Monday, October 28, 2013

Kindle Direct Publishing Select Free Days. Read this First!


There are thousands of readers out there who will pay for your books but many of them will barely look at your novel without a sign it's worth paying for. Especially if you are a new author and without a huge following. 
One way to help get sales is to offer your novel free. This generates free ‘sales’ and looks good on paper, even if you don’t see money for those downloads. And, if you’re in this for the money, I feel kind of badly for you right now. (Imagine me patting your back and handing you tissues) I have done KDP Select free days about 10 times now and feel like a bit of a Select Amazon expert.
Amazon Headquarters in Seattle

For free days, I upload a version of my book that includes a note after THE END to ask if the reader sees fit to review, the author would really appreciate it.
In the days after free days, sales escalate. So do the reviews a week or two later. The ranking looks much better approximately two days later. Don’t freak the morning after free days when your book is 164,000 in rank. It’ll decrease as the day goes on.  Soon after, you’ll get reviews. Many of the reviews that follow your promotion will start out like this “I wasn’t sure what to expect but …”
Why do they expect so little? Because it was FREE! The expectation is less than if the reader paid $12.99 for an e-book download. It’s no wonder some of the best books don’t have all 5 star reviews.  Novel readers want their moneys' worth. I have yet to read Gone Girl because of the cost. Just sayin’. Oh and now it's going to be a movie, without my help.
                                                              Gone Girl Cast Announced

 If you have lots of reviews that are above 4 stars, you'll get more real sales eventually. This is fact. The readers who don't subscribe to free day lists on a daily or weekly basis will jump on board to buy the book when they see more reviews. Books with 200 reviews and over a 4.7* rating are more likely to catch on than 6 reviews and a 3.2* average. Do some hopping around on Amazon, and check out Safe Haven, Sins and Needles and Warm Bodies. I use those three because my novel was lumped in with them and I spent weeks/months watching. Two were movies and one was a breakout series that came out boom, boom, boom and caught on like wildfire.

I'm a stat watcher. I watch my stats daily, sometimes three or four times a day. When things are going well with a book, I’ve been known to wake up in the middle of the night and check stats. By stats, I mean ranking, not sales. It’s not necessary to check my sales if I’m looking at ranking on the Amazon list. Ranking reflects sales. Another thing I do is keep track of books that were published the same week as me. I love to reflect on how their sales are better than mine. From this obsessive activity, I’ve learned a lot. Here’s some of what I know to be true. The ranking is directly related to sales and sales are affected by :

1. 'NY Times Bestseller' at the top of the cover, or something similar
2. Lots of good reviews – Over 100 is good, Over 300 is better
3. Amazon Ranking (or Kobo etc) Less than 10,000 in Kindle books is great

The above indicators help a reader to avoid paying for a clunker. And there are a lot of poorly written books out there right now, with self pubbing at an all-time high.

4. Whether you have the power of a publisher or NY publishing house behind you.
5. Whether it's a series, or not. Series are BIG!!
6. COVER! Non-pro covers are overlooked on a regular basis. Pay the $200.
7. Whether the author has a following. If this book is the third of a series, the sales should be better than a first one with no second published.
8. Ads, marketing, word of mouth, BUZZ!
9. If you love ranking, find a rare category and boast that you are top ten in psychic romance. Sure it might be Romance, Suspense, time travel, werewolf, psychics but you’re top ten!

I watched Safe Haven rise to the top of the lists this year. And stay there. For a long time. Yes, Nicolas Sparks has a huge following. Look at the list above and the only one not used was #5, the series, and instead of that he had a movie with Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel.

I also watched a novel (comparable to mine) rise to a USA bestseller in the last ten months. The author did free days with me, right after we both published late December 2012, both of our books did well, then she published the second and third in the series within two or three months of each other and her rise to stardom was imminent. The writing is pretty clean for a self- pubbed author, the cover is hauntingly compelling and she has over 200 reviews on each of the 3 books. Ta Da! She went free several times with the first one to get her stats up, published the second, went free to get those stats up and the rest is history. What this author did with her high concept romantic suspense novel that I did not do, was release 3 in one year, had a pro cover to start with, and who knows what else. I'm still watching her... Not that The Dream Jumper’s Promise was left in the dust. It’s done well for itself. Especially for a first novel, but without a second in the series to keep the readers engaged, I lagged behind.
And so, dear readers, these are my observations. I’m a huge fan of Free Days. And of marketing those days to the absolute max. When my thriller, Necessary Detour, went free over Valentine’s Day in 2012, with The Wild Rose Press, I had 42 ads out there to announce the deal. Some were free to me, some cost a few dollars. None cost over $20.  I got 35,000 downloads in 5 days and made almost $2,000 in the following month in royalties as well as landing #42 in Author ranking, above some very heavy hitters. That was a month to remember.

If you decide to do KDP and take advantage of the 5 Free days, here’s my gift to you. 

Do 3 of your 5 days at the beginning of the 90 days, and do 2 days, 60 days in. To advertise, log on  to see 20-30 sites that will advertise for your free days at little or no cost. Then sit back and watch. 
You’re welcome.


Kim Hornsby is the  author of KDP Free Days, a cheap eBook on Amazon that elaborates on how to get the most out of your Select Free days.
She's also the Amazon Best Selling Author of Necessary Detour and The Dream Jumper's Promise. He highest ranking as of November 10, is The Husband Hunt, a perma free short story that reads like watching a series of THE BACHELOR.


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