Kindle Countdown Deals—Better than the Original KDP Select?


Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) sent out an email announcement today about the new Kindle Countdown Deals—a new promotional tool for KDP Select users.

This looks very promising. It will entice some authors who’ve left to switch back to KDP Select; and any who have been contemplating leaving KDP Select may be swayed to stay.

The drawbacks to the KDP free promo are well-known:

  • You don’t earn any royalties for your promotion.
  • The freebies affect your free rank, but not your paid rank. So your sales rank goes up while your book is free.
  • Changes in Amazon Associates’ policies have greatly discouraged sites from promoting the freebies.
  • People who loathe the KDP Select freebies can take out their frustrations by leaving one-star reviews, and they don’t even have to buy or read the book to do this and get it to show as an Amazon Verified Purchase.
  • Many customers from outside your target audience are attracted to the free price; since they aren’t familiar with your genre, they’re less likely to leave a favorable review.
  • When the book is free, many shoppers won’t bother to read the description and check out the free sample, so they are more likely to be disappointed with your book.
  • An abundance of freebies and 99-cent books makes it difficult to create the perception of value.

The new Kindle Countdown Deals solves these problems:

  • Your book won’t be free—but it will be at least $1.00 less than the list price. So you don’t have to worry about not earning royalties during your promotion.
  • You can even earn 70% if your sale price is lower than $2.99, but you do have to contend with the usual delivery fee. Your book must have the 70% option to begin with, of course, for this to apply.
  • Websites can promote your discounted book through Amazon Associates without having to worry about the penalty for linking to freebies.
  • You will have paid sales during the promotion, so this should affect your sales rank, unlike free promotions.
  • If anyone wants to slam your book, at least they’ll have to pay for it if they want it to show as an Amazon Verified Purchase.
  • Shoppers are more likely to read your description and check out the Look Inside, so they are less likely to be frustrated with a book that’s really not for them (provided that your packaging is clear).
  • Customers are more likely to be in your target audience since they actually have to pay for your book.
  • There won’t be as many free books because many authors who ordinarily use the free promotion tool will be using the countdown tool instead (you must choose one or the other for any 90-day period). Similarly, many of the books that are always 99 cents will now be $2.99 or higher for 83 out of every 90 days. Amazon has given everyone an incentive to choose a higher list price.

Here are some more notes about the new countdown tool:

  • You can use the tool for up to 7 out of every 90 days, with as many as 5 price increments.
  • You can only schedule one Countdown Deal per 90-day enrollment period. (You can schedule one in the US and another in the UK). Unlike the free promo, you can’t run two or more separate sales. The only way to use all 7 days is to use them all at once. See
  • The regular list price must be between $2.99 to $24.99 (or 1.99 to 14.99 pounds).
  • The promotion can be as short as one hour or as long as one week.
  • You must wait 30 days after joining KDP Select and since you last changed your regular list price.
  • It looks like you can schedule the promotion without having to republish (like you do for ordinary price changes).

Some people are infamous for complaining about too many free and 99-cent books. Some of these people are already talking about how the new countdown program will drive even more books to the bottom. But that’s crazy!

The new countdown program encourages the books at the bottom price point to move up!

The minimum regular list price must be $2.99 in order to be eligible. The books that participate in the countdown won’t be free. The books that are 99 cents through the countdown program will only be 99 cents for 7 out of every 90 days. Right now they are 99 cents for 90 out of 90 days.

Many authors are already doing special short-term promotions. Now there is a tool for this, they can earn 70% instead of 35% royalties during their promotions, and all customers will see the discount at Amazon, even if they hadn’t heard about the author’s promotion.

If you have several pictures and your book is on the 70% option, the delivery fee may be significant. What you want to determine is whether your royalty would be greater at 70% or 35% for the discounted price (because of the delivery fee, if the file size is large, it may actually be greater at 35%). Note that you can’t change the royalty plan during the promotion or for fewer than 24 hours prior to the promotion. So you must change this, if needed, 24 hours before the promotion (and then change it back afterward, if desired). This would be the case if you normally earn a greater royalty at 70%, but would earn a better royalty at 35% during the promotion. If you have several pictures, you should check into this.

You still need to promote your sale if you want the promotional tool to be effective. Just dropping the price won’t have nearly the impact as effectively marketing the promotion.

This also looks like a great tool for Read Tuesday—a Black Friday type of event just for books.

Click the following link to learn more about the new countdown tool:

Publishing Resources

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles on publishing and marketing by clicking one of the following links:

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

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Share Your Opinion about the New WordPress Reader


Don’t like the new WordPress Reader?

Do like it?

Either way, share your opinion. There is an open forum about this at WordPress here:

Haven’t tried the new Reader? Check it out.

The only way for WordPress to know how people feel about this is if people share their opinions. So if you don’t (or do) like it, let WordPress know. They may not respond to one opinion, but if there are numerous responses, perhaps that will get some attention.

I love WordPress, and I love the old Reader. I want to keep loving WordPress. How do you feel?

Some of the changes that I’ve observed are summarized in my previous post.

Chris McMullen

New WordPress Reader? What Do You Think? (Updated)


My WordPress Reader has looked much different as of yesterday. I wondered if maybe it was just being haunted for Halloween, but if so, the ghosts aren’t very good at keeping track of the calendar. So, is it just me?

The font size is larger in my reader, I see fewer posts on the screen at a time, and I don’t see the word count.

