Now that I've had my e-book up on Amazon for five days for free, here’s what I've learned!
As part of Amazon's standard policies, every quarter KDP offers the opportunity to their authors to promote their book for free for 5 days out of every 90. As the opening experiment of publishing my e-book on Amazon yielded around 50 sales during the first two weeks, I went ahead and booked Tuesday through Saturday in the middle of October to see how the free promotion system worked firsthand.
First off, Amazon’s system for setting up your e-book's free promotion is very easy to use. Check a box here, click on a drop down menu there and enter in the dates of your promotion – presto, you’re ready to go! Additionally, while the sales of your e-book at the normal price are tracked via Amazon’s ranking lists, there is a whole different ranking system in place specifically for free novels. So, if you sell 50 free e-books and 50 e-books at your regular price, it means you are going to place one way in the paid ranking system and another way in the free ranking system.
Because I’m still trying to get more reviews of my book on Amazon, I went ahead and posted about the free deal on every social media site I’m on for the duration of the promotion. While I got some decent nibbles from Twitter and LinkedIn and I got a couple of retweets and shares from friends old and new, the big winner was the $20 I spent on Facebook to promote my book for a couple of days. This method alone got me over 5,000 views! I suspect of all the things I tried during the promotion this was the big winner, above and beyond all of my efforts to let my friends know that Wish was available for free on Amazon. While I could have spammed my social media accounts every few hours to make that everybody on my friend's list knew about the opportunity, spending $20 on Facebook seems to be an affordable way to get the word out to a bunch of potential readers.
By the end of the second day of the promotion I was up in the Top 20 rankings for free Sword and Sorcery books! Even as I battled to try to make it further up the rankings list, I did some research on the other folks in the Top 20 and learned some very interesting things. Some of these books have as few as 17 reviews – and others have as many as 738! Additionally, I also discovered that some of these books have been up on Amazon since 2010, which means they have gone through as many as a dozen of these free promotion cycles.
As a small fry amongst the bigger fish, I can see how this system will work for me in time. With a limited number of days to give away free copies each quarter (but with the results from each quarter continuing to stack up from year to year) I suspect as you continually get more reviews and more free sales you will steadily expand your audience. Quality isn't as much of a factor as I expected, as one of the books that had 600+ reviews had near equal totals in 1-star and 5-star reviews, with some people loving the book a lot and other ones stating openly they wish they had never wasted their time reading the book due to all the grammatical and plot-hole problems.
As the week came to a conclusion it turns out that I gave away a little over 450 copies in five days. Not too shabby for a first-timer! While landing #19 in the Swords and Sorcery free category was pretty cool for a first timer, I'll admit that there was a bit of shock when I checked out my sales rankings for paid books rather than free books once the promotion ended. When I left early last week to venture into the free book rankings, I was somewhere around the high 10,000’s in Amazon's overall rankings. But hen I returned after 5 days of not selling books for cash, my novel had been knocked down to a ranking of 321,000! (Ouch!) So, it isn’t just about making sales, but consistently making sales that keeps you at the top of the list.
In summary? I’ll call this opening outing a success. For $20 and a few hours of networking and social promotion I got my book out to 500 readers and got views of the cover to somewhere around 6,000 people. I also suspect that a number of sites that pick up and advertise the fact that your book is up for free on Amazon pushed Wish a bit - but I still need to do some Google-fu in order to discover which sites did that and for how long. More soon!
Scott Hungerford’s first e-book Wish can be found on Amazon.com.
Causes Scott Hungerford Supports
Heifer International, Red Cross