KDP Select Giveaway, a Case Study (Part 1)

By Lori Culwell

AmazonWe promised honesty here at BookPromotion.com, and honesty is what you’re going to get with this experiment that I conducted last month.   Yes friends, this is where I tell you about a “Kindle Free Giveaway” promotion that I did—one involving writing five eBooks, performing a ton of setup and headache to get everything formatted correctly, and time spent submitting the giveaway to the various “free eBook” sites in advance.     Every case study I read says that this is what pushes books to the top of their respective categories in the “free” section, and that after the free period, you should be able to pick up sales from the book now being in a bestseller list for “paid” books, plus you should be able to sell the other books that are linked from within the free book.  Granted, most of the case studies I’ve read have been for cookbooks, but I thought I would give this a try and report back.

Speaking of transparency, just so you know, what I’m NOT going to tell you are the titles of the eBooks or the pen name I used to write them, because I think in order to be truly useful, this experiment needs to be untainted by any traffic I might throw to the books from my personal network or mailing lists or from this site.   I actually am trying to approach this particular series as if I were a brand-new author with no list and no social media, so I can try out the “daisy chain multiple books together and make one of them free on Kindle” theory.

Here’s what happened, and what I think I could have done differently:

1.  Get books together.  Make sure each one is completed, has good content and a decent cover.  Make sure each book has clickable links to each and every one of the other books in the back.   Make sure there is a clickable link back to the book’s listing itself, with a compelling call to action to get people to leave a review.  Make sure there is a link in the back that sends people to a mailing list signup (since your mailing list is going to be where you make the repeat money).   This series has five books in it, and I’m going to be honest, it took me six months to finish all the content and make sure each one had all of these things.  I could have been more efficient on this step, and will have to be more efficient if I do something like this again, because eBooks are a volume business, and time is money.

2.  Get Reviews.  The book that I put on KDP Select for free only had two reviews (it was the victim of some selective Amazon review elimination awhile back).   I did send the book out to the mailing list for the specific niche/ website, but I did not push this hard enough.   Two reviews (even if they are glowing reviews) is not enough, but I didn’t know this until I was already in the process of submitting to the “free book” websites (see below).  This I would need to do differently next time.

3.  Decide on free dates/ set this up on KDP Select.   Because step # 1 took so long, I actually was just eager to get the book out there and see what would happen, so I set the “free period” to be five days in a row, starting on a Thursday (the case study I read said that free eBooks do better on the weekend).  I should have allowed more lead time for this, also because of the book websites (covered under # 4).   I didn’t know that some of them require a week or ten days’ notice, but I figured since the promotion was about to go live, I would try it to see how it worked.

4.  List book on free eBook websites.   This is where I got my rude awakening.   First of all, I didn’t know how many of these free sites had proliferated since the last time I did a promotion like this.  I actually found that it was much more useful to join AuthorMarketingClub.com (it’s free) and use their list, which is all in one place.  Still, I didn’t have enough reviews to even be considered by some of the bigger sites, and I should have allowed more lead time.   This is when I realized there was no way I was getting into Pixel of Ink, and cried a little inside (because of how long it took me to finish the series—again, more efficiency would have negated this problem).

5.  Start Free Promo, see what happens.    OK, the book was free for four days, and (to my knowledge) did not get picked up by any of the free book websites, possibly because I didn’t give enough notice, or maybe because of the low number of reviews.  Still, I got to # 1 in my category pretty quickly, and stayed there for the entire promo period.

Tomorrow I will tell you my results (downloads/ sales).   It ain’t pretty, people!