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

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

18 comments on “Kindle Countdown Deals—Better than the Original KDP Select?

    • I was tied up much of the morning, and now when I try to schedule one to test it out, there seem to be technical difficulties. Perhaps there is an overload from too much activity, or maybe Amazon is implementing some changes to fix some bugs. I’d like to schedule one.🙂

  1. I was able to schedule Catskinner’s Book for 99 cents from Dec 9th through Dec 14th, but it gave me an error message when I tried to sign up Cannibal Hearts. I’m going to try again later.

  2. The exclusivity clause is another drawback. Being with KDP Select means that you can’t sell on competing sites like Apple’s iTunes or Barnes & Noble.

    BTW – caught a typo “but it will be at least $1.00 less that the list price”. Feel free to delete this part of my comment.😉

    • That’s a good point. Exclusivity is definitely a big issue for authors who’ve tried Smashwords, Nook, Kobo, Apple, etc., and discovered that they sell a significant number of books through those channels. Authors who predominantly sell through Kindle may not see this as a big hurdle. The decision is a challenge for new authors, since they must try to predict how their books will do with various e-readers.

      Thank you for the catch. I fixed it now.🙂

  3. Pingback: Why Now is the Time to Schedule a Kindle Countdown Deal for Read Tuesday | ReadTuesday

  4. Pingback: Promote Your Kindle Countdown Deal or Select Free Promo (or Other Book Sale) | chrismcmullen

    • That’s a good question. I mostly know the US sites. I may have seen this question on the KDP community forum once, but don’t remember if a list ever evolved from it. (If I come up with a list in the future, I will be happy to share it.) Good luck with your book.🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s