In my previous post about Amazon’s KDP, Indie Authors – Latest KDP Results, I discussed my endeavors in giving away books. This post, I’m going to address a few thoughts I have on the state of KDP and what it might mean for indie authors.
Indie Authors – My Assessment of The Current State of Freebies
The marketing technique I hear other indie authors say to use (since KDP came about) is to give away books for free and then layer the free promotion with paid promotions right after the free days. The idea is that on your free days you will jump into Amazon’s top 100 (and be on the genre bestseller lists as well), and then, when your book is no longer free, you’ll bump right over into the paid top 100.
I’ve heard that initially there were mixed results with this, and that as time has gone on, even the indie authors that have had success with this approach are not seeing the same success of late. They are also struggling to come anywhere close to cracking Amazon’s top 100 (see Russell Blake’s excellent blog post The Dark Side of Free for more on this – read the middle part especially for the effects of the freebie on sales).
I’ve heard a lot of theories about why books that were highly ranked on the free side didn’t stay highly ranked on the paid side, especially of late. I watched This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies go from #1,000 to #124,000 right after the freebie – then it immediately began climbing quickly as it sold. The point is it didn’t cross over into the corresponding rank on the paid side like some indie authors had seen. Some say it’s the lack of advertizing, or the glut of freebies makes it harder to climb the ranks and stay there when you switch over to the paid list. Maybe, but as someone in the IT field, here’s my theory:
In December, Amazon was new to the game, too. They probably hadn’t accounted for free books crossing over to the bestseller lists after the free days were over. But once they realized what was happening, they got their programmers working on the back-end code and corrected this. Now, when your books goes off the free lists, it ranks wherever it was before the free days. If you get a bunch of fast sales right after your free days (most likely due to advertizing on key sites like Kindle Nation Daily and Digital Book Today), like I did, that propels you quickly back up the charts.
Indie Authors – Is It Worth It?
This is a tough question. I would certainly try a free campaign again, but as a regular marketing campaign, I don’t know. I’ve seen a jump in all my sales since my last campaign for This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies, but I also shelled out a lot of money. I basically broke even for the five-day campaign – two free days plus paid advertizing afterword (although I would be in the hole over $100 if KND hadn’t refunded the cost of their ad). Now I know you have to spend to make, but at some point, the making has to outdo the spending. If break-even continues, I don’t know if I’ll continue. But I’m still watching my sales. What I’m hoping for (and it seems to be bearing out for the moment) is that people who read This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies will like/love it, and want to read the other books in the series. If this trend continues, giving away the first book is great.
I would certainly consider giving away other books, just to get them in the hands of readers, but again, if it doesn’t result in an increase in sales, then it doesn’t seem worth it.
Indie Authors – My Recommendations
It’s hard to say what one thing might’ve worked. I changed more than one variable from giveaway to giveaway so I don’t know for certain what worked and what didn’t. But here’s what I would recommend to maximize your free days:
- write a good book (this seems obvious but…)
- make sure you have a lot (10+) 4 and 5 star reviews of your book
- get your book listed on as many sites as you can
- make sure you have a great cover
- lower your price right before your free days to get it climbing the charts
- do some paid advertizing but don’t go overboard
- use social media like crazy to let everyone know about your book (the bigger Twitter and Facebook fan page following, the better)
- do some guest blog posts right around your campaign
So, that’s my take on things. In this ever-changing Kindle world, it could be different tomorrow. I hope these posts have been helpful.
By the way, don’t give your books long titles (This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies) – do you know how much is sucks to repeatedly type that out :). Also, don’t have an accent on your name (thanks Mom and Dad :)) – constantly changing the e to have an accent – ugh!
Thanks to you who have shared your experiences. I would love to hear more so please comment with your thoughts. We all benefit – thanks!