Saturday, June 16, 2012
Going Free... Again!
Last Fall when Amazon announced the KDP Prime Select program, I thought that it was a great idea.
If I agreed to sell any e-books that I would upload to the Amazon servers to be sold only via Amazon.com for a 90-day period, then I could offer those e-books as "free" for up to 5 days during each 90 day period. The "free" downloads would count as actual sales when considering the popularity ranking of the e-book that was being offered as free. Also, any Amazon patron who has paid their yearly "Prime" membership fee could "borrow" my e-book, and that borrow would be part of a multi-thousand dollar payout each month (the KOLL program).
In December, I enrolled my only e-book, Betrovia, and quickly used up all 5 of my free days that month. I had no idea what I was doing. I simply designated the days that it would be "free," and hoped that thousands of people would download it.
Betrovia was only downloaded a few hundred times in December, and there were no sales or borrows associated with those "free" promotion days. There were also NO reviews! :)
Huh? How was that possible?
It was so simple: I didn't research HOW to differentiate Betrovia from the thousands other e-books that were also "free" during December.
Oh, I did I let my Facebook friends know via my Facebook page that the book was free. But at that time I only had a few hundred FB friends, and most of them don't even have a Kindle or any kind of e-book reader! (Yes, I have some OLD friends!)
So, after using up all five promo days in December, I impatiently waited for that first set of 90 days to expire so I could re-enroll Betrovia in another session. And I also decided to figure out how to get people to notice the novel.
One thing I did was learn how to notify web masters, bloggers, etc. that my e-book was going to be free. The websites, etc. that appeared to be influential last Winter were Ereader News Today, Pixel of Ink as well as a few others.
Another thing I did was revamp Betrovia's blurb. I asked friends as well as other people via Facebook, Kindleboards.com, etc. for help with improving the blurb.
I also created a new cover for Betrovia. The original cover was the one that I picked from Createspace's default styles last summer; it was a nice forest scene, but communicated little about the plot/characters/conflicts of the novel.
So, in March, when the new 90-day period was about to begin, I was ready!
On March 16th, Betrovia went "free" for just that day. And it was downloaded over 2000 times! It was one of 16 or so that Ereader News Today profiled that day. For a week or so afterwards, nearly 50 Betrovias were actually purchased, it was borrowed a handful of times and even a few paperbacks were ordered!
Later that month, Betrovia was free for another two days but neither ENT or Pixel of Ink profiled it. Because none of the "big" players chose to post it, it was only downloaded a few hundred times, and no sales, borrows or reviews resulted from those downloads.
Around the first of April, a few of fantasy writers who populate kindleboards.com's Writers' Cafe forum came up with a promotion idea. We teamed up to advertise that one of our fantasy e-books was going to be free on April 17 and 18. Someone even paid to have a digital artist create a nifty banner for our Tax Day Free promotion.
Of course, we all notified POI, etc. and we then hoped for the best. Betrovia was downloaded nearly 2500 times on April 17th because ENT once again profiled it. However, POI again did not post it. For about a week after the promotion, barely a dozen e-book Betrovias were purchased, it was borrowed maybe twice and only one paperback was ordered. And no reviews were uploaded.
Yes, the "newness" of KDP Select had worn off a bit.
One of the fantasy writers who took part in that Tax Day Free promotion also writes science fiction. He also has been very active in monitoring and analyzing how Amazon views "free" downloads as they relate to the popularity rankings. In May, one of his sci-fi novels went free for three days. During those 3 days, he hit the jackpot! Thanks to both ENT and POI posting that novel, it was downloaded over 26000 times in that three-day period. That novel, Breakers, is still ranked in the top 1000 Kindle books.
On June 20 and 21, this coming Wednesday and Thursday, an even-larger number of fantasy writers are making at least one of their e-books free. Betrovia will be one of those freebies. We've entitled this promotion "Summer Solstice Free Fantasy." Of course, we are all hoping that ENT, POI and a few other influential websites profile our e-books. And this time we are doing something that for some reason no one thought of doing in April. All of the fantasy e-books that will be free on those two days are included in the "Summer Solstice Free Fantasy" Listmania webpage: Summer Solstice Listmania . And the nifty thing about a Listmania page? At the bottom of the page is ONE button that, if clicked, will add ALL of the e-books described on that page to the shopper's cart! So, as one member of the Summer Solstice group pointed out, even if POI only picks up ONE of our e-books, potentially it will be like ALL were profiled by that mega-monster of the Kindle freebie world!