Category Archives for "Ads/Promotion"
If, after reading my last two posts about advertising a KDP Select free book (the first one and the second one plus additional information here), you’re thinking that this is a beautiful upward curve toward guaranteed results…well, we’re both wrong.
Not that I thought the results would be guaranteed to continue their upward trajectory, but I didn’t realize I could have such a terrible bomb when things were going well.
Using the same book, Little Miss Lovesick, I made my third 5-days-free promo during my third 90-day KDP Select period on October 21-25, 2015. I paid for three ads (fewer than before), but I forgot to sign up for all the free newsletters until after it was too late. (You need a 7-day lead time for the sites I’ve been using. I remembered 6 days before.)
In May 2015, my 5-days-free yielded 7312 downloads.
In August 2015, the same five days gave up 8108 copies.
Looking great, right? My October results came to only 662 copies. Did you see that – 662!!!
I honestly think there is a lot more owed to those free-to-list-in-our-free-book-newsletter emails than I realized. Forgetting to sign up with the 30 or so that I did all the other times was the only real difference in October.
Interesting, huh? Of course, there could be any number of other factors that I didn’t realize. But I think not signing up for the free sites was a big factor.
So when you’re thinking about how to advertise your free book, and wondering how much you can spend on paid ads, keep in mind that all of those free newsletters might be enough to get you a good start!
This infographic from Written Word Media (home of Freebooksy and Bargain Booksy) might give you some insight into what Kindle owners are reading and how they find it. I hope you find it useful! 🙂
I wrote about the results from my May 5-days-free promotion here, and I just updated the earnings this week to “actual” rather than a guesstimate, showing I overestimated revenue. I also tallied the results from my August 5-days-free promotion here. (I’m still showing revenue guesstimates until I get the final numbers for September, but I’ll update that post soon). Both of these promotions have been for Little Miss Lovesick, which has been in KDP Select since February 26, 2015.
Now I want to discuss my “borrows” – which I’ll refer to as KENP (Kindle Edition Normalized Pages) for periods beginning July 1, 2015. I’ve been studying the “tail” of sales and borrows after my promotions to see how long it lasts. (The length of the period after a sales spike is commonly referred to as the tail.)
I don’t want to leave my book in KDP Select forever, but at what point has the positive impact of the 5-days-free promo in each 90-day period stopped influencing borrows/KENP? It’s not cut-and-dried, particularly because you can’t truly compare “borrows” of full books to KENP, “pages read” of full books. But for me, for this book, it looks like there are 4-6 good weeks of borrows, with the first three weeks the very best.
For example, for the first 2 1/2 months of the first KDP Select 90-day period (February 26 – May 25, 2015), I had 1 borrow. In the two weeks during and after the free period (May 19-31), I had 71 borrows! Then another 88 in the month following (June 1-30).
But the second month after the free period showed a sharp drop – 2381 KENP pages read. Little Miss Lovesick has 402 KENP pages, so that’s the equivalent of about 6 books borrowed and read July 1-31.[NOTE: Little Miss Lovesick was earning about $1.35 per “borrow” through June 30, 2015. Since Amazon changed borrows to KENP pages read on July 1, the book – at 402 KENP pages – now earns about $2.32 if a reader reads every page.]
During the second 90-day period (May 26 – August 23), I tried to recreate the circumstances as exactly I could. During the two weeks during and after the free period (August 18-31), there were 24,899 KENP pages read! Because I don’t expect that every reader reads every page (copyright page, author bio, excerpt, etc.), I’d guess that’s between 62 and 66 books borrowed and read (compared to 71 borrows in May).
The following month, September 1-30, there were 15,567 KENP pages read. That’s probably about 38-42 books borrowed and read (as compared to 88 in June).
If you’d like to see exact numbers, here are the KENP pages read by week for the last seven weeks. Day 1 of Week 1 is the first day of the 5-days-free promo.
