I’ll start by saying that I am by far NOT an expert when it comes to KDP select. But I do want to share my experience. When I started thinking about joining the program for one of my indie books, I google searched a lot to see what tips or tricks I could come up with. And surprisingly, it didn’t seem like there was much out there. Luckily, what was available was extremely helpful! And I’d like to think that my first attempt with KDP select might help others since I know my next attempt will be a more educated one because of the lessons I learned during this first experience.
I enrolled BUNNY HILLS AND BIKINIS into the KDP select program because my sales were stagnant. VERY stagnant. As in, I wasn’t selling more than a copy or two a month anymore… anywhere. So I figured I had nothing to lose by pulling it down from the other sellers and going exclusive with Amazon, a thing I still have my reservations about. What made my decision was when I admitted to myself that I wasn’t making sales anywhere but by going into KDP exclusively, I could guarantee some kind of new exposure. I didn’t know how much, but I knew it had to be better than the exposure my book was currently getting, which was little to none.
And wow, did this book get some exposure!!
How well did it do? On to the details…
In my online research prior to going free, I read that you should put your book free for more than 1 day at a time, and I whole hearted agree. Since I was eager to stimulate some sales and earn some new reviews, I put BUNNY HILLS AND BIKINIS up for free about a week after I joined the program. So I picked 2 days (Wed, Thurs). Some place had said that mid-week was best for free days. Others said it didn’t matter. So I went with Wed, and Thurs because that’s what felt right to me. Then I picked my final 3 free days to be a Wed, Thurs, Fri of the following month. I thought splitting it up would give me a chance to build some recognition, earn some new reviews and gain a little momentum before I did the 3 free days. During the 3 days, I’d hoped that I would be able to get some advertising booked which I didn’t have time for with the first free promotion. So that was the plan. Here’s how it all worked out:
I don’t know how these numbers compare to anyone else’s experience. Maybe they are actually terrible results, but to me, they are mind-blowingly awesome. Dipped in awesomesauce.
Prior to free days, BUNNY HILLS AND BIKINIS was sitting at a rank of 498,735. Yikes. I know. I told you my sales were stagnant. I should have said terrible. But this is why I tried KDP select!
Day 1 free (Wed.): Wow. I was super excited to wake up Wed morning and see that I’d already had 85 free downloads and it was only 8am! By 10am I’d had 240 downloads in the US and the rest of the world downloads were starting to pick up steam. BUNNY HILLS went from my terrible rank in the 400,000s to 4,089!!! I was overjoyed and glued to my KDP reports all day long. I couldn’t believe the numbers coming in.
End of FREE day 1: 2230 downloads in the US and another 168 worldwide! I was thrilled. Thrilled! And my rank at the end of day 1 was #230 in the kindle free store and #7 in free humor.
Day 2 free (Thurs): I woke up to being #98 in the kindle free store!!! #4 in free humor, #28 in free contemporary romance!!! I was beside myself. That day my book continued to be downloaded like it was going out of style. By the end of the day my stats were unbelievable.
End of FREE day 2: 7296 us, 371 UK, 25 de, 21 fr, 7 es, 22 ca = 7742 total free downloads over 2 days.
Wow. After that, I started selling paid copies. Not as many as free downloads, but way more than I had been previously selling paid. For the first time in a while, I was going to get paid for my self-published title! Now on to my second set of free days the following month. I was really excited for the last 3 free days to come. I had applied for advertising at all of the sites I could find that would list free books. And I hoped that one of the big ones would chose to list my book free on one of my free days.
Well, they didn’t. And my numbers were not as good the second time around either. But this is all part of the experience, right? So here’s what happened:
Prior to 2nd set of free days, BUNNY HILLS AND BIKINIS sales rank: 66,000 and change.
Day 3 free (Wed again) by end of day: as of 10pm downloads were: 546 US and another 36 worldwide. Sales rank was: #504 in kindle free store and #13 in free humor.
Day 4 free (Thurs) by end of day: as of 8:30 pm downloads were: 899 US and another 104 worldwide. Sales rank was: #364 in kindle free, #9 free humor, #93 free contemporary romance. (I hit as low as #64 in free contemporary romance in the middle of the day.)
