Having just launched DANGEROUS TALENTS, I am, of course, very interested in giving my baby the best start in life. There is no shortage of advice out there on how to to that. I’ve written before in this series about how I’m doing that, and I haven’t read anything since then that will change my approach, except for one thing: using price manipulation.
Joe Konrath wrote that the only thing he’s ever noticed make any significant difference in sales was getting more good quality, professionally produced books out, and price manipulation. Recently I heard about the success that Kris Tualla, a fellow writer had experienced using the Kindle Select free promo. Shortly after that, I read a blog by Phoenix Sullivan on the same topic. The handwriting was on the wall (so to speak). My sales for LIGHTBRINGER on sites other than Amazon were negligible. I didn’t have anything to lose by giving Amazon exclusivity. So six weeks ago I decided to give Kindle Select and their free promo a shot.
The theory is this: by making your book free for a few days, it moves up in the Amazon ranking system, and that makes your book more visible to readers, which helps you make more sales after your book goes back to paid. Easy peasy.
Did it work? It’s too soon to say how this strategy will play out over the long term, but in the short term: Yes. In the 30 days after going back to paid status after the free promo, I sold 10 times as many copies of LIGHTBRINGER as I had sold in any previous month on Kindle. LIGHTBRINGER started appearing in the “Customers who bought this item also bought” line-ups of other books, increasing its visibility.
Not surprisingly, I decided to use this strategy when I released DANGEROUS TALENTS. So far, in the four days since DT went back to paid status, I have sold more books than I think I would have otherwise. Obviously, there’s no way to know that, except to compare with the sales of my other releases. (One warning: Don’t panic if you don’t see a surge of sales right away. There seems to be a 24-48 hour lag while Amazon’s algorithm’s kick in, before sales pick up.) I haven’t done a social media blitz about DT, but I have mentioned it a few times on Facebook, Twitter, and some loops I’m a member of.
As for LIGHTBRINGER, sales seem to have dropped off again to a level only slightly better than they were before the free promo. I’m contemplating the possibility of running another free promo with my remaining free days in month or so, to see if my initial success can be repeated with a second promo.
This is exciting stuff for a control freak like me. The Kindle Select price manipulation seems to be a low risk, low time investment method of improving visibility and thereby sales.
There are arguments to be made against granting Amazon exclusivity. And it’s not absolutely necessary to do so to make your book free for a time. One advantage going with Kindle Select does give you, is making your book eligible for Amazon’s lending program, in which they pay the author a percentage of a pre-set fund per borrow. That fee fluctuates each month depending on the size of the fund and the number of borrows. I understand the amount has been as low as $0.70, and as high as $2.10 per borrow (but don’t quote me on that).
Some readers out there only have Nooks and won’t find your book if it’s only on Amazon. But from my own experience, I’m not sacrificing very many Nook sales (and I can go back to selling on B&N after 90 days if I want to). I do have a friend who has sold more stories on B&N than on Amazon in some months. You’ll have to decide for yourself if this is a good strategy for you.
And finally, some authors have an allergy to granting any one retailer exclusivity, especially Amazon. Again, that’s a personal decision. For me, for the next 90 days, I’m going to follow Mark Twain’s advise: I’m going to put all my eggs in one basket, AND WATCH THAT BASKET!