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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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Looking at the KENP “Tail” After a KDP Select Promotion by Kitty Bucholtz

October 9, 2015 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz tagged as , , , , , ,

Woman with books and laptopOver the last several months, I’ve been sharing my Amazon sales numbers with you as I compare changes during and right after my KDP Select promotions.

I wrote about the results from my May 5-days-free promotion here, and I just updated the earnings this week to “actual” rather than a guesstimate, showing I overestimated revenue. I also tallied the results from my August 5-days-free promotion here. (I’m still showing revenue guesstimates until I get the final numbers for September, but I’ll update that post soon). Both of these promotions have been for Little Miss Lovesick, which has been in KDP Select since February 26, 2015.

Comparing Borrows After a Free Promo

FreeNow I want to discuss my “borrows” – which I’ll refer to as KENP (Kindle Edition Normalized Pages) for periods beginning July 1, 2015. I’ve been studying the “tail” of sales and borrows after my promotions to see how long it lasts. (The length of the period after a sales spike is commonly referred to as the tail.)

I don’t want to leave my book in KDP Select forever, but at what point has the positive impact of the 5-days-free promo in each 90-day period stopped influencing borrows/KENP? It’s not cut-and-dried, particularly because you can’t truly compare “borrows” of full books to KENP, “pages read” of full books. But for me, for this book, it looks like there are 4-6 good weeks of borrows, with the first three weeks the very best.

For example, for the first 2 1/2 months of the first KDP Select 90-day period (February 26 – May 25, 2015), I had 1 borrow. In the two weeks during and after the free period (May 19-31), I had 71 borrows! Then another 88 in the month following (June 1-30).

But the second month after the free period showed a sharp drop – 2381 KENP pages read. Little Miss Lovesick has 402 KENP pages, so that’s the equivalent of about 6 books borrowed and read July 1-31.

[NOTE: Little Miss Lovesick was earning about $1.35 per “borrow” through June 30, 2015. Since Amazon changed borrows to KENP pages read on July 1, the book – at 402 KENP pages – now earns about $2.32 if a reader reads every page.]

Comparing the Second Round to the First

Little Miss Lovesick book coverDuring the second 90-day period (May 26 – August 23), I tried to recreate the circumstances as exactly I could. During the two weeks during and after the free period (August 18-31), there were 24,899 KENP pages read! Because I don’t expect that every reader reads every page (copyright page, author bio, excerpt, etc.), I’d guess that’s between 62 and 66 books borrowed and read (compared to 71 borrows in May).

The following month, September 1-30, there were 15,567 KENP pages read. That’s probably about 38-42 books borrowed and read (as compared to 88 in June).

If you’d like to see exact numbers, here are the KENP pages read by week for the last seven weeks. Day 1 of Week 1 is the first day of the 5-days-free promo.

Week 1: 7246 KENP pages read
Week 2: 17,653
Week 3: 7831
Week 4: 3780
Week 5: 1692
Week 6: 1811
Week 7: 1274

It’s too early to guess what October’s numbers might be, but based on one period of history above (not a good way to show statistical integrity), and understanding that the previous way Amazon counted borrows (1 book, regardless of how much of it was read after the 20% mark) is significantly different from the new method (by page, exactly), my guess is that October’s numbers will be bleak.

The reason why I started looking at these numbers this week is because Little Miss Lovesick is in the middle of another 90-day KDP Select period, and I need to decide which five days will be free. Knowing that the sales/borrows tail will be good for at least three weeks, I want to do the free promo at least three to four weeks before the end of the period so I can get all the revenue I can from borrows before the book leaves the program.

KDP Select banner

My Conclusion and Action Plan

Unless I change my mind and leave this book in KDP Select for another term (through February 19, 2016), I’ll set the five free days to start sometime during the week of October 18. That will leave me a four-to-five-week tail to get paid for as many KENP pages read as possible before the book leaves KDP Select on November 22.

ACK!! That doesn’t give me much time to figure out where and how to promote it to best advantage!

And that is why I wrote this post for you. 🙂 If you put a book in KDP Select, you need to think through all the potential good that can come your way and figure out how to harness it. If you leave your 5-day-free promo to the end of the period, and don’t renew the book in KDP Select in the following period, you stand to lose hundreds of dollars or more in KENP lost revenue.

