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Resources for Writers

KDP Select #Free Promotion Strategies

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Article by Vanessa Fox O'Loughlin ©.
Posted in Resources (, ).

If you are an eBook author signed with the Amazon Kindle Digital Publishing Select Platform (KDP Select), you will already know about the option to list your book on Amazon as a free item for up to five days. In order to sign up to KDP Select you have to guarantee that your book will be exclusive to Amazon Kindle for 90 days, which might not suit everyone, but, if you do take the KDP option, what are the best ways to maximise your sales using this free promotional tool?

kindle-direct-publishingIt might seem illogical to give away your book for free, but many authors have seen sales rocket after their free period. As fiction author Russell Blake says on his excellent blog, “Amazon algorithms pick up on the ranking from when it was free, and begin featuring the book on their recommendations pages about, you guessed it, 24 hours after going back to paid, as well as in the “also bought” strip at the bottom of other books your shoppers picked up. Over the next two to three days, love is in the air, and sales roll in. But then the book, whatever it is, gets pushed off to the second tier to make room for the more recent titles that did well since then.”

It makes sense to understand the forces at play before you take the free offer plunge. There are many websites that promote free ebooks during their promotional periods – seek them out and give them advance notice of your promotion start date and duration. You can find more detailed information on strategy at Russell’s website, but he says, “One of the best I’ve found for thrillers being Epic Kindle Giveaway (I follow it on Twitter at @eBookSwag), as well as The Digital Inkspot, and Digital Book Today. Others that may or may not pick it up are Cheap Kindle Daily, Pixels of Ink

Irish romance author Sally Clements was thrilled when Pixels of Ink  (@PixelsofInk) picked up her bookThe Morning After, and is sure this particular site made a massive difference to the downloads of her spicy story, shooting it into the Kindle top ten for romance.

Planning a free promotion for my contemporary romanceTrue Colours, I notified several free kindle book promotion sites in advance, planning the promotion for Monday and Tuesday, 1st and 2nd of May. These included Michael Gallagher’s site www.fkbooksandtips.com (you can contact him via kindle@gagler.com) and Free eBooks Daily(@FreeEbooksDaily). Reducing the price from $2.99 to free, I had over 21,000 downloads and for a few blissful hours on Tuesday morning it ranked No. 1 in Contemporary Romance beside EL James Fifty Shades of Grey!

As the Write Into Print website says, “It’s vital to have an online presence and platform instituted to support your promotion. When the day comes, it’s not a good time to go AWOL; now is the time to utilise Twitter and Facebook and shout out your promotion every hour or two in order to reach the turnover of Tweeters/Facebookers who like a free read. Use hash-tags such as #FREE #ebook #amreading #reading to present it to people looking for free books.”

It’s essential that you don’t drive you followers mad however, with promotional tweets, so do warn them about your promotion and mix up your tweets with your normal content. No-one wants to be bombarded with sales messages, but if they follow you because they genuinely like you, they’ll understand (I hope) that you are reaching out to people whom you interact less regularly with and who might have missed the fact that you’ve written a book (God forbid!)

Write into Print make a very good point, “When you are planning your online campaignm, don’t ring-fence your readership by only supplying the US or UK link – Amazon doesn’t send your book link when they divert the readers to their native site, it just lands them empty on the home page requiring the ‘buyers’ to type the title/author into the search field (if they can remember them, that is).” They suggest using bitly or similar to shorten the links in your tweets. Here’s an example:

Link size before pasting into bitly:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Voynich-Cypher-ebook/dp/B007C9190C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1333900126&sr=8-1
http://www.amazon.com/The-Voynich-Cypher-ebook/dp/B007C9190C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1333900126&sr=8-1
Now we have our two urls, we shorten them in bitly (or you can use Tweetdeck or Hootsuites automatic shortening tools):
http://amzn.to/HrOyVQ
http://amzn.to/HrOC7Z
Next step is to place it all in a 140 character max tweet, here are two examples
#FREE 2day! #ebook: “Race for the Relic” another 5* thriller from Blake UK>http://amzn.to/HrOyVQU.S.> http://amzn.to/HrOC7Z @BlakeBooks
#Free #ebook True Colours by Vanessa Fox @inkwellhq ‘sexy, sassy, superb’ 5* #romance US:http://amzn.to/y5StIb or UK: http://amzn.to/Jp1CKj
It’s important to put your twitter name (@BlakeBooks / @inkwellhq) so you can keep track of retweets and link to your book. Using the # will help readers searchng twitter find your book, you could try #free #ebook #kindle #freekindlebooks #freebooks #romance #thriller #fiction #suspense etc. Search the # listings to see what others are using and what might work best for your book.
If you haven’t time to self promote or have a low platform/presence you can gain impetus by subscribing to the free retweeting services or pay for a service that will tweet what you want, when you want. The Book Tweeting Service provided by @TweetYourBooks and their sister Twitter accounts is idea for this.  http://www.booktweetingservice.com/ (after good feedback from clients) has revealed that a two day promotion ($56 ~ tweeting periodically to a genuine 60,000 followers) for a low-key UK client got him to #15 in Free and #2 in Action and Adventure ~ and netted him almost four hundred dollars three days afterwards, when his book was on sale for $2.99. As Write Into Print says, “This is just an indication of what a UK author achieved – Amazon U.S. is a far bigger fish.”

The Book Tweeting Service offer a discount to members of the Alliance of Independent Authors, the global non-profit association providing hands on support to independent authors. Click the link to find out more.

It is not worth paying for any sort of on-line exposure on the two days following your promotion, whatever the claims of the service. The boost you get to sales 2-5 days afterward is mostly down to the Amazon algorithms and their placing of your product – as Russell Blake reveals  “Last month, I dipped my toe in the water by making The Geronimo Breach free for three days. During that time, I saw about 12K downloads. Not too shabby. Then, when it went back to paid, a funny thing happened. After languishing for the first day, it shot like a rocket, finally hitting #165 in the paid kindle store…Sales peaked at day 3-4 of being paid, and then started dropping off, bottoming at week three or so. At the time, I didn’t know what to make of the data. I was frantic on day 5 – what was going wrong? Why did God hate me? Were the clowns behind it? What gave? Turns out that this is a very predictable and knowable cycle for those who have done free days….Sort of like being a Hollywood starlet who briefly dates a celebrity, you have to be satisfied with and enjoy your moment in the sun, because it won’t last.

But knowing this presents an opportunity. It suggests a way to play the game so you can win, if you’re an author. Specifically, you can understand the phenomenon and capitalize on it. How? By running another free promotion 4 to 5 weeks after the first one. Maybe at 6 weeks, maybe at 3 1/2. Depends on sales. But you can repeat the performance.”

The free promotional periods available to KDP Select authors are just one way to boost sales. Good metadata, a great descritption of your book and high starred reviews are others. We have some great articles coming up on writing.ie on how to make the most of your metadata and author profile on Amazon, so keep checking back for more!


(c) Vanessa Fox O'Loughlin with contributions from thriller author Russell Blake and Write into Print.