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Another KDP Select Ads Update – This Time Not So Great by Kitty Bucholtz

November 10, 2015 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz tagged as , , , , ,

If, after reading my last two posts about advertising a KDP Select free book (the first one and the second one plus additional information here), you’re thinking that this is a beautiful upward curve toward guaranteed results…well, we’re both wrong.

Not that I thought the results would be guaranteed to continue their upward trajectory, but I didn’t realize I could have such a terrible bomb when things were going well.

Using the same book, Little Miss Lovesick, I made my third 5-days-free promo during my third 90-day KDP Select period on October 21-25, 2015. I paid for three ads (fewer than before), but I forgot to sign up for all the free newsletters until after it was too late. (You need a 7-day lead time for the sites I’ve been using. I remembered 6 days before.)

In May 2015, my 5-days-free yielded 7312 downloads.

In August 2015, the same five days gave up 8108 copies.

Looking great, right? My October results came to only 662 copies. Did you see that – 662!!!

I honestly think there is a lot more owed to those free-to-list-in-our-free-book-newsletter emails than I realized. Forgetting to sign up with the 30 or so that I did all the other times was the only real difference in October.

Interesting, huh? Of course, there could be any number of other factors that I didn’t realize. But I think not signing up for the free sites was a big factor.

So when you’re thinking about how to advertise your free book, and wondering how much you can spend on paid ads, keep in mind that all of those free newsletters might be enough to get you a good start!

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KDP Select Ad Results August 2015 by Kitty Bucholtz

September 9, 2015 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz tagged as , , , , , ,
Bringing you another episode of “What Might Be Working in Book Ads.” 😉
You may remember, I added my chick-lit book, Little Miss Lovesick, to KDP Select in March 2015. The book wasn’t really selling, so I figured it would be a good time to do some experimentation. After all, you can’t sell fewer than zero books, right?
I took advantage of the five free days at the end of May 2015 and shared my results with you here. Things went so well that I wanted to continue my experiment, so I left the book in KDP Select and did another five free days August 18-22, 2015. I am happy to report that the sale went even better the second time! Here are the details…
Before the sale:
I applied for the same ads that I purchased in May since they did so well. I didn’t get all of them, but I also asked other writer friends what worked for them and picked up a couple of new ads on recommendation (Ereader News Today and Robin Reads).
In May I paid $14.99 to use Book Marketing Tools™ ebook submission tool to somewhat-automatically apply to 32 websites at once that accept submissions to advertise your free book. (During a promotion last year, I used Ebook Booster, which submits your free book to 45+ sites for $35.) In August, I decided to try the free membership tool at Author Marketing Club to manually apply to about a dozen sites by clicking through from buttons on AMC’s web page.
It’s difficult to know which sites are going to list your book as they don’t all reply back to you. And in the past, I haven’t been able to find my book on all the sites that did reply back. In any case, I’m pretty sure the book was advertised on DigitalBook Today and FreeBooksy, and probably others, but I didn’t double-check any of the sites during the free period.
I applied for the “free ebook of the day” ad at Indie AuthorNews, which appeared to be a good ad for me last time, but I didn’t get it this time. I also wrote down that I used a pre-paid ad credit at The Romance Studio blog page for one day, but I forgot to follow-up and see if the ad appeared and on which day. So I don’t know if I got any traffic from there.
What I did during the sale days:
Tuesday, August 18: 2645 free downloads today
* KENP = 0
* Free ad on ReadCheaply.com
* $45 premium ad in Choosy Bookworm email newsletter to 40,000+ subscribers, on their website all week
Wednesday, August 19: 1963 free downloads
* KENP = 470