If your book isn’t selling anywhere else, as was the case with this book, it probably doesn’t hurt to keep trying different ways to gain readers using KDP Select. For instance, if you don’t want to make your book free for five days (and they can be any five days, but everyone I know, myself included, has found the best results when the five days are in a row), you can try KDP Select’s Kindle Countdown Deal.

The key is – whatever you decide to do, think it through and make a plan. Good luck!

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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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Celebrating Indies with Their Own Magazine: InD’Tale

May 15, 2014 by in category Archives tagged as , ,
InD’Tale’s TJ MacKay & me
Recently, I met T.J. MacKay, the brilliant, savvy blonde and very vivacious lady behind the new on-line magazine, InD’Tale. The magazine is for readers and indie authors, blending industry information with behind-the-scenes looks at the writing life. Her passion for those folks who forge the road less traveled with their literary vision and are now paving it with their talent, is unparalleled.  Her emphasis on romance is just the tip of the iceberg. For Mothers Day, here is an interview with a lady who just gave birth to a magazine every author should read.
Rebecca: InD’Tale is a great play on words. Why the focus on Indie Authors?
T.J.: When Indie was just starting to boom, there was no really credible platform in the industry for all the talented authors.  I wanted to provide the singular place where they could learn some of the tricks of the trade and be celebrated through interviews and reviews.
Rebecca:  To follow up on the word play, is there such a thing as an Indie Reader?
T.J.: Almost everyone could be considered an “Indie Readers.”  I don’t think readers give a hoot whether a book has a publishers stamp on it or not – they just want a really good, well-crafted story.
Rebecca: Tell me about two articles in upcoming issues – one for authors and one for readers.
T.J.: Mark Coker of Smashwords.com – one of the first to celebrate indie authors – just signed on to be a re-occurring contributor. He has an article on the way in June.  We are finishing up a great three part series on screenwriting by one of Hollywood’s newest talents.  For readers (as well as authors) we have a behind the scenes look at an industry photo shoot that takes us step by step through the process of creating amazing book covers We do an in-depth feature interview on a favorite best selling author each month. This is done in a personal, conversational style so readers can really get to know the author … oh goodness, I could go on and on! 
Rebecca: You specifically talk to USA Today and NYT bestsellers for your in-depth interviews. Why?
T.J.: The feature interview is a 7 – 8 page layout, so the highlighted author needs to have the experience and credentials to be able to help teach those who are working to achieve that same level of success.
Rebecca: Do you know the requirements for an indie author to hit those lists so we can try really hard?
T.J.: The NY Times requires sales in multiple venues, which – when traditional was the only way to go – seemed fair and reasonable.  Now that Indie is such a huge portion of the industry, however, it’s become quite a conundrum for them.  Indie authors are making money but it is from one or two distributors (almost always Amazon) which doesn’t qualify them.  I asked the Vice-President of Amazon about it and he said, “Until we can convince New York to change their policy, authors may be faced with a choice: get rich or get on the list.”  I think this will eventually change.
Rebecca: How do you choose the books you’ll review?
T.J.:  As of right now, we review all books that are submitted and qualify. You can see our guidelines on the website. We review between 80 – 100 books a month and are working two months out right now.
Rebecca: Who are your reviewers?
T.J.: Currently, we have 24 reviewers.  All have professional credentials and are strictly screened and trained.  Professional reviews require a reviewer to set aside their personal views and look at a book from a strictly objective point of view. We have very specific guidelines that must be adhered to in order to maintain consistency and credibility. I also randomly read some of the books that are being reviewed to make sure that standard stays consistent.
Rebecca: Your emphasis is romance. Will you review other genres? 
T.J.: Actually our emphasis is NOT just on romance. We review almost all genres and require only that there be a romantic thread within the story. 
Rebecca: Are you or have you ever been an author? You are pretty darn passionate about books.
T.J.: Actually, I’m just pretty darn passionate about people and books! I doubt I’ll ever write a book. I was a journalist and my passion is in helping incredible authors become successful. I’m also an avid reader.  I read an average of 5 to 6 books a week just to keep up!
Rebecca: What else do we need to know abut the TJ MacKay brand and the way you want to bring readers and authors together?
TJ: The most important thing to know about me is how deeply and sincerely I want to help talented authors find success and readers find the books that will spark their love of reading.  It truly is a passion. Only those who have felt that drive to write, no matter what it is they write, can honestly understand how deeply that desire can run. Every single thing we do at InD’tale is for that one purpose.

Find T.J. at:  http://www.indtale.com
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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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