Do KDP Select Free Promotions Work?
Yesterday I did my first KDP Free Promotion. For those that don’t know, Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) has an option to sign up for KDP Select. This is a 90 day period where you allow Amazon (and by default Kindle) to be the only electronic form of your book sold. Some people balk at the exclusiveness this implies. But there are some pluses. You get to be part of the Kindle Prime Lending Library. This means that people can borrow your book for free and in return you get a part of the collective “pot” of money. I’ve not had any borrows yet. Some authors have told me that you get more borrows for higher priced books, since prime users can only borrow one book per month. I don’t know about that.
The other thing you get to do is pick five days per 90 day period to make your book free. You don’t have to do that. You don’t even have to pick the days when you publish your book. You can go back and set up your days when you want. You can do all five together or pick and choose a few days spread out. The choice is entirely up to you.
As you probably saw in yesterday’s post, I made Dissolution of Peace free in honor of Veterans day in the United States. It was free on all Amazon sites globally. I did this for two reasons. First, I wanted to see how well this KDP Free Promotions thing would work. Second, I have a special place in my heart for those that serve in the armed forces. It may even be why I enjoy writing military fiction. So I decided to honor those people in a way that was important to me.
The real question is, do promotions like this work?
Success is truly something only you can decide. But, I will show you what it did for me in just the one day since the promotion. You can decide from there if it could be successful for you.
I would also like to point out that I did not market my free book on anything other then this blog, my Twitter, and Facebook. I didn’t announce it on one the the many free eBook blogs. I just spread the word myself.
Getting Books in the Hands of Readers
The point in writing a book is to have it read. I’ve stressed that making money is not my goal in writing. My goal is to get readers and maybe get a few fans who want to read anything I write. So did the promotion get my book in the hands of readers. With out a doubt it is a huge success in that fashion.
In Amazon US, I had about 19 times more downloads yesterday then I have had since my book was released. Nineteen times more readers in one day then in the four weeks since my book was released.
In Amazon UK, I had 88 times more downloads yesterday then I have had since my book was released. The UK was phenomenal in this free promotion. I’ll get to more on that soon.
In Amazon Germany, I had 7 times more downloads yesterday then in the four weeks since it was released.
I even had my first download in Italy.
In comparison to other promotions I have done, this was by far the most successful. My own eBook giveaways resulted in only around 10 free eBooks being given away. This includes those sent to reviewers. But if I wanted to get more readers, this was certainly a great way to do it. They may not read it right away, I am sure there are people who just won’t pass up free, but there a whole lot more people with copies of my book now. This means there are a lot more people in the pool to write reviews, tell their friends, and look for future titles I release.
Creating Awareness of my Book
This is a really hard thing to do. Getting your book noticed by potential buyers is very hard for any author, especially the indie author. You are fighting an up hill battle with major authors, major publishers, and the rest of the indie market. It is not easy to be noticed.
One way to get noticed is on Amazon’s Best Seller Lists. The thing that always frustrated me about many “help” sites that talk about these best seller lists don’t let you know the secrets to getting on the lists. The truth is the secret is simply getting sales. But Amazon does one great thing here. The Best Seller Lists of the Top 100 eBooks sold is listed right next to the Top 100 Free eBooks. Number 5 in sales is right next to number 5 in free.
This means that when someone is looking for the best sellers on science fiction ebooks, they are also seeing the best sellers in free science fiction ebooks. You still have to get the downloads to get on the list, but you can get a lot of benefit once you get on the list. If nothing more than getting the cover of your book seen by more eyes.
I mentioned how great the UK was in this free promotion. The first time I checked my Amazon UK page yesterday was at 10:16 in the morning. My book had only been free for ten hours, which is a fair amount of time, especially considering the time difference. But at that point I was #48 on the Top 100 Free Science Fiction eBooks. And by the end of the promotion I was #19. In that time I had been on the same page as H. P. Lovecraft, Jules Vern, Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov, and more. I was even next to George R.R. Martin at one point. That is some good company to hang out with, even on a virtual level.
In the US, it was a slower start. This, in part, has to do with two factors. First, the US site has a much larger pool of shoppers. They include India, and many other places that don’t have their own sites. But, KDP free events also start at 12:01 am Pacific time. Right when most of the US is still asleep. But by 12:45 pm, twelve hours into the the promotion, I was on the top 100 list at number 61. And by the time it was over, I had made it to 28. So while the UK really came through on the Best Seller’s list, the US still put me along side the great names of Science Fiction past and present.
I would say that overall that is a successful way of gaining exposure to my book. I don’t know how many people browse the Top Sellers list. But I do know that I often look for books online this way. So overall even if I didn’t get downloads, people saw my book cover. And book covers are the brand image of books. Like all brands, the more the image is seen the more it becomes known and in some cases trusted.
You might be wondering where my book ranked at in the over all ranking for Free eBooks. In the US it was #779 and in the UK it was #425. Not bad considering how many thousands, probably millions, of books are on Amazon.
Word of Mouth
Word of mouth advertising is probably some of the best. People often choose books based on the recommendations of friends and family. While I doubt anyone recommended my book the same day they downloaded it. I got far more downloads then I have Facebook, Twitter, and Blog followers. This means people had to hear about it from other people. So people were at least mentioning my book. I also noticed that many people were downloading my book in the US before it broke on to the top 100 list. So they had to find it some other way.
But this huge pool of new readers who downloaded my book will contribute to the word of mouth advertising that will continue to increase traffic to my book. And will hopefully increase my sales volume.
I don’t know if this will increase my reviews. Before the promotion I had two Amazon reviews, and one Amazon UK review. But, the increased reader pool also means an increased reviewer pool. So that has to cause a higher chance of being reviewed. But only time will tell on this.
Again, only time will tell on this. But my point has never been to get money. Some people see the free book giveaway as nothing but lost revenue. But to date, nothing has got Dissolution of Peace in the hands of more readers than the Amazon free promotion. I’ve never thought of writing as a way to make money. For me it is has been about readers, and maybe making enough money to cover the costs associated with publishing it. Would I complain if my book starts flying off the shelves? Of course not. That is the goal of most writers, but not for the sake of money but for the sake of the volume of readers.
From what I have heard from others, the sales will increase but that takes time.
I can’t really see it any other way. KDP has hit a home run with the idea of allowing authors five days to make the book free. And if you use those days through out your 90 day period as a promotional tool, you can really gather a lot of new readers. And many readers who might not have otherwise picked up your book. I’ll likely do another two or three of these free promotional things in the next few months. I see nothing but success here. And if I enjoyed this much success with limited announcement outlets, imagine if I branched out from my circle of followers.
Of course, many people are turned off be the exclusiveness of KDP Select. They feel like they are excluding a market of readers that use other eReaders. Personally I have had little request for ePub format. But, 90 days is a relatively short time. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to renew it. Personally I think it is worth a try.