Analyzing KDP Select – The Latest Results Of My Free Days

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Indie Author Handbook

As all my regular readers know, I have been outspoken about the KDP Select program.  I don’t like how Amazon demands exclusivity in order to have an ebook in the program, and I don’t think that using the program is a good long-term solution for book marketing (what happens if and when Amazon decides to cancel the program? will those on other platforms be at an advantage if/when that happens?).  So the obvious question is why did you enroll in it again?  And I’m sure you’re wondering what the results are…read on…

Analyzing KDP Select – My Reasons For Jumping Back In

I won’t spend a lot of time on this, and you can call me a hypocrite for writing one thing about KDP Select and doing another…but I don’t think I am.  I’ve cautioned using KDP Select, but I never said absolutely don’t use it.  Just know what you’re getting into.  For me, the decision came about in part because of what JA Konrath and Anthony Wessel (Digital Book Today) said.  First Konrath:

If other platforms want to lure me back, they can.  They’ll just need to do more for me than Amazon is doing.  If they don’t want to woo me and other authors over to them, or feel they shouldn’t have to, then they aren’t taking into account the importance of writers–something publishers are also famous for.

How is this any different than having competing job offers?  If more than one company wants to hire you, they need to make you a better offer than their competition.

It isn’t my job to help other platforms succeed.  It is their job to lure me to their platform.

And Wessel:

Selectively incorporating KDP Select into a comprehensive marketing plan can be a real plus for the indie author.

Remember, ARC’s (Advanced Reader Copies) have been given away by authors and publishers for the past 40 years.  Now indie authors can also do it with no cost.  When I worked in the retail book industry, ARC’s were always available in the backroom of bookstores.  Sometimes they actually had to be thrown out because there were too many of them.

Those are good points.  Now, I am not jumping in with both feet and offering all my books for free, just one.  I did this to see if I can get a boost in sales.  And I’ve taken a very strategic approach to this.  My goals are:

  • to, at least, make back the advertizing dollars I spent on the campaign
  • to get at least 20,000 downloads
  • to get more reviews (hopefully positive ones)
  • to increase sales of This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies
  • to increase sales of the other mysteries in the series
  • to garner attention for my other books

Now we’ll see how it all turns out…

Analyzing KDP Select – What Happened On Day One

I’m going to share mostly numbers here, and in another post I will go into the specifics of my marketing strategy.  The first free day was interesting.  I submitted This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies to a number of sites that advertize free books (all these sites were free).  At 10 AM This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies had downloaded 600 copies.  The book was ranked 3,853.  Nothing to shout about.  863 at noon, climbing to 1,500, and now it’s ranked at 52 in the mystery and thriller category.  1,451 at 4:15, 534 and 31 in mystery.  It kept climbing and was 101 and 7 in mystery at 10:30 with 2,459 downloads.  Not bad, but not what I hoped for.

Analyzing KDP Select – Welcome To Day Two

One of the things I’d heard authors discussing was Bookbub.  Bookbub boasts over a million subscribers.  You can submit a book that will go out to targeted readers…this is HUGE because now your book is going to the audience you want it to (for example, you don’t have to worry about romance readers picking up your horror book for free – and then not buying more of your books, or worse, giving you a bad review).  Targeted marketing is a huge advantage in selling your books.  Bookbub ain’t cheap.  This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies is a mystery.  Bookbub has almost a half million mystery/thriller subscribers, so I paid $240 for the listing.  Was it worth it?  Read on…

Analyzing KDP Select – Day Two – Stellar So Far…

At the time of this writing, it’s almost the end of day two of my free listing (one more to go).  This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies had downloaded 2,459 at the end of day one.  At 7 AM it was at 2,834 downloads, with an overall ranking of 74, and 5 in mystery.  Oh boy, was this going to be bad?  Was my Bookbub promo not going to work?  It was slow for a bit (3,106 at 8:45), and then things started happening…fast.  Here is the breakdown, listing the time, the number of downloads, main Amazon book ranking, and genre rank:

  • 10:15 – 7,665 – 61 – 3 (every time I refresh the page, a 100+ downloads)
  • 12:00 – 8,056 – 61 – 3
  • 2:15 – 14,324 – 50 – 3
  • 5:00 – 27,400 – 1 – 1 (the book page says 50 and 3 but this is incorrect)
  • 5:30 – 28,120 – 1 – 1
  • 8:30 – 33,251 – 1 – 1

As you can imagine, I’m stunned, and very pleasantly surprised.  I had hoped to hit 20,000 downloads.  This figure is one that I hear other indie authors say is a good result.  And if you think from a marketing standpoint, where about 1-2% will actually read the book (and become fans and buy the other mystery novels in the series), getting 20,000 downloads would be nice.

On a side note, I’d read where it appears Amazon has different servers, and your search results reflect this.  I saw this.  If I exited out of the Amazon browser and came back in, I would see different results on the rankings.  And as I stated above, I saw a delay in the ranking results.  My mystery novel was actually ranked higher on the Top 100 list than it was on the book page.  It took Amazon some time to catch up on the book page…but it did.