* $21 to BKnights on Fiverr to 4800+ active Facebook users for 7 days, “extra” promotion with viral Facebook post for 7 days, promote on website with 2000 visitors/day for 1 day, promote in email newsletter to over 2500 subscribers for 1 day
* Julie Kenner’s Hump Day feature, no charge promoted with other books on a blog post
* $25 Ereader News Today ad in email newsletter
Thursday, August 20: 850 free downloads
* KENP = 515
* $25 InDtale Bargain Book ad to 10,000+ email newsletter subscribers
Friday, August 21: 2080 free downloads
* KENP = 1131
* $20 ad in Robin Reads email newsletter
* Blog post on Tracy Reed site
Saturday, August 22: 561 free downloads
* KENP = 2066
* Blog post on Alina K. Field site
On the last day of the freebie sale, there are always a few copies that get downloaded early the next day before the price goes back to normal, and 9 free copies were downloaded on Sunday. The grand total of free ebooks downloaded in this 6-day period was 8108. In May, the total was 7312, so I’m quite happy with the 11% increase.
Comparison of KENP pages read in Kindle Unlimited:
In May, Kindle Unlimited still counted each title as one borrow rather than counting the number of pages read (KENP) as has been the case since July 1. It also took me six weeks to get my results to you last time, and it’s only been 16 days since my most recent sale. So the comparison here is going to be a bit shaky.
In my prior post, I reported about 138 borrows over 6 1/2 weeks. Little Miss Lovesick has 402 KENP pages, so that’s approximately 55,476 KENP pages if every person read every single page (unlikely).
The above numbers include part of July as well, but the July total alone was 2381 KENP pages read (with a payout of about half a cent per page, which is very close to what I got paid for a “borrow” in the past). In the 17 days of August before the book went free, there were 697 KENP pages read. But from the day the book was free to the end of August, there were 24,899 KENP pages read in 14 days. In the first seven days of September, the daily average dropped 40% with 7831 pages read.
Totals are:
July KENP = 2381
August 1-17 KENP = 697
August 18-31 KENP = 24899
September 1-7 KENP = 7831
Total book sales:
In addition to wanting to get more people reading Lovesick for free, as a borrow through Kindle Unlimited, and as a sale, I also wanted to get people trying my other books. (I have four titles total.)
There are three titles in the Adventures of Lewis and Clarke superhero urban fantasy series–the first is a free short story, the second is a long novella (45,000 words), and the third is officially the first book in the series at 100,000 words.
At the beginning and end of Lovesick, and the beginning and end of the free short story, there is a note to join my newsletter and get the novella for free. That means that if someone downloaded Lovesick for free, and followed up to see what else I had, and read the note about how to get the novella for free, they could’ve gotten three of my four titles for free. If they do that, I think I’ve got them as a reader. And they’re on my newsletter list. 🙂
So total book sales are:
July = 12 (0 for Lovesick)
August = 24 (9 for Lovesick)
September 1-7 = 8 (0 for Lovesick)
Total spent on ads to get to this point was $136 in August. I’m estimating that I’ve earned more than twice that so far in the last three weeks. Excellent! Compare that to the first time I used a KDP Select free period when I spent less than $100 and didn’t break even, the second time when I spent less than $100 but did break even, and now this time I’ve made about a 100% or more return on investment (ROI).
This is by far the best result I’ve had so far with any kind of advertising, any kind of freebie/sale. I’ve let Little Miss Lovesick stay in KDP Select for a third period. I’ll let you know what I decide to do this next time.
Meanwhile, I’m going to put Unexpected Superhero on sale for $2.99 (down from $3.99) October 1-10 and use the same Choosy Bookworm feature ad to see how it works on bargain-priced books. I chose to discount it only $1 because anecdotal evidence shows few books sell at $1.99, and the number of books (104) I’d have to sell at 99c with only a 35% royalty is more than my sales history says I can expect to get to cover the cost of the ad. (I only need to sell 17 books to break even at $2.99. I’ll try the 99c test later when overall book sales have increased.)
I hope this has been useful in helping you decide what you might want to try in your own advertising and promotion. Good luck!

