J-Willy’s KDP Select Experiment – 2nd Two-Day Promotion Report (April)

J-Willy’s KDP Select Experiment … take 2…

On 2/20, I enrolled Slow Your Prose: 25 Tips On How New Authors Can Improve Their Craft in KDP Select, my first ebook in the program. On 3/15, I had the first two-day free promotion, arguably the best feature of the program. Once I compiled the results, I wrote a blog about the experience (you can find a ton of blogs from authors sharing their results). Based on the jumpstart of sales after the promotion, it definitely worked.

Figuring I could duplicate my success, I enrolled my second ebook Premature Eradication in late March, then held not only one, but two free-day promotions from 4/11 to 4/13 for both books. The promotions didn’t start at the same time, but I made it to where at least one day had both books free (4/12). Part of me expected the same results as the first time, another part wasn’t so sure.

What do you think happened? You think it worked just as well if not better the second time around, especially since I had two books in the mix?

Hell. To. The. Naw. If my second attempt were a follow-up album, it damn sure flopped. March went platinum; April barely went gold.

Worse, the total downloads for both books in April didn’t even come close to the total downloads of one book in March (not even 1,000 for PE). For total paid April sales, I didn’t even sell half the copies of SYP as I did in March. Crazy.

WTF Over? What happened? Who knows. Haters be hatin’ on me. Not showin’ J-Willy love. Naw, I’m just kidding.  🙂

Well, I actually do think I know why I didn’t sell as much and didn’t have as many free downloads:

–       KDP Select is now flooded. The program is no longer a novelty as it was a few months ago.

–       Amazon changed their top-secret algorithms that give free books excellent face time during the promotions (interesting post on the algorithm change here).

–       Although featured on multiple sites, neither ebook was included in Pixel of Ink nor Ereader News Today (the top sites for showcasing free ebooks)

–       I received my first and only one-star rating of SYP

–       I only had four reviews for PE (still sitting at 4, actually).

–       I didn’t have enough advertising in place

–       Although I announced the promotions on Facebook and Twitter, I forgot to include the multiple Yahoo writer groups I’m in (each group has several hundred members)

–       Prospective buyers read an excerpt of PE and was like “was the author celebrating 4/20 early when he wrote this piece of sh*t?”

Here are the April numbers of free downloads and borrows:

Slow Your Prose

US: 1936 Borrows:  5

UK:  7 Borrows: 0

Germany: 3 Borrows: 0

Latin America: 1 Borrows: 0

Premature Eradication

US: 720 Borrows:  0

UK:  28 Borrows: 0

Germany: 3 Borrows: 0

France: 1 Borrows: 0

SYP had nearly 6000 downloads in March, but couldn’t sniff 2000 in April. PE barely made a blip. The number of borrows actually bested last month’s, though, which is interesting (4 in March; 5 in April).

I definitely did not reach my goals for April. No even close. Here’s a refresher on what I was trying to do:

(Repeated from the last blog) This next time around, here’s what I really want to see:

–       If I can top the number of free and paid downloads from March (aiming for 7,000 free and 200 paid!). That damn sure didn’t happen!

–       If stacking promotions for both books will send free and paid downloads through the roof. Nope!

–       If downloads of Premature Eradication will improve sells for my other novels. Yes and no, but mostly “no.” Matter of fact, one of my top-selling novels dropped from 5,084 to 14,043 in ranking … in the same freakin’ month! Ouch. However, when you look at “What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item,” several of my books reference each other.

–       If I can get a high Paid ranking for Premature Eradication after the promotion ends. Nope! As of this writing, PE is ranked at 254,669; SYP has been holding steady, ranked at 54,386, but way off from its best ranking around the 9,000 zone).

–       If I can keep this party rollin’! The party” pretty much fizzled out. Maybe I needed more liquor?

Now, I can’t say the 2nd experiment was a complete failure. During the promotions, both books hit #1 in their particular categories (#1 in Authorship for SYP and #1 in Interpersonal Relations for PE). But remember this: A high ranking in a free category doesn’t always translate as well to a paid category. Man, oh man. I wish it did! Don’t you?

So what’s next? Well, first off, the 90-day exclusive period for SYP will end May 21st and I’ve decided to disenroll. I truly think this kind of ebook—which is a great tool for authors trying to improve their writing skills—will be better off in multiple channels. However, I believe KDP Select is perfect for short stories, and I have plenty of ’em. I’m basically using the shorter works to bait and hook new readers, anyway. I want to work KDP Select to the hilt, and SYP should go out with a bang, so guess what my crazy butt is going to do for May? Yup, you guessed it!

Next up to bat (May 2012)

And this is just one, only because I haven’t gotten the cover art back yet for another ebook entitled What Plays in Vegas. So yes, I will have four ebooks rolling around the KDP Select assembly lines. 🙂

Mark your calendar: The next promotion starts May 15th. Four books in rotation! And if I can work it, I will have ALL books free on one day at the same time! Yezzir!

Now, I need to be realistic, of course (I definitely wasn’t last month). However, I still plan to go all out—go hard or go home, I say—and I have a few tricks left in the bag. So! This next time around, here’s what I plan to do:

–       Have an advertisement for each book (including my novels), either in a magazine, blog, Goodreads or Facebook

–       Publish more articles. I’d built a nice list of writer credits over the years, but hadn’t submitted articles for publication in a long while. Time to hop on that train again. It’s a great way to pack and stack your author platform.

–       Provide links to my other ebooks within each ebook

–       Make the usual annoucements for the promotions, but not forgetting my Yahoo groups.

–       Submit my works to more book reviewers and bloggers.

–       Redo this freakin’ author website! It definitely needs a major overhaul.

My wishful thinking for sales/downloads/reviews:

–       To have at least 1,000 downloads for each ebook during their given promotions

–       To receive at least five new reviews for each ebook in KDP Select

–       See a spike in sales for all books after the promotions

–       Sell way more than I did in April!

Now, since Open House and What Plays in Vegas are in similar genres as several of my other works, will they boost sales for each other, including the novels? Will sales improve in May overall? We will see, so stay tuned…

Oh, wait! On one cool note…

My novels A Hard Man is Good to Find and Sellout can potentially reach the 10,000 copies-sold mark by the end of the year (they’re neck-and-neck in sales)! Not bad for the indie publisher The Pantheon Collective (of which, I am part owner)! That’s THE ultimate goal!

Now, will that happen? Hmmm…

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