99 Cents is the New Free!


When Amazon first introduced KDP Select in late 2011, I decided to give it a try. Of course this meant pulling my books from all the other sites they were listed on, and I wrestled with the decision at first. Then I stuck a toe in to see what one of my books would do. The results were impressive. At the time I was trying to build my fan base and get noticed. KDP Select did this for me in a multitude of ways.  

Early on, the KDP Select program worked wonders for my books. Every book I had in the program made it to #1 on the free books list during its free promotional days. And when the novel came off its free days, it did even better because I was making money. I made the top 100 list in the entire kindle store several times over with almost all of my books. I even had a short story make it to number 1 on the Thrillers list. Life was good.

But times change, and as an author, you have to realize a lot of what we do is trial and error. The same can be said for the vendor sites where we list our books. I’ve come to accept change comes fast and often, many times with no forewarning. Adapting to it isn’t always fun, but to succeed, it’s always necessary.

Amazon has been a blessing to authors, especially those who are brand new, trying to get their first book out. I’ve always expressed my gratitude for all they’ve done, and I’ll continue to do so because a great deal of my own success as a bestselling author is because their door was open to me when I was on the brink of tying myself up with a legacy publisher.

I’ve been a strong advocate for KDP Select, but for me, it’s time to get out of the program.


If you’ve been in the program and are a successful, established author, you already know why. At some point Amazon started changing their algorithms. This meant when a book came off the free list, instead of seeing a huge spike (a lower book ranking) as well as a nice increase in book sales, it wasn’t happening anymore, not to the extent I’d grown accustomed to. For a while, they tinkered with it, but recently I’ve been seeing a meager spike, fewer sales. Amazon is trying something different. Maybe short-term, maybe forever, but for me it means it’s time to try something different too.

In my opinion, a .99 promotion (not all the time, just as a sale) is the sweet spot right now, and I owe much of the recent success of my giveaways to BookBub. With over one million members, they’re a force I’m more than happy to reckon with, and I do, about once a month. I know, it’s expensive. For me, it’s still worth it because my genre has the most subscribers on their daily email list.

The best new trend I’m seeing as a direct result of running a BookBub promotion is sales on other sites such as Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Sony Kobo, all as a result of making my books available again on multiple venues. Three weeks ago I ran an ad for my boxed set. I made the USA Today Bestsellers List one week later. And that wasn’t even close to the best week the set has had since I released it over a year ago. However, the fact the book was listed on multiple vendor sites instead of just one made me eligible for the list.

I suppose the entire point of this article is to woo you into trying something new no matter what you are currently doing. Stick to what works and then magnify it. I abhor change. I am more than happy to stick with the same old, same old. I go to a restaurant, and my husband can order for me. I’m a Plain Jane when it comes to food. But when it comes to marketing my books, the extrovert buried somewhere inside comes out to play. 

Take risks.

Try new things.

Even if it’s just once. Get out there!

As a side note, if you are new, if you are publishing your first book, I still suggest giving KDP Select a try, even if it’s only for three months. The reason why I because no one knows you. You are not established. Not yet. I attribute a good portion of my followers to readers who found me when they downloaded my books during a free promotion. Before that, they didn’t have the slightest idea who I was. But it’s easy to take a risk when the risk is free, isn’t it? Use those free days to get noticed. That’s what they’re for. And when you’ve added a little more seasoning to your steak, branch out.

Honestly, a year from now I’ll likely be writing an article about a whole different trend, something else I’m trying. And that’s okay. I tend to do what’s in the best interest of my books. And so should you. 

Best of luck, and may you sell a lot of books–I believe in you! 


