Sunday, July 28, 2013

Authors: My Amazing Amazon Free Promo

Last September, I tried my first free promotion on Amazon with my debut novel from 2011.
The book had been out for a year and I thought I'd see what all the talk was about running limited free access to a book. Several people will ask why authors do this and I think the answer depends on the person.
  1. To gain new readers. Authors write because they want people to read. The hope is to find those people on kindle looking for free books and get them hooked on your writing style.
  2. To gain more sales. I know this may sound strange since it is free, but for authors will multiple books - the hope is a reader will look up their other books and buy another.
  3. To climb the Amazon chart and get noticed. There was a time this may have made sense, but it seems the Amazon landscape changes monthly and I'm not certain climbing a free ranking really does anything for an author any more.
Still, I thought I'd try it again with my 2nd novel that came out on 4/15/12. But this time, it was 4 & 16 that were important numbers. For another three days, I placed Patchwork of Me as a free download. I called it "Christmas in July" as I was giving away a gift (of a book that actually has Christmas in it), but in the end I was the one to gain a huge gift.

 So I wanted to share my findings with those authors reading my blog and who may be thinking of doing the same.
  • I planned better this time out. I notified (a month early) some of the sites that promote free books. On top of this, I noticed by day two (with a google search) that my book was listed on another seven sites.
  • The climb up the charts happened much more quickly this time than it did last fall. I used the same days (Thurs/Fri/Sat) and on the first day I went from 926 in all Kindle Free books to 145 by the end of the night. I went from #39 in Women's Fiction to #8. 
  • While I can't share the actual number of downloads, I surpassed the number of downloads from the 3 day promo in the fall in the first day this time.

I woke Friday morning to this.

I was #4 in Women's Fiction and was #116 in all Kindle Free Books. Just 16 from that 'elusive Top 100 Books'. Naturally the competitor in me wanting to get to that number, but I've learned the closer you get - the harder it is to make those rankings move. The top ones are hanging on tightly to their spots and I actually expected to wake and be higher than Friday night and not be at #4. The amount of downloads over night was a 14% jump from the previous night.

And then, like last fall, the climb changed and I assumed I had seen my best ranking as I watched it head the other way. Downloads slowed way down from the average it had been each hour. I managed to stay in the top 200 Kindle Free Books for a while and then it climbed back up to 345 through Friday night into Saturday morning. And yes, I slowed down my 'social media' sharing of the promotion.
Did it! Made it into the top 100 Books

The final day, it is hard to describe what happened. By midmorning I had jumped 25% in downloads yet it didn't alter the rankings (which continued to climb but never over 350). Then throughout the afternoon, the downloads were coming fast and furious. It was back to the speed of day one and then surpassed the speed of that first day. I had three times as many downloads in day three as I had received in days one & two combined. By 3:30, I had done it - I had busted into the top 100 Free Kindle Books at #86.

The entire third day afternoon/evening was a complete whirlwind of activity. By midnight (NY time) of that last day of the promotion, I actually climbed even more to #25 Free in Kindle Store. And the rate of downloads per 1/2 hr was out of this world for this indie author. I was completely blown away! (If only Amazon allowed authors to share that info.) Knowing Amazon counts Pacific time, I did wake and grabbed this screen shot at 2:40 am (my time). 

There on the screen was my best ranking. #16 of all Free Kindle books and back in #4 in Women's Fiction.

My Best Ranking During The Promo

In the end; do I think it's worth it?

Absolutely! I do. I was able to reach readers that I would never be able to get otherwise. Sure, I made no money, but there are soooo many more people reading my words; my story. Just maybe they'll like it so much they'll try Cool Side of the PillowWell With My Soul, or Proud Pants. The entire three day promotion garnered an 86% increase in downloads from that of my last promotion in 2012 (and I thought I had done well THEN). By Sunday, it is all a blur, completely gone and I'm back up in the high numbers in the paid store.  I lost 10 twitter followers in the process - one of which started following me during the promo, but the ten probably got sick of my tweeting about the Free Book - but the loss was well worth it for this author wanting people to read what he has written. If 1/3 (or even less) of those downloads turn into reviews and/or new readers, I'll be thrilled!

1 comment:

  1. As a follow up: Book sales for Patchwork of Me have been GREAT on Sunday, the day after the promo. Huge thanks to everyone buying the book today.