The last day of my free promotion for The Things They Didn’t Bury expired last night at midnight and after three days of watching my rank fluctuate I topped out Sunday morning at #75 in the Top 100 Free Amazon Bestseller’s List!
Downloads started trickling in Friday morning and by noon I was averaging 50 downloads an hour—which is pretty accurate since I was frantically checking throughout the work day every chance I got. At first I was like…is this real? Can they really be calculating it this quickly and are there really that many people digging through Amazon’s inventory five digits deep? When I started the free promotion my rank was around 30K and I was surprised that people had even found the book. But they did and over the weekend my rank just kept climbing higher and higher until I finally cracked the top 100 list!
I was a little surprised that the top 100, though it definitely increased my visibility, didn’t necessarily increase my downloads. There was a huge surge of them all day Saturday but after I reached the top 100 list on Sunday, they started to finally slow again around 3PM. The last I checked before I went to bed I was #100, just about to fall off the list.
By the end of my KDP free promotion days I had a total of 3,855 downloads!!!!!!
I’m not sure if this is normal or if this is some kind of miracle. I can tell you that it sure feels like one. 3,855 people have downloaded my book. 3,855 people might actually read my book and half of them might even finish it. Half of those people might even like it. And half of those people might even tell their friends! Which is all I can hope for at this point. As of right now, almost 24 hours after the promotion has ended, I’ve only had 2 actual sales. Not sure if that elusive “bounce back” phenomenon is supposed to be instantaneous but it looks like word just hasn’t traveled fast enough yet.
I’m still crossing my fingers but, for me, this promotion has already been a huge success and totally exceeded all of my expectations. Honestly, I’m still stunned. I just can’t believe so many people were moved by the blurb, the cover, and the sample chapters to actually download a copy. Though, for me I think that trifecta was pretty essential and that’s the only advice I would give to anyone considering joining KDP Select and taking advantage of the free promotion days.
My essential ingredients to a successful promotion:
1. Invest in a great cover. Writing a book is hard and it’s a little insulting when non-writers try to insinuate that it’s not. We should have just as much respect for artists and graphic designers who have invested both time and money in honing their skills and not assume that just because we downloaded Photoshop that we can slap something together just as good ourselves. Expect to spend in the triple digits. But trust me, it’s worth it. I can only assume that since my cover was the first thing people saw as they were scrolling through the ridiculously long list of free books on Amazon that that’s what enticed them to actually click on the link and read the description.
2. Write a killer blurb. Writing blurbs is hard so take your time. Again don’t just throw something together. Examine blurbs of books that are similar to your own or just blurbs that really entice you to want to read more. It takes practice. I’m still learning how to get it right but I do understand that there’s a specific formula when it comes to writing a successful blurb and that if I do it right it can make the difference between someone buying my book or passing it by.
3. Most importantly write a good book. Always be conscious of putting out a quality product. The Things They Didn’t Bury probably went through 8 drafts over the course of two years. Is it perfect? No. Nothing is ever perfect but I never tried to abandon it before it was ready; before it felt complete and before I felt like I’d use every skill in my arsenal to get it in the best shape I possibly could. But like I said, nothing is perfect and seeing as I am just a mere mortal nothing I write ever will be. But that doesn’t mean it’s not good enough. And that doesn’t mean that I didn’t almost drive myself insane trying to get it there.
Have patience. You will finish the book when you finish the book and daydreaming about how much money you’ll make once it’s published is the last thing you should be thinking about. It’s a waste of time and only distracts you from the most important part of being a writer—writing the damn book.
Last, but not least, I did submit the book to some websites that feature free kindle books. It’s hard to say how much this influenced the overall outcome of my promotion. I was tagged in a few tweets from people who’d seen the book listed on one of these websites and decided to purchase it so at least I know the book was actually visible and that the submission forms I filled out weren’t for naught. I found the link to a website called Author Marketing Club via Gwen Bristol’s blog. From the linked page you can submit to various websites with one click. Frankly it’s way too simple and convenient not to try it yourself. I even submitted to Booksy.com who hand select which books they feature. Luckily my book was chosen and they even sent me this cool badge!
I’d love to hear if anyone has some comparative results from their own KDP promotion. The only way we can really take advantage of information like this is if we share with each other so please feel free to leave any insights and/or personal testimonies in the comments!