In this post I’ll discuss the KDP Select Free Promotion I ran for my holiday romance Candy for Christmas, which boosted it into Amazon’s Bestseller List. Specifically, I’ll delve into the nitty gritty of download numbers, including the 267% increase on the final day, as well as no/low-cost romance marketing solutions, and which ones were most effective. For context, you may want to read the previous post, where I discuss my initial steps, including:
- needing an original, marketable idea
- making the story embody the holiday spirit
- setting expectations and capturing attention with the right cover
- why I made the book free.
From 23-27 December, I made Candy for Christmas free using the KDP Select Free Promotion offered by Amazon. Over those five days, Candy received 3,453 Kindle downloads and I made Amazon’s bestseller list in Holiday Romance. I remained in the Top 100 for almost a month after the free promotion ended.
Here’s something you should know about KDP Select Free Book Promotion scheduling. It starts and finishes at midnight, Pacific Time. Depending on your time zone, your real-time start/finish days may be different. This was the case for me, because in Australia we run ahead of Pacific Time. On Amazon.com, my book didn’t flick to free at midnight on 23 December, local time. It happened at midnight Pacific Time, by which 23 December was almost over for me. Similarly, it ended on 27 December Pacific Time, but 28 December local time. Hence, I have a few downloads recorded on 28 December (from ahead time zones) even though the promotion ended 27 December, Pacific Time. (I hope all that made sense!)
As the graph demonstrates, downloads over this period rose and fell. I suspect marketing and the time of year (Christmas) played a large part.
December 23: 345 downloads. Candy has only recently been released (19 Dec) and has no reviews. Plus, even free, people still need to find it.
December 24: 307 downloads. I suspect the decline is due to it being Christmas Eve, one of the busiest days of the year. Fewer people had time for reading.
December 25: 627 downloads. A 204% rise. Christmas morning’s probably spent with family, but the afternoon is relaxed. Perfect for reading a holiday romance.
December 26: 545 downloads. A 13% download decline. Can anyone say Boxing Day sales?
December 27: 1,455 downloads. That is a massive 267% increase from the previous day.
December 28: 63 downloads. The free promotion ended on 27 December, but these few downloads scraped through because of time zone differences.
Why, on 27 December, the last day of the KDP Select free days promotion, did Candy‘s downloads increase 267 per cent? It’s a two-fold answer. First, I finally started to get reviews, and second, new marketing kicked in on 26/27 December.
Marketing the KDP Select free book promotion
I focused on free or low-cost marketing for this KDP Select free promotion. There are various websites and communities interested in Free Kindle Books. Some accept submissions for free, but won’t guarantee promotion, while others charge a fee. There are various conditions. Candy is an erotic romance, and many sites don’t want erotica (and don’t distinguish between erotica and erotic romance). Some need anywhere between two days to two weeks lead time. Some can only be submitted during the free period.
What follows is a list of sites where I submitted Candy for Christmas. It took me a day to weed out sites that didn’t accept books with sexy scenes and fill out all the forms. I could have paid someone on Fiverr, but there’s value in doing the process myself at least once. Knowing when and where a promotion occurred helped me analyse the effectiveness of my marketing, including those marketing activities that generated the most return.
- lovelustandlipstickstains.com : 23 December for $5
I bought Love/Lust’s fiverr gig and they shared my book with their 10,000+ Facebook fans and posted on their blog which gets over 14,000 monthly visits, 95% from USA and Canada. As a BONUS, they featured me in their newsletter. That’s great service and I will be using them again. [Note: I’ve since done other promos with them and got 500 new likes on my Facebook page. I’ll post about this in coming weeks]
I posted in all of these groups on 23 December.
- Free Kindle Books : 20,000+ members
- Free E-Book Downloads : 18,000+ members
- Free Kindle and Nook eBooks : 33,000+ members
- Asweome Free Kindle Books Here! : 16,000+ members
Most of these are closed groups so if you want to join then you need to factor in a few days for admin approval. They ask you only post once during the free period. If you do it more, you run the risk of being kicked out.