Day 5 free (Fri) by end of day: as of 9pm downloads were 1128 US, and 155 worldwide. Sales rank was: #498 in kindle free, #12 free humor, and at one point in the day I’d hit #90 in contemporary romance.
Not bad, but not as great as the first time either.
Final numbers free days 3-5: 1171 us, 128 uk, 19 de, 3 fr, 3 es, 6 ca = 1330 downloads total
Total free downloads in 5 days: 9,072
Not bad at all in my opinion. I know there are authors out there who will have better numbers, but considering I didn’t get any big advertising spot (but a few smaller ones) I’m pretty happy with these results.
So here’s what I learned and what I will apply myself the next time I venture into the KDP Select program with another book:
1. Book Free Days together in clumps. Maybe you won’t do all 5 at once, but definitely try to do at least 2 at a time to build momentum.
2. Pick your free days carefully. Beginning of the week, mid-week, end of the week or weekend—whatever you choose to do, you have to be confident in your choice. I read somewhere that mid-week days were better so that’s what I did. Someone else online (can’t remember who) say they thought Sunday was great. Another source (again I can’t remember who) said the beginning of the month was bad because there are too many free books so it’s harder to make a list. Others might think it’s better/worse to go free to coincide with a holiday or long weekend. I don’t know what’s true and what’s not. All I know is that you have to do a little research and then see what feels right to you and your book. Go with your gut.
3. Go with the flow. Be open to changing your plans and possibly using all 5 days during your first scheduled free run. After going through this process, I wish I’d added on my other free days to my first 2 so that I could have ridden the wave of downloads longer. I think I would have moved even higher in the top 100 free list with another day or two added on. But I held off doing that because I really hoped the advertising I’d applied for would come through the following month. Now that I know it didn’t, I wish I could go back and do all 5 days the first time. I also think my numbers the second time were so much lower the second time because all those 1st run downloads had already happened. Many of those 7000+ readers who downloaded my book the first time would have seen it again the second time but would also have no reason to download it again. So unless you’ve found a way to tap into a new market the second time, then perhaps the best time to reach the biggest amount of readers is on your first set of free days. Just a thought. I’m no expert!
4. Plan advertising to coincide with 1st set of free days. This is big. You really have to plan ahead for a lot of the advertising sites that will list free books. Sometimes as much as a month in advance. That’s why I ended up with 2 sets of free days. If you decide to break up your 5 free days into chunks, that’s totally your call and I’m sure you’ll still have some good results. But my advice would be to try and plan your advertising push to coincide with your 1st set of free days instead of your 2nd or 3rd set of free days. If you get a good wave going, you want to be able to maximize it with advertising by adding on another free day or two! Below are a few of the sites I used or tried to use for advertising my free days. I did make it on a few of them the last set, but I can’t tell you if they were helpful for sales or not. I have heard good things about the ones with ** beside them but don’t have the experience of my own to confirm it.
5. Use social media to the fullest. Get ready to tweet, Facebook, pin or any other social media sites you use. You’re going to be online a lot! You want to make sure your followers know that your book is for free. If they haven’t grabbed their copy yet, now will be their chance. And if they have and enjoyed it, they’ll be happy to share the good news with their friends, family and followers too! Make sure to ask for retweets, shares, pins, likes or anything else you can think of. I also used Goodreads to send out an event notice to my friends so they would know the book was going free. You want to try and combine as many different avenues as you can to spread the word about your free book.
Make sure you use hashtags (#) on twitter to put your book into the different search filters. Some of the hashtages I used during my free days are below. Use them appropriately please!
#FREE, #freebie, #Kindle, #kindlebook, #freekindlebook, #kindlefreebie, #FreebieFriday, #Fridayreads, #amazon, #romance
I don’t know if my KDP Select results are typical, above or below average. All I know is that if I compare PAID sales before my free days to after them, I’m making more money from this book after going free. And I’m hopeful that these numbers will also roll over to my other books once my new found readers actually read the copy of BUNNY HILLS AND BIKINIS they picked up for free. Only time will tell.
Feel free to ask any questions you have in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them. If you have any tips or tricks to share about your KDP Select FREE days experience, I’d LOVE to hear about them in the comments!