Last week, and for the first time ever, I ran a free promo for both my books at the same time.
For the benefit of first time visitors, I will mention here that The Necklace of Goddess Athena is my debut novel (a fantasy) while my second one, The Lady of the Pier, is a romance. Now, I had heard the warnings that you’re supposed to promote one book at a time, but I’ve never been one to follow rules. As always, I am keen to try new things and explore all possibilities so was rather looking forward to this experiment. Also, another novelty I went for, was to let the free promo run for all five days that KDP Select allows me, all in one go.
As always, I announced the promo everywhere. Both books were to be up for grabs worldwide from August 7-11. I spent the usual 2-3 days before that, submitting them to free sites. I tweeted and FB’d about it adequately in advance too.
When the big day came, surprise number 1 hit me! As I had run two more free promos already for my debut novel since March (a total of 2,059 downloads), I had expected that the flavor of the month would be my romance this time, since this was its very first promo. Besides, it’s an ABNA Q-Finalist so I expected nothing short of a limelight to follow it throughout, starting from day 1. Little did I know!
From the very first few hours, it became clear that The Lady of the Pier seemed to be somewhat ignored compared to my fantasy adventure. I was proven right the next morning, when I got the totals for day 1. The Necklace had had nearly twice as many downloads. Then, the second day, somehow, The Lady took the lead and not just that, but it also performed beyond my wildest expectations.
On that day, both books ranked high on various categories (more on that later!) and they both did amazingly well with downloads. From then on, there was a steady decline for both books from day 3 to 5 but The Lady still did more downloads per day compared to The Necklace.
I’m still wondering about the mystery of that first day. Why did The Lady have such a slow start, or rather, why did The Necklace perform so spectacularly on day 1? Goes to show you can never expect the reaction of the general public! Whatever the reason for that is, it seems The Necklace is still way more popular than I’d thought.
Anyway, the most incredible thing about this promo is that it yielded far better numbers and rankings than I’d ever imagined. In detail:
Day-by-day downloads for the Necklace and the total:
1727 + 631 + 261 + 125 + 80 = Total 2824
Day-by-day downloads for The Lady of the Pier and the total:
988 + 2309 + 699 + 384 + 264 = 4644
Grand total between the two books: 7468
As I said, the second day was quite amazing for both books. That day, all I did is check the rankings per hour and I got one surprise after the next. In detail:
The Necklace reached Amazon’s #1 in Mythology again and it stayed there for a couple of days. It also ranked at #2 in Fairy Tales again, but also #4 in Paranormal & Urban as well as #6 in Teens & Young Adult. The reason why it ranked high in more categories this time is because I had made changes to the keywords on KDP recently, since reading a very useful article. In case you don’t know, the keywords you use for your books on KDP determine relevant categories that Amazon will rank your books in during your promotions. Handy, isn’t it? (For example, I am guessing the book ranked in the category “Paranormal & Urban” this time because in my keywords I had added “Urban Fantasy” and so on…)
During the promo, The Lady of the Pier reached #3 in Paranormal and also #4 in Historical Romance. Plus, it stayed among the top 100 in the Free store for a few hours starting at #67, then #64, and peaking at #59. As for The Necklace, the highest number in the Free store that it managed was #109.
By the fifth day, I was overwhelmed to say the least. But then it got me thinking. What the hell? How did I get these high download numbers? What did I do differently this time round?
As I always do when I run free promos, first of all I make sure to get a blog post or two among my author/blogger friends. This time I got eight friends to help me out, which was very generous and made me feel quite humbled. Still, it wasn’t a first as back in Easter I had done a free book tour with Fabulosity Reads, but if anything, the results on that promo were very poor, even with Wendy Ewurum’s amazing skills at blogging and social networking.
Although I had submitted my books to dozens and dozens of free sites, that wasn’t a first either. On the first (3 day) promo of The Necklace, with the same free sites, I had managed 1,576 downloads and on the not so successful one in Easter (2 days), a measly 483.
So how come did I now get 1,727 just for The Necklace just on the first day?
Now, after considering all possibilities, I’ve come up with three possible explanations:
a) The joint promo of two books could have been a factor here. After all, The Lady is a romance – an extremely popular genre – plus the mention that it’s an ABNA Q-Finalist must have also been an advantage. Perhaps my two books helped each other here, attracting readers who love either fantasy or romance but wound up getting both books just because they were freebies, who knows? The other thing, if I can add it on the same count, is that my number of followers has increased a lot since the last promo. Back in March I had just over 4,000 Twitter followers whereas today I have around 9,200 – more than double. That’s a lot of extra eyeballs.
b) The books have reviews on Amazon (The Necklace had 20 last week, The Lady had 10) and most of them 5-stars. I didn’t have that advantage back in March. Enough said.
c) The last possibility may be related to an amazing opportunity I was given just before the promo started. My author friend Nikki Anne Schmutz from Utah, got the position of chief editor in the new online magazine Community Orange. Well, when she asked me if I’d like to contribute with travel articles a month or so ago, I jumped at the chance. I submitted a couple and she chose my report on Zagori, Greece for the first issue (read the magazine here).
A couple of days before the promo started, Nikki said they had advert space left and I could put up an ad for free if I wanted to. Thanking my lucky stars, I sent her my banner for the promo and her generous publisher added it at the bottom of my article.
When my Amazon stats started to give me one after another jolt of surprise, the first thing I did is contact Nikki, asking her what she thinks. Did they have a large readership, even though it was a first issue? Could it be it was her readers who had downloaded so many of my books? You can imagine my amazement when she advised that their site had already had about 19,000 hits! Way better readership than I’d expected. I guess I’ll never know for sure, but my instinct says I owe a lot to Nikki, Community Orange magazine and the amazing timing.
Still, even this successful promo didn’t yield more than a measly total of eight actual book sales following the fifth day. I have a good idea about this devastating result and I did foresee it from the third day when the decline began – I let the promo drag too long. Had I pulled the plug on the second day when both my books ranked really high, or even on the third day, I would have had substantial sales for sure. Still, I had pre-announced the dates and I wasn’t going to be one to lie to the world. but I now know for next time! You see, a good strategy is not to pre-announce the duration of the promo, sometimes not even the promo itself as it tends to kill sales.
So next time I think the experiment will involve a totally new strategy; an unannounced free offer that not even I will know when will end. The announcement will hit the social media in a Wham!-bam! sort of action. Then, I’ll monitor the stats and act accordingly. Let’s see what happens next time when I pull the plug at the opportune moment!
Despite all that, and the fact that the amount due in my pocket is even less than 20 bucks, I still see the whole experience as highly beneficial. If anything, I now have a few thousand readers out there reading my books! Hopefully they’ll enjoy them and maybe a few hundred of them will respond to my request at the end of the book to post a review. Reviews equal future sales so in reality, my cashing in on this successful promo is just a matter of time. How’s that for positive thinking? Yep, that’s me. Always having my eyes focused on the silver lining, rather than the dark and gray bits.
Going back to my conclusions…..
The essence of what I’ve recently learnt–especially since reading the remarkable book “Let’s Get Visible” by David Gaughran–is that the business of trying to run a successful promo on KDP Select is partly a game of luck, partly a matter of meticulous planning, but sometimes all it is, is just a sand box of trial and error. And on that score, I’m always game. Maybe it’s the troubleshooter in me after years of computer support that makes puzzles such a fascinating affair for me.
See you next time, and hopefully, by the end of the next promo I’ll have more food for thought for all you fellow indie authors kind enough to drop by!
By all means, if you have any insights on the mind-boggling subject of what works and what doesn’t during promo, please share it here and let us all benefit! Thank you 🙂