We all like to know what kinds of promotions have worked for other people so that we can decide which promotions we’re going to try for our own books. With that in mind, here is my experience using the KDP Select free days in May 2015.
My chick-lit book, Little Miss Lovesick, first came out in 2011. Recently, as I’ve focused on my superhero series, sales have dropped to almost nothing for Lovesick. I decided they couldn’t go lower than zero, so I removed the book from other distributors and signed it up for KDP Select.
In the interest of experimentation, and because I was busy getting my online class on self-publishing ready, I did nothing to promote the book after I put it into Select. (That’s the same amount of promotion I was doing before it was in Select. 😉 ) For the first 2 1/2 months of the 90-day program, the book did about the same as it had been doing. I had a total of one Kindle Unlimited borrow and one sale in eleven weeks.
I decided that to get more downloads, and therefore more reviews, I would use the free days rather than the Countdown Deal. I set five days free in a row from Tuesday, May 19 through Saturday, May 23, the middle of Memorial Day weekend. And to see how that affected borrows, I renewed the book in KDP Select for another 90 days.
A week or two before the free dates, I used the BookMarketing Tools auto-submission form ($14.99) to apply to 32 websites that accept submissions for free books to be placed in their daily newsletters. Using this tool, I was able to fill out the required information for 32 websites in 20 minutes! (Definitely worth fifteen bucks to me!)
As luck would have it, my main computer’s hard drive died in the middle of my sale and I no longer have all the information about what I did and what happened. But this is at least 90% of the information I was tracking. 🙂
Monday May 18:
– The day before the sale started, no borrows, no sales.
– Guest blog at Kathleen Rowland’s blog
Tuesday May 19: 1002 free downloads today
– First day of the “free” sale!
– Guest blog at Alina K. Field’s blog
– Indie Author News “Free Ebook of the Day” ad ($25) – An ad with the book’s cover stayed on the top left corner of EVERY page of their website, and they tweeted about it at least 5-10 times. (I’d definitely do this again!)
Wednesday May 20: 1389 free downloads today
– Guest blog at Linda McLaughlin/Lyndi Lamont’s blog
– There were SO MANY TWEETS from Linda (perhaps automated? I forgot to ask. But on that blog post it shows that 54 people tweeted about it!), and many people in her circle retweeted her tweets. (I definitely want to get Linda’s help again! She should sell a service or something! Haha!)
Thursday May 21: 2517 free downloads today
– InD’tale Bargain Books ad ($25) – An ad to 10,000+ subscribers; my book was listed first this time (at the top) in the email that went out. I didn’t receive the email until about 4pm Pacific, so I don’t know how many people who saw that ad clicked on it Thursday or didn’t see it until Friday.
– Fiverr promo w/BKnights ($15) – I heard about them on the Rocking Self-Publishing podcast. I bought three $5 promotions: promoted to 4800+ active users on their Facebook page (over 7 days), promoted on their website with 2000 visitors (for 1 day), and included in their daily newsletter to 2500+ subscribers (for 1 day).
I know the InD’tale ad did well last time I bought it, which is why I used it again this time. But my numbers this time are significantly higher, so I’m assuming the BKnights promotion did well, too. I’m going to try them both again next month.
Friday May 22: 1407 free downloads today
– First day of Memorial Day weekend; had no idea if that would be good or bad.
– Tracy Reed posted a guest blog at The Romance Studio about my book and sale
– Choosy Bookworm Premium ad ($38) – An ad to 40,000+ subscribers, “all week” but I don’t know the start and end date
Saturday 5/23: 972 free downloads today
– No promo that I knew about, except possibly Choosy Bookworm as part of their “all week” promo with the premium ad. It’s possible that one of the 32 sites I submitted to earlier ran the book on this day.
– I was enjoying the holiday weekend and didn’t do anything except look for tweets and reply and retweet. 🙂
Over the next week, through the end of May:
There were 25 more freebies downloaded early Sunday morning before the price went back to $2.99, for a grand total of 7312 free copies downloaded in five days. I thought it was quite funny that two copies were returned – they were free, why take the time?! Haha! But even so, that’s a negligible percentage.
On Sunday, the first day the book was back at full price, I sold 15 copies. I sold 11 more copies over the rest of that week. Even though it’s not a lot, it’s more than I’d sold during any other non-sale week. Then for the whole month of June, the book sold 5 copies. No copies were sold during the first eight days of July.
Now since it’s KDP Select, and that means Kindle Unlimited, everyone wants to know how many borrows I had. As I mentioned earlier, I had ONE borrow in the 2 1/2 months before the book went free. In the eight days of May following the freebie period, I had 71 borrows! 🙂 In June, I had 88 borrows. Excellent!
So in the 7 weeks since the free book promotion, Little Miss Lovesick has had 7312 free downloads, 31 sales, and 163 borrows. Total spent on promotion – $118. Total earned – about $389*, approximately $63 from sales and $326 from borrows. This is FAR MORE MONEY than I have earned in a two-month period so far from all book sales combined, not including audiobooks. (It’s growing slowly but surely. But my best month was about $100.)
And if you’re interested in rankings, I think I hit #49 or 47 in all of the Kindle Free Store as my best rank, plus several #1 and #2 category rankings.
If you’re interested in how this compares with my last book promotion, see this post about making Unexpected Superhero free over two periods (two days and three days) in October. I spent $80 that month, had 3710 free downloads, 59 sales, and 15 borrows over about four weeks, earning about $88*.
I can think of at least three things that contributed to the difference. One, I did five free days in a row this time, which is what Debra Holland and many other self-published friends strongly suggest. I wanted to try two weekends last October, and perhaps that accounted for less momentum.
Two, my mailing list has almost doubled since October, and I have more fans. That may have contributed to increased sales and borrows.
Three, these are different books in different genres. It’s impossible to replicate something exactly due to that alone. I’ve heard that Kindle Unlimited has a huge number of romance readers as members. That may be why my chick-lit did better than my superhero urban fantasy.
I hope this gave you some ideas for places that might be good for you to try for your own promotions. And I hope you’ve gained some insight into how the whole process works. Remember, your results will not only vary from mine, but they will vary from one of your books to another!
I’m going to do another free promotion for Little Miss Lovesick in mid-August. I’m going to try to replicate exactly the ads and promotions that I did in May, but also try to come up with additional ideas to increase visibility as well. I’ll let you know what happens![*NOTE: I guesstimated earnings at the time I wrote this, but looking back at my bank account later, I see that I overestimated. Earnings due to the October 2014 promotion were closer to $86 over two months, not $88 over one month. Earnings due to the May 2015 promotion were about $274 rather than $389.]