One of my pet-peeves is the so-called marketing expert who has no proof to show for all their wisdom, knowledge, and so-called advice. With that in mind, I felt it is only right to let you know how my latest KDP Select promotion did. For those of you who follow this blog, you already know Why I’m All in With KDP Select. Still, there are many ways to drive a KDP Select Free promotion and over the course of no less than 10 KDP Select Free promotions since December 2011, I have tried many different approaches. I’ve done nothing at all to promote and let the Amazon algorithms do their work. I’ve joined tweet teams, used Facebook offers and goodreads ads to promote. I’ve paid for services like those offered by Ereader News Today, The Kindle Book Review, Kindle Nation Daily, Digital Book Today, and most recently BookBub. I’ve done free promotions on every day of the week and done one day, two-day, and three-day promotions. I’ve done combinations of all of the above, all in an effort to find the magic formula for a successful KDP Select promotion.
Meanwhile, like its rainforest namesake, Amazon keeps changing, adapting, and adjusting its processes, procedures, and algorithms. So as soon as I think I’ve got the “formula” down, it goes out the window with the next promotion. Other factors that have affected the success of my various promotional strategies include the increase of free promotions, free e-book sites to promote on, and readers with an overload of free and paid books downloaded. That’s why I keep challenging myself to find new ways to maximize this valuable promotional asset, because there is no single best way to do a Free book promotion.
With that said, let me also state that if your Amazon buy page has not been optimized (genre appropriate book cover, enticing description, good reviews), you should stop reading here and go get those things straightened out. If you have these bases covered let’s continue.
I started off 2013 with a free day in early January and had my best free promotion to date, over 5,500 downloads in a single day (more on my specific actions later)! I did another single day promotion in February and had very different results, only 699 downloads. Then in April, I decided to do a 2 day promotion at the end of the month where I would use my traditional freebie method on day one and a paid Book Bub promotion on day 2 to compare and contrast.
Here’s my typical KDP promotion process (and the one I used that got me over 5,500 downloads in January and 3,000 downloads on day 1 of my April promotion). It begins with planning. I typically set my promotional days around 6 weeks ahead of time on Amazon to give me time to sign up for all the various free e-book promo sites that will help push the book (many of which require at least 2-3 weeks notice).
I have found that combining a free promotion with a post promotion boost from one of the Indie friendly sites like Kindle Nation Daily and/or The New Kindle Book Review has helped a lot, so I typically buy one of their advertising packages (like this Twitterlicious package) where the good folks at The New Kindle Book Review and their legions of tweeters, tweet custom tweets about your book a few times an hour for 3 days basically magnifying the noise level around your book. When I have combined this increased noise level with the rankings boost my book always receives due to the free promotion, I have seen a nice sales bump in the wake of the free day or days.
Once my post free promo advertising is set up and confirmed, the day before the first promotional day, I sign up for a tweet team on The World Literary Cafe (you leave 2 tweets for other authors to promote and in return you agree to tweet for at least 10 authors the next day). Then I create my own tweets for the promotional day and mass upload via Hootsuite which allows me to schedule my tweets in advance (1 per hour) so that the day of the free promotion I can focus on posting on other social media properties like Facebook and Goodreads throughout the day.
The day of the promotion, I begin by creating a short links of my Amazon buy pages (US, Canada, and UK) using bitly (so I can track the clicks to my buy page) and then posting it on all my Facebook author and reader groups, my FB author pages, and my personal FB pages. I started using Facebook’s new offers tool last year to boost my reach beyond my pages existing “likers” and that has worked out great too. Then I create an event on goodreads, send to all my goodreads friends, and post in all the free e-book friendly groups in which I am signed up. I also post my links on genre specific google + and Linkedin groups.
After all this posting, it’s time to begin monitoring the increased noise. Using google search, I can track where my book is popping up in the previous 24 hours, I get notifications that my book and name is coming up in an increasing number of tweets, and I spot check the reports on Amazon KDP to see how many downloads I’m getting per hour.
But this last time, I did all this AND I scheduled a BookBub promotion on day 2. The way BookBub works is that every day they deliver e-book deals to over 1 million subscribers based on genre. Their database has come to count on the curated deals that BookBub offers, so if your book doesn’t meet their standards (cover and reviews), they will not promote your novel. They even let you know the average downloads seen in various genres (the current average for horror is over 4,300 downloads).
Clearly, day 1 was very successful compared to many of my previous efforts – I saw 3,000 downloads. But the next day exceeded even my wildest expectations. At around 10 am on day 2 I saw that I had crossed the 6,000 total downloads mark – basically I’d doubled the previous days downloads in only 7 hours. By noon I was at 7,000 and it continued until I topped out the day at 11,326 total downloads over 2 days and over 8,000 downloads on day 2 alone!
Still the point of the KDP Select program and the biggest benefits are the other effects it has on book and author discovery both during and post the promotion. During the promotion, One Blood reached #1 in both of its categories (Occult and Ghost Horror). It also reached #14 on the overall Free ebooks list – thus my visibility on Amazon got a significant boost. Post promotion, my sales have increased 800% in the 3 weeks since the promo (April was an abnormally slow sales month for One Blood, but still – 800% sales increase). My FB page likers, twitter followers, goodreads friends, pinterest followers, google + friends, and Linkedin friends have all increased. One Blood was also featured on over 25 websites during the 2 day promotion. My author website views also saw a nice spike.
In summary, KDP Select still works in 2013, free is not dead, and if used correctly, not only can you see more sales, but you can boost your overall discoverability!
Let us know your experiences with KDP Select in 2013 in the comments…