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
Books> Literature & Fiction> Genre Fiction> Historical> Thrillers #28
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?
12 thoughts on “My First Kindle Countdown Experience”
Your Kindle Countdown was evidently quite an experience Diane. At least you got a fair few downloads and you have learnt some lessons for future attempts. I will refer to this blog post when I do my own Kindle Countdowns next year.
Yes, I think it’s all part of a big learning curve Guy. I will be interested to hear how your KCDs work out. 🙂
I’ve had mixed luck with Countdown deals, but I do love that it preserves my 70% royalty rate even though the book is 99p or 99c. And yes, timezones can be such a headache: I’m always paranoid I’m going to muck something up with those.
Thank you for sharing your results.
Thanks for your feedback Pauline, and thanks again for checking things out in the US. Good luck with any future promotions. 🙂
Very useful post Diane. I had a disastrous KCD a while ago – everything that could go wrong went wrong. The main thing was that I didn’t realise it had started because when I looked at .com the price hadn’t changed and it wasn’t until the second day that I found out why that was! I was just too busy to deal with it all and found the whole thing a waste of time actually. I would say one thing to you though – I do RT for you and I don’t believe I was aware of this offer – so sorry!! So, as others that I am in email contact with do to me, I suggest you send out an email to those you can to alert people like me that there is a offer coming up – I will then make a note to make sure I RT for you over those days even if I don’t have time to do much for anyone else because of other commitments. I’m afraid I am just unlikely to come across an offer I should be supporting otherwise. I shall keep this post handy though should I ever venture done the KCD path again!
Thanks for your comments Georgia. It sounds like you had a similar experience to me regarding the price change. Unless you know how it all works it can be confusing, can’t it?
Don’t worry about the RT thing. I know you’re very supportive on Twitter as are a lot of other authors, and I try to RT for people I know too whenever I can. It’s just that I personally think that Twitter has changed since the upsurge of account automation. I think that there are so many automated book promotion tweets and RTs that people aren’t responding to them as much as they used to.
I’m sorry that your experience of KCD wasn’t very positive. I was going to say that you’ll probably find Terry’s comments below useful but I notice that you’ve already seen them.
Hopefully we can all learn from each other’s experiences and I hope that if you do another KCD you will gain much more from it. 🙂
Hi Diane! I did look at your progress as I had a book on KC at the same time, and noticed that there were no sales in the UK, so I’m glad it did so well in the US! MY experience with it (I do at least once a month and have for a year) is that it’s a bit random. Right. Figures! Please bear in mind that I do no other advertising, paid or otherwise, except on Twitter, and that all my books have been out for a while. My highest amount of downloads is 128, taking me to #928 in the UK, and my lowest is 33. Now! Here’s an interesting thing. In October I did The Other Side. It’s been on KC about 3 times before, and has been out for 2 and a half years. I didn’t even tweet about it until the last day, and it got 72 downloads. It stayed in genre charts for over a month. So, that’s over 50 downloads for an old book without even so much as a tweet, which shows that KC has its own visibility. This time, the same week as yours – I haven’t looked at the figures but I know it didn’t do so well. First KC for Kings and Queens, tons of really good reviews from book bloggers and top Amazon reviewers as well as regular readers. I’ve read in the past that the best months to release books are Feb and Oct – maybe same goes for promos!
I’ve never paid for any advertising because I’ve vowed to do this without, so it’s interesting to read articles like this which prove that it does work! I know about ENT and BookBub, etc etc. For the first month people would report hundreds of downloads on both sites, but then Amazon changed KC’s visibility. As for social media advertising – yes, it does work if you have the time to do it right, time being such a factor for many, I know. I sell far more books than I did 2 years ago. It’s also about building up a readership, which doesn’t happen overnight. Hope that helped, and good luck!
This is very useful feedback Terry, thanks for sharing – maybe I should give it another go sometime – it’s particularly interesting what you say about The Other Side KCD – amazing!
Thanks for your feedback Terry. It’s useful to get comments from someone who is has run several KCDs, and I’m sure that we can all learn a lot from your input.
In terms of Twitter, I’ve spent the last couple of years building up a following relating to my parenting books and they’re not necessarily the people who buy fiction. Now I’m taking a whole new direction so in some ways it’s like starting from scratch. Having said that, I’ve made friends with some lovely authors and it’s good to help and support each other. I agree that you get out of Twitter what you put in but, as with everything, you have to balance time against potential gains.
I didn’t realise that Amazon had changed the visibility of KCDs so that’s handy to know.
At times it is difficult to balance things with the limited time available when I’m not doing client work. I know that I need to follow up with other fiction books so time spent on social media is time when I’m not writing. It’s a dilemma that a lot of Indies face but that’s a whole other debate.
I’ve just seen Georgia’s response to your comments so I’m glad that people are already finding your feedback useful – thanks again. 🙂
ps, meant to say, I did loads of tweeting for Kings and Queens, and had articles on people’s blogs, too – and it still didn’t do as well as the old book the previous month! It’s got a more eye-catching cover, too – go figure!!! Also meant to say, don’t get downhearted – all sales are good as they are all potential new readers for your future books x
Glad you and Georgia found that useful! Yeah – Amazon gave KC a month of being BRILLIANT, then the party was over because they took it off the front page of the Kindle Store. Now people just get to it via the Kindle itself, mostly. Obviously your advertising worked because I always do crap in the US – I think the most I’ve ever had on a KC week was about 30! Tip for next time – try it for the whole week. 🙂
Thanks for the Tip Terry. I didn’t even know you could do it for a whole week. I’m learning all the time and things change so much with Amazon it’s difficult to keep pace. 🙂