Writers’ Tricks of the Trade: Promoting a book through Amazon Select

by Morgan St. James

Image from http://www.mobilemarketingwatch.com/amazon-introduces-kdp-select-for-kindle-direct-publishing-authors-and-publishers-19903/

When the Kindle Select program was launched it gave authors the opportunity to give the Kindle edition of their books away free for limited periods of time–5 days within a 90 day period.

In order to participate in the program, the digital edition of the book has to be exclusive to Amazon for those 90 days. In other words, it cannot be available on Nook, Kobo, IBooks or any other ebook format. As the number of books being offered increased radically the odds for the indie author to get thousands of downloads, and hopefully many reviews, went down radically as well.

At this point in time, sometimes the Amazon Select promotions work, and sometimes they don’t. A lot depends upon how much promotion is done in advance and how appealing the book seems. After copies are downloaded, how many are actually read? Of those read, how many reviews are posted?

The numbers are all over the place, and a 10% to 15% return is actually very good. Some free promotions trigger paid sales afterwards and some don’t. In a nutshell it is a “crap shoot” but still worth considering as a means to get more exposure for a book.

One of the keys is promoting the promotion. If no one knows about the book or the offer, no one is going to download it. Many websites, both free and paid, are dedicated to bringing free and bargain books to the attention of readers, and it is important to submit the book to those sites so they can make their readers aware of your offer. Websites like the Author Marketing Club make this easier by having links to many of these sites that can be accessed from their page. Or the author or publisher can opt for a paid service that will do all the submissions. In addition to that, posts must be made at least a few times a day on all of the author’s social media sites. Remember not everyone is reading their Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter page at the time you post and yours might get lost in the deluge of posts, so it needs to be freshened frequently during the giveaway days. Another way to get the word out is to schedule tours of various blogs that concentrate on the genre of the book.

A teaser banner is a big help. It can say more than just the book cover and should be alternated with the cover when posts are made.

As an experiment of the difference between promoting and not promoting the free days, the offer of Ripoff as a free Kindle book from July 30 through August 1 was submitted to more than twenty free and bargain book sites, blog and social media posts were made and continued to be made throughout the three days. The teaser banner was alternated with the book cover in various posts. As of 10:00 a.m. on the first day of the promotion, close to 1,000 copies had been downloaded–twice as many downloads as the total for a 3 day promotion of a different book a few months before. When the book makes it into the Top 100 of free books, or any particular category, it becomes far more visible to those looking for free books and the downloads increase rapidly.

When the time was up, over 5,600 copies had been downloaded and Ripoff went back to the normal $2.99 price. Downloads under the Kindle Unlimited program took over. I continued to Tweet and post, and while not super impressive, during the following week 40 KU and 6 paid copies were downloaded plus a few of my other books. One review was posted–only a 2 star–but the book obviously was not that person’s cup of tea. Everything they didn’t like, the 4 and 5 star reviews did like. More important, the book continues to have much better paid rankings than it did before the promotion.

When the Kindle Select period is up, it will be taken out of the program and made available on other platforms. I intend to promote 9 of my other books this way–one a month–but believe that the free giveaway of a particular Kindle book has a life and then it is time to make it available to Nook, Kobo, etc. You can always opt back into the program.

Writers’ trick of the trade for July 30, 2014: Promote your promotion if you want the best return.

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