My first experience with Amazon KDP Select and free promo days…

Having recently enrolled a book – Creepy Christmas – in Amazon’s KDP Select program for the first time and ran my first free promotion for a few days last week, I thought I would write a bit about my experience.

I think the promo went very well. Much better than I expected anyway! My numbers were not huge, nothing compared to what some better-known authors would pull in on a free promo day of their own, but as I had never done KDP Select before, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. (I’m sure most of you already know this, but in case anyone doesn’t – when you sign up to Select, your book has to be available exclusively on Amazon for a period of three months, and in that three month period they allow you to offer your book for free for up to five days.)

I don’t think I went into the promo best prepared. For a start, I used my free promo days in conjunction with the book’s release day, which meant that the book had no reviews (it does have a couple now – thank you, lovely people!) I was advised against doing it, and friends suggested I wait until people had bought it and left reviews, and then run the free promo. Obviously good reviews help buyers decide whether to download the book or not, and also increase your chances of getting picked up by the free Kindle book promotional websites (who mention your free book to thousands of their followers) and almost all of which require your book to have a high rating before they will consider promoting you.
I didn’t want to wait, mainly because I felt it would be unfair to expect my friends, family, and other readers to buy the book only for it to be free a couple of weeks later. It’s only 77p anyway, so not a huge amount of money, but it just felt wrong to ask people to buy it, knowing it would soon be free.

Another thing I’ve heard about Select is that it is much better suited to authors who have a series of books out – you use the promo days to give away the first book in a series, hoping that customers will come back and buy the other books from that series.
I can safely say that not only is Creepy Christmas not part of a series, but I don’t have any other books out in the same genre. In fact, I only have one other book out, and it is most definitely not children’s fiction!

So, overall, I could have gone into it better prepared. I should have given myself more time to submit my book details to the freebie promo sites – I gave them about a week’s notice, when I should have pulled my socks up and done it two or three weeks earlier.

I didn’t know how many downloads I expected, but it was definitely far less than I got! My final download numbers after a four day free promo looked like this:

Amazon US: 2565 downloads.
Amazon UK: 315 downloads.
12 from Amazon Germany, 1 from France, and 7 from Japan.

Chart wise, in the UK I reached #242 overall in the free chart, and #28 in children’s books.
In the US it was #142 overall and #2 in children’s books > Christmas.

It also led to my first borrows from the Kindle Owners Lending Library, both here and in the US – which I admit that I got ridiculously excited about!

The free days kicked off on a Thursday and were scheduled to run for three days. By the end of Saturday, the downloads were still coming in, and I was so close to getting 2000 in the US that I decided to add another day to the promo, so it ended up being free on Sunday as well. I also conveniently forgot to mention this to anyone! The downloads still came in though, and I was very glad that I did extend it, as the number was well over 2000 by the time I got up on Sunday morning!

It’s now been a week since my free promo ended, and sales have been slow and steady this week. I have sold a few copies every day, and had an equal number of borrows in the US (less borrows here, but the lending library is still very new to the UK!)

I worked hard to promote it, but I could have done better. I should have been more organised and not ran around like a headless chicken on release day.
Promotion wise, I got mentioned on a couple of the free ebook sites – none of the big ones, but I’m sure the ones I did get a mention on led to some downloads in the US if nowhere else! I also posted links on a couple of Kindle forums that allow authors to promote their free books, and I mentioned the hell out of it on Twitter (Sorry, lovely followers! I do try not to use Twitter for advertising purposes, honest!)

I was also really lucky to have some amazing support on Twitter and Facebook, with friends, family, and even people I’d never met before sharing or retweeting the links.
I want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who helped. I know you all must’ve been sick of hearing about Creepy Christmas by the end of the promo, but I really appreciate the support so much!

 

In other news: I am coming to the end of NaNoWriMo – one half-novel is now turned into a full novel, and I’ve made a start on the next half-finished manuscript. 46,000 words written so far this month – almost there!

