I just read posts by Phoenix Sullivan and Edward Robertson (no relation) that contain important information for anyone planning to use Kindle Select’s free promotion days as a springboard to success for their indie published book. Basically, in a nutshell, Amazon has changed its algorithm again (possibly in anticipation of a change in the agency pricing model they’ve been working with for the last several years) so the free downloads of Kindle Select books are no longer weighted as favorably as they used to be in the sales reports. That means the books downloaded for free won’t help your book move up the best seller and popularity lists as much as they did in the past. (They still help, just not as much as a paid sale.) It also means that your book’s rank will remain more stable. When every Tom, Dick, and Mary put their books up for free, the rush of free downloads won’t overwhelm your book’s sales rank.
Does that mean you should abandon Kindle Select as a strategy for getting your book noticed?
Both Phoenix and Ed say KS still has its uses. It’s just not as much of a magic bullet as it used to be.
Going free for a few days will still get your book into the hands of readers who might not otherwise have taken a chance on your book. Not all of those downloads will get read right away, and not all of those will translate into future sales. But some will. In direct mail advertising, this is called the conversion rate. The ratio of sales to advertising “units.” That’s what your free books are: advertising units.
What will I do? I’ve scheduled a free promotion of LIGHTBRINGER starting today. I scheduled this before I read these posts, and I don’t see any reason to change my mind. Sales of LIGHTBRINGER have dropped off to pre-free levels, so I figure I might as well go for it. Even if the “3 day bump” in sales (an increase in sales that used to come come about 40 hours after the free promo ended) is much smaller than it was the first time I did it, it still will help get my book into more readers’ hands. As Ed mentions, word of mouth is still the best advertising a writer can hope for.
What I think this means is that indie authors will have to focus on the basics again: writing a good book, good formatting, good cover, good reviews. And a willingness to experiment.