If you’ve been following my blog for the last two weeks, you know I tried using KDP Select’s free giveaway program for the first time last week. I ran a two-day event in which I made my short story, “Sleeping Beauty”, free. As a result, I saw a bump in paid sales, a huge bump in total downloads, and a meteoric rise in the Amazon Bestseller rankings for both “Sleeping Beauty” and my novel, State of Grace (an excerpt of which appears in the back of “Sleeping Beauty”).
I also saw a falloff in that momentum after only a few days, prompting me to conclude I needed to do some advertising after the next event, which I’ve scheduled for next week. I’m nervous about what the results are going to be.
But, in the interim, there is a larger question I am considering. Should I unpublish State of Grace from Smashwords and B&N, so I can attempt to generate the same spike for it as I did for “Sleeping Beauty”?
Here’s the situation: the sequel, Red Dragon Five, will be out in November. In theory, I could make State of Grace exclusive with Amazon, enroll it in KDP Select, and do some free events with it to boost its rankings and sales. I could also put a sample chapter of Red Dragon Five in the back, to help build excitement/sales.
If SoG were free the day RD5 released, I could make a huge event to get the original for free and then pick up the sequel right away. That would raise the profile of both books.
I could likewise stagger free days, so that RD5 would be free on days SoG wasn’t, effectively creating the same excitement in reverse — buy the original, get the second book free.
But should I?
All of my doubts about whether those freebies really turn into sales are still there. Will it really help expand my brand and start turning sales, so that my career as a novelist becomes more sustainable? Or will it just make this more of a vanity-press situation wherein I can give away a ton of books but not really make any money on them? My goal is to write fiction for a living, so this is a huge question I’m asking.
I suppose it kind of depends on how next week’s event goes. If I see another decent spike in sales and sustained momentum as a result of my advertising efforts, then it probably means KDP Select is the right path to jumpstart my sales. If it falls flat, and I don’t see much of an increase, then maybe that tells me it isn’t worth it.
Unless, of course, what that means is that you only get one shot at a free event — that you have your most success on your first free event for a book and then it falls off from there (and I’ve gotten what I can get from “Sleeping Beauty”). If that’s the case, then it still makes sense to do it but to plan it carefully.
But how would I know which of those is true?
I’m very interested to know what others think. If you’ve got an opinion or you’ve got a KDP Select story to tell, leave a comment below.
Next week, I’ll blog the results of my next free event for “Sleeping Beauty,” and I’ll let you know how that affects the decision I make. Stay tuned.