Photo of scaleI have just completed two free days for my novel MRS. LIEUTENANT via Amazon’s KDP Select program.

This is the second time I have tried KDP Select free days. The first time was a month ago for CIA FALL GUY and TOP TIPS FOR HOW TO MARKET YOUR BOOK ON AMAZON AND FACEBOOK.

I have definitely learned things from these two experiences and I look forward to continuing to learn. I truly believe that KDP Select is an unbelievable opportunity for new authors or authors whose books have unjustly languished.

Leaving aside the affect of free days on Amazon’s algorithms (mathematical formulas) for promoting an author’s books, I think the most important opportunity is “seeding” interest in an author’s books.

Let’s face it, with so many choices today, why should someone buy my ebook novel instead of the ebook novel of someone else? In fact, how will anyone know about my ebook novel?

When I self-published MRS. LIEUTENANT 4 1/2 years ago — and right after it was selected as a 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semifinalist — I had no online contacts, few people had a Kindle (although I did have a Kindle version of the novel), and BookSurge (before merging into CreateSpace) insisted on charging too much for the paperback.

And the novel’s biggest obstacle? The prime market for the novel — the PX system of the U.S. military where army wives shopped — would not carry the book because, as a POD (print on demand) book, it wasn’t returnable.

Now fast forward 4 1/2 years — people have a Kindle, or they get the free Kindle apps for almost any electronic device, and they have learned to read ebooks. Now active duty military personnel and dependents anywhere in the world can get the ebook of MRS. LIEUTENANT.

But who knew about the book? I needed to get the word out — and putting MRS. LIEUTENANT on the KDP Select program and doing free days offered a golden opportunity.

In fact, this new one 5-star review by someone who downloaded the book for free and who I do not know says it all — exactly what I hoped to achieve when I wrote my book:

GREAT READ! I read the whole book in less than 24 hours. As an army wife, I found the characters to be realistic and their fears and anxieties to to be accurate. One of the best “Army Wife” books out there!

Here, though, is the cautionary warning:

Do NOT take my advice or anyone else’s advice on whether KDP Select is for you. Instead, try it out yourself, but with these guidelines:

1. Being on KDP Select without using any of the free days is NOT trying out KDP Select.

2. Having free days without “working” those days — doing promotion before and during the free days — is NOT trying out KDP Select.

(P.S. “Working” includes having several good reviews on your book’s Amazon page before doing any free days. And getting reviews usually requires outreach efforts that do NOT include paying for any reviews.)

I know of authors who are on KDP Select only to get payment from Amazon for Amazon Prime members who borrow the authors’ books. And these authors do not do ANY free days.

Yes, I understand about working for years — I worked on MRS. LIEUTENANT for over 20 years — on a book and then the tug at your heartstrings for giving away your “baby.” But what is the use of struggling to write something for so many years if very few people read it?

Wouldn’t you rather develop a core reading fan base by giving your book away? Then selling the book as these people recommend it to their friends when the book is no longer available for free?

Okay, I have said my piece on this. I do feel strongly that authors can read all the pros and cons they want about KDP Select. But ..

Until authors try KDP Select for themselves — subject to the two guidelines above — they cannot make an informed decision for themselves.

I’m just saying …

And thanks to Bonnie B. Latino, co-author of novel YOUR GIFT TO ME, and Kathleen M. Rodgers, author of novel THE FINAL SALUTE, for their input on this topic. (If you would like to read more novels besides MRS. LIEUTENANT about the lives of U.S. military personnel and their spouses, I recommend both these books.)