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I’ve come to the end of my first free book promotion on Amazon KDP. I thought I’d share my approach, mistakes, challenges, #foreheadsmack moments, and results.

Forehead Smack

Let’s be honest, stupidity happens. I had low expectations on Dec 7th, the night before the promotion was set to start. I’d read a dozen blogs and books that covered how to run a giveaway, and despite feeling like I understood the variables, nothing had gone to plan. My first mistake is what lead to a great deal of hustle/stress, in retrospect it was so blatantly dumb on my part I’m hesitant to confess it. I’d been hearing for awhile that Amazon was trying to do away with free book giveaways. So when I went looking for the ‘free’ promotion option in KDP I originally only found that Kindle Count Down Deal option. I mistakenly thought the Free promotion that everyone had spoken about was no longer available. Which, though false, was a let down at the time because I assumed I’d been reading outdated advise. It turned out I was plain blind, the free option was on the site the whole time, a pull down menu away. As such, I was disappointed, and I tried to plan for a Kindle Count Down deal, only to find that a great many of the free/low cost advertisement sites I had collected seemed to only promoted the book if it was a free sale give away, and therefore, were of no use to me. To make a long story short, I found the ‘Free’ option 2 days before the planned start date of my promotion.  I had to hustle, because now I had two days to get all the things I had planned into place. Things I had originally planned to have setup  weeks in advance.

Preparation

I waited longer than I believe most do to run my first promotion. I did this for a number of reasons:

  • I wanted to have at least 20 reviews on Amazon
  • I built the .epub/.mobi file myself and I wanted to make sure the book had been out long enough that if there was any technical issues I’d know about it.
  • I wanted to see what angle of marketing was the most effective, so I changed my blurb and hook phrases a number of times and watched sales until I felt I had a catchy presentation.
  • I wanted Cover feedback, and ended up swapping the original cover out with a new one that was more sales effective.

When the day came, I was able to arrange for the following:

  • A five star book review release on SFBook.com
  • A author’s interview on wordsreadandwritten.com
  • Rushed Requests for Advertising on various email promotional sites. I’d provide a list, but the Author Marketing Club (@amcbooks) has a great list on their site.
  • A Facebook group tour, uploading a number of my own posts notifying people of the free giveaway.
  • Lastly, a Facebook Event letting all my Facebook friends know and asking for their help in boosting the signal.

As a comical side note, I spent two hours in Photoshop creating this ad image to go with my Facebook posts. After all that effort, I found no one could see the monster I had subtly placed into the smoky background. Everyone says the same thing, its cool when you see it, but no one will see it without being told it is there. Admit it, you can’t see the monster can you?FreePromotion

Technical Problems

Long story short, I had to engage KDPs Support Team to help change the kindle count down deal into a free promotion. Unfortunately this is not done with the flip of a switch. End result, my scheduled promotion of starting on Dec 8th and ending on the 13th became starting at 8 pm Dec 7th and ending on Dec 12 so early in the morning that only 8 units were purchased.

I’m not mad at Kindle, this was due to my numb-scullery, they were very helpful just getting any of it operational and I’m incredibility thankful.

Set Backs

I was very disappointed that I could not get advertisements on the top three promotional sites:

  • Bookbub
  • eReader News
  • Pixel Of Ink

I later found that this was not that uncommon for a book in its marketing infancy such as my own. At the time it filled me with fear of impending failure, but they say there is no better revenge than success.

HOW IT PLAYED OUT

If you are familiar with the KDP reports tab, the graph below will look pretty familiar. If you’ve read the whole entry, then this explanation will make sense:

  • Dec 7th | Promotion started at 8 PM at night and I had no advertising in place.  The only reason I even knew about it was because a friend told me it was already listed for free.
  • Dec 8th | 90 % of paid advertisements went out and SFBook Review was posted.
  • Dec 9th – 10th | I suspect most of this was driven by two things
    • Late email readers from the 8th
    • Making it into a number of the amazon free top 100 lists on the 8th
  • Dec 11th | Seeing the sales were falling, I took out one more add.  In addition, this was when the author interview went live.

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Results

Given I went from fear of certain failure to 3649 total downloads, I am calling this a win.

At its peak, in the early morning of Dec 9th, The Never Hero was ranked:

  • #14 in Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • #2 in Time Travel
  • #1 in Superhero
  • It also broke the top 100 in the free Kindle store.

I checked its ranking a bit ago, its currently doing well despite the promotion being over, holding onto the top one hundred in a number of groups.

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I don’t know if this is a common moment for authors, but before this, the book had been downloaded by approximately 150 people.  It had 21 reviews, It now feels like the floodgates have opened. That this is when the book will really prove if it is worthy of a readership. Side Note: If you missed the free e-Book promotion, you can still enter to win a copy of The Never Hero (Dead Tree – Paperback Edition) free.  See link to Goodreads Giveaway Contest.

4 thoughts

  1. Still can’t see the monster. 🙂 But congratulations on the promo going well, and you got your book out there to a bunch of readers who will hopefully purchase book 2 when it’s published.

    It’s so difficult to get on Pixel of Ink. They prefer books that are selling really well. It sucks because it would be nice if they cared enough to help all authors get the word out about their books and not just the ones who have popular books already. Blah!

    1. Hi Malia,

      Yeah, Pixel of Ink wasn’t even taking applications. I did do some research on bookbub after I got declined, found this article. Its worth a read if you get a chance: http://josephturkot.com/how-to-get-a-bookbub-promotion/

      As far as the monster, its left eye is under the 3rd ‘A’ in ‘Available’, and its right eye is under the “F” in ‘For.’ Its left hand is reaching behind the book cover, and its knee is under the “and smart.”

      Once you see it its pretty obvious, but I think if I update the photo for future use I’ll make its eyes glow or something so it isn’t so invisible in the smoke.

      1. Hey! I see it! Awesome! I think it would definitely help if he had glowing eyes.

        And thanks for the article, but since I’m not self-published, I can’t just go, “I think I’ll do a promo!” My publisher finally did get my first book on Book Bub last April, but since it’s a kids’ book, that’s what category he put it in. It costs less, but also has less subscribers. It was a 99cent promo because I hate the thought of giving my hard work away for free. It sold around 600 copies, which was great. Though in the past 8 months, it really hasn’t generated more sales of any of my books. Blah! It’s all so frustrating; especially since my publisher doesn’t help with any of the marketing. But I’ll just keep writing and marketing the best I can so that hopefully something fabulous will happen eventually. 🙂

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