As some of you may already know I opted back into KDP Select at the beginning of May and my reasons for doing so are explained in this post here.
The benefits of being in KDP Select are that you get to use two promotion opportunities for each book once every 90 days. These are the Kindle Countdown where you can discount your book over a week incrementing the increases in price back up to what it usually sells for and there’s a countdown clock against it to tell buyers there’s not much time left to snap up this particular bargain. The second promotion opportunity is being able to list your book for free for up to 5 days, these can be consecutive days or broken up over the 90 days.
As part of me trying to have a coherent marketing strategy in place I scheduled Before the Dawn (BtD) for a Kindle Countdown in May and Thicker than Water (TtW) for one in June. They came and went and I was not particularly impressed with the outcome. A few more sales, but, meh… it was pretty much as I had found when last in KDP Select. This promotion may well work much better if your books are more expensive in the first place. BtD and TtW are £1.99/$2.99 each and A Single Step (ASS) is 99p/99c.
I had scheduled ASS for a free promotion in July and I’ll be honest and say that my sales have been pretty slow over most of this year. The books were creeping out to the 300K+ range on .co.uk and 7/800K on .com so I decided that I needed to make a real effort to spread the word on this promotion. I’d read about the numbers of downloads other people had achieved and that they’d experienced a knock on spike in sales of their other books and I really wanted some of that!
I had tried a free promotion of ASS before, very early on and when I knew even less than I know now. I don’t think I even had any other books available (so no chance of any other sales!) and I achieved around 900+ downloads.
This time I achieved 7549 free downloads, a ranking of number 33 in the .com Top Free 100 and 50 in the .co.uk Top Free 100. I was thrilled, but besides these great numbers there were other terrific benefits which I shall come onto later because in this post I’m going to tell you how I did this. I’m not bragging here, many people do much better than this but friends have seen the increase in my ranking and I wanted to share all the facts and figures so if anyone wants to give it a go they can.
Buckle up! This is going to be a long one.
I will say at the beginning that I believe the marketing of books is like throwing darts in the dark and there are no guarantees. I have tried various things over the years that others have recommended only for them not work for me, no doubt I was doing them wrong somehow, I don’t know. Anyway I’m just going to tell you what I did and you can make of it what you will.
One early tip I shall pass on is that when you set up your promotions the time is automatically set to start at 8am. Wind this back to midnight on the day you want the promotion to start and on the end date wind it forward to 00.59. You have 120 hours available on a free promotion and you don’t want to lose a minute of that.
Take it as read that I posted about this promotion on my website, in a blog post, on Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Twitter. Although I should add that I had a crazy busy ‘other’ work week so rarely got near Twitter to do any retweeting other than two blasts out so I pinned a tweet and hoped for the best there.
About a week before the promotion was due to begin I started my build up. As I was planning on pushing the boat out I applied for a Bookbub spot. This would have cost me $205 which is hefty but it is known as the biggest site for free downloads however as they only accept 20% of submissions the chances are slim of being successful. It may also seem crazy to pay out money to give away books but what you’re doing here is buying new readers. You hope they like what they read and that they come back for more.
While waiting for a response from Bookbub I got busy elsewhere…
I belong to Readers in the Know – this is free to join and test out for a couple of months then it costs £20 per year. There is a lot of help and information on the site and there is also a list of promotion sites – check the drop down tabs at the top of the page. This list is particularly useful as you can order the sites by column so, aware that I might be paying out for Bookbub, I clicked on the Price Range column so that it puts all the free sites at the top.
I applied to every site in the free section that was applicable (some don’t do free promos, for example) there were about 15 in all and it took a good couple of hours. Some sites are very automated and don’t need much input, some want fresh content not found elsewhere on the internet which can require some rewriting of blurbs. Often they just need different word counts (or character counts) for descriptions.
For many of these sites they would like you to sign up to their newsletters and/or spread the word of their services. I do sign up because I think it is much more likely they will look on your promotion favourably if you do, it stands to reason. I also send tweets out sharing the sites where they have that facility.
Through this process I came across one particular site Indies Unlimited and was distracted by a useful article from Martin Crosbie on it which had some great tips and further contacts (and another list!) I was running out of steam, and time, by now so did not tackle any further lists.
