Cold Poker Gang: Kill Game

Doing A BookBub Promotion…

Not often you click on a page of one of your books on Amazon and the rankings are #1 all the way down the lists.

This is an example of how to use “free” correctly.

We made Kill Game: A Cold Poker Gang Novel free for a Bookbub promotion. It is the first book in the series. At the moment (Noon Saturday) it is featured as the top book in the Free Books on Bookbub.

On Amazon it is #1 in all the free books on the entire site.

Now, we are not making a dime off of that book, but nice that people are downloading it. But the key is the other six books, plus a bundle, in the series. All of them cost to buy. On just the sales of those in a few hours we have more than made the price of the Bookbub promotion back.

And brought up the awareness of the series to mystery readers.

So you want to start into my Cold Poker Gang mystery series, you can get Kill Game right now for free on any store around the world. But if I catch you with the series and you want more, I must warn you, you have to pay for the rest of the books. (grin)

Take a look at the entire series here. Click on Kill Game to go to it and find links to your favorite stores where it is free.


  • Jason M

    That’s great that you slipped into the free promotions. They’ve largely closed that to indie authors.

    I did a $.99 promotion with Bookbub’s international list a few months ago. I made the money back that week but not much more. The bump to overall sales wasn’t really significant either.

    • dwsmith

      Not really, Jason. That’s just a myth. But they are picky. You have to have good covers, good blurbs, and a bunch of reviews. And then just keep trying. We have constant applications at them. I think Kill Game was rejected a few times before they finally took it.

      Besides, how in the world do you tell the difference between an indie book and any other book by any publisher??????? There are thousands and thousands of imprints and medium publisher names out there. Trust me, not possible for anyone to keep track of. They just look at the book and reviews to see if it is up to their standards.

      • Jason M

        It’s not a myth. It’s gotten harder to get a free Bookbub listing.

        I easily gained a couple of free promotions in 2013 and 2015, and the series went gangbusters. Made a couple thousand dollars off of each. Since then, applying with books from the same series, there’s been nothing but rejection, at least for the free slots. I’ve probably applied forty times.

        “How do you tell the difference between an indie book any any other book by any publisher?” Um, you look at the copyright page. Or the Amazon sales page. You should know this.

        Anyways, Bookbub never used to promote well-known tradpub books on the free list. Now it’s like “Get On the Road by Jack Kerouac FREE!”. Kinda depressing, but they’re listening to their subscribers and watching the clicks, I guess.

        • dwsmith


          If the indie writer does it correctly, and has a publisher name and website and acts like a publisher, there would be no way in hell anyone could tell the difference from a regular publisher and a trade publisher. Sorry. Too many hundreds of thousands of publishers. But you are an author named Joe Blow and put up your book as a Joe Blow book as publisher, then they would know easily. But if you do it right, not chance in hell.

          • Jo

            Dean are you an Indie anyway? I mean, a publishing company handles your work. A mid sized one too, I wouldn’t even call WME small press.

            Lol, small press is my own ZeroFPS Publishing. We don’t even have a website, it’s just something I write into the ‘publisher’ field. That might bite me some day but I’m kind of a cowboy about such things. 🙂

          • dwsmith

            LOL, Jo, Kris and I are WMG Publishing. It functions totally as an indie, uses indie methods and ways of selling books. Yes, it is a medium-sized press by definition of books published and income, but it is still Indie.

            There are self-published presses where the author is the publisher and uses his or her own name, there are small presses up to a certain amount of money and numbers of books published, medium-sized publishers, again based on money grossed and numbers of books publishers, then large publishers. Indie is a term that means the author is in control of the publishing, nothing more.

          • Jo

            What I meant is that ‘indie’ is a pretty fluid and hard to nail down definition. Does it just mean “not contractually obligated to give all your money to a big New York outfit?”

    • Martin

      I’m an indie author. I’ve had two Bookbub promos. One for a paid book, and one for free.

      The paid book, reached the front page of the children’s books. It was on the same page as all the Harry Potters. A very cool event.

      And yes, I have the screenshots.

  • Gordon Horne

    Just a data point, Kill Game is not free on It is not free on going through books2read either. Nor could I get back in books2read to try another store. It was free going direct through iBooks. Thank you. It’s a nice birthday present.

    BTW I have already purchased most of the others, so I’m backfilling with free rather than being pulled forward. 🙂

    • dwsmith

      Yup, we can’t seem to solve that problem quickly. One of those glitches. But Kobo, which is worldwide, has it free everywhere.

  • Thomas E

    It was a very satisfying read… Hit the spot.

    Was wondering whether this was written “live” on the blog at some point as title is familiar?

    • dwsmith

      Oh, more than likely it was. No memory, and I never put the actual writing on the blog, just the page counts as I go alone.

  • Daniel Taylor

    Very nice. I’m working my through your series at the moment. The first one made me really want to eat fried chicken!

  • Julie

    On UK Amazon, if you search for ‘Kill Game’, there are three weird-looking listings of ‘Kill Game’ below yours, in square brackets. What are they? Are they some kind of parasite listing by parties who are somehow making money out of them?

    I’ve never seen these for some of the big-name trad-pubbed authors I search on and wonder if the big houses have people checking Amazon and getting Amazon to remove them.

  • Prasenjeet

    Thanks, Dean. Downloaded your book. I’ve noticed that your Thunder Mountain novel too is free for quite sometime. At least on Are you using a perma-free strategy?

    • dwsmith

      Nope, just doing some playing with free first in series for a time. Perma-free is just silly. We do sales and use free at times.

      • Prasenjeet

        When I first read Kris’ chapter on free, it rang true for me. I’ve played around with 5 days free and free first in series for the past five years and my experience is that read through rates when using free are less than one percent. When all of my books are fully priced, downloads drop dramatically but the read through rate increases to 45-50%. The same thing happens when I hand over free copies of my book to friends and family members. No one reads them. They usually get tossed away and friends don’t even remember they ever took the book. This is the power of free even for a limited time (in my opinion).

        Do let me know about your experiences with free. 🙂