I’ve previously discussed the diminishing returns in regards to the KDP “Free” promo. Many authors have latched onto KDP’s newer promotional tool “Countdown Deals”, and rightly so. It’s yet another avenue for exposure and revenue. And hey, everyone loves when something is new, right? I’m holding off on using the Countdown Deal until both of my books gain more traction (ie, reviews). From what I’ve read, the CD’s are most effective with books that are fairly established (which also holds true for “free”. See below)
With my latest release Dustland, I decided to give the free promo another shot, this time using my first novel “A Cold Black Wave” and set up a 3 day promo. A few days after that promo ended, I started a 3 day promo for Dustland. The results? Read on!
So, I should reveal the differences between the two titles before I go into the numbers. ACBW is Sci-Fi and had 11 reviews on Amazon for a 4.5/5 average and 20 ratings/8 Reviews on Goodreads with a 4.15/5 average at the start of the free promo. Not a lot, but enough to give potential readers a sense of security that they aren’t walking into a minefield of typos and plot holes. Dustland is Historical Western with no reviews or ratings and written by an unknown author.
For both promos I did NO advertising. No word of mouth. Just went in cloak and dagger style. I know places like Bookbub and ENT can be effective in seeing 20-30k free downloads, but I’m not keen on playing that game. Here we go:
A Cold Black Wave 3 Day Free Promo (Reg price $2.99)
Worldwide Downloads: ~2500 Sales: 10 (36 as of 1/23/14 priced @ .99) New Reviews: 3 (7 as of 1/23/14) New Goodread Ratings: 4 Highest Rankings: #224 Overall in Free Books #1 First Contact #1 Colonization #3 Action and Adventure
Dustland 3 Day Free Promo (Reg price $3.99)
Worldwide Downloads: ~550 Sales: 0 (1 as of 1/23/14) New Reviews: 0 (2 as of 1/23/14) New Goodread Ratings: 0 Highest Rankings: #1,000 Overall in Free Books #8 Westerns #37 Historical Fiction
As a side note, I was surprised to see that Dustland actually had MORE downloads in the UK than ACBW had in the UK. ACBW had 66 in 3 days while Dustland had 81. In the UK, it reached #3 in Westerns, #19 Historical Fiction and #819 overall. Cool! Guess the Brits enjoy the Wild West.
I will post an update in the coming weeks regarding Dustland in terms of any additional sales/reviews that may emerge from this free promo.
Final Thoughts: The different genre certainly could have affected the level of success between these two. However, I believe having 11 reviews for ACBW is what made this recent free promo run more successful than the rest.
But how do you get reviews? Soon after I released ACBW I got lucky with a glowing and extensive review which still stands at the top. Checking Author Central, I’ve run a total of 8 “free” promos of varying duration since October 2012 and never had 2500 downloads during ANY of those runs. So what made this free promo so much more effective? Reviews! But as you can tell, it took me a lot of time, sales, and free downloads to achieve the 14 reviews I have. Others aren’t so lucky, and others are far luckier and can get that many in a month.
Most of my reviews on Goodreads came from running 3 different book giveaways. The first giveaway I gave out 15 copies and received 6 reviews. Nice! I ran two other giveaways and gave out 3 copies each, and received 0 reviews from them so it’s hit and miss. But as you can see, it can take some time and effort to get those reviews. I think it’s fun to run a giveaway and ship paperback copies to winners, and I’ve had nothing but a positive experience from running them.
If you’re a new author like I am, the bottom line is this: you need to get your book into people’s hands, one way or another. Don’t worry about giving thousands of copies away for free. There are millions of potential customers out there. Until you’ve made a name for yourself (or you get lucky and hit the ground running), the free promo is your quickest and most convenient way to let the world know you’re here. I would caution against anyone who is already experiencing steady sales (even if it’s only 1-2/week), as running a free promo could derail that momentum.
Let me know your thoughts on the “free” promo and the new Countdown Deal. Are they still working for you?