The Automatic Bestseller Launch Campaign That Works Every Time

You’ve read pages upon pages of launch game plans and even experimented on some mainstream tactics. Finally, after recurring trials and errors, you’re just dying to discover a grand design pinpointing a clear course inside the publishing labyrinth.

Well, congratulations, because you’re here now. And there’s only three letters and one number you should remember – KDP and 99. Yes, we’re talking about KDP Select and 99-cent pricing. These are the keywords to launch your book. This campaign shoots straight to the bull’s eye.

At least, for these experts below:


Select is a tool, a tactic to help you achieve your goal. But first you need to decide on the goal. Are you aiming for income or exposure? - C.J. Lyons

CJ Lyons New York Times Bestselling author

Newer authors with limited readership probably have nothing to lose by granting Amazon exclusivity while they use Select to build their audience. Select becomes a tool to build a presence on the bestseller lists, reviews, and solid sales figures, along with an income before expansion, much in the way that smaller presses can serve as a stepping stone to larger publishers.

Note: I would NOT use Select if I only had one book. You might see increased sales but once readers read that title where are they going to go next?

One thing about this business, it’s always changing. Keep your options open and don’t be afraid to experiment. Find what works best for you and your readers. Treat your readers right, but make sure they are the right readers for you!

CJ Lyons

To me, knowing or not knowing the algorithm doesn’t change what I do as an author: advertise, connect with people on social media, guest post, and write more stuff.

I don’t know that it’s worth getting caught up in it, for those of you who love spreadsheets and numbers and math — knock yourselves out. - R. Thompson

Rachel Thompson Author and founder of #SexAbuseChat

I’m no math or algorithm expert, but I do know this: when your book first comes off free, you will either completely lose your rank or be ranked WAY higher (high = bad; low = good) than you were before. Don’t freak. This usually only lasts for about 6 to 24 hours, and it’s because Amazon is taking into account your downloads in order to re-rank you.

The other critical component of the KDP Select program that often goes unmentioned is that we are paid onborrows (not a component of rankings though), usually more per book than my normal 70% profit on each sale. Sure, I have way more sales than borrows, but so what? To me, it’s worth it. Totally. And finally, for the month of December, Amazon doubled the amount in the pool, so if you haven’t signed up, now would be a good time to go for it!

Rachel Thompson


Decide how many days you want the free promo to run. I suggest a minimum of two.

This way you can spot whether downloads are accelerating over a substantial period of time (implying a hunger for your book and/or wise choices on the marketing front) or not (implying you’ve missed the mark on marketing). - B. Zackheim

Ben Zackheim Author of the Kane Arkwright series

Now, if you want to just get maximum exposure then five days is an option. Just don’t expect too many sales after the five days is over. You’ve gotten on their Kindle, and now you have to hope they convert to other books in the series or other titles you’ve written.

Buy one guaranteed spot. If you can avoid it, do not choose a date for the promo days first. Please. Choosing the date first means you’re setting something in stone before you know the availability of your marketing options (i.e. Bookbub, Bookgoodies, etc.)

Ben Zackheim

99 cents is an impulse buy for anyone.

It is a low risk buy and if someone enjoys the sample, they don’t even need to think about clicking when the price is under $1. I want those readers to try me as well. - J. Penn

Joanna Penn NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Thriller Author

Number of books sold is more important than income for me right now. I have a well paid day job so I am not writing for income just yet. I hope to in the future but right now, I want readers and fans. I want people signing up for Prophecy (which they do every day) and I want to build a large number of people who want to read more of my books. I am writing a series so I want to build fans now who I can sell to in the future.

Joanna Penn

Volume and speed may end up being more important than top-notch quality. - D. Carnoy

David Carnoy Author


Of course, there are plenty of e-books priced at 99 cents that don’t get any traction at all and Smith, like others (JA Konrath, for example), maintains that an e-book has to be really good to sell. Not only does that mean it has to be well written and offer a compelling story (or subject in the case of a nonfiction book), but it should be professionally edited and copy edited. It’s also crucial for the author to hire a graphic designer who’s well versed in designing book covers.

While there’s certainly a lot of truth to that, I’d argue that if you have a good cover and are able to come up with just a bit of creative marketing, at 99 cents–and lowered reader expectations–you can get away with your book being “good enough.” And in fact, like the rise of blogging, volume and speed may end up being more important than top-notch quality (so much the better if your books happen to be spectacularly written page-turners).

David Carnoy

At 99 cents, many readers feel there’s little risk in “giving it a try.”

Let’s face it: there’s a lot of cringe-worthy stuff out there in the realm of self-published fiction, so readers might think twice about spending more on an unknown indie author. - L. Buroker

Lindsay Buroker Indie fantasy author

Selling your first ebook at 99 cents can work similar to a “loss leader” in the marketing world, where you take a hit on the first product in order to entice folks to buy your other products (i.e. Book 1 in your six-book fantasy series may be 99 cents, but those who enjoy the first will probably go on to buy the rest, which you can sell at a higher price).

For shorter works (i.e. novellas, short story collections, and short stories), this may be a fair price point. Most folks won’t want to pay three bucks for a 10,000-word story, but they may be willing to try it at 99 cents.

You may sell more ebooks. This could improve visibility, especially in the Amazon store where your work will start appearing on other books’ pages (in the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” area). You may also make it into Top 100 bestselling lists for your category. Sales could increase to the point where you’re making more than you were at $2.99 because you’re selling so many more copies.

Lindsay Buroker

If you are launching a new book, setting the price at 99 cents early on can help generate interest and kickstart your sales. - H. Hart

Heather Hart Author and self-publishing expert

Dropping the price of your book to 99 cents for a short time can help you increase your sales rankings while still generating income.

There is a group of readers that only buy eBooks that are priced at 99 cents. No matter how appealing your book might be, they won’t even consider it if it’s priced at anything over a buck.

Heather Hart

What has worked for you? Let us know in the comments section below.

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1 Response

  1. Thank you for the awesome article Francesca! I just uploaded a book on KDP select, and I did not find a $.99 option. The least I could sell it for was $1.99.

    Did they raise the minimum – or am I doing something wrong?

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