This past weekend, I ran three of my five Kindle Direct Publishing Select program days. I have to leave the book exclusively with Amazon until May 20 (90 days); in exchange, they will allow the book to be checked out for free by Amazon Prime members and let me have five free promotion days. I will follow up later with any sales impact on the book…
Contacted ~20 Twitter places that advertise free Kindle books and asked them to contact me. A few of them said it might automatically show up on their lists, blah blah blah.
FreeBooksHub contacted me back and listed me.
I sold three copies of the book at $7.99; I had one borrow from a gent who said that the book looked good but cost too much. Looking at the Kindle lists, he may be right…for now; I see a lot of books that are big-publisher books that cost a lot more, a good number that cost about the same, and a plethora of books that cost $2.99/$3.99. Stephanie Meyer’s The Host costs $8.99. Orson Scott Card’s Xenocide costs $7.99. The Door into Summer costs $6.39. Forever War costs $4.95. A Dance with Dragons costs $14.99.
Flipped free approximately midnight Pacific, as far as I can tell. Had ~100 US downloads when I got up. I announced it on Facebook, Twitter, G+, Kindle Boards, Goodreads, couldn’t figure out how to announce on Library Thing (if you know how, let me know!). Had ~225 US downloads by uh, noonish. Some time after that, the post on EreaderNewsToday went live, and everything went nuts. I had ~1000 US downloads by 5 p.m.
Alien Blue was #28 on the SF free list, #10 on the SF Adventure free list, and #775 on the overall list when I went to bed.
I felt like I was donating blood: both positive (perhaps irrationally, in this case) and slightly afraid that it was never going to stop.
Had ~2200 US downloads when I got up. #1 on SF Adventure free list, #2 on SF free list, #93 on the overall free list. I suspect that the boost from EreaderNewsToday will drop but the boost from getting on the front page of the first two lists will be a lift. If your intention is to give away a lot of books, getting ENT to list your book is probably a priority.
It hit me that with the book only on Amazon, it’ll be easier to play with the price. I hope. I mean, there aren’t any other sites to match with their price engines. So I will probably take the opportunity to mess with the price after the promotion is over.
The top spot that it hit was #1 in SF Adventure, #2 in SF, and #91 overall. About ninish, about 3300 US people had downloaded it, and it was at #2 SF adventure, #3 in SF, and #116 overall. It really felt like things had slowed down, but it didn’t, really. If Day 1 is about 1800 downloads and Day 2, 1500, that’s fairly close.
I suddenly realized that there were other countries’ stores right before I went to bed. About 40 total UK, 7 German.
Had 3400 US downloads when I got up. #3 in SF Adventure, #5 SF, #117 overall. UK 48, Ger 8.
Before going to bed, I had 3618 US downloads. #5 SF Adventure, #9 SF, #220 total. UK 55, Ger 8, 1 France. I lowered the price to $5.99 to see what would happen after it flipped back to a pay book.
Had 3678 downloads total US, 56 UK, 10 Ger, 1 Fr when I got up; the book appeared to be still free at 6:30 a.m. #4 SF Adventure, #8 SF, #269 overall on the free lists.
Checked at noon and it hadn’t flipped back to pay yet. Took a nap, checked at five and it was back to pay.
Totals on free: 3781 US, 59 UK, 10 Ger, 1 Fr. #3 SF Adventure, #10 SF, #301 overall.
The book was still listed on the free lists at that point, with an explanation that the free lists were updated hourly rather than instantly, and so a book might remain on a free list for a short period of time after it was no longer free, so I think it hadn’t been pay for very long. Scanning through the free lists reveals about 5-10% of the books were in the same situation, so my guess is that they do the flips in a group somehow. Manually? At a certain hour of the day? I don’t know. Unless I look at the lists more often, there’s no way for me to tell how many of those on the list are there long-term and how many are in KDP Select, with a max 3-day window at any given time.
While I’ve had stories that went free before (due to a laborious price-matching process), the only real comparable giveaway is for The Exotics: Tigerlilly, which I also announced over ENT. Over three days it had 2200 downloads, which are down to about 5-10 per day now. I wasn’t as good about tracking numbers on other free books, but 300-400 free copies over the first few days seems about right. If you want to give away a lot of books, ENT seems to be a good method.
Twitter: it didn’t seem that Alien Blue was retweeted much: some of my tweet followers retweeted it (thank you!), but I think only one person I didn’t already follow tweeted it on (@beerwencha2, their beers are drool-worthy and she writes romances, including a brewery-related romance with choose your own endings, which just goes to show that sometimes interesting things come to the people who want to find them out of sheer serendipity).
Facebook: A few people shared links, but not many (thank you!). I had one person follow me that I didn’t know. Maybe I should set up an author fan page, but ungh, I have enough pages as it is. I wish I knew how to find out if other people are talking about the book on FB, among people I don’t know. But that’s the way it is, you know?
G+: I had two people share the link (thank you!).
I wish I had some ideas of what kind of goals I could set for an experiment like this. I should probably do more research in how people assess the results of a marketing campaign. Was this a positive or a negative? Did all the giveaways reduce my possible number of sales? I know some professionally published books that don’t sell 5000 copies. But overall I feel positive about the giveaway. I have tried lowering the price on an initial novel in a series to $.99 and giving out a free introductory short story with a hook to draw to the $.99 novel, and it didn’t seem to be a big boost.
If I priced Alien Blue at $.99, to make back my lowball estimated time investment, I’d have to sell about 24,000 books. At $5.99, I have to sell about 2100, or about 5900 copies moved total over the life of the book (free + sold), or about a quarter of the sales at $.99. I think it’ll be tough, but if I continue to write and put up books (especially the sequel, Alien Spirits), I think I can make it.