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Amazon Kindle Free Promotions: Doing the math (mutter, mumble)

26 May

Let me be blunt. I write books. I’m an English brain. I hate math.

I’d go so far as to say: If math were on fire, I’d stand beside it with a placard chanting “burn, burn, burn”…

Yet this is a post about numbers. It has to be. I want to treat my writing as a business, and much as I’d love to put my head in the sand when it comes to numbers, the numbers are important.

So here’s a few for you.

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that my new contemporary novella, The Goodbye Ride, launched with a free promotion last Thursday. It was free for three days with the free promotion finishing on Saturday.

The best that I saw the novella rank was on Saturday morning when it reached #282 on the Free in Kindle Store rank (see below).

Amazon Best Sellers Rank:

#282 Free in Kindle Store

#13 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Women’s Fiction

#14 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Contemporary Fiction

In total, 2650 people took advantage of my free promotion to download the book over three days. I am over-the-moon thrilled with that.

The US was the most popular (1812); UK next (617); Germany (145); Canada (55); France (16); Italy (4) and Japan (1). The US would include Australia, and I’d say a big part of that 1812 would have been Aussies – wonderful RWA members and friends, and friends of friends.

An Aussie author I admire, said she’d heard that to break into the top 100 Kindle Free list, an author needs to be downloading about 1000 copies per hour. How spooky is that figure! For me, it felt like my sales averaged about 30 per hour, with Saturday (Friday night Australia time) probably hitting about 40/hour when the ranking reached its highest. You’ll forgive me at this point if I say, it isn’t an exact science. (I don’t like science either).

Now the real trick for The Goodbye Ride is what happens now. When the ‘Free’ status dropped out, the next figure I saw was something in the 300,000s… that’s bounced back today and last I checked, was in the 50,000-60,000s.

So if one begins talking about writing as a business, one must have a business plan. Right? And for me, The Goodbye Ride was a choice I made to put a second Lily Malone product into the big library in the sky – in hopes that would help boost my ‘brand’, find me more readers and in turn, help my debut novel, His Brand Of Beautiful, and the novels I’ll write in the future.

One of the great things about self-publishing is the ability an author has to control their own e-book content. I was able to put brief reviews for His Brand Of Beautiful at the back of the book, and mention this title in my author bio, along with my social media links.

When I look at Goodreads, since The Goodbye Ride launched, the number of people marking His Brand Of Beautiful ‘To Read’ has jumped by about 25-30. I can only attribute that to the ‘noise’ I managed to make (with the help of many friends) for The Goodbye Ride. I’ve also picked up two new reviews for His Brand Of Beautiful. 

They are small numbers, but they are massive to me, and they’re massive in percentage terms. It was only November 2012 when His Brand Of Beautiful was picked up by Escape; and it is only March this year that it released. So two titles in two months feels pretty special.

Today I read a post by Mark Coker, the CEO of Smashwords. Talk about timely! Whether you’re into self-pubbing or traditional publishing, a lot of what Coker says will be of interest to you, particularly when it comes to pricing. Many of the Escape Publishing titles (including His Brand Of Beautiful) are priced at $3.99 on Amazon, which has to be 20% cheaper than anywhere else. Coker says the $3.99 price point is the ‘best place’ to be in at the moment (although this might change)… and he says $1.99 is a pricepoint to avoid.

Enter my next mathematical problem. What do I price The Goodbye Ride? It’s a novella of 32,000 words. I’ve seen novellas of 14,000 words priced on Amazon at $1.99. I’ve seen books of 100,000 words priced at 0.99c and of course, there’s everything in between.

I really wanted to go with $2.99, for two reasons.

  • I think it’s worth it.
  • Amazon’s royalty options.

Yes, Amazon gives you options! You can “choose” (their word, don’t you love it?) whether you go for a 35% royalty or a 70% royalty but there are strings attached to the 70%. One of which is, books must be for sale above $2.99. (I think it was $2.99 to $9.99). The minute you price below $2.99, the 70% royalty rate is no longer an option for you. If anyone out there knows why Amazon does this – I’d love to know?

But, much as I’d love to put The Goodbye Ride in the $2.99 (because 70% sounds so much better than 35%); my gut tells me that’s too high to be competitive on Amazon. So if I revisit my goals for the book, and the plan is to use The Goodbye Ride to complement His Brand Of Beautiful and get a Lily Malone product in more reader’s hands.. then it doesn’t make sense to over-price The Goodbye Ride.

Coker also says:

“When an author sells a book, they receive two primary benefits.  1.  They earn the royalty from the sale. 2.  They earn a reader, and a reader is a potential fan, and fan is a potential super-fan who will rush to buy anything you publish, and who will evangelize your book to everyone they know. I’d argue that readership – the key to building your author brand and fan base, is more important to your long-term success than a dollar in your pocket today.”

I agree with Coker’s premise. So that’s my decision to make now, or over the next weeks and months. Where to price the book? How long to leave it at once price point before changing? I see no point in being stubborn about it and leaving it at $2.99 if it isn’t moving. No sales achieves me nothing.

I’ve chosen the Kindle Select program, which means The Goodbye Ride is exclusive to Amazon for 90 days, and within each block of 90 days (should I renew), an author can access 5 free days for promotion. I’ve seen people advise that if you’re going to make your book free, bump the price up so that people think they’re getting a real bargain… along the lines of, if it’s 99 cents normally, they’re really not saving a lot by getting it free.

There’s so many tips and tricks to learn. It’s lucky I like marketing. I like marketing much more than I like maths!

In the meantime, if you’d like to check out The Goodbye Ride, please click here. And for His Brand Of Beautiful, click here.

p.s. I just joined the Twittersphere… something else for which I have The Goodbye Ride to thank. If you’d like to connect with me on twitter, you can find me @lily_lilymalone

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9 responses to “Amazon Kindle Free Promotions: Doing the math (mutter, mumble)

  1. jjromance

    May 27, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Thanks for doing the math and marketing leg-work Lily! Should I decide to self-publish something of mine – I’m heading your way first for some insider info! (I like the look of $2.99 by the way.)

     
  2. Elizabeth Ellen Carter

    May 28, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Thank you very much for sharing Lily.

    Your point about treating writing as a business is well made and that means knowing the numbers.

    It is particularly hard for us wordy people to deal with numbers, but you’ve done that brilliantly here.

     
  3. Lily Malone

    May 28, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    Thanks Jennie & Elizabeth Ellen. The beauty of the self-pubbing is the ability to control the pricing and the decisions and change my mind and try different things. I’m enjoying that side of it.
    Cheers
    Lily M

     
  4. Cate Ellink

    May 28, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Lily, I will return to this post when it doesn’t hurt my brain. I have a cold – that’s my excuse! :)

    Looks like you’ve done heaps of work here.

    Thanks,

    Cate xox

     
  5. Jeanette

    June 15, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    Howdy! Would you mind if I share your blog with my
    myspace group? There’s a lot of people that I think would really appreciate your content. Please let me know. Thanks

     
  6. Ali Elle Morris

    December 22, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    Hey Lily!
    I’ve just read this post (scanning everyone I know for info on self-publishing and beta readers at the moment haha) and I wanted to say I love it! So informative. Thanks so much for sharing all this information, it is all going into my vault :) xx

     
  7. Rhyll Biest

    May 24, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    I hate numbers too, Lily. Great post.

     

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