“Free” promotion on Amazon

When you’re a member of the KDP (kindle direct publishing) program you get 5 free offering days for each enrollment period (90 days).  They can be individual days, a block of five days, or any combination in between.

One drawback is you cannot select which Amazon can see the promotion.  If you set one up, ALL the Amazons (the internationals) get the same promotion.  I really would love to do targeted international promotions to areas that don’t have traction yet, but at this time you can’t.

Leading up to my promotion D’mok Revival: Awakening was moving between being 20-40 in rankings in the Space Opera and Alien Invasion categories. I had a brief peak at 18th. Remember, based on sales, this number adjusts constantly throughout the day (somewhere between every 1-3 hours).

Be aware that once the promotion begins, you completely drop out of the PAID rankings and get pushed into FREE rankings.  When you go to the “top 100” list for any category you will see two tabs: Top Paid 100, and Top Free 100.  I just want to reiterate, this means you will disappear from the previous list no matter what position you previously earned (because you have no new sales).  You will, however, appear now in the Top FREE listing.

I decided to try two days of free promotions to see what would happen.

Within a few hours D’mok Revival: Awakening went directly to number one in the FREE Alien Invasion ranking. It also went to #3 for FREE Space Opera.  In the US Amazon, I ended up with over 224 downloads a day (on average). That exceeded, by far, any single day sales to date.  This includes the 105 softcover editions sold over four days at Comic Con Chicago 2013.

What I didn’t think about at the time was the international implications.  I was happily surprised to see how well the free promotion worked in other territories.  Here’s the breakdown of the international Amazon’s when the promotion concluded:

us  449

uk  60

de  14

fr  0

es  0

it  1

jp  1

in  1

ca  5

br  0

mx  0

That’s 531 new readers!  AMAZING!

Now people may say, “aren’t you exhausting your market?”  Or “but shouldn’t you have just wait to get paid for those?”

Everything is a trade-off.  First of all, I’m not going to exhaust the science fiction readership.

Secondly, this is the first book in an unknown series from an unknown author. My goal isn’t to make millions, but rather to share the story with as many people as I can. It’s all about exposure and market penetration. It’s really more an “awareness” campaign.

In fact, I’m not making money at all.  Even if book one continues to sell electronically it could take a few YEARS to get back my investment from the editing, book printing, conference attending, and other marketing I’ve done to date.  That’s A-Okay with me. I believe in the story and since I have a fulltime job outside of writing, it’s do-able for me.

Lastly, those that download a FREE book may not have paid for it (even at the $2.99 price-point). However, if they like it, these people may recommend it to friends who may purchase

What happened after immediately after the promotion did unnerve me a bit.  I was worried that once I fell out of the PAID listings I’d lose a key promotion opportunity of being in the rankings which would negatively impact sales.

As predicted (and this IS how it works), when the FREE promotion came down I returned to the PAID rankings.  Since I had no paid purchases, I wasn’t far outside the top 100. I’ll admit I panicked when I didn’t see a single category ranking when I went to D’mok Revival: Awakening’s Kindle product page.

It’s important to keep in mind that, as long as there have been sales for your book, the Top 100 list isn’t your only point of exposure.  There’s the up-sell listing (“those who bought this also purchased:”) area, and the ebook “Recommended for you” emails that go to Amazon customers.

By noon I was back in the 60s for PAID Alien Invasion.  Three days later, I’m back in the range I originally was in before the promotion. So, everything appears to be going well.  Now, there were some outside promotions happening on Facebook and at Comic Con New York 2013 that may have helped in the rebound.

My next blog post will be about those other promotions and the results.