Prior to releasing When Red Is Blue, I decided to come up with a written promotional plan. In it, “KDP Select” was somewhat hesitantly added with a series of question marks after it, following more main stream ideas such as this website and blog, Facebook page, Twitter, guest blog posts and so on.
Once my list was made, I began researching the pros and cons of each item. KDP Select, it seems, has generated lots of debate. I initially came across a number of anti-KDP Select posts, objecting to Amazon’s exclusivity clause. Taking a closer look, I realized it was only to do with electronic versions and only for 90 days, which, in the lifespan of a book, is an eye blink. There were also a number of authors who were shouting to the rafters about how great KDP Select had been to boost their sales. And a not insignificant number who were “on the fence” in terms of whether their sales had benefited or not. Terri Giuliano Long wrote a blog post looking at both sides of the argument.
In the end, being a hopeful sort of person, I felt more swayed by the potential positives. I decided to enroll in KDP Select for the 90-day period only (the program will automatically renew if you don’t opt out). Since I wasn’t distributing e-books with anyone else yet, there was nothing to undo, plus I could continue the process of getting the paperback distribution set up.
So off I went, and the first two-day freebie campaign was a surreal experience. My book was downloaded nearly 300 times and made the top 10 free downloads list for my category – contemporary drama. I proudly took a screenshot of my little book sandwiched between Welsh Fairy Tales and Mark Twain’s A Tramp Abroad, feeling very happy with myself. Of course, the big question is, does giving away a load of books equate to an increase in sales?
Well, for this first run, I can honestly say no. Nor did I get any borrows either – not one. Thinking about this and going back to KDP Select success stories I had read, there are a couple of things they have in common that don’t currently apply to me. First, most of the success stories pertained to authors who have multiple books out that they have already promoted and have received a level of success with. Second (and more important), the few authors who have one book out had been selling it for a while and had a substantial number of customer reviews under their belt. As you can see above, at the time, I had 0 reviews. Whether customer reviews are actually helpful is another topic and a moot point here, because most readers use reviews in some way to decide whether to purchase a book.
I think the most valuable aspect of the Kindle Select program is the little tag: “customers who purchased this book also bought When Red Is Blue (et al.)” as opposed to the initial 300 who may just be free book hoarders, most of whom will never get around to reading my book. If a reader sees this tag and goes to my book, upon seeing that there are no reviews yet, will most likely pass it by, which means that valuable bit of promo was wasted.
My next two-day promo period starts today. I’m still sorely lacking in the review department, having so far failed at getting people who’ve purchased the book to take a couple of minutes out of their day and write a review, but I’ll report back next month with my results.