KDP Select aftermath

Posted on October 21, 2012 (Subscribe to Blog)

This is a quick report on the weeks following the KDP Select promo for Island of Fog that I ran on August 29th and 30th (read more about that in my previous post, Does KDP Select work?).

Just as a recap, the purpose of the promo is to give away Book 1 of the series for free in the hope that those readers will like it and buy the others in the series. The promo was a great success with over 6000 people downloading the free book. The boost in sales (for ALL books in the series) started immediately.

As I mentioned in the previous post, after the promo my sales increased from an average of 1 a day to 40+ a day for the first few days of September. My post was written on September 5th, so I couldn't report beyond that. Well, now I can. As the days went on, the daily count slipped to around 25 a day, then 15, and by the end of September it was mostly under 10. I kept a daily log just for fun.

Sat 1st4242
Sun 2nd4385
Mon 3rd42127
Tue 4th39166
Wed 5th26192
Thu 6th26218
Fri 7th26244
Sat 8th22266
Sun 9th32298
Mon 10th21319
Tue 11th32351
Wed 12th24375
Thu 13th22397
Fri 14th21418
Sat 15th13431
Sun 16th14445
Mon 17th21466
Tue 18th18484
Wed 19th18502
Thu 20th12514
Fri 21st12526
Sat 22nd13539
Sun 23rd16555
Mon 24th20575
Tue 25th13588
Wed 26th9597
Thu 27th10607
Fri 28th9616
Sat 29th7623
Sun 30th22645

Now we're into October and sales are continuing to drop. It's currently averaging about 5 a day and I'm estimating a total of 175 or so by the end of the month. Not bad at all, but certainly not as good as September. So all this proves that a promo can be fantastic for sales, but the boost is short-lived and a more sustained long-term plan needs to be in place.

...Or more promos! Because each promo needs to be about 2 or 3 days long, and I have 5 days available within a 90-day KDP Select period for each book, I can run two promos every 3 months. I ran the first at the end of August and let sales flood in. Now, nearly two months later, sales are back to a trickle, so I can run the second promo and hopefully have another flood. By the time I'm back to a trickle again, I'll be able to renew the KDP Select program and start over. So in theory, if all promos are as good as the last, I can keep this going indefinitely.

That's not to say each promo will be a success though.

I have another Island of Fog promo planned for Halloween. I'm very curious to see if the first promo was a fluke success. Can I replicate it and get another 6000+ free downloads? Or get anywhere close? We'll see.

I ran a promo for Roads of Madness recently, just a quiet one to see what the results would be if I did no marketing beforehand – in other words, to see if Amazon alone provides all the boosting as opposed to all the websites and Facebook pages I advertised on. The promo was pretty slow, a total of 491 downloads for the 2 days. This isn't to be sneezed at, but it can't compare to the Island of Fog promo. But why? A few possible reasons spring to mind:

  • It wasn't advertised beforehand. I did advertise it a little halfway through and saw no real difference, but the best places to advertise need a few days notice so the poor effort could just be because I didn't advertise on those particular websites.
  • It's Book #5 in the series rather than Book #1, so maybe interest wasn't as high?
  • Amazon gives an author's very first promo a really good boost in the background just to get him in the mood for other promos later. Maybe I've had my 15 minutes of fame already.

That last point is something I read somewhere. It may or may not be true. When I run the second promo for Island of Fog, I'll be advertising it in all the same places as before with a couple of additions. So if the promo isn't as successful, then that MIGHT give weight to the idea that Amazon does indeed boost an author's first KDP Select promo and then leaves him alone to fend for himself.

But if the second promo is just as successful as the first, then I think I can safely scratch that idea and consider that the Roads of Madness promo "failed" because of other reasons – such as it being Book #5, or because it was advertised less, or it has fewer reviews, or other reasons I haven't yet fathomed.

Anyway, for all those who haven't yet bought Island of Fog and want to give it a try, mark your calendars: It will be FREE to download for Kindle on October 29th, 30th and 31st.

Comment by BRIAN CLOPPER on Sunday, October 21, 2012...

I love your analysis of your promo! I think the time investment of a book is huge and to get that many people to later go on and buy your books is impressive. I am curious if you have given thought to the ratio of books sold or given away and the Internet buzz (reviews) that then produces. My guess is that for every 200 books sold or given away free, one review emerges. Now of course this number would be much higher when something rides a wave of praise like say Hugh Howey's Wool.

Comment by ROGER ESCHBACHER on Sunday, October 21, 2012...

Fascinating. My take-away from all of this is that if an author is going to do a KDP giveaway, he should have multiple titles. I have some author friends who only have one book and are baffled/disappointed when "sales" drop down to almost nothing within a few days after the end of the giveaway. I think you've figured out the proper way to do it — offer the first book for free in order to boost actual sales ($) of the subsequent titles. Thanks for sharing, Keith.

Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on Sunday, October 21, 2012...

A bit more analysis for you both. In September, the total sales per book was as follows:

184 x Island of Fog
160 x Labyrinth of Fire
120 x Mountain of Whispers
93 x Lake of Spirits
88 x Roads of Madness

What's surprising to me here is that, despite 6000 free downloads of the first book, Island of Fog still outsold any of the other titles in the month following. So this means it's not JUST a case of people who got the first book for free returning to buy the others. These are people who bought the first book because it was way up there in the listings on Amazon immediately following the promo.

However, October so far is looking like this:

14 x Island of Fog
23 x Labyrinth of Fire
25 x Mountain of Whispers
29 x Lake of Spirits
38 x Roads of Madness

See, this tells a slightly different story, as if some of those who downloaded the free book are now returning to get the others in the series. So it DEFINITELY helps to have others in the series and probably other titles to your name, but I think a successful promotion leads to more sales even if you just have the one book.

It's a numbers game. If I go by Labyrinth of Fire alone, I've sold 183 copies since the promotion. If I assume that all 183 are readers who downloaded Island of Fog for free, that would be 183 out of 6000 potential customers so far, which is a mere 3%. So if you extrapolate from that and use 3% as your guide, 200 downloads of a promo title should only yield about 6 sales of a second title. Does that sound about right? (Over time, though, more of those readers might come forward as they get around to reading that free book!)

As for reviews... I can count maybe 7 additional reviews (for any book) in recent weeks that might be a direct result of the promo, which works out to a review every 875 downloads! So I don't know about this one, Brian.

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