As promised, I’m sending out this post today to share with you my experiences with my very first KCD promo. I also have some insights and tips for you where it comes to Thunderclap.
In the past, I’d only run 3 FREE promos which had yielded anything between 500-5,000 downloads each. However, 99 cents is not FREE… People don’t spend easily even that nowadays, so I knew I was entering a whole different kind of game and tried not to keep my hopes too high.
Now, my goals for this promo were two:
- Goal #1: The Necklace of Goddess Athena to gain bestseller status in the Amazon paid store
- Goal #2: To have a minimum of 100 downloads
I admit I was very disappointed when I didn’t reach goal #2 above, however, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve somehow nailed the first one!
Before I tell you what the outcome of my efforts was exactly, I’ll first list what I did in preparation:
- I submitted a travel article on Rome to the online magazine Community Orange. They were kind enough to feature it in their November issue with a free ad for my KCD promo.
- I spent three weeks submitting both my books to dozens of free sites (the list of which I will publicize soon on this blog for everyone to benefit from).
- I advertized for the first time on two sites that came recommended at my writers group, eNovel Authors at Work. The sites are Ereader News Today and Kindle Books and Tips. The first ad cost me $15, the other $25 and they both listed The Necklace of Goddess Athena on the first day of the promo (11/13/14). I also applied to Booksends but they turned me down (also a highly recommended site). On the subject of paid advertizing, I will repeat here that the best of the best is BookBub but it’s quite expensive. Still, the other three sites mentioned are all great choices for a tighter budget like mine. Another good site worth the money is Choosy Bookworm from what I hear (costs only $8 for a guaranteed feature. This placement has yielded for a friend just over 100 downloads).
- I set up a Thunderclap campaign (see my previous post on that to find out what a wonderful tool for authors that can be!) and spent 15 days in preparation, asking everyone but the milkman to support me… That was hard work, peeps! There were also many surprises along the way. A few people that I’ve known for yonks simply ignored my requests, while others I barely knew and even total strangers rushed to my rescue, even people who expected nothing in return. Therefore, I quickly put aside my friend checklist, and started relying on the kindness of strangers. That finally did the trick!
INSIGHTS AND TIPS ON THUNDERCLAP
On Day 1, I gathered easily 5 supporters among my closest friends. By day 3, I had 36 and then it started to go up very slowly so I had to email friends individually and ask Twitter contacts one by one to go support me too. That took me up to day 7 when I had 49 supporters. By then, I had just a handful of people in mind who were likely to respond. So what I did then, is search on Twitter for the word “Thunderclapit” as it appears on all Thunderclap tweets when someone shares the page. This gave me a dozen or so campaigns I could support. So I did, and then tweeted the authors asking them to reciprocate which worked fine. By day 9, I had 61 people and by then, I was desperate. Thankfully, fellow author MM Jaye came to my rescue that day and informed me of a Facebook group called Thunderclap Campaigns where authors support each other. I rushed to join and found myself in a paradise of reciprocal love! This worked like magic, folks!
By day 11, I had 114 supporters and by remaining active in that Facebook group daily, I managed by day 15 (the launch date) to have 174 supporters! As you know, I needed only a 100 for my Thunderclap to get launched so that means I was way out of the woods by the big day. So here it is, if you run a Thunderclap campaign, make sure to use that group and there’s no way those wonderful users in it are ever going to let you fail! Sure, it takes a long time to support everybody else. I spent ENDLESS HOURS supporting others and sending out messages asking friends and tweeps to help me too.
So here’s what I think: if you have the time to spend at least an hour a day to do this, then go ahead. But if your time is limited, don’t even think about it. Personally, I’d definitely use Thunderclap again for a new release and maybe for a FREE promo if I have the time. But for KCD, as the reward is often poor by comparison, I wouldn’t do it again. I think the best occasion for an author to use Thunderclap, is in the case of a new release because it puts your book out there by the thousands. I mean, my 174 supporters had a total social reach of 767,391 people! Surely, this is not enough to yield noticeable results when asking them to spend 99c and grab your book, but it would definitely get the word out there for a FREEBIE of any kind and would get the tongues wagging over a new book! Just make sure you put it out there with no less than a stunning cover and a perfectly polished blurb.
Anyway, back to my promo and now for the results:
Sadly, my $40 spent in advertising was money down the drain in this case. Weeks of hard work and preparation yielded for me a disheartening 53 downloads for The Necklace and just 4 for The Lady. I spent a few hours on the first day with a really long face, I tell you. But then, I got talking with precious friend and mentor (and founder of eNovel), Jackie Weger, who like a mother hen provided guidance and comfort in abundance.
