In 2014, when I first approached the Room 702 free KDP run, I had no concept of what numbers I would accomplish. I think in the back of my mind, my hope was to make it up to the Top 100 on Amazon. When I peaked at #22 for all Amazon free books, it was a great feeling. At that time, other than paying for some of the promotional websites to help market my book on my behalf, I did not: have access to BookBub (but damn if I’m not going to keep trying) or officially advertise on Twitter or Facebook (I did do posts, but did not pay for anything specific).
When I set out recently with Life After Joe, I knew I would be up against a challenge. Although my thought process went something like this: “There will be a ton of people online for Cyber Monday, so why not offer them something for free? Who doesn’t like free stuff?” I had two relatively large details to overcome:
- Timing. Because I had guests in town and was committed to being away from my computer, I had to really force myself to set everything up in advance. If I had unlimited time, there are numerous other websites, groups and forums I would’ve posted about my free book. Instead, I had to accept the results with the amount of effort I put in. Additionally, given I was promoting a book during one of (if not the busiest) online traffic periods in the year, I was afraid (and had to accept) that my novel might get lost in the noise.
- Lack of reviews. Room 702 went further (I believe) because at the time of the free release, it had over 10 positive reviews. In comparison, Life After Joe only had three reviews at the time of the promotion. As an avid reader, I tend to only look at books with higher review counts and feel my book might have been overlooked with its limited reviews.
However, even with the above, I peaked at #44 and remained in the Top 100 for at least 72 hours. I was in the Top 1 (or 3) in categories that really mattered to me (Women’s Fiction and Contemporary Fiction). In this, I feel there is some element of understanding how the system works and proud of my little self published attempts.
So, here is my (unsolicited) advice for the ‘process’ (if you can call it that). Hitting the Top 50 both times is not something everyone can claim, so hopefully some of this information will be helpful to you.
- A distinct cover. (Yes, this goes without saying for a number of reasons, but it needs to be said). In all that is going on with available free books, yours has to stand out.
- Some money to invest in marketing. You don’t need to break the bank, but you also can’t be everywhere at once. Do some research in advance of who can help get your name out the most (and no, I was not accepted to BookBub with either novel).
- Realistic expectations. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Don’t beat yourself up if the numbers aren’t perfect. Know yourself, your book and your genre. Did I want to crack the Top 10 with Life After Joe? Of course! Was that realistic? Nope!
- Timing is everything. I think it’s smart to start with a 3 day window (including at least one weekend day) and hold reserve days if your book starts performing. In both of my cases, I added on extra days to maintain the high number and get my book to as many interested readers as possible.
- Tell a story. In both of the free releases, I ‘sold’ the event to my friends and family (and strangers). With 702 it was an ‘un-birthday present’ on my birthday. With Joe, it was a ‘treat yo self’ in the time when potential readers were shopping and spending money on others (Cyber Monday).
- Some of your marketing won’t even make a dent. Accept that. While some of my Facebook ads do quite well, in this event, I received limited follow through (which leads me to believe I did things wrong and have more research to do here).
And what do you have to add? Any other techniques, platforms, or tricks to try? I’ll have another book out next year and would love to improve upon my numbers again.