Monday, November 4, 2013

DO FREE-DAY eBOOK PROMOTIONS STILL WORK?

DO FREE-DAY eBOOK PROMOTIONS STILL WORK?
 

The death of the free days benefit


  



  
I’ve watched my free downloads during a three-day KDP free-days promotion drop from totals as high as 20,000, to as few downloads as 9,000 in my most recent attempt last month. The first few times I used free days, I sold as many as 500 books post-free-days, and my latest promo sold almost none. And since I’ve been an advocate of paying for ads which promote these free days, this latest one not only sold no books, it cost me money!
            Why aren’t the free-day promotions benefitting authors anymore? There are multiple reasons for this change, among them:
1.     More and more authors are becoming independent publishers of their books. The competition for eBook sales has increased exponentially over the last two years.
2.     All the doomsayers who were against using free promotions began to see the amazing results other authors were getting and jumped on the bandwagon. The bandwagon crumpled!
3.     New online sites promoting free eBooks have sprung up like a crop of mushrooms during the rainy season. Readers looking for free books have become overwhelmed with choices.
4.     This wild expansion of promotional sites for free eBooks diluted the benefit of advertising free-day promotions.
5.     Over time, readers who’d been snarfing up free books by the dozens, discovered their eReaders packed with choices; why, they asked themselves, should I keep adding titles when I don’t have time to read the ones I have? The exhilaration of accumulating free eBooks has waned with the over-saturation of free eBooks.
6.     Since the inception of their KDP Select free day promotions, Amazon has changed how it calculates the benefit of free sales versus paid sales. I cannot tell you how Amazon does does it, as they hold this information rather close to their large vest!
Is all lost for the independent author? It’s hard to say, although as it becomes more and more difficult to promote one’s work, the pendulum will likely swing the other way as many authors get discouraged and drop out of the sales arena. Those who prevail will be the ones with the fiercest determination, the thickest skin, and the best product.
            Amazon’s KDP Select program is trying to help authors by instituting a new promotional plan called the Countdown. Rather than promote books free, authors will be able to promote them at discounted rates over the period of a few days to a week, until the cost of the book resumes its original price. Will this bring new life to book sales?

Dear Readers,
Many of you are fellow authors with the same marketing struggles. It’s easy to get discouraged, if not downright depressed. It’s an ugly place to be. I know, because I’m stuck in that place right now.
My spouse has reminded me that any business, (which we are if we’re trying to sell our writing) will have its ups and downs. Success is seldom on a constant, upward plane.
            I’ve picked myself up with this thought; now is a good time to focus on my writing, my newest novel and my bi-weekly blogs. It may be a good time to step back, regroup, and develop a plan for 2014!
Stick with it!

Marla

18 comments:

  1. Good points all, Marla! I couldn't agree more. As for the new Countdown promotion just instituted by KDP, pffft! I'm pleased efforts are still being made to help authors promote their sales, but for me, or maybe just this time around, I repeat: pffft!

    You've definitely hit the nail on the head saying, "Success is seldom on a constant, upward plane." Sometimes...probably most of the time, it's more like a roller coaster ride We smile with anticipation on the way up the tracks, then gasp in alarm on the way down. Well, it's quite a ride, isn't it?

    I wish every writer all the best. We haven't chosen the easiest job, but it's the one we love, so all we can do is keep at it and...yeah, keep at it some more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think many of us Indies are in the same boat today, and struggling to stay afloat! All we can do is keep trying new things, keep writing, and make our books as good as possible.
      Thanks for your input,
      have a great week,
      Marla

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  2. Wow Marla, I am amazed that you gave so many books away. I think that I have only given like around 500 books away and my sales are not good at all. I must not be advertising correctly. lol I did notice that on the FREE books I don't get any reviews. Keep up the good work. It is very comforting to know that for some this FREE works and that there are Indie authors who are selling books. I would love to see you on the Amazon Best Sellers List. Hugs, Marie

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    Replies
    1. Hi Marie,
      Good to hear from you.
      The KDP free promo days get you a lot of downloads, but sadly, not the book sales afterward that they used to. You aren't the only one not selling books! I think the majority of us Indies, including me, are in the same boat struggling to find a successful way to market our writing.
      You might want to try BookRooster.com. Their fee now is $67 a title and they do guarantee a certain number of reviews from their reviewers. I think I got about ten.
      Thanks for the encouragement! Good luck with your books,
      Marla

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  3. Hi Marla, I totally agree with you on this.

