From 20th November until 22nd November I had my first Kindle Countdown promotion for my novel SLUR, pricing the book at 99p in the UK and $0.99 in the US. My objective was to increase visibility, particularly in the US as the bulk of my sales to date had been in the UK. I also wanted to sell more copies of SLUR. With this being my first KCD I made a few mistakes but learnt a lot as well. I am hoping that by sharing my experience, other people may be able to learn from it too.
In order to raise awareness about my KCD I put notifications on social media including a few readers’ groups. I also posted notifications on several sites offering free advertisements and took out two paid advertisements. As far as I am aware only two of the free advertisements were posted during the KCD and unfortunately one of those advertised the book as free.
A Few Problems
On the first day of my KCD there were no sales at all and I managed to work myself up into a frenzy when I noticed that Amazon.com were advertising the book at $1.55. As I didn’t want to mislead any potential purchasers I quickly wrote to the advertising sites and asked them to change the price. At the same time I queried this with Amazon and was later told that the reason the price showed at $1.55 was because I had set the start time for my UK promotion a few hours earlier than my US promotion. I honestly couldn’t remember because I had set up the KCD several weeks before, but I had obviously done it because of the different time zones. Amazon had therefore adjusted the price in line with the UK price.
Even when the start of my US promotion kicked in, I was still viewing the price on Amazon.com as $1.55. Amazon assured me that it was because I was viewing from the UK and they sent me screen shots to verify that the price showed at $0.99 in the US. Although this was a relief it meant I had to send another email to the advertising sites telling them to keep the price at $0.99.
The other problem that was stressing me out was the fact that the screen (Amazon.com) was constantly trying to reload when I attempted to view the Kindle version of my book. I was obviously concerned because I knew that this would make it extremely difficult for anybody to download the book, and I felt that most people would give up.
I want to thank Martina Munzittu, Pauline Wiles and Alice Huskisson for putting my mind at ease. Martina was particularly helpful and I hope she didn’t mind fielding my constant panics. Big thanks too to Pauline for checking the US site and reassuring me that there was no problem with uploading the book there. Thanks also to everybody who retweeted about my promotion.
It wasn’t until the end of the second day that my US sales started to kick in. This was in fact the day when my advertisement on the most popular site went out. I won’t disclose which site it was because different things work for different people and genres, so I don’t want to push anyone into something that might not work for them. If anyone wants to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the details though, I’ll happily oblige.
My second day was a Friday and I was actually out in the evening (I needed a drink after all the stress). When I returned home at 12, I checked my downloads a couple of times. The books were downloading at a rate of four every half hour and had reached 35 by the time I went to bed. I therefore expected them to reach over 100 by the time I checked again the following day. I knew that the advertising site sent an email newsletter out late in the evening and thought that perhaps some UK subscribers might open it on the Saturday. However, I was a little disappointed to find that the total downloads for the Friday reached 58. I can only assume that they slowed down as it reached evening in the US with it being a Friday.
Saturday was the last day of my promotion and although I didn’t have any advertising that day I had a further 18 downloads and one borrow. However, these were all from the US and none of them were from the UK. I mistakenly thought that the advertising sites had subscribers from both territories but apparently not.
In terms of rank, the book did very well. The best overall rank that it achieved in all paid books in the US was #3456. For individual categories, the highest ranks that SLUR achieved were as follows:
Kindle> Mystery, Thriller and Suspense> Thrillers> Historical #10
Kindle> Mystery, Thriller and Suspense> Thrillers> Crime #67
The day after my promotion ended I had one sale and one borrow in the US followed by another sale the day after and another borrow the day after that. SLUR then dropped out of the top 100 for all categories and I haven’t had any US sales since. However, I’m still getting the odd borrow so my sales spike must somehow have meant that SLUR is now visible in the Kindle Lender’s Library. I have no idea how that works or how it impacts on rank. N.B. All these figures refer to US downloads. None of this promotional activity affected my UK sales at all.
1. Don’t panic. Amazon.com looks completely different from the UK than it does in the US.
2. Not all paid ads are useful but some of them really pay off. With time I will learn which ones give the best returns.
3. I need to find more advertising sites that are specific to the UK. Tips anyone?
4. In my opinion social media is not near as effective as it was a couple of years ago for book promotions. Perhaps this is down to the fact that it is becoming saturated with book promotions, or perhaps people respond more readily to free book promotions rather than promotions for cut priced books. It may also be down to the fact that in fiction terms I am still relatively unknown.
5. A KCD alone will give a short-term spike in sales but for long-term gains it has to be combined with other promotional efforts.
6. It would have been better to run my most fruitful paid ad at the weekend.
7. To maintain a top 20 position in even one of my chosen categories in the US I would probably have to be selling about 50 copies of SLUR a day. Unfortunately there aren’t any less competitive categories that fit my book’s genre.
I would love to hear your views on Kindle Countdowns especially if you are experienced in running this type of promotion. What was your experience like and do you think KCDs are effective as a promotional tool?