Examining KDP Select Free Days Part 2: Was it a Success?

Yesterday, I posted the methodology and raw numbers from my first KDP Select free event. To summarize, I offered “Sleeping Beauty” for free for two days. In the run-up to the event I blogged regularly about the story, posted free content for it on Goodreads, and announced the event via Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

As a result of my promotions, I “sold” 522 copies of “Sleeping Beauty,” and the book has an Amazon Bestseller rank of 287,715 as opposed to State of Grace’s rank of 616,715.

Numerical Analysis

On the surface, those numbers look awesome, and, in general, I’m pleased.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, 522 copies is more units than I’ve sold of all my books combined before the free event. It is a significantly higher number in fact. “Sleeping Beauty” is now the best-selling product I’ve produced in terms of units downloaded since I began this self-publishing adventure in November of last year. It took two days to completely obliterate my previous nine-and-a-half months of sales.

That alone is a significant achievement. Five hundred twenty-two new readers took a chance on me. More on that below.

Likewise, the Amazon Bestseller rank is astounding. I failed to take note of what it was before I began, so I can’t say what the rise is like. But, as I mentioned above,  State of Grace‘s rank is 616,715. “Sleeping Beauty” is 350,000 spots higher. That would seem to suggest the free event is good for increasing visibility.

Now let’s throw a few grains of salt on these achievements. I may have sold 522 units of “Sleeping Beauty” in two days, but I made exactly $0.00 on them. No charge from Amazon to the customer means no royalty payment from Amazon to me.

There is also no guarantee that any of those 522 people will read “Sleeping Beauty” or even that they would have bought it had it not been free. There are people who simply download free books to their Kindles and then never get around to reading them. I myself have three books on my Kindle I haven’t read yet that I downloaded because they were free. I’ve started one of them, but I’m a slow reader, which means it’ll be awhile before I get around to writing any reviews.

Speaking of which, there’s no guarantee that any of the people who read the story will review it. Of those that do, there’s no guarantee they’ll write a good review.

So, as impressive as 522 copies sounds, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything positive for “Sleeping Beauty” or for me as an author.

Likewise, it’s impressive that “Sleeping Beauty” is ranked so much higher than State of Grace now, but being ranked 287,715 isn’t going to cause people to take notice. Nobody reads down 300,000 places on a bestseller list.

So the raw numbers look good, but it’s difficult to say what they mean in terms of how well the event helped the story or my career as an author.

What I Do Know

The thing about giving something away for free is you’re not doing it to make sales. Giving a product away causes you to take a loss on the resource investment that made it.

But marketing is an ephemeral science. Those 522 copies of “Sleeping Beauty” were not units sold. Rather, they were a marketing expense. “Sleeping Beauty” usually retails for 99 cents. At that price, Amazon pays 35 cents in royalties. So at 522 units, I gave up $182.70 in royalties. That’s money I certainly could use, but it’s not going to pay the mortgage. So, effectively, I spent $182.70 on an advertising campaign.

Here’s what the ad contained:

  • A complete story, showcasing what kind of writer I am
  • A teaser of about half the first chapter of State of Grace
  • Links to purchase my other books
  • Links to my website, Twitter account, and Facebook page
  • An “About the Author” blurb giving insight into my personality and the kinds of books I write

At 35 cents per impression, that seems like a lot of content for the investment price.

I am supposing that you didn’t download “Sleeping Beauty” if it wasn’t the kind of thing you like to read. Thus, I reached 522 warm leads. So 522 people who like my kind of book got it and might read it. Up to 522 people might write a review or tell their friends to buy it, helping convert more sales. And up to 522 people read an excerpt from State of Grace and may be inclined to buy that.

And here’s something else. In the two days since the event ended, I’ve sold three copies of “Sleeping Beauty” and one copy of State of Grace. “Sleeping Beauty” has now moved up to 76,148 on the Bestseller List, an improvement of 211,000 places.

I can’t know for sure that the free event caused those sales, and it’s worth noting that yesterday’s blog has generated pretty good traffic and been retweeted quite a few times. It’s possible that caused more sales of “Sleeping Beauty.”

But it seems pretty odd that that those sales would occur in a vacuum. It’s fairly likely I earned them by raising my profile.

From that perspective, I have to see the two-day free event as a measured success. Time will tell if those 522 loss-leaders turn intomore sales somewhere else. In terms of expanding my brand and getting my name over, though, I reached a lot more people than I had in the nine-and-half months leading up to this event. I think it’s pretty safe to say I’ll try KDP Select’s Free Days again. I’ll blog more next week about changes to my methodology on future promotions.

If you were one of the people who downloaded “Sleeping Beauty” during the event, thank you for helping make it such a success. You can help more by tagging the book, liking it, and writing a review. Amazon reviews only need to be 20 words long, so don’t feel like you have to write a full book report.

If you missed the free event, well, “Sleeping Beauty” is still only 99 cents. That’s a pretty small risk for a story one reviewer called, “Unnerving, haunting, and well worth the purchase price.”

“Sleeping Beauty” is available here through KDP Select for your Kindle.


One thought on “Examining KDP Select Free Days Part 2: Was it a Success?

  1. Pingback: Examining KDP Select Free Days Part 3: After the Event « John R. Phythyon, Jr., Author

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