This last month I offered my new book, Successful eBook Publishing, as a free give-away during a 3-day free promotion using Amazon KDP Select. The final tally: 1,177 downloads. (A more detailed breakdown is noted below.)
In this post I’m going to be sharing a summary of those results, a baseline on the book’s marketing status prior to the sale and how I promoted the free sale. Future posts will address post-sale results and analysis of the sites I used to help promote it.
Background and Baselines
The book was published in late October but I didn’t sign up for KDP Select until December 1 (the subject of another post). The initial price for the Kindle edition was $4.99 but on December 1 I reduced it to $2.99 (the paperback version remained for sale at $14.99). During this period and up until the start of the KDP Select free promo, 12/26, I was selling an average of 3 eBooks and 1 print book each week. I did not see any change in sales when I reduced the price of the Kindle.
One of the first things I learned was that promotion success depends on the number of reviews your book has before you put it on sale. This is very important for three reasons:
1. There are hundreds of free eBooks! This may be anecdotal but I am firmly convinced that people highly value their time and will choose a well-reviewed book over a no/low reviewed book. It’s not always about price.
2. Once people do begin downloading your book the Amazon search engine algorithms and ranking system will respond and you’ll move “north” from where you book is currently ranked.
Guess what? The same thing is happening to your competition! My book never got above #3 in my category and I attribute this to the number of great reviews for books 1 and 2.
3. Several of the free promo sites require a minimum number of reviews before they’ll list your book. And a few of these require minimum positive rankings. Think about that. If you had a list of readers signed up to learn about new books, and you were promoting junk, how long do you think your subscribers would remain a member of your list? Not long I imagine.
I had 5 5-star reviews as of 12/26 and the minimum for at least one site, Addicted to Books, was 5 (reviews, not stars). On the morning of my sale period I listed my book. About 15 minutes later, unrelated to listing it, I discovered Amazon had removed one of the reviews! (I had been expecting this because one reviewer had posted a review for each of my two formats so I figured it was a matter of time before it was discovered. I think my sale activity triggered an internal Amazon review and they caught the issue.) So back I went to Addicted to Books to try and explain that I wasn’t trying to scam them—better me to volunteer I figured.
I plan to cover this in detail in an upcoming post but for now I’ll share that I used three promotion channels.
- My addressable audience: these are my Linkedin connections, Twitter and Facebook contacts, email addresses, Meetup members, etc. In my case these are in different silos which makes it time consuming and potentially spammy—I worked hard to avoid sending more than one email to each person. I estimate I contacted about 750 unique emails and the message was generally well received. Only one nasty response and it was from my Kindle Meetup list which is permission based. Go figure.
- Friends with benefits: these were mostly authors who have been down this road before and who have built sizable permission lists of their own. The key in this case is advance planning and reciprocity. No one is keeping score but they know I’m a generous person and they were eager to help. I also asked them for help about two weeks prior to the sale.
- Free book promo sites: I researched about 30 websites two weeks prior to the sale and developed a promotion plan around 20 of them. Some are free, some require payment and a few simply ask for donations. My sense is that this had the biggest impact on my sales. Generally speaking, the book got virtually no support by the free websites. Perhaps this was timing, or the subject of my book. I’ll cover in detail in a future post.
So how did the sales break out?
- USA: 1127
- UK: 35
- Germany: 8
- France: 2
- Spain: 0
- Italy: 1
- Japan: 0
- Canada: 4 (surprisingly low)
- Brazil: 0
A total of 1177 with 50, or 4.2%, from international territories.
The obvious follow up to this is what difference did this make. I won’t know that for a few weeks but I’ll share the first week’s results in a post this coming week.
- I now realize that one benefit of giving away your book is that you have a greater chance of getting more reviews.
- I got two positive reviews during the sale period although I think this is unusual.
- Ask people to “LIKE” your book! No one is certain if this helps your Amazon ranking but it can’t hurt. It is also effortless for your audience. They don’t even have to buy the book.
- I think my strategy of offering the book immediately after Christmas was neutralized by the shear number of people doing the same thing as me. Also, a number of people on my “addressable audience” list were not around to receive my offer of a free book.
COMING UP IN FUTURE POSTS: Which promo sites I used and how sales have fared now that the book is not free.
What about your experiences using KDP Select? Drop a comment in the box below.