Week 1: 7246 KENP pages read
Week 2: 17,653
Week 3: 7831
Week 4: 3780
Week 5: 1692
Week 6: 1811
Week 7: 1274
It’s too early to guess what October’s numbers might be, but based on one period of history above (not a good way to show statistical integrity), and understanding that the previous way Amazon counted borrows (1 book, regardless of how much of it was read after the 20% mark) is significantly different from the new method (by page, exactly), my guess is that October’s numbers will be bleak.
The reason why I started looking at these numbers this week is because Little Miss Lovesick is in the middle of another 90-day KDP Select period, and I need to decide which five days will be free. Knowing that the sales/borrows tail will be good for at least three weeks, I want to do the free promo at least three to four weeks before the end of the period so I can get all the revenue I can from borrows before the book leaves the program.
Unless I change my mind and leave this book in KDP Select for another term (through February 19, 2016), I’ll set the five free days to start sometime during the week of October 18. That will leave me a four-to-five-week tail to get paid for as many KENP pages read as possible before the book leaves KDP Select on November 22.
ACK!! That doesn’t give me much time to figure out where and how to promote it to best advantage!
And that is why I wrote this post for you. 🙂 If you put a book in KDP Select, you need to think through all the potential good that can come your way and figure out how to harness it. If you leave your 5-day-free promo to the end of the period, and don’t renew the book in KDP Select in the following period, you stand to lose hundreds of dollars or more in KENP lost revenue.
If your book isn’t selling anywhere else, as was the case with this book, it probably doesn’t hurt to keep trying different ways to gain readers using KDP Select. For instance, if you don’t want to make your book free for five days (and they can be any five days, but everyone I know, myself included, has found the best results when the five days are in a row), you can try KDP Select’s Kindle Countdown Deal.
The key is – whatever you decide to do, think it through and make a plan. Good luck!
You may remember, I added my chick-lit book, Little Miss Lovesick, to KDP Select in March 2015. The book wasn’t really selling, so I figured it would be a good time to do some experimentation. After all, you can’t sell fewer than zero books, right?
I took advantage of the five free days at the end of May 2015 and shared my results with you here. Things went so well that I wanted to continue my experiment, so I left the book in KDP Select and did another five free days August 18-22, 2015. I am happy to report that the sale went even better the second time! Here are the details…
Before the sale:
I applied for the same ads that I purchased in May since they did so well. I didn’t get all of them, but I also asked other writer friends what worked for them and picked up a couple of new ads on recommendation (Ereader News Today and Robin Reads).
In May I paid $14.99 to use Book Marketing Tools’ ebook submission tool to somewhat-automatically apply to 32 websites at once that accept submissions to advertise your free book. (During a promotion last year, I used Ebook Booster, which submits your free book to 45+ sites for $35.) In August, I decided to try the free membership tool at Author Marketing Club to manually apply to about a dozen sites by clicking through from buttons on AMC’s web page.
It’s difficult to know which sites are going to list your book as they don’t all reply back to you. And in the past, I haven’t been able to find my book on all the sites that did reply back. In any case, I’m pretty sure the book was advertised on DigitalBook Today and FreeBooksy, and probably others, but I didn’t double-check any of the sites during the free period.
I applied for the “free ebook of the day” ad at Indie AuthorNews, which appeared to be a good ad for me last time, but I didn’t get it this time. I also wrote down that I used a pre-paid ad credit at The Romance Studio blog page for one day, but I forgot to follow-up and see if the ad appeared and on which day. So I don’t know if I got any traffic from there.
What I did during the sale days:
Wednesday, August 19: 1963 free downloads
* KENP = 470
* $21 to BKnights on Fiverr to 4800+ active Facebook users for 7 days, “extra” promotion with viral Facebook post for 7 days, promote on website with 2000 visitors/day for 1 day, promote in email newsletter to over 2500 subscribers for 1 day
* Julie Kenner’s Hump Day feature, no charge – promoted with other books on a blog post
* $25 Ereader News Today ad in email newsletter
Thursday, August 20: 850 free downloads
* KENP = 515
* $25 InD’tale Bargain Book ad to 10,000+ email newsletter subscribers
* Blog posts on Romance Readers Club, The Romance Studio, and Coleen Kwan sites
Saturday, August 22: 561 free downloads
* KENP = 2066
* Blog post on Alina K. Field site
On the last day of the freebie sale, there are always a few copies that get downloaded early the next day before the price goes back to normal, and 9 free copies were downloaded on Sunday. The grand total of free ebooks downloaded in this 6-day period was 8108. In May, the total was 7312, so I’m quite happy with the 11% increase.