And that’s not all…

Analyzing KDP Select – Day Two – My Other Books

This Doesn't Happen In The Movies - Number OneWhat I find interesting is that I’ve already seen a boost in sales of my other books.  My thinking was that This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies would get a lot of downloads and then, in the coming days and weeks, I would see sales of the other mystery novels in the series.  But I’m already seeing sales of all my other books increase dramatically.  Even the Reed Ferguson short story (Elvis And The Sports Card Cheat) is seeing sales.  This I was not expecting so soon.

Analyzing KDP Select – Day Three

So, I have one final day in this campaign.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring…I hope a bunch more downloads, but I have no idea.  Will the Bookbub effect go away?  Will I drop out of the rankings?  What will actual sales be like?  One thing you can count on – I will let you all know…

About Renée Pawlish

Award-winning author Renée Pawlish writes the bestselling horror book, Nephilim Genesis of Evil, the Reed Ferguson mystery series, short stories and non-fiction ghost stories.
This entry was posted in Indie Author Handbook, Promoting Your Books and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Analyzing KDP Select – The Latest Results Of My Free Days

  1. Toby Neal says:

    Glad you took this on, Renee, and enjoying your “expose” of the process. Broken Ferns, 4th in the Lei Crime Series, had 72,000 downloads last month as the “BookBub effect.” I was flabbergasted!

    I’m having a great month in sales on all the books becuase of it. Like you said, if other platforms want our business they need to sweeten the pot. I’m going to ride this horse (Amazon) as far as it will take me. I know it’s not forever, but I’m leveraging my advantages.

    Bookbub’s success is due to it’s strict reviews, that’s how it lures readers to subscribe–so we should both be proud our books make the cut to be featured.
    Aloha
    Toby Neal

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      Over 70k, that’s fantastic! I am certainly going to see where this goes, I have more free days to use.
      And I didn’t realize the strict reviews was a key for Bookbub, that’s interesting.
      Thanks for the comment.

  2. Thanks for sharing this Renée you are always great at keeping track of the figures so you can really analyse what works and what doesn’t. It’s 9am UK and you are still No2 OVERALL on Amazon USA Kindle Free and No 2 in Mysteries so – Congratulations on your successful KDP Select investigation! Emma x

  3. Sandy Jones says:

    Renee…these results are fantastic!! I am so happy for you and your success! Will be looking for your results after the free event! Keep up the good work!

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      Thanks! I will definitely keep everyone posted on the longer term results.
      And you keep up the good work too!

  4. Kathy Golden says:

    Thank you for this update. I am planning to add one of my books to this program as a test, so it’s good to see your review. I was especially interested in whether or not BookBub is a good investment.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      I wish you the best with your test. As for Bookbub, I can say it definitely boosted the free downloads, but whether this all turns into big, or even moderate, sales, I’ll have to see.
      Thanks for your comment.

  5. Congrats, Renee, on these wonderful results.

  6. Gabe Berman says:

    Even your post about books is written so well.

    Question: did readers just find your books by searching on amazon or do advertise?

    Thanks so much :)

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      Thanks. I’ve been building a readership over the last few years, using social media, word-of-mouth, sometimes KDP Select, and here and there some paid advertizing (but not much). It’s a grind selling books.

  7. Thanks for sharing Renée, and congrats, you’re doing fantastically well! But then you’re very good at networking…something I’m still learning and definitely what you say and share had helped me a lot through the years since we first met through that South African’s website, remember? Just went to visit Bookbub (following your example!) and I hope they’ll take me on, I plan on a few free days for my new serial novel 2213:Forever Young (free from 9 to 14 May) but I think it’s going to be tough, I’m not clever like you!

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      Thank you, you are very kind. I hope you do find success, with or without KDP Select. It’s difficult to measure what makes the free days work; I should’ve mentioned genre as a piece of it – my competition on the Top 100 was a LOT of romance novels…
      Send me a tweet and I’ll definitely retweet it for you, and if you’d like, let me know how it works for you.
      And yes, I remember Ivin, I’m actually doing some editing for him :).

      • I’ll be happy to let you know how my free days work out and thanks so much for helping to tweet (it will start on May 10 and I won’t even be in Rome, I’ll be in the countryside more or less out of range of Internet except for a few hours/day!!) I found that KDP Select worked out pretty well for my short story collection two years ago, but that was quite a while ago, things change so fast on Internet!

        At the time, even though my book had hit #19 in the top 100 literary fiction, that did not translate in either sales for the book (it was Death on Facebook, Short Stories for the Digital Age) nor did it reflect in increased sales for my other books (I had 3 up at the time…) A tough world!

        • Renée Pawlish says:

          It is tough and genre has so much to do with it, and the amount of people who see your book – that’s why Bookbub is huge, they have such a large audience.

  8. Kirk Alex says:

    Dear Renee,

    Loved the post.
    To all indie authors: please go to Indie Author Land and upload your book cover and do the interview. Nice site for plugging your work.
    http://www.indieauthorland.com/archives/3368
    Best,
    Kirk Alex
    author: Lustmord: Anatomy of a Serial Butcher Vol. 1 (of 6)

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