Kitty Bucholtz

 

Kitty Bucholtz decided to combine her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. Her novels, Little Miss Lovesick, A Very Merry Superhero Wedding, and Unexpected Superhero are currently available on Amazon. The free short story “Superhero in Disguise” and the new short story “Welcome to Loon Lake” are available wherever ebooks are sold. You can find out about her courses on self-publishing, marketing, and time management for writers at her website Writer Entrepreneur Guides.

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Ad Results From KDP Select Free Days by Kitty Bucholtz

July 10, 2015 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz tagged as , , , , , ,
We all like to know what kinds of promotions have worked for other people so that we can decide which promotions we’re going to try for our own books. With that in mind, here is my experience using the KDP Select free days in May 2015.
My chick-lit book, LittleMiss Lovesick, first came out in 2011. Recently, as I’ve focused on my superhero series, sales have dropped to almost nothing for Lovesick. I decided they couldn’t go lower than zero, so I removed the book from other distributors and signed it up for KDP Select.
In the interest of experimentation, and because I was busy getting my online class on self-publishing ready, I did nothing to promote the book after I put it into Select. (That’s the same amount of promotion I was doing before it was in Select. 😉 ) For the first 2 1/2 months of the 90-day program, the book did about the same as it had been doing. I had a total of one Kindle Unlimited borrow and one sale in eleven weeks.
I decided that to get more downloads, and therefore more reviews, I would use the free days rather than the Countdown Deal. I set five days free in a row from Tuesday, May 19 through Saturday, May 23, the middle of Memorial Day weekend. And to see how that affected borrows, I renewed the book in KDP Select for another 90 days.
A week or two before the free dates, I used the BookMarketing Tools auto-submission form ($14.99) to apply to 32 websites that accept submissions for free books to be placed in their daily newsletter. Using this tool, I was able to fill out the required information for 32 websites in 20 minutes! (Definitely worth fifteen bucks to me!)
As luck would have it, my main computer’s hard drive died in the middle of my sale and I no longer have all the information about what I did and what happened. But this is at least 90% of the information I was tracking. 🙂
Monday May 18:
– day before sale started, no borrows, no sales
– guest blog at Kathleen Rowland’s blog
Tuesday May 19: 1002 free downloads today
– first day of “free” sale!
– guest blog at Alina K. Field’s blog
Indie Author News Free Ebook of the Day ad ($25)  an ad with the book’s cover stayed on top left corner of EVERY page of their website, and they tweeted about it at least 5-10 times (I’d definitely do this again!)
Wednesday May 20: 1389 free downloads today
– there were SO MANY TWEETS from Linda (perhaps automated? I forgot to ask, but on that blog it shows 54 people tweeted about it!), and many people in her circle retweeted her tweets (I definitely want to get Linda’s help again! She should sell a service or something! Haha!)
Thursday May 21: 2517 free downloads today
InD’tale Bargain Books ad ($25) to 10,000+ subscribers; my book was listed first this time (at the top) in the email that went out. I didn’t receive the email until about 4pm Pacific, so I don’t know how many people who saw that ad clicked on it Thursday or didn’t see it until Friday.
Fiverr promo w/BKnights ($15)  I heard about them on the Rocking Self-Publishing podcast. I bought three $5 promotions: promoted to 4800+ active on Facebook page (over 7 days), promoted on website w/2000 visitors (1 day), and included in daily newsletter to 2500+ subscribers (1 day)
I know the InD’tale ad did well last time I bought it, which is why I used it again this time. But my numbers this time are significantly higher, so I’m assuming the BKnights promotion did well, too. I’m going to try them both again next month.
Friday May 22: 1407 free downloads today
– first day of Memorial Day weekend; had no idea if that would be good or bad
– Tracy Reed posted a guest blog at The Romance Studio about my book and sale
Choosy Bookworm Premium ad ($38) to 40,000+ subscribers, all week, but I don’t know the start and end date
Saturday 5/23: 972 free downloads today
– no known promo, except possibly Choosy Bookworm as part of their all week promo with the premium ad; possible that one of the 32 sites I submitted to earlier ran the book on this day
– I was enjoying the holiday weekend and didn’t do anything except look for tweets and reply and retweet
Over the next week, through the end of May:
There were 25 more freebies downloaded early Sunday morning before the price went back to $2.99, for a grand total of 7312 free copies downloaded in five days. I thought it was quite funny that two copies were returned, they were free, why take the time?! Haha! But even so, that’s a negligible percentage.
On Sunday, the first day the book was back at full price, I sold 15 copies. I sold 11 more copies over the rest of that week. It’s more than I’d sold for any other non-sale week, but it’s not much. Then for the whole month of June, the book sold 5 copies. No copies were sold during the first eight days of July.
Now since it’s KDP Select, and that means Kindle Unlimited, everyone wants to know how many borrows I had. As I mentioned earlier, I had one borrow in the 2 1/2 months before the book went free. In the eight days of May following the freebie period, I had 71 borrows! 🙂
Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that borrows don’t show up on the Prior Six Weeks Royalties, so I didn’t think to make a screen shot of June’s Month-to-Date Unit Sales on June 30. And when the borrows went from books to pages on July 1, the history no longer has borrowed books. Bummer!
Oh, wait! I am using the beta version of BookTrackr! I just went through all my emails and, though I’m missing a few days, it looks to be around 63 or so borrows in June. Excellent! Remember I had ONE borrow before I did my five-day free promo.

[UPDATE: Debra Holland kindly mentioned in the comments below how you can find your prior month’s sales. Thanks, Debra! So the borrows in June were 88 rather than 63. Nice! 🙂 ]

