Earlier this week I received a message from my good friend Jeff Bennington (@Tweetthebook) enquiring if I had read my Amazon e-mail regarding the new kdp select program.
In a nut shell (I urge you to investigate the terms for yourself before rushing from this post and plunging in) Amazon want to establish a loaning scheme. If you enrol your books you get a cut of a loaning money pie, the opportunity to be more widely promoted on Amazon and most tempting of all, you get 5 days out of the 90 day period in which you can set your own free promos - of course there is a catch and that catch is that they want exclusive distribution rights for this period.
When I first read it, my idyllic indie writer's head lead my to immediately mutter something along the lines of 'bloody leviathan corporations eating up the little man ... mumble... grumble etc.' but then my business head kicked on. The word exclusivity conjures up golden shackles and artistic slavery but then really, how many other platforms are paying for the bread on my table? It was as I was thinking this over that I read Jeff's brilliant post, 'Why I'm joining kdp select'. In this post (and I strongly recommend you go off and read it) He explains, to paraphrase, that the natural sales patterns were pretty much making him Amazon exclusive anyway. This is like me, with over 95% of my sales being through Amazon Kindle.
It was the push I needed. Within twenty minutes I had decided a game plan. I am a writer of a series, and the first of my series is priced a $0.99. I decided that this was the perfect scenario to play experiments. I would enrol my #1 'The Forest of Adventures' onto the program and then set a free promotion. This was with the hope that it might boost the sales of #2 'Immortal Beloved' which is priced at $2.99 and thus help my revenue grow.
Nothing could really have prepared me for what happened. 'The Forest of Adventures' has been selling steadily in the UK market for the past 3 months, spending much of that time in the top #3000 paid sales. However, I have found it almost impossible to break into the American market in the same way. When I logged onto my sales account half a day into the promo, expecting to see a few tens of giveaways, I was amazed to see over 700 USA downloads and 300 UK downloads. I sat there watching the figures ticking over at 20-30 downloads an hour. By the end of the 48hr promotion I had successfully given away over 1700 books. I was thrilled with the thought that all those people now had a copy of my book; especially the American audience.
I was still skeptical about the longer effects of the promotion, but I was happy enough just to have gained some new readers. I was bugged by worry questions; what if I had saturated my potential market? Why would anybody buy a copy of my book when they could have downloaded it for free? Had I sabotaged my steady placement in the paid rankings?
So I was further amazed to find that the two days following the end of the promotion were the best paid sales days I've had since publication. In the UK 'The Forest of Adventures' has increased 3 fold, meaning that from Mon- Wed I was at #620 of the Amazon paid UK charts. (#1 Fairytales #11 Paranormal #13 Myths and Legends). This pattern was reflected in the USA and 'The Forest of Adventures' has sat steadily in the top #3000 Amazon paid charts this week.
And the original game plan... The sales of #2 'Immortal Beloved' have spiked with many of the giveaway copies translating into paid sales of #2.
I don't know how long this honeymoon will last, or whether it is the wobble of the magical tipping point, but what I do know it that being an early bird on this exciting project has given me a couple of thousand new followers and hundreds of new loyal fans. It has also given me a nice little Christmas bonus which hints at the promise that maybe the writing malarkey could one day become my full time job rather than 'just a hobby'.
I know that Jeff will be posting his experiences later this week and I recommend that you take in as many experiences as possible before making your own choices - or, like me, you can just throw the dice and see how it lands.
Read Jeff's post here
Follow Jeff on twitter.