Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Do free promo days on KDP Select work? Here’s my take.

As part of Amazon’s KDP Select, I decided to take advantage of the 5 free promotion days that are offered with the program.  The first time I ran the promotion, in one day, I had around 500 downloads of my book.  It was tremendously exciting, I watched my book climb higher and higher in the Top 100 charts and found a snug spot at the top of my category for the majority of the day, and even managed to crack the top 500 of the overall free chart.  I could not wait to see those reviews flow in, the sales continue the next day and for my book to take on a life of its own – but it wasn’t so.  The book sold steady numbers after the promo, but not a single review came in for a few weeks.  I was convinced that none of the 500+ people who downloaded the book had actually read it.

During this crazy day of downloads, I noticed significant Twitter postings about my book, all curiously worded in a similar fashion, promoting the free book.  It appeared that there are a number of massively-followed Twitter users who do nothing but promote free Kindle books on Twitter, likely scoring some sort of revenue from those who click through and download the books. These Tweeple appear to be marketing to those who are only interested in downloading free books – with no intention of actually reading them.  Despite that, I decided to run another two day free promo over a weekend and had similar results.  I noticed many tweets about the book, lots of downloads (although at a slower rate) but the same end result. No reviews, no significant spike in sales, but steady numbers.

I recently changed my book cover (see previous post) so I decided to give the new design some exposure and run my final two-day promotion. To my surprise, my download numbers were MUCH lower. By the end of my final 2-day promo, around 150 copies were downloaded. However, a quick search of Twitter shows not one of these odd Twitter handles have tweeted about the free book offer.  Which I assume means the people who are downloading the book actually acquired the book for legitimate purposes, and may actually read it!  My hope is that these quality-downloads (as I will refer to them) will result in reviews and sustainable sales through word-of-mouth and an increased fan base. Time will tell.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Tale of Two Covers

I launched my first book on Amazon in February and had some nice results out of the gate. I sold a few copies without much promotion, had some nice reviews and ran some free promos that seemed to boost my numbers a wee bit. However, something started troubling me.  The mysterious algorithms that generate the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” were showing books that were of a different reading age than my target.  Books like, “Pookie the Mousepig” and “What’s that Smell? Is it you?” were showing up.  I’m sure these books are great books for their target audience, but far too young for my target 9-12 year old market. I started to panic, thinking I might be missing out on referrals from other books that were similar to mine by not appearing in the right lists, so I started to tweak my listing. First, I revised my product description to something that was a little more in line with my target audience.  I made sure to add the age range of my target in the description as well. 

There was only one other element that was concerning me. The Cover.

I commissioned an artist to draw a cover for my book and I absolutely loved the work she did.  It was fun, bright, inviting and a good representation of the character I had in my mind. However, the more I looked at it, the more I questioned. “Is this the book a 10 or 11 year old would carry around with them?” The answer I kept coming back to was, “Probably not.” Although it had a wonderful feel to it, it was a little ‘cartoon-like’ and was maybe not as appealing to my audience as I hoped it would be.  Having some experience with design, I started playing around with a new concept myself and came up with a design that (I think) is pretty solid.  It would appeal to my demographic as well as an older audience, potentially expanding my audience. It also lends itself very nicely to future volumes with a look that will brand well. It’s too early to see if this change will have a noticeable effect on sales, but I’m keeping an eye on things, hoping to snag a little more attention from my audience.