So in the 7 weeks since the free book promotion, Little Miss Lovesick has had 7312 free downloads, 31 sales, and about 138 163 borrows.Total spent on promotion – $118. Total earned – about $339 $389, approximately $63 from sales and $276 $326 from borrows. This is FAR MORE MONEY than I have earned in one month so far from all book sales combined. And if you’re interested in rankings, I think I hit #49 or 47 in all of the Kindle Free Store as my best rank, plus several #1 and #2 category rankings.
If you’re interested in how this compares with my last book promotion, see this post about making Unexpected Superhero free over two periods in October. I spent $80 that month, had 3710 free downloads, 59 sales, and 15 borrows over about four weeks, earning about $88.
I can think of at least three things that contributed to the difference. One, I did five free days in a row, which is what Debra Holland and many of our other friends strongly suggest. I wanted to try two weekends in October, and perhaps that accounted for less momentum. Two, my mailing list has almost doubled since October, and I have more fans. That may have contributed to increased sales and borrows. Three, these are different books in different genres. It’s impossible to replicate something exactly due to that alone.
I hope this gave you some ideas for places that might be good for you to try for your own promotions. And I hope you’ve gained some insight into how the whole process works. Remember, your results will not only vary from mine, but they will vary from one of your books to another!
I’m going to do another free promotion for Little Miss Lovesick next month. I’m going to try to replicate exactly the ads and promotions that I did in May, but also try to come up with additional ideas to increase visibility as well. I’ll let you know what happens!

Kitty Bucholtz

 

Kitty Bucholtz decided to combine her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. Her novels, Little Miss Lovesick, A Very Merry Superhero Wedding, and Unexpected Superhero are currently available on Amazon. The free short story “Superhero in Disguise” and the new short story “Welcome to Loon Lake” are available wherever ebooks are sold. You can find out about her courses on self-publishing, marketing, and time management for writers at her website Writer Entrepreneur Guides.

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My Results Using Ads and Specials by Kitty Bucholtz

April 10, 2014 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , , ,

Most writers are curious about what is and isn’t working for other writers when it comes to selling books. I’m grateful for what others have been willing to share, so it’s only fair to share in return. Even though my results are a bit embarrassing.

I’ve only bought ads three times. I bought an ad last year with The Wordsmith Journal Magazine (online) for Little Miss Lovesick. After one month, I had zero new sales. Ouch.

In August, while Unexpected Superhero was enrolled in the KDP Select program (meaning it was only for sale on Amazon for the first 90 days), I took advantage of the program’s free days option and made the book free for five days in a row at the end of a conference I was attending. I also bought an ad from BookBub that appeared on the first day of the promotion.

There were a whopping 17,561 free downloads during those five days! Over 10,000 copies were downloaded the first day, which I attribute primarily to the BookBub ad. During the next two weeks, I sold only 24 more copies when the book went off sale (back to $3.99). Then the sales dropped back to the 0-3 per week average that has been more common for my books so far.

A month or two ago, I dropped the price of Unexpected Superhero from $3.99 to $2.99 to see if I could see a change in sales. There might have been a slight increase. At 0-3 sales per week, it’s a bit hard to say. 🙂

My third promotion-with-paid-advertisement was last week. I dropped the price on Little Miss Lovesick and promoted it with 19 other lovely romance authors and their books last Friday. I also took out a then-free ad from eBookSoda, a newer email list like BookBub that advertises free and reduced-price books. (The ads were free, then $5, and I’m sure they’ll keep increasing in price as they grow their list. The problem with this ad is that I don’t know if it went to 100 people, 1000, or 20,000.)

I dropped the price from $2.99 to 99 cents a week before the promo with Smashwords so it would be 99 cents at the other outlets by the day of the promo. I decreased the price on Amazon two days before, and it went into effect the day before. I saw that I sold one copy on Amazon a day or two before the promotion, then two more copies total during the weekend of the promotion and ad.

That’s it – 3 sales. At the high end of “usual” for me.

Little Miss Lovesick got a new (second) cover a few months ago, but it’s barely changed the sales. Unexpected Superhero got a new (second) cover at the end of March, too early to tell if it has affected sales yet. I took out another eBookSoda ad (the free ad that went to $5 when I did it this time) for Sunday, May 4 (my third choice date, Fantasy category, same as last year’s BookBub ad). I’ll leave Superhero at its current $2.99 price and see if anything happens when it’s not on sale but advertised.

And that’s about all I know so far. My second superhero book was to be ready next week for WonderCon, and which I expected to help sales of the first book. But my husband’s motorcycle accident and injuries trumped anything and everything that used to be on my To Do list. 🙂

I’ll keep you updated so you get a well-rounded view of self-publishing and advertising. (It’s less embarrassing to write about your successes, so there are a lot more of those stories out there.) It would appear that my experience underscores what other successful writers have said about success coming after you have several books out. Unfortunately, “life” has thrown a wrench in making that happen soon, but as the Brits (used to) say, Keep Calm and Carry On.

And keep writing! 🙂

Kitty Bucholtz decided to combine her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. Her novels, Little Miss Lovesick and Unexpected Superhero, and the free short story “Superhero in Disguise,” are now available at most online retail sites. Superhero in the Making will be released this summer.

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