However, one of Crosbie’s contacts was Kindle Nation Daily and there it cost me $29.99 for a daily sponsorship in their Free Book Highlighter Service. Another link from Crosbie’s post was to Ebookbooster. They run a submissions service where they will post your book to a minimum of 45 sites for $40. By this point I was in the zone and I decided that should I be turned down by Bookbub, which I was, I would do this, which I did! Looking at the Ebookbooster list against the one on Readers in the Know there is some crossover so in future I might do this the other way around so save myself some time.
Over the next few days I had email contact from Ebookbooster confirming they were doing the submissions and then various contacts from a range of sites letting me know they had the details and that the promotion would be posted. Some contacted me but more of them did not, some gave dates that ASS would up and others didn’t.
I also noticed after this that I started getting more newsletters and circular emails so if this is not something you are a fan of then I suggest you steer clear of this type of submission option.
As I didn’t have Bookbub in my corner I wanted to get as close to the kind of download experience as possible so lastly in my pre-planning phase I applied for a promotion on Ereader News Today (ENT) for $40 and was successful. Yay!
My promotion ran from a Monday to Friday so during that week the following happened.
Monday – most of the free promotion sites that got back to me seemed to go for this day. Many of the free sites are also US based so because I wanted to redress the balance a little I wrote a post on my author page on Facebook and boosted that for the week to a pretty wide demographic, though UK based, with a budget limit of £10 for the whole promotion.
I posted on every Facebook group I was already a member of and found a few more to apply to. I also applied to Fiverr (more about this on Tuesday)
Downloads = 998
Tuesday – I had applied for a promotion on Fiverr via BKnights – for those of you unfamiliar with this site you can buy a multitude of services for only $5. I bought a double package of a posting on his popular Facebook site and a listing in his newsletter. I had heard great things about BKnights and I’ve used him for my very light touch marketing during the Kindle Countdowns but on both occasions the results hadn’t been great and BKnights refunded my money – without me even asking! It’s a great service. So the $10 I spent here was actually credit and therefore didn’t feel like spending at all 🙂
Downloads – 2252
Wednesday – This was the day ASS was listed on Ereader News Today.
Downloads = 2613
Thursday – I found and posted on a few more Facebook groups but due to the time it took for some of them to authorise me I missed the opportunity here so should have done this earlier in the week. I also did a Twitter blast of retweeting.
Downloads = 1092
Friday – A bit more Twitter and I was contacted by one of the free sites, Content.mo, to confirm that the listing was up that day. I suspect it has been on a variety of the free sites all week.
Downloads = 594
Facebook Boosted post – for your information the £10 got the post in front of 3169 people with 45 engagements so I’m not sure this was worth it at 22p per engagement.
My main point of frustration with all this is that because I hit it in so many different ways it is difficult to see what was particularly successful – apart from BKnights and ENT which I think made such a difference we can say those worked. With the others some ran listings over a few days anyway, BKnights did that as well and you never know with any of the sites which days readers actually go and have a browse through them – or with emailed newsletters again when the recipient opens them. It would be nice to be able to monitor where the sales came from but the only way of doing that really accurately would be by putting it on just one or two sites over the week – and life is too short for that!
The knock on effects have been tremendous. Since the promotion started I have had 257 sales of my other books with 135 of those in the .com market, 94 in .co.uk and the others spread through the Netherlands, Japan, Canada and Australia. I know many of you achieve these sorts of numbers anyway but I do not so for me this is a revelation.
So was it worth the expense? Absolutely, in all it cost me around £100 (I haven’t done all the conversions) and I’ve made triple that back.
I am thrilled with several new reviews as well although interestingly all of those are on the .com site – thank you to anyone who has written one of those who happens to find this page!
And lastly, perhaps my biggest surprise has been the massive rise in the numbers of pages read via Kindle Unlimited (KENP). Peaking at over 9K one day they have been averaging over 5K every day since then.
The promotion ended a week ago. There are still sales and pages being read via KENP every day and long may it continue, though I am fully aware of the natural course of these events and that things will tail off so I am planning because…
Would I run such a promotion again? You bet I would!!
I’d be very interested to hear any of your stories of successes, or failures, with any promotions that you have run – feel free to tell all in the comments section 🙂
Thank you for reading!