With fewer posts per screen, I have to do a lot more scrolling to skim through it and find posts that interest me. It just seems like a greater chance of people giving up sooner.

I guess the font is a little more readable. But I was used to it the way it was, so now it just seems too large. I guess I’ll get used to this, too, if it stays this way.

The disappearance of the word count seems interesting. Were short posts getting more attention, and long posts being overlooked (or vice-versa), because people were checking out the word count? If so, removing this will force us to choose the post that interests us regardless of length. Or will it cause frustrations, or less use of the Reader?

I think all of the clicks where people get to the post, then think ugh, that’s too short or too long—all that wasted energy will mean some posts that would have been read won’t get read.

Yesterday, there was a huge gap in posts, from 1 hr ago to 16 days ago. I’m sorry if I missed any posts that I would normally read.

That Follow by Email button is handy for blogs we really look forward to. 🙂

And is there an issue with pictures showing in the Reader? It seems that some posts have pictures (are they smaller?), yet none of the pictures show in the Reader.

If WordPress did make changes to the Reader, I wonder if they were beta tested. (Or is this part of a beta test?) If so, maybe they have already determined that the pros outweigh any cons.

There is a forum on this topic now:

I keep looking for a button on my Reader that I might accidentally have pressed. (Is this all just a big OOPS?)

Have you had the same experience? What are your thoughts?

Chris McMullen

The Multi-Book Strategy


There are several potential benefits to publishing multiple titles, especially if the titles are similar:

  • When customers see that the author has written several different books, it creates the perception that the author is a serious, dedicated writer. When the author only has one book available, the perception is that this is a new author.
  • Customers who enjoy one of your books are likely to try more of your books. There is a big IF involved here—i.e. how likely are customers to enjoy your books? If so, having multiple titles out can earn you repeat business.
  • The books that have been out the longest are likely to have more reviews, which can help lend credibility to your newer books even when they don’t have reviews yet.
  • You can build a fan base among your prior customers and utilize this to help create buzz and initial sales for your new books.
  • When shopping for print books, customers often buy a few books at a time. One reason is that customers may qualify for free shipping this way; but even without this incentive, multi-book shopping is still common for print books. The more books you have available in print, the more customers are likely to buy a few of your books at the same time, especially if you have similar titles. (If you have an omnibus for a series, you can discount it to offer an incentive to buying the entire set up front.)
  • Your own books are likely to show upon on each other’s Customer Also Bought lists. This way, sales of your own books help to inspire same-day or future sales of your other books.
  • If the titles form a series, the further along you are in the series, the less risk readers will see in the time they will invest. When only the first volume is out, there is a greater chance that the series won’t be completed. (If you have two different series out, but neither is finished, this may be a deterrent. Readers may wonder if you don’t tend to finish what you start.)
  • The more books you publish, the more experience you gain, which gives each new book potential for improvement.
  • Working on your next book will keep you from checking your stats too frequently, take your mind off reviews, and give you an incentive not to waste your time.

More and more authors are becoming aware of possible benefits of the multi-book strategy.

This news leads to a few common mistakes:

  • The temptation to hurry. Rushing the writing and rushing to get the books out there, with the hope of multi-book success, may backfire. Delivering quality content is much more likely to earn referrals and good reviews. A lack of quality due to a rushed delivery is much more likely to earn bad reviews and no future business. (You can revise a book to improve it, but you only get one chance to make a good first impression, your reputation is at stake, and bad reviews are there to stay with print books.)
  • The temptation not to market. Authors may hope that the benefits of having multiple books will make up for a lack of marketing. There are two ways to look at this. First, consider that if the books aren’t selling, the lack of reviews and dismal sales ranks will discourage sales even more so. Second, consider that every customer you attract through marketing may buy multiple books in the long run. Therefore, if you plan to write multiple books, you should be more motivated to market because there is more potential gain in the long run.
  • The temptation to create a larger number of shorter works. The problem here is that customers want a good value for their hard-earned money. If customers feel that the content isn’t a good value, they are less likely to provide referrals, repeat business, or good reviews. If they feel that it’s a poor value, bad reviews are more likely. (This is on top of being less likely to buy the book in the first place because it doesn’t seem like a good value, let alone try out a new author.) Just to be clear, I’m not saying you should price your book cheap (most books should avoid the minimum price point—here is another common mistake, but that’s for another day). Rather, I’m saying that providing full-length books may be better than a series of short stories.

The first books you publish help to establish your reputation. You want to start out with a good reputation as a professional author who delivers quality content. You want to give your first books the best possible chance of earning referrals, repeat business, and good reviews.

Satisfying customers is the key to long-term success.

If you have the motivation and diligence to write and publish several books, then you’re obviously interested in long-term success. So take the time now to give your future its best possible chance of success.

If you have the motivation and diligence to write and publish several books, market your books avidly from the beginning in order to derive the greatest possible benefit from your efforts. You have more to gain from marketing in the long run than an author who only writes one book, so you should be more motivated to do this.

On the other hand, there comes a point where the book is excellent, but if you’re too much of a perfectionist, your book may never get finished. The temptation to rush is much more common than to continually delay because there is always something else that could be improved. However, if you’re one of the perfectionists who may take forever to get your book out there, then you have the opposite problem of needing to say that enough is enough, it’s already very, very good. It helps to have pre-readers who can help you judge this (since thinking it’s very good when it’s not good can be a major problem, while thinking it’s not good when it’s already excellent may be an unnecessary delay); however, getting honest feedback is another issue, too.

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)