My A-Z Guide: How both my books reached #1 on Amazon turned out to be one of my most popular posts. It explains how I used Amazon KDP’s free days to help the two first books of my epic fantasy series, Pearseus, reach that coveted #1 status. However, free days have one small problem: they’re free. Which means that you make no money out of it.
If only there was a way to both have your pie and eat it; or, in this case, promote your book, but also earn a few bucks. Thankfully, last autumn Amazon came up with just such a way. They call it Countdown Deals, and the idea is that you can put your book on sale for up to seven days per trimester. Interestingly enough, that’s per country; i.e. you can promote your book on amazon.com for seven days one month, then the next month promote it on amazon.co.uk etc.
This, however, implies that readers are informed of your sale. Just like free sales need to be advertised, so should countdown deals. If you’re thinking, ‘yeah, but how can I advertise on different Amazon regions’, then you’re in luck, for I’ve come across just such a service: Ebook Bargains UK allows you to target different parts of the English-speaking world (and beyond) from India to South Africa. An excellent service, especially if used in conjunction to regional countdown deals.
I started my seven-day countdown deal for Pearseus: Rise of the Prince on March 20th, and advertised it with Booksends, ENT and FKBT. I also gave away for two days Pearseus, Year 18: the Schism. Here is what happened:
- Thursday, 20/3: Countdown deal starts with 10 sales, and an author rank of 1100
- On Friday, my Booksends ad went live. The sales jumped to 30, bringing my rank up to 538
- On Saturday, the ENT ad went live, sending my sales to 78 and my author rank to 370. Rise of the Prince reached #7 in the Kindle Store for Metaphysical.
- On Sunday, I ran a parallel two-day free day for my other book, curious to see what that would do to sales. They rose to 97, but the diminishing rate of acceleration brought my rank back to 671
- On Monday, my last ad on FKBT went live. Book 1 was still free. My sales were 113 and my rank 768
- On Tuesday, I stopped all promotion. My sales continued to climb, reaching 120, and my author rank was 709
- On Wednesday, sales reached 143, and my rank 763
- Finally, on Thursday, they reached 157 and my rank 695
- The sales slowed down after that, and the month ended with almost 180 sales in total.
So, what lessons have I drawn from the above?
First of all, I realized that the more expensive banners are not necessarily the best for me and my genre. Of the three places where I advertised, the best value for money was offered by ENT. That’s because they don’t charge you in advance, but take a percentage of your sales. They also had the greatest impact on sales.
Also, the more books one has, the better these deals work. I noticed an important increase in the sales of both books during my promotions. I will be publishing Mad Water in May, book 3 in the Pearseus series, as well as The Power of Six; a sci-fi anthology of six short stories. I will be promoting at least one of my books in the following months, and will aim at different target-regions for countdown deals.
As for free days? I’d like to think that, the more established I become as an author, the less I’ll need them. They didn’t seem to make much of a difference to my sales and rank, so I will try to avoid them from now on.
To find out more about Countdown Deals, you may wish to visit The Passive Voice and read a great post: Is Kindle Countdown the new Free? Keeping books visible in 2014.
Have you tried running countdown deal? What has your experience been?
LOL, my only purpose was to inform when I presented my initial argument. Certainly not judging your point of view my good pal, or trying to change your mind. Just contributing to the conversation with a different perspective. Hugs 🙂
No worries, it’s not like I’m an Amazon stockholder… Unfortunately! 😀
p.s. The name of the free Smashwords book is ‘The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success’.
I’m currently reading a Smashwords free book that plainly explains why enrolling your book on KDP Select is counter-productive. It rocked my world and now can’t wait to get out! Apparently, by denying your book to all other stores you are not just hurting your own marketing campaign and author platform, but the ebook industry too. It makes sense. Sadly I didn’t opt out of KDP Select on time so now it’s just a case of waiting till I can put up my debut novel all over the place. Still, I think the best thing to do is register on KDP Select for 3 months for every new book so that you can use the free promo days and then get out!
Thank you for the comment! I have read the “Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success”. It’s interesting, but don’t forget that it’s coming from one of Amazon’s direct competitors. Which is probably why I found some of its arguments against KDP Select and Amazon to be somewhat… biased. I highly doubt that Smashwords would do anything different in Amazon’s place, or fret about the book industry. As for KDP Select hurting your marketing campaign, both free days and countdown deals have worked pretty well for me, as you know. As they say, the proof is in the eating. 🙂
In my humble opinion, the 3 months KDP Select is a prerequisite for new authors; highly desirable for new releases; and a good idea afterwards. When you feel that your sales have plateaued, it’s probably time to expand to different platforms, in order to kick-start the process anew.
Yes of cource I realize that Smashwords is biased. Except, this is not the only time I heard that Amazon is the devil in the sense that they demand exclusivity…….and for what? For deleting your reviews when they feel like it without a valid reason or warning? Is that appreciation for giving them exclusivity and losing so many readers? No, the more I think about it, the more I feel I took the wrong turn. At least I see we agree on the fact that the free promo is a good thing to have in the beginning, but definitely in my own humble opinion, Smashwords has got a good point with their arguments, biased or not 🙂
Yes, Amazon screws up. It’s done so recently with my sales reports, too. However, I think you’re a bit unfair. Were it not for them, we’d still be depending on publishers to print our books, which is far worse than their deleting a review… 🙂 Go Amazon! Yea! :b
Interesting…thanks for sharing your experiences. And congratulations on your success!
Thank you! Success is all very relative, of course. I define it as making a living solely out of writing, so I’m definitely not there yet – but I like to think that I’m moving in the right direction. 🙂
Yes, sounds like it…Good luck!
I’ve not heard of booksends and I can’t quite work out what FKBT and ENT are, well actually ENT is medicine; ear nose and throat in the uk, phnark. Although I’m guessgin it’s Ereader News Today right? I find the results vary hugely from site to site and ad to ad.
Yes, ENT=Ereader News Today. I’ve included the links, so if you click on any name mention in the post you will be taken to the relevant website. Hopefully, this will make it easier for people to check them out.
You are absolutely correct that results vary. I would also add that genres have a lot to do with that. One website may be ideal for romance, but terrible for sci-fi/fantasy and vice versa.
Thanks for taking the time to comment! 🙂
A pleasure. Tell me to shut up if I’m withering on too much. It’s just that a lot of your posts get me thinking.
Are you kidding? I love our dialogues!!! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! 🙂
It’s a pleasure. I just thought I should flag it up, I do chat a lot! 😉
Extremely useful info! Thanks for sharing!