KDP Select free days: Targeted advertising is the key to success; here’s a list of resources

This is a post by Novel Publicity President, Emlyn Chand

As many of you know, I decided to take the plunge with KDP Select after much hemming and hawing. At the end of last week, I tested the waters with my first free days on Thursday and Friday, February 9 and 10. I promised to write-up my experiences and advice as a way to get you all to forgive my shameless and excessive self-promotion on those two days.

And now I’m back to report the findings! Was my sojourn into freebie-dom a success? Yes and no.

In terms of downloads, I did incredibly well. Amazon technically forbids disclosing sales numbers, so I won’t give you an exact figure, but I will tell you my downloads were in the 5 digit realm (i.e. XX,XXX new readers)! Farsighted also climbed as high as rank #18 in the Amazon US free store and rank #35 in the UK free store.

The most important question to many authors considering Select is this:  What happened after you went back to paid?

Well, I’ve been less impressed with that, but only because I set my expectations way too high. I know many authors who experienced a boom in sales (one who even earned over $1,000 in royalties the week following her free spot). My boom was not quite as large, but it happened.

When the free time ended, my Amazon rank disappeared completely for a couple hours. When it finally refreshed, it went straight to 75,000—my theory is that would have been the rank if the free days hadn’t happened, and I had gone 2 days without selling a single book. Slowly, the rank went up, settling at 10,000 by the end of post-free day #1. Needless to say, I was flabbergasted, and I’ll admit some rants were made and tears shed.

Why, I wanted to know, could I have one of the most successful free periods I’ve heard of, but then completely fail on the other end?

Just as I had lost all hope, the surge happened the next day, bringing me up to about rank 2,000 paid. I’ve stayed around 2-3,000 since. Most of the time, I hang out around rank 5,000 – 10,000, so this is a definite improvement. Any disappointment I feel is because I set myself up to expect that I would place in the top 500 and stay there.

Either way you slice it, I have many new readers and more exposure for my book. That was the point in the first place, so don’t let the tales of KDP Select authors making serious bank derail you from the real goal. I don’t know about you, but I never wanted to be a writer in order to get rich. Yeah, cash is super nice, but it’s just not the point.

I’m going to jump into the advice segment of this article now, but if anyone wants to continue to watch Farsighted to see how it fair post-free (it hasn’t even been a full week yet), you can follow it on Amazon US here and on Amazon UK here. Now onward!

As the title of this article states:  targeted advertising is the key to success

TARGETED. Spreading your advertisement in any place you can find is not the best idea. In fact, I had two major advertising fails during my promo, and I think you should know what they were.


My Advertising Fails

First, I spammed my social media followers. Friends told me, “it’s okay to do it for a short while as long as it’s not a normal thing.” Well, I can tell you my tweeps didn’t seem to appreciate hearing constant news of Farsighted all Friday from my various accounts. One even called me out on it. My Facebook friends were more understanding and even cheered me on as I went. I think this is because the nature of my relationships with people on Facebook is stronger than it is on Twitter. On Google+ and GoodReads, some people responded favorably, nobody complained, and my exploits were mostly ignored. Take what you will from that and adapt your strategy accordingly.

My second fail was the use of integrated advertising on a non-relevant site to promote my giveaway. I thought:  Oh, I can use Novel Publicity’s high traffic platform to really drive the downloads. So I used an integration code to throw an announcement, image, and link about the free days at the top of every page on the site, stating that this was the Novel Publicity President’s book – hooray! Welp, nobody cared. I had the ad up for just over a day. The site got 1,000 hits in that period. How many people clicked my link? 5. So it wasn’t worth spamming my blog followers either. Although, I can say I simply put a post about the freebie up on my separate author blog and received 300 hits and 7 click-throughs – far better success!


My Advertising Triumphs

If you want targeted advertising, you need to get your book on sites that cater to readers, specifically eBook readers. Luckily, there are many awesome sites that do just that. Some require you submit a request to be listed at no cost. Others require payment. Still others don’t accept submissions, and you’re left with the luck of the draw. I’d like to separate the ad sources I know about into these three categories. I’ll place a star next to those that are extremely effective.

If you know of any other sites that promote free books, please share!

Submit your book at no cost:

Submit your book for a fee:

Luck of the draw:

These are the sources that Featured Farsighted on its free days. The only exception is Pixel of Ink. I was featured on their smaller Young Edition site, but the big version is super influential – that’s why it gets 3 stars.


Friends, Fans, and Implied Endorsements

Make use of your fan base and your friends to promote your free days. I sent a newsletter to my mailing list, posted on my blog, and created a GoodReads event. People were pretty supportive. I received an overwhelming wave of support on Facebook especially.

Ultimately, the first day of my free period felt like a birthday. Friends and fans dropped by to share how much they loved my book and wish me well. IT WAS AWESOME. And I do believe that their endorsements and enthusiasm moved many more free copies of Farsighted then what I would have been able to do on my own.

In this section, I’d also like to discuss the sharing contests I did via my Google+ profile and the Novel Publicity Facebook page. I put up the photo of my book cover with a little advertising snatch and prompted my followers to share for their chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card (one for each platform).  You can view the Google+ post and results here, and the Facebook post and results here. 169 Facebook fans shared the advertisement with their friends, and many included personal messages. Even those who didn’t provided an implied endorsement. On Google+, 92 circlees shared also providing their implied or direct endorsements. I followed the comments avidly that day and saw many of my friends’ friends picked up copies. Score!


In Summation + A Quick Warning

So there you have it, my KDP Select free day experience and corresponding advice to you. I want to leave you with one other note before I press “publish” on this article.

When you offer free day promotions, you are reaching out to a whole new segment of readers. Some will just download your book because it’s free and never get around to actually reading it. Others will read it despite being out of your target audience – bear that in mind. As a result of the free day promos, you will likely receive some new reviews (but probably not as many as you’d hope). Some will be glowing; others might be pretty nasty. This is what happens when you reach outside of your target audience, and it sucks, but it’s okay. I’ve seen the bad reviews crop up for a number of my friends post-free, and they’ve happened to me too. Now that you’ve been given a heads-up about that and I’ve told you how common it actually is, hopefully they won’t get you down.

Happy free days everyone! If you have anything to add to this article, by all means, do.


Emlyn Chand, President of Novel PublicityAbout this post’s author:

Emlyn Chand is the president of Novel Publicity and a YA author. She loves to hear and tell stories and emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). Her first novel Farsighted released in late 2011 and her next two are due out this year. Learn more about Emlyn at www.emlynchand.com or by connecting with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or GoodReads.

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