Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Experience With KDP Select

Earlier this year I chose to walk away from my publisher and dive into the realm of self-publishing. On August 22nd & 23rd I ran my first promotion using Amazon's KDP Select option. I made my first book, Rocky Mountain Oasis, a Christian historical romance, free on Kindle for those two days.

 Prior to the promo days I sent notification to TONS of lists that the book was going to be free on those two days. Many of the lists I notified at least 2 full weeks in advance, and I think that helped me to get chosen for several of them that hand-pick the books they allow onto their lists. I used Katrina Parker's wonderful list found here: http://katrinaparkerwilliams.wordpress.com/2012/07/30/kdp-select-free-days-promo-sites/

In addition to that on the free days themselves, I worked my fingers to the bone posting all over Facebook about the opportunity to download my book for free. I solicited the help of my friends to spread the word with shares, and I belong to a couple of author groups that are very supportive to spread the word about those kinds of things. I also tweeted about the promo and directed the tweets @ many lists that then retweeted the information to their followers for me. On day 2 of the promo, I posted to a few more Facebook pages I discovered, and then went back to the pages I'd posted to the day before to thank people for sharing and downloading and let them know where the book was ranked on the free list.

Early on day 2 I hit the #3 spot on the Kindle free list. That was pretty cool. What was even better was that just an hour or so later I jumped to the #1 spot in the entire Kindle store. I stayed there for most of the day - slipped in the afternoon to the #2 spot, but retook #1 just a bit later, and then at about 10:30pm on the 2nd day, I dropped off to #2 again. So I ended the free run in position #2 of all Kindle free books. I gave away 39,748 books! That in itself left me in awe.

During the free days, sales of the 2nd and 3rd books in the series were steady and climbing. I ended up selling 75 of the 2nd book in the series, and 51 of the 3rd book in the series during the two free days. Since then sales have remained strong and steady and I've been very pleasantly surprised by the numbers of sales I've made. I've almost hit 500, 300, and 200 sales for each book respectively (#1-3). Not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but much better compared to the number of sales I had the couple months before.

Rocky Mountain Oasis
Click the Cover to go to Amazon
At the time of writing this post it is Monday evening. I'm still fairly high on several lists, however sales today seem to have trickled off quite a bit. We'll see if this is the end of the run, or not. Another thing to consider is will a promotion like this be as effective a 2nd time? Perhaps if I can find different lists to promote the book on, but likely not, since many who follow the lists will have downloaded the free book this first time around. 

There has long been a debate on whether to set your price to .99 after your free days or leave it at the price you had it set at before it went free. I chose to leave mine at my asking price of $3.77. Interestingly enough, I had a friend who had his book free at the exact same time as I did. He chose to go with the .99 option after his free days ended. Since he ended in the #3 spot directly behind me on the Kindle free list on the same day as I did, I did a little comparing between his and my sales figures. While he had consistently better sales with his .99 impulse buy price point, each time I did the math I still came out ahead on the money end. Here's the kicker though, his book has now gone back to its normal price and he's higher in the Amazon lists than me. It still remains to be seen whether his strategy will be a better pay off in the long run.

Some things I've learned through this process:
1. Give yourself plenty of time for promotion ahead of time.
2. Plan on spending most of the day on your free days working advertisements, posting to Facebook pages, and creating and sending Tweets.
3. Don't be embarrassed to ask your friends for help spreading the word.
4. At least in my case, it took the book a bit to show up on the paid lists once it went off of free. So don't panic if it doesn't show up for a few hours.
5. Don't forget to keep your promotions going once the book reverts to paying status. I probably haven't done as much of this as I could.
Anyhow, I hope this has been a little bit informative. Do you have any questions for me about the process?
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7 comments:

  1. There is so much buzz about this these days. It certainly sounds like an effective way to jumpstart sales and a reader base

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    1. I'm still so early on in the process that I can't definitively say whether it will help in the long run with sales, but yes, it has given me some good exposure to readers right up front.

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  2. Thanks for this informative post. I am also self-published and have been thinking about doing something like this for my next book. My question: do you think genre plays a significant part in the KDP success? I am a MG author. I was wondering if this will work because I'll be relying on keen moms to do the downloads. And, hopefully, adults who still like reading MG adventure novels!

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    1. Fiona, I DO think genre has a lot to do with success with KDP select... that and a great, eye-catching cover. I have no idea how middle grade books would do, but if you decide to give it a shot, please come back and let us know how it went so future MG writers have access to the info.

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  3. Thanks so much for sharing this. I'm planning to give KDP Select a try one of these days, so it's helpful to hear about others' experiences. Thanks especially for the list of sites. And congrats on your success with it!

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    1. Thanks, Katie. It really has been a bit surreal. Just to think that approx. 40,000 people out there have a copy of my book is crazy - even if only 25% of them read it. :) I don't know that it will sustain sales, but we'll see how the next months go.

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  4. This is scary, walking off the cliff stuff to me. I'm about to release the print version of an indie-published ebook; can't do the free ebook side of Kindle Direct, but I'm gathering notebook stuff for the "if ever" side of life. Whew. Congratulations.

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