On Friday I was on the lovely Trashionista website talking about Kismetology here: http://www.trashionista.com/2012/11/author-interview-jaimie-admans.html

And speaking of Kismetology, it’s currently on special offer and reduced to 99p / $1.60 for a limited time only!
Amazon UK || Amazon US

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19 responses

  1. Wow, this is really interesting feedback on how your free promo went. What free promo sites did you use? I thought most if not all of them wanted books that had loads of (good) reviews already. You managed to get LOADS of downloads in the states, that’s fab, I’m really impressed! I hope it pays off for you in the long run too.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Denyse! The free promo sites – I submitted to almost all of them as some were unclear about the number of reviews they needed, I submitted anyway, although no point in submitting to the ones that clearly stated 10+ reviews only or something similar! I know I got a mention on The Ereader Cafe, Free Book Guy, and the sites you upload your own advert to, like SnicksList and Free Book Lister. I had a couple of RTs from the free book promotors on Twitter, but to be honest, I totally lost track of which ones did and which ones didn’t. It was a hectic day and my mentions feed got totally out of control! I think it would have helped A LOT to have some reviews first and I’m not sure I’d do it again with a new book, but I suppose never say never!

  2. Thanks for feeding back so honestly and comprehensively, I learned a lot reading your experience especially about contacting free ebook promo sites in advance ot maximise the scope of the exercise. I hope the free downloaders help spread the word when they’ve had a good read of your book : ) xx

    • Aww, thank you, Yasmin! Your support was totally amazing! Yeah, definitely one thing I learnt was to submit to book promotion sites early. I think having some reviews for the book first would have helped a lot too, but you can’t win ‘em all!

  3. It’s always interesting to see how other authors prepare for their free days (if they are in Select) and what the outcome is. Congrats on getting such a good volume of downloads!

    As for NaNo, I think you’ve done really well! :)

    PS I love the TUT Notes from the Universe emails. :)

    • Thanks, Joanna! It was a great experience for me, I couldn’t believe the number of downloads that were coming in! As a first-timer in Select, I think I was stumbling around in the dark a bit, so I really didn’t expect so many downloads!

      Aw, I love Notes From The Universe! They’re great!

  4. Many congratulations on the publication of Creepy Christmas and on doing so well with your downloads. I will certainly be downloading your book. I published my first collection of short stories, “The Girl At The Bus Stop And Other Erotic Short Stories” on Amazon on 11 November. I used the free promotion tool from 17-21 November and had a steady stream of downloads, however it it in no way compares to your numbers. I didn’t know about the sites which promote free Kindle books but I will check them out next time I run a free promotion. Good luck with your writing.

    • Thanks for reading and sharing your experience too! This is a site I found really helpful for submitting to the free Kindle book promoters, and it has them all conveniently in one place: http://authormarketingclub.com/members/submit-your-book/ – hope that helps with your next promo! Just be aware that most of them require a certain number of good reviews before they even consider featuring you, and most people suggest giving them at least a month’s notice of the upcoming freebie!

  5. I read what I could on the site, and I wanted to get it! Sadly I don’t have a Kindle (I’m a nook gal), but if I did I would have been first in line :-)

    Jenn
    from NaNoWriMo

    • Aww, thank you, Jenn! That is of course the problem with signing up to KDP Select in that it has to be exclusive to Amazon/Kindle! I’m still undecided on whether to do it with future books or not! Thank you so much for reading what you could though, I really appreciate that!

  6. Thanks for this post, Jaimie. I’m planning on having my first free promotion in the next month or so for my own book, so it was useful to hear about your experiences. I’d be extremely chuffed if I manage to get anywhere near the number of downloads you got, but I’ll see how it goes for me.

    Have you had any other free book promotions since and if so have you experimented at all with a shorter free promotion period? I’d like to maximise downloads but at the same time I’d ideally like to save a few free days for later as well, so I’m undecided at the moment as to whether to go for a two or three day promotion.

    • Hi Charles – thanks for the comment! No, I haven’t yet run another free promo, although I plan to in the next couple of months and will post about my experience then as well. Good luck with yours – I would say schedule a two-day promo because you can always extend it if it’s going well. That way you would have the option of having a three-day run later on in the Select term, but at the same time, you would be able to add to the two-day promo if you felt it was going well and wanted to try the three-day run then instead.

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