Websites and email lists
Free submission, was promoted:
At the very end, I’ve listed the sites where my free submission yielded no results (see Free submission, but was not promoted). At the two sites above, Candy was only featured on their website, not their email list — I’m not complaining, just laying it out for you. I know that Ignite Your Book featured Candy for Christmas because it showed up in my Google alerts, though I didn’t get a notification from them directly — too busy doing their good work to talk about it. ebooklister sent me a confirmation email including the dates I’d be listed — kudos for making my life easier. Unfortunately, by the time I checked both sites on 28 December, the free promo was over and Candy had dropped off the edge of their worlds, so no screenshots (my bad). The moral: next time I want some free advertising, I know where I’ll start.
Paid a fee to be featured:
Note that the following sites offer a range of promotional options, at varying prices. I went with the cheapest option. I’ve arranged them in date order, to make it easier to see how each corresponds to the download numbers over each day.
- Snickslist.com : 23-27 December for $1.50
I had a page on the Snickslist site, and was listed on their catalogue of free books. Candy was not included in their newsletter. They have 4,000 twitter followers and my book was tweeted.
- freeebooksdaily.com : 23-27 December for $3
Free Ebooks Daily looks to be a nice little niche site. For my money I got a dedicated blog post with book cover featured (I was particularly pleased withe the attractive presentation — see screen shot above), and download links for Amazon US, UK, and Canada, as well as promotions on 23 December on Facebook (4.6k page likes) and Twitter (20.1k followers). The Twitter post had 1 retweet and two likes, which was more than I had from anywhere else.
- thekindlebookreview.net : 23-27 December for $5
This bought me the book cover and blurb on their free books page. Next time I will probably try a paid option with more features, as they have 60k+ followers and 8k+ likes.
- romanceebookdeals : 26-27 December for $15
Romance ebook Deals was one of the multiple sites the hotzippy form (in the ‘free submission, not promoted’ list below) submitted to, but I also submitted here directly as a paid promotion. Candy was featured in their newsletter on 26 and 27 December (the day with significantly higher downloads)
- digitalbooktoday.com : 25-27 December for $15
Candy was featured on the Digital Books Today website, but not in the newsletter (readers had to click a link to see the full list of free books on the website). However, they do list their stats and they generate over 200k clicks into Amazon every month!
- excitespice.com : 27 December for $5
Excite Spice was excellent. I messed up the order, and when my ad didn’t go out by 26 December, I contacted them and they squeezed me in on 27 December. It was my fault, but I’m really glad they were flexible, as that was my best download day.
It’s seems likely that one or more of the final three sites I’ve listed above (Romance ebook deals, Digital Book today, Excite Spice) which promoted me on 27 December, is responsible for the volume of downloads increasing by 267% (1,455 total downloads). The other significant factor is reviews. For the first three days of my five-day promotion, I received no reviews. That was alarming, since one of the primary returns of a KDP Select free promotion is reviews. Reviews contribute to climbing bestseller lists, and increase downloads, particularly once the book is no longer free. (For example, I remained in Amazon’s Top 100 for almost a month after the free promotion ended.)
Stay tuned to find out why I wasn’t getting reviews despite so many downloads, and how I resolved it.
Indie romance writer and author of the Shifter Town series.
Free submission, but was not promoted:
As noted above, I submitted the details of my KDP Select Free promotion to these sites, but was not featured by them. I determined this in two ways: 1) I subscribed to newsletters and scanned issues between 23-27 December, and performed a search of each email for ‘”Candy for Christmas’. 2) I used Google to perform a domain-specific search on each site for ‘Candy for Christmas’.
- bookdip.com/pages/for-authors ^
- freebooksy.com #
- iloveebooks.com ^
- naughtybookstoread.com *
- naughtyreadsonthecheap.com *^
- http://ohfb.com/book-sale-notice ^
- kindleromancedealsandsteals.com ^
- shamelessbookclub.com ^
(This form says it submits your title to Bargain eBook Hunter, Pixelscroll, Romance eBook Deals*)
* specialises in romance
^ looks professional, likely has a large subscriber base
# explicitly states it has a 100k+ readership
I wasn’t expecting Candy to feature on many sites considering I was using the free submission option and I didn’t give them much lead time before the promo started (a day or two). It’s possible with more notice (more than just five days before Christmas), Candy may have been featured on more of them. Next time I run a free book promotion I plan to trial paid promotion at some of the sites I’ve marked with * ^ #. There are also some good tips in Prepare your book for its KDP Select free promotion days. (Return to Free Submission)