Let me start out by saying that I was reticent to jump into Amazon's pool of KDP Select. Once you're in the waters, you can't get out...at least not for 90 days. When I self-published my first book in December of 2012, I avoided the KDP Select program for several reasons. I wasn't crazy about the exclusivity factor since the book can only be sold on Amazon. My book was also for a niche market - travel memoir of my teaching experience abroad - and therefore, I didn't feel the need to promote it to a larger audience whose reading interests lie outside of this realm. Finally, I entered the self-publishing world when the program was over a year old, and some people were saying KDP Select wasn't as beneficial as it was when it first started. Hordes of people were entering the program, which meant it was becoming more saturated. In 2014, after having my book on sale for an entire year, I decided to give KDP Select a try.
For me, self-publishing has been extremely rewarding, and I've enjoyed learning about the process. I don't expect to make a career in writing, but I like sharing my stories and experiences. When I published my first book, Happy Time Go Fast, I sold the book through the Amazon, Kobo, and Nook platforms. I sold about a book per day the first year and was pleased with those results. I played around with pricing, selling the book anywhere from $3.99 to .99 cents (the vast majority of my sales came when priced at .99 cents). I promoted the book via Twitter, numerous Facebook groups, and book reviews from university newspapers. After the first year of selling the book, what I found most intriguing was Amazon made up roughly 95% of sales.
By the end of of 2013, I was getting ready to publish the second book, Watermelon is Life. The book is also geared toward a niche market of teaching abroad. However, it does cater to a wider audience because it also entails volunteering. Now that I was about to publish my second book and practically all of my sales came from Amazon, I was ready to test out KDP Select.
KDP Select allows publishers to give books away for five days during the 90-day enrollment period. After enrolling my book in the program, I began skimming through pages of information on the internet as to how people can maximize their free days. I discovered two key pieces of information:
- Most Amazon book sales occur on Saturday and Sunday. Therefore, people reiterated free days should be used just before weekends in order to drive sales.
- People should adjust the price of their book before starting a free promotional period. Sales typically continue once the book is no longer free, and people can take advantage of earning a little more money while the book's price is higher than normal.
The first promotion I ran was a two-day giveaway on January 31st and February 1st (Friday and Saturday) of this year. At this time, my book had 14 reviews on Amazon, and it was being sold for .99 cents. The day before the promotion, I raised the price of the book to $5.99. Since I'm still learning how to market the book, I only utilized social media to spread the word. I sent out dozens of Tweets and posted in roughly 30 different Facebook groups. My goal was to give away over at least 1,000 books. On Friday, my book had 371 downloads. On Saturday, there were 757 downloads. The following day, Sunday, I sold five books at $5.99, which is a substantial day of sales for me. Overall, I was pleased with the results. However, I knew I could do more in the way of promotion the next go round.
My second book promotion was almost two months later. I ran a three-day giveaway on March 26th, 27th, and 28th (Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday). Just before the promotion, I raised the price of the book from .99 cents to $4.99. By now, my book had received only one more book review. Therefore, I don't know if people weren't reading it after the first promotion or not enough time had elapsed. Regardless, I decided to branch out in my promotion efforts and use social media along with free ebook promotion sites. I used the following sites which announce free ebook giveaways:
- Bargain Ebook Hunter
- Ereader News Today
- Free Book Dude
- Indie Book of the Day
- Free Book Hub
- Frugal Freebies
- Ereader Utopia
- Pixel of Ink
- Free Booksy
- Addicted to Ebooks
There are a lot more sites out there, but all of the following offer free listings (though not guaranteed). Some sites ask people to notify them of the promotion at least a few days in advance, so the earlier the better. Also, some ask for a review minimum and a star minimum (e.g. at least 10 reviews and a 4-star rating). Fortunately, my book fell within the limits, so I hoped to get lucky and have my book listed. On Wednesday, my book had 854 downloads. On Thursday there were 537 downloads, and on Friday 1,838 downloads. At one point on Friday, my book was listed at #351 under free ebooks. As momentum carried over into the weekend, I sold 22 books on Saturday at $4.99 and another five books on Sunday. This was, by far, record breaking for my book sales. I kept the book at $4.99 for two more days and then began lowering the price. Over the course of the next six weeks, I received 14 book reviews on Amazon, giving me a total of 29 reviews with an average of 4.2 stars. The promotion proved extremely useful, and perhaps instilled me with unrealistic expectations as I continued using the program.
Once the 90-day period came to an end, I enrolled my second book in the program hoping to generate similar results. I ran a two-day promotion on May 8th and May 9th (Thursday and Friday). This time, I raised the price of the book to $3.99 in hopes of capturing more sales when the promotion ended. Once again, I used social media (Twitter and Facebook) and announced the promotion on the same ebook giveaway sites, as well as a few others. At this point, my book had only four reviews on Amazon since I had just published it a few months ago. On Thursday, my book had 361 downloads and on Friday there were 116 downloads. On Saturday, I sold two books at $3.99 and only one book on Sunday. I was a little disappointed with the results, especially considering the success of the last promotion. However, I feel this entire process is a learning exercise. Given my second book did not have many reviews, I believe it probably was not listed on many of the free sites. Since running the promotion a couple of weeks ago, I have received two more book reviews for a total of six.
In the next couple of months, I am going to run two more promotions, one for each of my books. I'm interested to see how many I can give away, and I will post the results in order to keep a running record and share my experience with those who may be interested. I plan to play around with the promotion days and am considering using a few paid promotion sites to see if that may drive sales. We'll see what happens!
**I would love to hear about experiences others have had with KDP Select. Please leave your comments below!