Saturday, 19 July 2014

Kindle CountDown Outcome, by Chris Longmuir


I’ve been publishing ebooks for several years now, but I’ve never done anything specific to promote my books. I’ve always worked on the assumption that well written books with a good storyline will always find a reader.

Over the years, I’ve made it a point not to use gimmicks, or promotional tools to increase the selling power of my novels, and I haven’t knocked myself out trying to improve sales figures, and I’ve been quite happy that my books are finding appreciative readers.

However, after listening to a fellow author singing the praises of Kindle CountDown deals, and how it boosted sales, I was tempted to give it a try.

First I had to find out how it worked, and here is the Amazon link if you want to have a look. The first thing I found out was that your book has to be in KDP Select before you can use this promotional tool, and as I only have one book in KDP Select, and that is my Crime Fiction and the Indie Contribution, it had to be that one. I prefer a wider distribution for my crime novels so that all ereaders can have access to them. I don’t particularly like restricting my crime novels to Kindle only.

The impression I got initially was that I couldn’t have my book on countdown in both the US and the UK at the same time. So, I chose the US. I suppose in a way my choice was a bit perverse, because I’m better known in the UK. But the deed was done, and the book went on Kindle Countdown in the US, with the price starting at $0.99, on Tuesday 8th July, with a staged increase in price until it returned to its normal price of $4.99 on Tuesday 15th July.

However, I soon found out I was wrong about not being able to use more than one Amazon platform, for a countdown deal, and that the book could be on countdown simultaneously in the US and the UK. Apparently all you have to do is set them up as separate deals at the same time, one after the other.

Hugely frustrated I reckoned I had missed the boat in respect of having Kindle Countdown working in tandem in the UK and the US. But, ever the optimist, I went back to the KDP page where countdown deals are set up and I was able to schedule a UK countdown, but it would start belatedly on Thursday the 10th July, 2 days after the commencement of the US countdown. Both countdowns would end on the 15th July when the price would go back to normal.

So, now that the Kindle Countdown has ended, has it been worth while?

Excuse me, while I give a snort of derision.

Despite developing massive calluses on my tweeting fingers, and posting on Facebook, Goodreads, Google Plus, and Pinterest, my sales never advanced beyond single figures. Yes, you heard that right. My sales on Amazon.com were exactly the same as the previous week, and despite a small increase of sales on Amazon.co.uk, the book couldn’t quite struggle into double figures with the number of sales. Maybe it’s because it was a nonfiction book rather than fiction, I don’t know. Maybe the bargain hunters prefer fiction! I don’t know. What I do know is that being on KDP Select in order to take advantage of promotions like Kindle CountDown Deals is not worth the trouble. So, as soon as the time period for KDP Select is up, Crime Fiction and the Indie Contribution will be uploaded to Smashwords for wider distribution. I get more Apple iBook sales for my books through Smashwords than the Kindle CountDown generated.

What I do know is that several of my author friends do consider KindleCountdown a good promotional tool, but it didn’t work for me. However, what it has done is to increase my belief that KDP Select is not for me.

Chris Longmuir









9 comments:

Kathleen Jones said...

KDP didn't work for me either Chris - so maybe I don't write the right kind of books! Giving the books away free doesn't work for me either - you go right to the top of the rankings without any increase in sales afterwards. I'd rather just put the books on multiple platforms.

madwippitt said...

TBH I don't quite get the whole Countdown thing. If I'm going to buy a book, I buy it. If I can't afford it at the time, it goes on my list of books to buy until I can afford it. I certainly don't hang around waiting hopefully for it to be discounted ... And nothing pisses me off more (forgive the language, but it really does rile me) than buying something at its full price and then finding a day/week/month or whatever later that it has been knocked down to a cheaper price. While the 'buy while its still in stock' mentality might work with some physical purchases, its never going to apply to an ebook.

Mari Biella said...

I'm with Madwippit on this - if I want to read a book, I'll happily pay full price for it. If I don't want to read it, special offers probably won't tempt me much. Perhaps the Countdown deals work for certain books and authors, but the Select exclusivity clause puts me off. Not everyone uses a Kindle, or buys from Amazon.

Catherine Czerkawska said...

I don't think they work for most non-fiction, Chris. But I've had a lot of success with certain fiction books. I did one recently with the Curiosity Cabinet and saw a big spike in sales which in turn resulted in a big spike in visibility (I was up there with Diana Gabaldon for a short while!) and then a knock on effect afterwards at full price. And some sales of other books too. I think like everything else, you have to give it a try and see what works for you. I'm slowly but surely planning to take things off Select and get them out elsewhere, but at the moment, my decision is that I'll also keep a few on Select and see whether Countdown continues to be good for me - and also what happens with the Kindle Unlimited deal which may or may not be a poison chalice. One thing's certain about Amazon, they never stand still and all we can do is experiment and monitor the results. I'll happily pay full price for a book too (as long as it's not Big Five high!) but I know a lot of people won't. And in some sense,it's the visibility you're after. But to take advantage of that, you have to have an optimum number of books out there, I think. The people who write novellas and have a lot of 'inventory' seem to do best with a judicious use of Select and Countdown.

Lydia Bennet said...

I have a feeling that the big benefits of free promos were more marked earlier on - there are now so many free kindle books they get lost in the crowd even if you get them listed on various freeby sites and twitter accounts. I've had all mine on select for ages but never seem to get round to using the free days, and the one time I tried a countdown not much happened - my books are low in price anyway, if people don't want to spend 99p or £2.97... I'm taking mine off Select and putting them out there.

Lydia Bennet said...

Oh, and amazon have just emailed with some new benefit for Select about lending but it didn't seem clear how it differed from the lending scheme they already have, plus it's only in the US. Frankly they don't give nearly enough for Select books, in exchange for not being able to promote your books by quoting much on blogs etc.

Nick Green said...

I think the thing to remember about any kind of promotion is that it is a roll of dice. And in most cases the die is a D100 (betraying my D&D past there). It is a chance of improvement, no more, and in most cases it won't work. But it's still worth rolling, just in case you do make that saving throw...

Catherine Czerkawska said...

Meant to say in my comment that I haven't done a freebie for ages. They could work well at first - in fact I dimly remember making a rather large amount of cash one month! - but then the free books were separated from the not-free books, so there seemed to be no point in it at all. The whole point to me seemed to be to increase visibility. However, I know some people in the US who do very well indeed with free promotions of the first one of a series. I just don't really write series (although I have one in mind!) Valerie, that's Kindle Unlimited. Lots of wild speculation about it. It will overtake the lending library, I'm sure. Best place to get an overview without too much panic is probably (as ever) The Passive Voice.

Chris Longmuir said...

Thanks for your comments folks. I've now unticked the box for KDP Select, and come August my nonfiction book will join the others on Smashwords. I'm kinda out of circulation at the moment and am doing this from Harrogate. The Crime Festival is great and the highlight for me was Lynda La Plante this morning, she was a bundle of energy and very entertaining. Close second was JK Rowling as her alter ego Robert Galbraith.