Statistics! Everyone loves statistics! Or maybe it’s just the RPG and baseball fan in me. Let’s move on to the actual numbers.
Back on May 10th, I chose 3 free promo days for my novel with my publisher. I decided I wanted to make The Exile’s Violin free starting on the 20th because it was my birthday. Knowing that I couldn’t just make the book free and expect the downloads to pour in, I scoured the web and read several great posts that talked about how to capitalize your Kindle free days. Many of these posts also had lists of places for authors to promote their books. Their advice seemed easy enough to follow, so I did what I could and submitted my book to places that promote free Kindle books.
Total number of places submitted: 16
Average lead time required: 4.7 days
Number of sites that took free submissions: 14 out of 16
Number of sites I paid for submission: 2 ($5 for one and $10 for the other)
BookBub: BookBub didn’t accept my book (no idea why), but it would have cost me $90 to be part of their Fantasy Listing. From what I’ve heard, BookBub is worth the price. This is all anecdotal of course.
Alright, those are all the places I submitted my book to. Next up is social media. I love Twitter and am on it all the time, so I knew I’d use that. I also decided to share my book on Facebook once during this period. I’m not on Facebook that often, and my Author Page has limited reach.
Buuut, being stupid, I decided not to make a bit.ly account to keep track of how many clicks my links got. I just did their thing for free. I could see during that same day how many people followed my link to my book, but that was it. Let’s just say that I tweeted about my book at least 2 times a day during the promo period, with different messages each time, to my approximately 870 followers.
Your mileage with Twitter and other social media platforms may vary. The important thing is to not spam people and to make it look like you’re trying to have a conversation. Post a link with no accompanying text or context won’t entice people to follow it. The same goes for tweets that look like this: “Download my free ebook! *link to said ebook*.“ Those will get you nowhere.
All the above setup before the promo took me maybe a couple of hours spread out over the course of two/three days. In the big scheme of things it was relatively painless and only slightly repetitive to submit my book to various sites. Most of the time spent came from reading their guidelines and figuring out which ones required a “donation” before they’d even look at your listing.
However it was all worth it when you look at the results.
Total number of downloads: 4,311
Highest Position on the Free Kindle Books Chart: 84
Highest Position on the Free Science Fiction & Fantasy Chart: 5 (I think)
Highest Position on the Free Epic Fantasy Chart: 2
Highest Amazon Author Rank: 70,851 (May 21, 2013)
Biggest Jump in Author Rank: 111,286
Side note: I’m kicking myself that I didn’t take screenshots of my book’s rank at its highest. Amazon’s Author Central doesn’t track those kinds of stats. (If it does I haven’t figured out how to access them yet)
I don’t have any other free promo periods to compare my numbers with. I especially don’t have any data from a similar promo period with no publicity and sharing done in advance, so take these results with a grain of salt. However, I like to think that based on the chart positions and the number of downloads, when compared to how little time it took me, doing the legwork in advance paid off.
I’d also like to add that the Author Rank on May 21st is not the highest I’ve been in the past month. On May 24th, I hit 19,183. To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what Author Rank is or what it means, but it feels good to see a chart with an upward trend.
Breaking the top 100 for Free Kindle Books was a really big milestone for me. The same goes for getting into the top ten on the more focused SF and Epic Fantasy lists. I don’t know if I’d categorize The Exile’s Violin as epic fantasy, but I’m not complaining. Considering I’m a no-name author with only one novel out there, this feels like a big deal.
I’m not quite sure what comes next. I’m going to go back to ignoring my books position on the Paid Kindle Store chart (83,783 when I wrote this post). I’m also going to ignore my Author Rank again too. I will watch Amazon and see if my number of reviews goes up based on this promo. Let’s say 1% of those 4,300 people who downloaded my book actually read it. And then pulling numbers out of my ass, let’s say 10% of that 1% write an Amazon review. That’s four new reviews! It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it would go a long way toward The Exile’s Violin breaking twenty reviews. (Another personal milestone I want to reach)
I’m also going to pay extra attention to my sales this quarter. I want to see if I experience any residual bump from the free promo. I’ve heard other authors (all anecdotal evidence) say that they saw an increase in sales after they ran a promo.
I’ll also keep writing, and I hope to have Terraviathan out before the end of the year. Again from anecdotal evidence, I’ve also heard that running a free promo for the second book in a series can lead to an increase in sales of the first book. Or was it the other way around? Either way, having more books out there is better.
The next time I do a free promo I’m going to try and submit my book to even more sites. I plan on utilizing Facebook more too. Also I hope BookBub picks up my book next time. They passed on it this time. Even though they can get pricey, I’ve heard that using them is money well spent.
I hope this helps any of you who are planning to run your own free days on Amazon!