Thoughts on Select


Amazon UK

Over the last two days I tried out the Free Days offered by Amazon Select. On the 1st January I scheduled a Free Day on Amazon Select for the short story Standing Guard to test how this worked.  I extended this to the 2nd January during the run, as it was gathering momentum. Here are my thoughts on the immediate results of the promotion. Where possible I will add hard figures, which should make this more useful:

Starting Rank: nowhere.
Final rank (at 8:20 3rd January):
Amazon.com
  • #4,117 Free in Kindle Store
  • #76 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Short Stories
Amazon.co.uk
  • #3,047 Free in Kindle Store
  • #44 in Kindle Store > Books > Fiction > Short Stories
  • #76 in Kindle Store > Books > Fiction > Action & Adventure
Best Rank:
Amazon.com
  • #3,436 Free in Kindle Store
  • #66 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Short Stories
Amazon UK:
sg_20130102_best_uk

Advertising:
I didn’t push this particularly hard: no paid listings, no mentions or submissions to the larger boards like Pixel Of Ink or Ereader News Today.

I used addictedtoebooks and snickslist on both days, both of which produced interest in the download. eBooklister featured it for the first day, New Years, and produced the initial downloads. I also posted on Kindleboards in Book Bazaar and added it to my sig.

Twitter was an odd one. I didn’t want to spam, so I tried to limit myself to mentioning it every couple of hours. Everytime a tweet went out, I got a download – yes, just one download. The hashtags I used, e.g. #free and #kindle, are very busy so it’s entirely possible that those were reaching a new audience every time.

I posted on my blog on both days.  I use two analytics tools:  PW discounts any hit it thinks may possibly be by bots, proxies, etc. which indicated 7 and 9 extra unique visitors on the 1st and 2nd respectively. AW, a more lenient system, states that I got  83 uniques and over 700 page views across the two days.

On the second day I went onto the Amazon boards, both .co.uk and .com and promoted in “meet our authors”. This seems to have been successful, particularly comparing first day and second day downloads. I also posted on the KUF (Kindle UK Forum) in PR which appears to have boosted UK downloads considerably on that day.

On both days I used Project Wonderful ads, going straight to Amazon in the same region as the ad was showing. The click-thrus are definitely better from ebook sites and those directly about the subject of the book, regardless of site traffic-levels.  I spent 2 dollars.  I got 32 unique clickthrus and over 340,000 views.

PW_20130102_results

My thoughts?
I had heard that momentum is the key to this type of promotion, and I’d have to agree. It was plain enough by the following morning that I grouped my promotional days into a two day and upcoming three-day run. The first day got it onto a Top 100 list, the second improved it’s rank, and I suspect that if you can get into the Top 20 free in a category a virtuous spiral will result. I want to have another short story out by the time the three day runs comes up: items in the same category seem to attract more attention as a result of promotions.

For me, one of the problems is the Timezones – to reach a US audience I have to be up at around 5am, work through the day for a UK audience and then stay up late for the second US timezone. Scheduling tweets and on-running listings good for several days should make this easier for a longer promotion.  It also means the PW ads have more exposure.

I was very surprised at how few downloads it took to get on to an Amazon Free Top 100 list in the UK: 6. The US required over 30 which was still lower than I expected.

What I would be curious about is spillover sales. I’ll state now, over the two days of that select run I didn’t sell another book on Amazon.  Even for me, that’s unusual.  I will be very interested to see what sales are like for the rest of the month, and whether there is any ongoing effect on awareness-raising.

Finally there were some unexpected benefits.  I picked up more twitter followers and got a 4.5 star review from Ebooks for Aviators.

Would I leave something in Select long term?
Probably not. It’s useful for initial promotion but I get more benefit from the wider distribution Smashwords provides. I even found a few people during the promotion discussing getting the story when it’s out on the Nook. This may be specific to my audience – 2012 was a bad year, I got no advertising done or new titles released and still got ten times as many B&N downloads as Amazon ones.

Overall my first impressions are that Select is a useful promotional tool, but it would only really work commercially  if you have multiple titles out, or if the book you make free is part of a series. To get the best out of it, you need it to run for a few days, and promotion is best set up far in advance as  several sites require more than four weeks notice to list the book.

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