About Cheryl Bradshaw

Cheryl Bradshaw is a USA Today Bestselling Author. Born and raised in Southern California, Cheryl Bradshaw became interested in writing at a young age, but it was almost two decades before she put pen to paper. In 2009 Bradshaw wrote Black Diamond Death (Book One: Sloane Monroe series). Within six weeks it entered the top 100 in two different categories and remained in the top 100 for over a year. Since that time, Bradshaw has written three additional novels in the series, and is now hard at work on the fourth. In 2013, Bradshaw introduced a new paranormal thriller series: Addison Lockhart, the first book titled Grayson Manor Haunting. Bradshaw is the founder of IWU on Facebook, a writers group with over 2,000 members. In August 2012, Bradshaw was named one of Twitter's seven best authors to follow. In 2013, Bradshaw's novel, Stranger in Town, was chosen as a Shamus Award finalist in the category of best P.I. novel of the year. She was the only female nominated in her category.


  1. Yes, indeed. I’ve been out of KDP Select for a while and agree with your post in all aspects. Congrats on all your success, Cheryl!



  2. Congratulations on your great BookBub ride.

    BookBub is definitely the way to go. Yes, it is expensive but you make the money back at the very least and you make a lot more in the very best scenario. Plus some books (not all) double and triple the sales they were having before the ad and it continues. I don’t even use the “free” days in Select anymore. It’s just giving books away for no future gain. I’ve had BookBub ads in Select and out of Select and you are 100% right, the sales spill over nicely to all platforms.

  3. A toast for this post! Cheer!

  4. Congrats on the USA Today bestseller list!

    I had a different experience with KDP Select. When a KDP rep contacted me about the upcoming program, I was thrilled. Amazon could do no wrong in my opinion. I was at the top of the mark. Sales were at 100K, and two of my books were in the Kindle Store top 100. I quickly signed on to the new venture. Almost overnight my sales dropped, and continued to drop. I attribute the drop to competition. Suddenly there were thousands of free books flooding the market. Good for the newbies, not so good for me or others in my position. However, I stuck with them, mainly because my books sell well at Amazon. I don’t use the Free option. I’m a huge fan of Amazon and Bookbub. My writing career has never been better.

    • I agree, Carol. There was definitely more competition, and the sad thing is, a lot of it wasn’t GOOD competition. I’ve ditched the free option myself. I think there are ways to earn money on Amazon without it :)

  5. Congrats, very interesting comments and much to think about!
    Thanks for posting!

  6. Great advice, and thanks for sharing your experience so honestly and clearly!

  7. Thank you Cheryl! I gave Select a try and while it was okay, to me it didn’t justify keeping it out of all of the other channels. I’m using the very end of my second KDP period to do a free promotion for the first book and then releasing the second book on ALL channels immediately after (and then moving the first books onto the other channels as well).

    Staying on top of marketing trends is just one part of what makes this whole thing interesting.

  8. Thanks for the advice, Cheryl. It’s always good to hear from somebody who’s been there and done that.

  9. Thanks for this! I’ve debated over and over about KDP select. I still might try it down the road. But I did a 99 cent Bookbub promotion this summer in the paranormal romance category and was very happy with the results. I wish that Bookbub would accept anthologies (I published romance anthologies) and novellas!

  10. Good article, Cheryl. Something to consider is also the benefits of borrows. I’ve had 2 books out if Select for all if 2013 so far and I’ve sold 10 borrows the first month. If something doesn’t pick up on he other sites, I’ll be going back into Select for all titles.

  11. Spot on advice. I’ve observed all the same things. Select is probably still good for launching a new title, but then get out. For one thing, there are so many other retail sites cutting into Amazon’s one-time monopoly. They no longer have even 50% of the market. There’s a world of ebook readers out there. Tweeting and sharing this, Cheryl!

  12. I’m with you, Cheryl, though I’ve not done the Bookbub promo (yet).
    I wonder if you have any thoughts on paperback giveaways as promotion – blogs and Goodreads have these available. If you’ve tried them, do you feel they’ve been of any benefit?
    Thanks for the post.

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  1. […] Link here to read the entire article: 99 Cents is the New Free! […]

  2. […] 4) Free books are magnets for cruel reviews. It’s one of the reasons free books aren’t working as well as they used to. […]

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