    I had already decided not to do anymore free promotions before the new Countdown program got underway.

    I have done a Countdown promotion now, and with good results. Best Wishes, Jill

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jill,
      Glad the new Countdown worked well for you! Did you do any special advertising for it?
      Would love to hear more about your experience.
      Thanks,
      Marla

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    2. Hi Marla
      No, I didn't do any advertising. I had to go away for a few days so it was a last minute decision. I sold over 100 books over a few days so I thought that was quite good considering. Next time I'll do an advert and see if there is any difference. It's good to have something else to try. Best Regards, Jill

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  4. I have sold 60 ebooks in a year! I've never given a free book or have I advertised!
    I push my books via word of mouth and my Author business cards. I push my books on my blog and on social networks. I go to many literary lunches and I push my wares there!
    My second ebook is almost ready to come out, I might do some rethinking then!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you're happy with your results. Marketing can be a real pain in the butt, especially when you pay to promote and don't even cover the cost of the ads with your sales. As competition for readers keeps escalating, sadly luck becomes an even more important factor in a book's sales equation.
      Good luck with the new book!
      Marla

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  5. Marla, in my subjective opinion free has never been a good idea. We work so hard to write our books. We wouldn't ask a plumber, lawyer, or any other profession to give their work away for free. Discounts yes, absolutely. I know one author who left her publisher after they gave her book away for one month -- 40,000 downloads with little or no rise to her other books in the series. It's not effective marketing -- again in my opinion. The best thing writers can do is write a good book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Donnell,
      Many people felt that way about doing the KDP free days. For me, it was the only way I could get a bump in sales, much as I hated giving my hard work away. And now, as you say, I"m focusing on my next book and going to make it the best one!
      Free days, no matter how you feel about them, have lost their marketing advantage.
      Unfortunately, even with a great story, marketing is a necessary evil. Not sure what I'll try next!
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Donnell!
      Marla

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  6. I agree completely, Marla. You got it exactly right. I got in on KDPS in 2011, had a great 2012, and saw the sales plummet in 2013. I gave away so many books, I feel stupid saying how many. I took myself off Select and went with a distributor. I know I'll take a hit in sales for a while, but that's the price of trying new things. I don't see Countdown as much of an improvement. I think Amazon realizes what's happened and they're trying to come up with new ideas to stimulate sales for both authors and themselves. If we don't sell, neither do they. Best of luck to us all.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Polly,
      Hope you're right about AZ. Good point that it's in their best interest to help authors because it means more $$ for them.
      I'm trying Countdown in December, but not expecting much based on reports form other authors. With that expectation in mind, I'm not doing much paid promoting!
      Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving,
      Marla

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  7. Good advice from your spouse, Marla. We have to keep writing.
    Sales in general seem to be down. I just had a 99¢ promotion and sales barely registered. I think I've given up free books (but I'd never say never). I think readers are saturated, but I hope things will be better after the holiday madness. Meanwhile, I'm trying to forget about sales and finish my next book. Can't quit, sales or not.

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    Replies
    1. HI Ellis!
      I'm very discouraged these days. Hard to tell when things will turn around. It may take a while, I'm afraid. Good luck on the new book! A great book is still the best marketing strategy.
      Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving,
      Marla

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    2. Marla, have you ever tried changing your Kindle categories? Some have less books in them than others so you have a better chance of getting in to the top 100 books. The amount of books in each category is on the left side of the Amazon site under Kindle Books. Look under Mystery, Thriller & Suspense for the sub-categories.

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