Comparison of KENP pages read in Kindle Unlimited:
In May, Kindle Unlimited still counted each title as one borrow rather than counting the number of pages read (KENP) as has been the case since July 1. Also, it took me six weeks to get my results to you last time, and I’ve compiled the results after only 16 days this time. So the comparison here is going to be a bit shaky.
In my prior post, I reported “about 138 borrows” over 6 1/2 weeks. Little Miss Lovesick has 402 KENP pages, so that’s approximately 55,476 KENP pages if every person read every single page (unlikely).
The above numbers include part of July as well, but the July total alone was 2381 KENP pages read (with a payout of about half a cent per page, which is very close to what I got paid for a “borrow” in the past). In the 17 days of August before the book went free, there were 697 KENP pages read. But from the day the book was free to the end of August, there were 24,899 KENP pages read in 14 days. In the first seven days of September, the daily average dropped 40% with 7831 pages read.
July KENP = 2381
August 1-17 KENP = 697
August 18-31 KENP = 24899
September 1-7 KENP = 7831
In addition to wanting to get more people reading Lovesick for free, as a borrow through Kindle Unlimited, and as a sale, I also wanted to get people trying my other books. (I have four titles total.)
There are three titles in the Adventures of Lewis and Clarke superhero urban fantasy series – the first is a free short story, the second is a long novella (45,000 words), and the third is officially the first book in the series at 100,000 words.
At the beginning and end of Lovesick, and the beginning and end of the free short story, there is a note to join my newsletter and get the novella for free. That means that if someone downloaded Lovesick for free, and followed up to see what else I had, and read the note about how to get the novella for free, they could’ve gotten three of my four titles for free. If they do that, I think I’ve got them as a reader. And they’re on my newsletter list. 🙂
So total book sales are:
July = 12 (0 for Lovesick)
August = 24 (9 are for Lovesick)
September 1-7 = 8 (0 for Lovesick)
Total spent on ads to get to this point was $136 in August. I’m estimating that I’ve earned more than twice that so far in the last three weeks. Excellent! Compare that to the first time I used a KDP Select free period when I spent less than $100 and didn’t break even, the second time when I spent less than $100 but did break even, and now this time I’ve made about a 100% or more return on investment (ROI).
This is by far the best result I’ve had so far with any kind of advertising, any kind of freebie/sale. I’ve let Little Miss Lovesick stay in KDP Select for a third period. I’ll let you know what I decide to do this next time.
Meanwhile, I’m going to put Unexpected Superhero on sale for $2.99 (down from $3.99) October 1-10 and use the same Choosy Bookworm feature ad to see how it works on bargain-priced books. I chose to discount it only $1 because anecdotal evidence shows few books sell at $1.99, and the number of books (104) I’d have to sell at 99c with only a 35% royalty is more than my sales history says I can expect to get to cover the cost of the ad. (I only need to sell 17 books to break even at $2.99. I’ll try the 99c test later when overall book sales have increased.)
I hope this has been useful in helping you decide what you might want to try in your own advertising and promotion. Good luck!
The great thing about the Internet is that you can find almost any information you could possibly want. Of course, whatever comes up in your search could be too old to be useful or just plain wrong. So while it’s great that you can find anything, it’s hard to find current useful information.
But for at least a short time – while the information is still new enough to be accurate – there is a great new resource for writers on marketing their books. BookBub, a fantastic email ad service for writers (and awesome for readers looking for great deals), has another helpful resource that goes above and beyond what I’ve seen from them before – The Ultimate Guide to Book Marketing.
The guide is like an online book with sections including Before You Publish, After Your Book Launch, Running Price Promotions, and Other Insights. In each section are related subsections with links to BookBub’s best articles on these subjects. There is a gold mine of information here. Check it out!
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.]