Tuesday, July 17, 2012

KDP Free Promotion: What Worked and What Did Not

Today, FantastiCon is back to full price on Kindle, having spent the weekend of Comic Con as a free download.  I'm glad to have done the promotion but I did learn a few things that I wish I had known going in, and I question if I will do it again in the future.

Now, on the upside and before I get into the not-so-positive thoughts, I do have some points of high honor.  I was retweeted by Molly Quinn who is a wonderful actress and all around good person.  Ms. Quinn also has a significant number of followers and I'm quite sure that the tweet went relatively viral in a short period which helped a great deal with the promotion.  As of Monday morning, FantastiCon was in the top 50's for "purchases" as a Free Title in both the Humor and Romantic Suspense categories.  So on that metric, win.  But that came at a cost.

Lesson 1:  Amazon separates paid and free products for ranking.

I was really hoping that a big bump in popularity during the free promotion would then keep the book "out there" as a best seller.  Once it goes back to having a price again as an eBook it will dive back down into the nowhere's-ville of popularity.

Lesson 2:  "Customers also bought" is not reciprocal.

I've noticed that FantasiCon now has a pretty good list of "Customers who bought this also bought" along its page.  However, when I click through to any of those books FantastiCon is not listed.  I've heard from a friend that you need 20 reviews before you begin to appear on other pages, but that may be only for "Customers also liked".  It is kind of reassuring to see that my book is not alone in the vacuum, that it does have, at least on its own page, that list.  I'm looking forward to having more connection within Amazon but I'm not sure when or if that will happen.

Lesson 3:  Stay in Genre

I've had a lot discussions this weekend about what kind of book FantastiCon is.  I posted an add on Goodreads in the Romantic Suspense forum (specifically in the self promotion area) but had it deleted by the moderator because she felt the book wasn't really RS enough to fit in there.  This put another light on one of the big problems I've had trying to sell the book.  It's a quirky, kind-of-Romance, kind-of-humor, kind-of-mystery.  And all those "Kind-of's" make it were it's not much of any of them.

A die hard mystery fan will see right through it.  A die hard humor fan won't have a joke every paragraph.  A die hard romance fan will want to see more bare chests and heaving bosoms.

I knew this before but I was reminded again of it this weekend trying to get the most bang for my buck.

Lesson 4:  Metrics matter

I have no idea what was successful and what was not.  This bugs me at levels I did not think possible.  It's likely I'm spoiled by the amount of feedback you get from Facebook.  I can see who saw my ads, what they did after seeing them, and so on.  I sent fliers to Comic Con with a friend advertising the free book.  I know that for humor it got up to #11 as a free sale.  But I have no idea how many "sales" this weekend were the result of anything I did.  I don't know how many fliers got taken, how many hits I got from Twitter, or how many were "bought" because it showed up on the free promotions page.

What this really means is that it is very hard to plan for the future.

Lesson 5:  Use your free days sparingly.

I will not do another long term free sale promotion.  Too many days and too much time for people to lose interest.  It's one thing to blitz to the top of the charts in a single day but then you kind of hover and fade and bounce.  It seems that having your free days spread out lets people try to catch it one day, and then if they miss, or are early, they might buy it having come to the site when it was not free.

For Dragon Con I'll likely send fliers and have a single free day such as Labor day.  If people check it out early (ie Friday through Sunday) then maybe I'll get some sales those days.  It's hard to watch the results of this weekend's free promotion because I still don't know if/how this will translate to real sales.

Lesson 6:  Patience.

This has been the hardest for me coming out of this all.  It's going to take time for things to build, for people to read it and leave reviews or recommendations, and for actual sales to pick up.  It's not going to happen today or tomorrow or maybe for weeks.  I just need to sit back and let it happen.

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