Jackie made me see that I need to work on my book descriptions (blurbs) as to add more excitement. That rang true even more when the guy who ran the ad on the site Kindle Books and Tips told me that my book got just 88 clicks on his site; the least among all the books he listed that day. For me, this rang warning bells that I need to look at my book’s presentation again. The cover has been made by a professional graphic designer (my sister-in-law who’s been very generous with her time) and I get only compliments for it, so I won’t be rushing to replace it. Instead, I think I will concentrate on changing my blurb and even add a bit more info on my bio. The other thing that needs changing is my book categories which I’m well aware of but I had the book in the specific categories for a particular reason at this time (I will explain in a minute…)
INSIGHTS GAINED AFTER MY DISHEARTENING DOWNLOAD RESULTS
(and thanks to precious advice received by my new, eNovel friends)
- I should run a KCD only for one book at a time and maybe have another one on FREE
- I should pay to advertize only on one site per day as to have a better idea of where the downloads originate from
- I should run the KCD for all the days that Amazon allows and not for just 2 or 3 that authors often go for (the longer you’re high in the ranks, the more attention you get – thus are made the infamous Amazon algorithms apparently)
MY LITTLE TRIUMPHS
(Phew, at least this wasn’t solely a losing game!)
- The Necklace stayed quite high in the ranks throughout the promo and even after its completion, peaking the second day at #5,022. The Lady managed to go as high as #66,728.
If you consider that the kindle store lists something in the region of 12 million books, then ranking at #5,022 sounded to me as quite okay, so I’m feeling rather pleased about that.
- Goal #1 reached. The Necklace of Goddess Athena is now officially a #1 Amazon bestseller in Greek and Roman Literature.
How did I manage that? It’s quite simple and easy to do and I’ll tell you exactly how you can do it too:
Last month, I reblogged an utterly useful post by fellow author Nicholas Rossis who generously shared with us all an indispensable Excel sheet. It contains all the Amazon categories along with the number of books in each one. The trick here, is to choose categories with few books in them, but at the same time they must allow you to make it to #1 with a low Amazon rank, ie a large number (Nicholas lists these readings under ‘competitiveness’ in the Excel file). For me, the perfect fit was the subcategory “Greek and Roman”. As this is not listed in the bookshelf where you edit the book details, I simply emailed Amazon Helpdesk and they were very helpful to list my book with the two browse categories I desired. You can see the results of this simple action on the image below, which shows the ranks the book acquired as a result, during the promo.
Note that the book ranked high in other categories too, which resulted from new keywords I’d also carefully selected. IMPORTANT: Make sure you change the keywords first! Once the changes have taken effect and you’re happy with the resulting categories for your book, only then email Amazon and send them the two categories of your choice! I did it the other way round and when I changed my keywords, one of the newly selected categories was removed (presumably because Amazon doesn’t allow too many browsing categories for books on the product page) so I had to ask Amazon a second time to edit my categories.
One of the greatest benefits of running a promo, is the period of the first few days afterwards, when the book is still up in the ranks, hence put in front of readers a lot. This is the time to tweet about it, using hashtags like #borrow and #Amazonprime to encourage borrows too. Up to 3 days after my promo ended, The Necklace of Goddess Athena was still on number 1 in Greek & Roman literature, hence still listed as a #1 bestseller and its rank has been in this period not too bad either: 69,379 last time I checked yesterday (normally it is abysmal; in the hundreds of thousands!). Only today (4 days later), it went down to #2, losing its bestseller status and as for its rank, last time I checked today it was #89,896 (still not bad!)
I do hope you will extract some useful information out of this post. Despite my initial disappointment due to my low download numbers, this has been for me an invaluable, learning experience. Remember folks, that this is a learning game. If you find yourselves in my situation, don’t get discouraged but rather focus on the lessons learned. Cut your loses and set out designing your next strategic plan. We all learn from our mistakes, or we gain insights from the experiences of others, then we try them for ourselves. But as every person and their books are unique, we must allow for surprises. Don’t get deterred when that happens. Luckily, our community of indie authors is a wonderful one. There is far too much paying it forward and too much kindness for us to ever lose hope.
No matter who we are or where we want to go, there’s always someone we can reach out to who will be only happy to show us the way. So keep networking and keep learning!
Personally, I would recommend to anyone who finds it hard to learn the ropes, to seriously consider joining eNovel Authors at Work. I know my eyes have opened since joining and everyone has welcomed me with genuine interest and kindness, offering advice and assistance generously. But make no mistake: this is a group of authors who like to pay it forward so ideally, you must be the kind of person who enjoys helping out others, and not necessarily expecting reciprocation. You’d be expected to be generous with information and most importantly, willing to learn and experiment. If this sounds like you, head over to the eNovel logo below and click on it to get a taste of this awesome community.
Before I go, I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has backed up my promo in so many ways but I do offer special thanks to MM Jaye and Kindle Ninja for tweeting ceaselessly about my Thunderclap, trying to get people to sign up. I am very grateful to you both.