Freebie Promo Post-Mortem

On Tuesday, April 24, I did something I had yet to do: I put two of my books up for free on Amazon.  As Book Three in the Kings of Ghumai series was finally released, I figured it was time to see if I could find an audience for them.  While my 99 cent promos over the last two years have drawn maybe 200 or so eyeballs, I was hoping to expand.

KDP gives me the option to for a five-day free promo, so I set it to run for The First Kingdom beginning April 24 through April 28.  During that time, the two sequels, The Second Dynasty and The Third Immortal, would be on sale for 99 cents.  The promos I booked would be specifically for Book One, meaning that I’d rely on the series info on the Amazon page for anyone to discover the sequels.

In addition, I also set my single nonfiction book, The Constitution’s Not Dead (But You’re Killing It) to be free during the same time period.  I didn’t expect any crossover purchases necessarily, but I figured I do it all at once anyway.  The only promo I booked for this one was on Facebook, which would also be an experiment in running Facebook ads in the future.

So here’s what I booked for The First Kingdom:

Day One
Book Basset
Book Rebel
GenrePulse
Read Freely

Results:
Free Units Ordered - 737
Sequels purchased - 23

Given that my original hope was to get 1000 downloads during this promo period (after all, I got rejected by Book Bub), I was pleased with the results.  Day Two I’d always expected to be the biggest day, given that I booked with FreeBooksy and OHFB, and I wasn’t wrong.

Day Two
FreeBooksy
OHFB
Riffle
Ripley's

Results:
Free Units Ordered - 1958
Sequels purchased - 33

Two days in and I’d already almost gotten 3000 downloads.  After this day, I cracked the Top 100 Free Books on Amazon, making it all the way to number 75.  I figured it be downhill from here, and I was right.

Day Three
eBook Betty
Fantasy Book Deals
Romancing the Dragon

Results:
Free Units Ordered - 308
Sequels purchased - 3

This is the day I started wondering if I should’ve booked more promos or started Facebook ads, but I stayed the course.

Day Four
Awesome Gang
Books with a Groove
Reign of Reads

Results:
Free Units Ordered - 155
Sequels Purchased - 4

This was the last day I had any bookings.  All that was left was AMS ads, which I found out are more effective when your book is free.  However, I’m guessing that some promos bled into the next day, as you can see:

Day Five 
Free Units Ordered - 205
Sequels Purchased - 6

Maybe people only check their email on Saturdays?  Anyway, once my book was back to full price, I kept the AMS ads running just to see what happened.  I wound up selling 8 over the next two weeks, while I also got the first KDP page reads of the period.  As should be obvious, when your book is free, they’re going to download it rather than use Kindle Select to read it.  But when the price goes up, the calculation changes.

Total
The First Kingdom - 3371
Sequels - 70

I spent an unreasonable amount of money on these promos (aka my entire tax return).  But did I get what I wanted for them?  Generally speaking, yes.  Though I’ve heard people will simply download any book that is free on a day, that doesn’t discount the fact that they still downloaded mine.  I needed to try and build an audience and the 99 cent promos weren’t cutting it.

So, were they effective long term?  I’m two weeks removed, and I only just went back to zero sales and zero page reads.  Unfortunately, no one has left me any reviews on Amazon.  I’m stuck at two, which doesn’t open up any new advertising platforms for me.  However, I know some people are reading it because I’ve gotten ratings on Goodreads, and the few I’ve gotten are 4 and 5 stars.  At least I know the people that read it generally like it.  Even the two sequels have ratings now.

While I’m eternally stuck in the red on how much I’ve spent on the books vs. how much I make off them, I’d say if you want people to actually read your book, make it free.

Oh, and then there was that nonfiction book I mentioned.  I stuck strictly to AMS and Facebook for this one, though I also notified the tens of people on my mailing list.

Total
The Constitution's Not Dead - 83 free, 2 paid

It’s only 99 cents to begin with, but I got some eyeballs on it, which I suppose was the point.  I averaged around 20 sold a day while it was on Facebook, which seemed to be the main driver.  So Facebook Ads can be effective, at least when it comes to a political book.  That’s good to know.  Might try it for the others next time.  And there will be a next time.

Now, I have to figure out when I should do another free promo.  Also, I was going to release my unpublished zombie novel on Kindle Scout next month, but guess what?  That site is kaput.  So I have to figure out what and when to do about that.  I’m also working on Book Four in the Kings of Ghumai series, and I’m also slowly putting together a novella based on a certain period in my life.  That one I’m not sure will ever be released.  It’s fairly personal and I’m not sure I want to put it out there.  Maybe I’m writing it to work through some stuff?

Until I write again.

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