer Richardson
  • [SWP: Behind the Book] KDP Select: How to Make Your Free Promo a Success – Part 2 of 2
[SWP: Behind the Book] KDP Select: How to Make Your Free Promo a Success – Part 2 of 2
Written by
Jennifer Richardson
September 2013
Written by
Jennifer Richardson
September 2013

In Part 1 of this blog I wrote about what KDP Select is and why it matters. This week I want to share my tips on promoting your KDP Select free promo based on my own experience with my travel memoir, Americashire: A Field Guide to a Marriage. Yes, I know it sounds crazy that you have to promote your free promo, but you do. I even chose to pay money to give my book away for free. This may leave you feeling that being a writer is a series of self-inflicted humiliations, but, instead, I choose to look at it as an investment to give my book the best chance of succeeding. It’s in that spirit that I offer the following “How To” list, the majority of which will only cost you your time:

Start planning two months in advance of your promo dates. There’s a shocking amount to do:

  • Scan through the various book giveaway promotional tools—there’s a good list of them here, including websites, email newsletters, and Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon groups—to determine if your book is eligible (there are restrictions around genre or ratings, for example), the submission deadlines (some are well in advance, some require your book already be free when you submit), and any costs. Make a list of all sites/services through which you will promote and keep track of where you have submitted and if you received a response.
  • Make a budget and determine how you will allocate that budget. I spent $155 in total, $150 of which went to buying a placement on the BookBub newsletter for the second day of my promotion. This turned out to a worthwhile marketing investment: According to BookBub-provided data, my book received 36,176 clicks and 18,088 downloads. In other words, BookBub allowed me to acquire readers for less than a penny each. Those 18,088 downloads accounted for 53% of my total downloads during the promotional period, and significantly outperformed BookBub’s posted average downloads for memoirs of 10,600. Don't want to spend any money? The good news is I got the other 47% of my downloads, nearly 16,000, for $5 (cost of listing on FreeBookFriday.com) plus my time. FreeBookFriday.com reported that there were 500 views of the page featuring my promotion in the 14 days from when it went live, which leads me to conclude that many of those remaining downloads came from free listings. 
  • Draft the email(s) you will send informing everyone you have ever known about your free book promo and asking them to share it with everyone they have ever known. Don’t forget to include the link to download your book. It’s worth mentioning in your email that you don’t have to have a Kindle device to download a Kindle book and include the link to download the Kindle app for use on any mobile, tablet, PC, or Mac.
  • I didn’t already have a mailing list (shame on me) so I worked to construct a few based on my contacts. As food for thought for your own list, here is who ended up being on mine:

                i.      Friends & Family

                ii.     Book Club

                iii.    Life Coaching Group

                iv.    Zen Meditation Group

                v.     Writers who had earlier hosted me on my book launch blog tour

                vi.    Writers with whom I had attended a week-long retreat three years ago

                vii.   Media contacts who had helped me in the past

          The great thing about these emails is you are asking for help but not money, which makes it easier to ask.

  • Draft the copy for the Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google +, She Writes, and other social media posts/events you will make each day during your promo. Trust me, you will be happy you did this in advance.
  • Contact bloggers to see if they would be interested in hosting you on their blog during your promo. I got the Arvon Foundation, with whom I had done a writing retreat, to post a blog including my promo link during my promo period.
  • Start tracking your sales to give you a basis of comparison for your promo and post-promo periods. You can get sales information via the KDP interface or, if, like me, you don’t have access to that interface for some reason, you can sign up for a free service that tracks your Amazon sales rank. I use this one.

On the morning of your promo set aside about four hours to do the following:

  • Before anything else, check all the Amazon links to your promo to ensure they are working correctly and show the correct promotional price. I witnessed this go awry with a fellow She Writes Press author’s free promo when it failed to go live at the appointed time due to a snafu on Amazon’s side; thankfully it was quickly resolved.
  • Send out your emails (no point doing this until the promotion is in place).
  • Kick off your social media campaign, including:

              i.      Set up promo events on social media sites like She Writes, Goodreads, and Facebook

              ii.     Post the promo in discussion forums on social media sites like She Writes and Goodreads

              iii.    Post the promo on your Facebook page and the Facebook groups you have already identified

              iv.    Post the promo on those websites that only allow you to submit your book when it is already free

  • Frantically refresh the Amazon page for your book to see where you are in the rankings. Just kidding. You’ll be doing this way longer than the first four hours of your promo if you’re anything like me :-).

After your promo is over:

  • Thank people for helping you make your promotion a success. Yes, I know they should be thanking you for giving them something for free (and many of them probably have), but hopefully they’ll repay you tenfold with glowing reviews.
  • If you paid to promote your book, ask for the stats on the performance of your paid promo and share what was worthwhile with your fellow writers. I only got my BookBub and FreeBookFriday.com stats because I emailed them and asked. 
  • Last but not least, try to have other social media activity lined up to sustain the buzz generated by your promo.

Best of luck with your own promos! I would love to hear what does and doesn't work for you.

JENNIFER RICHARDSON is the author of Americashire: A Field Guide to a Marriage, the 2013 IndieReader Discovery Award winner for travel writing. The book chronicles her decision to give up city life for the bucolic pleasures of the British countryside while pondering whether or not to pursue parenthood. You can find Jennifer online at:


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  • hi Rossandra, 

    I am not sure what the approach is for SWP authors now. Best to check with Brooke and Cait on that question.



  • Rossandra White

    Hi Jennifer, soo very helpful. Thank you! A little further help if you please. As we no longer have KDP Select, what I need to do first is contact Cait to arrange for a free Kindle for a certain period of time, right? What do you suggest? Thanks! 

  • Karen A Szklany Writing

    Thank you so much for this helpful information, Jennifer. Some I may use now, and others I will use to promote my next book.

  • Yehudit Reishtein

    I'm saving this information to use when the time comes (Next fall if all goes fairly well)

  • Laura Nicole Diamond

    Thank you for sharing. This info feels overwhelming, but I know if I take it step by step that it can and will happen. First step, deciding to when to promote the book!

  • Judith Newton

    So helpful Jennifer!!