Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Strange Thing That Happened When I Ran My First KDP Select Countdown Promotion

The New World of Indie Publishing

EBooks have changed the way we think of publishing.  Much of the stigma that used to be associated with self-publishing a book has been removed, and people are coming out in droves to put their books on the market.  Where self-publishing used to mean paying heavy fees for printed copies of your books and then putting in hours of work trying to get bookstores to carry them, you can now get your work onto Amazon in just a few minutes.  Okay, that may be a bit of a simplification, and you can read about my experience with at least part of the process here, but my point is that it is a lot easier, and cheaper, than it used to be, and lots of people are taking advantage of that.

KDP Select

For those of you who haven't entered the world of eBook publishing yet, KDP stands for Kindle Direct Publishing.  It's one of the things that has made it so easy for authors to put their books on the market.  You just upload your manuscript and a book cover and boom...within a few hours your book is available for customers to purchase in the Kindle Store.  Just inserting some of my own opinion here--I said above that this has removed some of the stigma of self-publishing.  This is because there are actually some really good books out there by indie authors.  That, of course, does not mean that all of the indie published books are of good quality.  If you are picky about where you spend your money, read the free sample before purchasing a self-published book.

KDP Select is an optional program for authors publishing on Amazon.  If you opt in, you get a lot of benefits in exchange for your promise to not publish your book on any other site during the time in which you are enrolled.  KDP Select enrollment lasts for 90 days, after which you have the choice of renewing or opting out.  There is a lot of debate out there regarding whether KDP Select is a good idea or not.  I don't really have enough experience with it to answer that question here.  My decision was to do Select for the first 90 days and then opt out.

Countdown Promotions

This is just one of the benefits you get if you enroll in KDP Select.  The way it works is this: you have a book listed at a certain price.  It must be available on Amazon at that price for at least a month before you begin a countdown promotion.  When you are ready, you go in and select a sale price for you book, which must be at least $0.99.  Then you select the duration of your sale, which can't exceed one week.  If you'd like you can have your book price increase incrementally during your promotion, or you can keep the same price the entire time.  Theoretically you will see an increase in sales during your promotion.

The Weird Thing About My Promotion

My book was on Amazon for exactly one month before I put it on sale.  All purchases prior to the promotion had been from the US.  This did not surprise me.  I live in the US, my book takes place in the US, and most of the people who saw my advertisements were living in the US.  I did not sell a single copy in any of the international markets during the entire first month that my book was on Amazon.  I was expecting to see a similar trend when I ran my promotion.  Naturally I was hoping to sell more copies, but I wasn't expecting to suddenly get noticed  in other countries just because my book was on sale.  I was therefore surprised by what happened.

All of the purchases that occurred during my promotion were from the UK.  Every single one.  A couple of people downloaded free copies (another thing you can do with KDP Select) from the US site, but no one actually bought the book.  However, the UK sales for that one week totaled more than the entire preceding month.  I even made it onto the top 100 lists for a couple of sub-genres, and I got to something like number 6,000 overall in the Kindle Store.  But only on Amazon's UK site.  In the US my sales ranking hovered somewhere in the 100,000s.  It even plunged lower than that a couple of times.

So what happened?  Honestly I have no idea.  Don't get me wrong, I'm glad enough people bought my book to boost my ranking.  I just wish it could have been boosted in my own country as well.  But, really,  more than anything I'm confused about why it worked out that way.  As far as other trends that supposedly accompany a countdown promotion (I've heard rumors that the increased sales continue even after the book is no longer on sale), it's too early for me to know.  If anything surprising happens in that department, I may blog about it.

Are you an indie author who has seen surprising trends in your book sales?  Do you have any theories to offer about my own odd experience?  If so, please feel free to leave a comment.

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter for the latest information about my blog, my book, and my other projects.  And please check out Amelia's Children on Amazon, especially if you happen to live in the US.  Why let the Brits have all the fun? (just kidding!)

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