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 for seven days one month, then the next month promote it on 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.

Author rank on Amazon

Author rank on Amazon

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.
Rise of the Prince Amazon rank

Rise of the Prince Amazon rank

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?