So, loyal readers – and other people who came to this site simply because there is a post or two buried in the archive containing the word ‘nudity’ – by now you probably know I’ve gotten slightly sidetracked from my regular posts in the Best Picture Project in trying to figure out the quirks of Kindle Direct Publishing platform, specifically the Select program and how to make it a success. Obviously, I’m apologetic over that and promise I’m working to get a new post going, but you’ll have to humor me while I chase down other interests.
Anyway, my first go-round with the KDP Select was a few months ago, when I enrolled my first novel, Girl Band, a little young-adult thing I really happen to enjoy. Taking a chance I made it free for two days, made a single posting on Kindle Boards to announce it, and managed to move somewhere around 250 books. I thought that was pretty good, considering the general lack of promotion. Obviously, I would have preferred more than that, but oh well.
My second go-round with the Select program was with my book While You Were Here. This time, I took a little more action on it, posting in a fair number of places and did pretty well with it, moving over 400 globally.
The third time around, I took it far more seriously. This time I put out a brief collection of short stories, Special Editions, for the full five days. These were stories I unearthed from the archives, polished and decided to take a chance and see how they’d do. Also, as a bit of a teaser for my new book, Peck: A Book, I included a free chapter, hoping that the people who took Special Editions would go and actually buy the book I’d included the preview for – yes, you are correct in thinking I only put the collection out to try and sell some of the other book. Anyway, I posted the promo period everywhere I could, opened a Goodreads page, tracked down free advertising, got my head around the Amazon tag system, and really made what I thought was going to be a big splash. Jokes on me, though, when I moved 165 globally.
Obviously, the most recent promotion proved to be a retrenchment from earlier successes, but given I was much more savvy about things, I actually found the latest promotion very much a learning experience and the lessons learned will clearly come in handy later.
Lesson #1: Obviously, literary works don’t work well as giveaways and just do sell well in general. Everywhere on the Kindle Boards you see people trumpeting their thousands of giveaways, and undoubtedly those people tend to fall, to my eye, in three categories: Horror, Fantasy, Romance/Erotica. Clearly, if you want big success with whatever you’re offering, you need to start with the right product and those three will get you closer to where you want to go. Maybe the ghost story I’m tinkering with will hit the spot.
Lesson #2: Advertising counts. I’m not saying you have to pay to advertise a free book, because that’s just silly, but when you consider that the difference between my first experience with Girl Band and my second While You Were Here was 150 books, and that I actually did some real leg work to advertising the second, you can see I got a pretty nice bump out of it. Obviously, this lesson doesn’t apply to my third giveaway which has to rank as an outlier, but it’s a short story collection and therefore exists on a different plain.
Lesson #3: Long promo period don’t work as well as short ones. This lesson was the lesson learned primarily from the second and third promos where despite having the books up for four and five days, respectively, most of my sales were in day one or two, and almost none in days four or five. Some of this can be blamed on the fact that anybody who’se going to take the book for free will do so in the first day and thereafter, you’re only picking up random stragglers. Mostly, though, this has to be blamed on reality. When you have a giveaway you aren’t going to promote it with your money, because you’re already giving it away and aren’t going to throw any more money at it. What this means is you wind up doing the message board dance – I’m on Kindle Boards – and unless your book garners an immediate reaction and somebody actually comments on the messages on the board and keeps it bumped to the top, you find yourself pushed aside in a hurry by other, newer giveaway announcements. Perhaps the solution to this is tandem action between two Kindle Boards members who go back and forth, commenting on each other’s posts as a way to keep the post on the giveaway at the top of the page. Barring this, most things fall down and by day five, nobody sees it.
Lesson #4: Take your victories where you find them. One thing I didn’t realize with my first two promotions, that I did with my third, was to check the Best Sellers boards on Amazon – you can usually find them by following links from your page. Even though these boards are incredibly splintered down to discreet genres or categories, it at least levels the playing field a bit so that literary books can compete against literary books, and erotica against erotica. The point of this? By following the links I realized that as far as free giveaways were concerned, for most of my five day period I was in the 30’s on the literary list, and at one point broke into the top 2o’s on the short story list. I know it may not sound like much, but I tell you what, to know that I was that high on the list made me feel pretty good because honestly, I guarantee you there were thousands of others who would have love to be me.
Will I do the giveaway again? Sure, I’m actually planning another one now, just to see how far I can go with it, and I’ll be damned if I don’t apply what I’ve learned here so I can turn around and hit #1.