I uploaded my self-published novel Zemsta to Amazon on May 11. The next day, the paperback was available through CreateSpace. At first, my friends and family kept the sales numbers moving in the right direction. But after three weeks had gone by, sales were down to a dribble.
I researched the Kindle Direct Publishing Select program, but originally was hesitant to sign up. I figured I’d get in on it later in the summer. The general rule of thumb is if you have more than 30 percent of your sales on sites other than Amazon, the program might not be cost-effective. Since I had sold a whopping total of six books on Barnes & Noble and Smashwords, it was a no brainer for me. What did I have to lose?
In return for exclusivity, KDPS promises that authors can reach a whole new audience through the Kindle Lending Library and Amazon Prime. In both mediums, your book is free. However, you can earn royalties when the book is lent, a small percentage of the month’s overall lending royalties for all books in the Lending Library. About 25 have borrowed Zemsta so far.
The KDP Select program allows you to offer your book free for 5 days within a period of 90 days in whatever combination you want—single days, all 5 days in a row, 3/2 days, etc.)
For my first promotion, I decided on a three-day block. I had read that it was best to do it before the weekend, so you could experience a sales bounce on the weekend. My kindle rank before my free period hovered somewhere between 125,000 and 190,000. It’s stressful to even type those numbers.
Free downloads on the first day totaled 590. My kindle rank was 373 in free kindle; 7 in historical fiction; and 19 in mystery/thriller/suspense. I loved watching my rankings improve as the counter went steadily upward.
At the beginning of the second day, downloads trickled in…at least until around 10:00 a.m. I frequently checked the reports, and all of a sudden, it started picking up. In one hour, over 500 kindle versions of Zemsta were downloaded, and by the end of the second day, downloads totaled 4758. My ranking was 71 in free kindle; 2 in historical fiction; and 16 in mystery/thriller/suspense. I was definitely having fun, regardless of the fact that each download was free, and I wasn’t making any royalties.
By 7 a.m. on day three, there were 6,993 downloads. And my ranks had improved: 42 overall; 2 in historical fiction; and 5 in mystery/thrillers/suspense.
At the end of day three, downloads totaled 9,610. Not too shabby. My ranking reached 28 in all of free kindle; 2 in historical fiction; and 2 in mystery/thriller/suspense. Remember, those are free rankings, not to be confused with paid.
By 9 a.m., the morning after the end of the promotion, my overall rank in the paid kindle store was 69,827. Back to reality. For the most of that first day, my rank hovered around 40,000.
Three days after the promotion ended there was definitely a nice bounce in sales. And I moved up to the 9,000 in the paid kindle rank. Four days later, my rank went up into the 6,000s and I had sold as many books for kindle as I had for the previous four weeks.
By the end of the week after the promotion, my sales are still higher than they were before, but not as much as I had hoped for. We’ll see if the momentum continues to build. With more reviews are coming in—all 4s and 5s so far—hopefully readers will take notice.
KDP Select provided a definite benefit for the first week after the promotion. But the following week sales were down to nothing. I have no idea why. I will add to this post in a month to update.
I have two more free days available before the end of August and plan to coincide them with a promotion running in The National Examiner on July 16.
It’s impossible to know what Amazon is doing with its algorithm, which they use to determine the rankings. What we do know is it’s constantly changing, and Amazon intends to maximize it to their advantage. They aren’t in the business to help indie authors if it doesn’t mean an enhanced bottom line for them.