KDP Select free day promo, round 2: Is it worth a second go-around?

This is a post by Novel Publicity President, Emlyn Chand

When an author signs up for KDP Select, she is given 5 free day slots to do with what she will. She can ignore them completely, run them all together, or split them up. I ran my first 2 free days for Farsighted in early February and had smashing results. But I still had 3 days left.

I’ve talked to several authors who’ve had good results with their first free day promo and then say, “Yeah, that was it for me. I’m not going to do it again.” I think something about giving away their product for free feels dirty. Maybe they want to end on the high of a successful first promotion and don’t want to sully it with a mediocre follow-up. Maybe too few people are blogging about what happens on subsequent runs.

One of my author friends jumped on me in the early AM of the day after my second free period. “So,” he asked. “How was it? How many downloads? How did it compare to the first time, etc, etc? OMG, you have to tell me everything!” Okay, so he didn’t say “OMG,” but he was excited and wanted to know. Might as well write out my answer in a blog post, I thought. And that’s what this is. So…

The big question is:  Should I use all my free days even if my first run is extremely successful?

The answer is a resounding YES!!!

Let’s say you had upward of 10,000 free downloads the first go-around (like I did). Are you afraid that no one is left who might be interested? Why? Not everyone stalks Amazon every single day and now you have some excellent word-of-mouth buzz from people who snagged a copy during your first promotion.

The Hunger Games has been in the top 100 in the Kindle Store (and really the top 3) for 679 days and counting. Do you know how many daily downloads it takes to be at #1? Um, thousands. Yet, The Hunger Games and its 2 sequels stand strong with no sign of falling anytime soon. True, none of us are Suzanne Collins, but the point is:  there’s an ever-expanding book-buying audience out there. Don’t ever think you’ve reached saturation—especially so early in the game.

The next question you might ask is:  How can I make my second free day(s) a success?

In my first article on the topic, I claimed that “targeted advertising is the key to success” and then gave you a list of resources (that article’s here). Guess what? That’s the honest-to-goodness truth, and now that I’ve gone twice, I know it better than ever. I wanted to test my hypothesis even though I was already quite sure of its accuracy.

The ONLY things I did to promote my free day on March 21 are as follows:  Pixel of Ink (score!), Kindle Nation Daily free book highlighter, 2 Facebook posts, 1 Google+ post. That’s it! One of my friends was shocked to see I didn’t share a single tweet about my freebie. I also didn’t mention it in my blog post despite having an incredibly popular article up that day. I relied entirely on advertising, and it worked.

Now you ask:  What were your results like the second go-around?

Farsighted peaked at #20 in the free Kindle store. Last time it peaked at #18, but, remember, last time the promo ran for 2 days. This time it was only 1 day. My downloads in the US were 65% of what they were last time. Again, remember, this was only 1 day as compared to 2—so I actually did better on a standardized scale. I still had a sales bump. It lasted about a week and is on the downfall now.

The big difference, and I don’t know whether this is common or specific to me, came with the international downloads. Apparently, I did really well in the UK and DE Kindle stores during my first promotion. I didn’t realize how well until I talked to others and saw their jaws drop when I told them the numbers! During my first free promo, I peaked at #35 in the Amazon UK store. This time around I peaked at #202. My sales bump in the UK post-first freebie promo was steady for over a month (way better than the surge in US sales)! This time around, my UK downloads were only 14% of what they were last time. My German sales were 7%. I didn’t have any downloads in IT, ES, or FR the second time, and I did the first time.

Also, last time I got somewhere in the neighborhood of 8-10 new reviews right after my free promo. They were split between negative and positive. This time I’ve only received a few, but they’ve all been positive. I have released an extended edition, which might have something to do with that. Or, it’s a fluke. Or, I’m homing in on my target audience even with the thousands of downloads. I have no idea but thought I’d share.

Now a question for you:  Have you done more than one free period? How did the subsequent runs compare to the initial promo? Were your experiences like mine?

For the record, I plan to do another free promo in about a month to use up my last 2 days. I haven’t decided whether I’ll re-enroll Farsighted in KDP Select, but I am definitely considering it!


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.

Go Deeper with the Novel Publicity Guides to Writing & Marketing Fiction