In which I release a free e-book on KDP Select Amazon (the experiment).

So, part of this blog is to help prep for an inevitable audience and totally successful bow into self publication.  This week’s lesson involved the first attempt I’ve made ‘giving away’ a book on Amazon (by enrolling in the KDP Select Program.  For those who don’t know, this basically means you will sell a book ONLY through Amazon for 3 months.  Given most of my sales come through Amazon, I did not feel I was giving up significant sales elsewhere).

For reasons I’ll later get into, I’ve decided to break away from my YA name, Courtney Brandt, and build a new platform for myself under a pen name, Ann Benjamin.  As Courtney Brandt, I have 5 self published titles (all centering around a high school marching band).  The first book in the series, The Line, has been out for quite some time and was the perfect title to give away.

A few things influenced this decision:

1. February is traditionally one of my slowest months for book sales.

2.  It’s great practice for when I actually release a book.

3.  Via word of mouth, I had heard good things about the program.  Other authors I know encouraged me to try it.

4.  As a long time downloader of free Kindle books, I owed back at least one book of my own.  🙂

So, with little to no advertising at all, The Line ran free yesterday.  The only places I let people know the book was for free was my Twitter account (where I have maybe 50 followers), my facebook group for the series (220 followers) and my marching dedicated Tumblr account (2500 followers).  By announcing it, the day of, I received (with the number still slightly changing) 1078 downloads.  Of which, 1 was returned, giving me a grand total of 1077. Even though I was not checking religiously on the number, I think I made it to around the 235th most popular free book download (I was also first in my category).

Given I had no real knowledge of how the book would do and nothing to judge it against, I feel okay – that 1078 is a good place to start with and good benchmark for the next free day.  While I’m sad that I have no way of recovering those sales, at the same time, now a lot more people have heard about my book.  With four additional free days, I’m hoping to continue to increase my visibility. Of course, I’m also hoping there will be a trickle down effect to my other books, but as of now, the spill over from the free books seems to be fairly low.

Here’s what I think I’ll do next time:

1.  Actually build up when the free day is.  By springing it on people – it seems a bit unfair.  I don’t think I’ll do a BIG lead up, but at least give people more than a ‘GO NOW’ sort of signal.  (BTW, if you want to know – the next date is March Fourth, kind of an inside joke among the marching community).

2.  Do this for all my other titles.  Cycle through each of the books in 3 month increments.  With 5 books, this would be a great way to continue interest by doing next to nothing.  Listing my book for free didn’t technically cost me anything.  The people who downloaded the book weren’t going to buy it anyway, so it’s not a loss of revenue.

3. Update the categories my books are listed in.  I really dislike how Amazon’s system works, but think I would do better / gain more exporsure if I change the category for the whole series.

4. Decrease the price of all the other books in the series.  I’m curious to see if a .99 price point has a different reaction than the current $1.99 one.

What this means for when I release one of my adult manuscripts:

1.  Without a ‘base’ of books with my name, there will need to be a lot more promotion.  I need to weigh whether or not just to let my book run for free for a certain amount of days.

2.  I’m hopeful that as both books I intend to release are not as niche as my YA books, that it will be easier to attract a wider range audience.

How about you, reader?  Any experience in giving the milk away?

What are your thoughts?

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