Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Adventures in Self-Publishing: The Giveaway

On Tuesday, March 13, I finally published The Honeymoon Cottage on Amazon Kindle, with a list price of $2.99 (the minimum for the KDP Select Program).  I planned to use one free promotion day that Friday, so didn't do any advertising or promotion during the week while it was listed at $2.99.

By the end of Thursday, I had sold a whopping 3 copies (thank you, mom and friends) and was ranked around 200,000 in sales overall on Amazon.  Basically the book was invisible.  It didn't show up anywhere unless someone searched specifically for my name or the book's title.

On Friday I posted on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter and email that the book was free for that day only.  I also took out two ads:  First, a listing on Kindle Nation Daily's Free books list ($29.99), and then two pay-per-click ads on Goodreads, one directing readers to my book's Goodreads page, and one sending them directly to the Amazon buy page.  I wanted to see which of these ads had better results.  Within a few hours I discovered the Goodreads ads were not generating any attention, so I cancelled them (so I wouldn't be charged anything).

The book was free from approximately one a.m. on Friday until midnight Friday night.  During that time I had the following results:

2841 people downloaded the book for free (2498 on; 315 downloaded at, and 28 on

My book rose from the #200,000 range to a high of #1 Romance Series Free Bestseller, #8 Romantic Suspense Free Bestseller, and #121 overall in the Kindle store.

The part I was most interested in was what would happen once the book was no longer free.  Would it drop like a rock back to the invisibility of before, or would it get a bump from the increased visibility the free promotion gave me?

I quickly found out.

Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, the book is among the sea of novels listed at $2.99. But so far it's still...

#1 "Hot New Read" in Romance Series
#18 "Hot New Read" in Romantic Suspense
#9 Bestseller in Romance Series
hovering in the 3000-4000 range in overall Kindle sales

I also received my first review from someone who gave the book a try because it was free (a nice, detailed, 4-star review).  I'm really pleased with this because the review gives an accurate description of the type of book The Honeymoon Cottage is--sweet, gentler, with suspense but not breakneck pace or hot-n-sexy tone. Exactly the audience I'm going for, so it should help potential readers decide if it's the right book for them.

The other really important place of increased visibility is one I'd heard about but never paid much attention to:  the "people who bought this book also bought the following" area. This is a scrolling bar on the book's page that shows similar books to the one you're looking at.  The thing I found out is that free downloads count as "sales" for this list.  This is incredibly important. 

In other words, if those 2800 people who downloaded my book for free also bought or downloaded other books, my book will now show up on those books' pages (and vice versa; anyone looking at my book will now see a list of other books that people also bought/downloaded when they got mine). This means I have essentially a free ad for my book on 95 other books' pages (I counted 'em). Basically 95 more opportunities for my book to be discovered on

So overall I think the experiment was a success. It is helping me "jump the divide" between just selling to people I know and reaching people who've never heard of me or my books but are looking for something to read.

My goal was to earn enough to cover the cost of the ads.  I far exceeded that goal. I'm actually making enough to start thinking about what I'm going to do with the money (new yacht? trip around the world? pay the plumbing bill from when the pipes broke this weekend?). At this point I'm selling enough to keep the book near the top of the "hot new reads" lists, which keeps it visible for people browsing those categories, and in turn drives more sales. I don't think that would have happened without the giveaway.

So where do I go from here?  I originally had the idea that I'd do another free day if the book dropped really far. At this point I'm thinking I'll just let it go without further promotion no matter how far it drops, and work on getting my next two Pajaro Bay books up within the next month. At that time I have to decide whether to do a free promo on the new ones, the first one, or all???  We'll see how this month goes.

I think once I have more books for sale, I can play more with the various promotion opportunities. In the meantime, I'm having a lot of fun on the journey (and the money's not bad either!).

Happy writing, everyone. :-)



Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel said...

Totally intriguing! Thank you so much for sharing your self-publishing journey. Chris Young has also received some good response to free downloads.

You can have a good book, but if no one knows that...

Congratulations! So pleased you're selling. :)

(P.S.--I downloaded your book and thoroughly enjoyed it also. But I never think to post reviews. Gah!)

Christine Young said...

Very interesting. I knew those sites existed but didn't look at my book until today. I didn't however know about the $29.99 free day sale. You had a lot of downloads for 1 day. Wow and congratulations! As with you, it does make me feel better making a little money.

Meggan McQuaid said...

"Totally intriguing! Thank you so much for sharing your self-publishing journey." Ditto!

It has been so enlightening and inspiring. Congrats on a good first week!