Kindle Direct Publishing Free Promos Are They Worth It?

amazonFor those that don’t know, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform allows you to join its Select programme which basically means you agree NOT to sell your ebook anywhere else and in return are given the privilege of giving it away FREE for up to five days over a three month period.
Why on earth would you want to do this I hear you say and no-one asked this question louder than me! I’ve sold hundreds of non-fiction ebooks without any help at all from Amazon thank you very much so it didn’t feel right to be giving away copies of my fiction ebook, but there’s the rub.
Fiction is a completely different kettle of fish. A non-fiction book generally fulfills some kind of need. Fiction, on the other hand, is entertainment and as such is not a necessary additive to life! Further more, the competition is extremely fierce so it is those with the best marketing skills who tend to top the best seller list.
According to many of the ebook marketing experts, launching a big promotion campaign by giving away your ebook for a limited time period has the knock on effect of generating large numbers of sales during the immediate post free period.
Hmm … well the numbers bandied around by these gurus seemed impressive and not one to take things on trust, I decided to try out the free promo method.
I selected one of my short stories called The Inbetween.
the inbetween

It is quite important you take a look at this as you need to keep in mind that it is a very English tale set during the dark ages. It is written in a rather archaic style which might not be to every ones taste and may have some bearing on the results I got. You can read the blurb to see what I mean and while you are there give it a Like! Better still buy a copy!
I set my free promotion day for the 18th February which is my birthday, no harm in capitalising on this I thought and it certainly resulted in a lot of good wishes!
The Inbetween was published during November, 2012. The situation before my Free Promo day was as follows:
Sales Nov: 5
Sales Dec: 7
Sales Jan: 13
Sales Feb prior Free Promo day: 9
Note: The vast majority of sales were UK with only 4 sales made to US and other buyers.
As you can see, these numbers are hardly likely to make me a rich-list best seller, but from what I can gather are pretty standard for new Kindle fiction publishers who don’t have much idea about marketing!
If you look carefully at your Kindle book page you should see your Amazon Best Sellers Rank. It is under the Product details and will vary as you and others make sales or not as the case may be. My rank before my Free Promo day was around 39,000 in the Paid Kindle Store. (UK site).
The Big Day!
By the time this dawned I had done a lot of reading about fiction ebook promoting so was much better prepared than when I had tried this before. Where and how I promoted will be covered in separate posts, but suffice to say, I put a lot of hours into it, which you need to keep in mind when you analyse the results!
Don’t forget the idea behind a free download day is to reap the knock on effect of the publicity after the promo ends which should translate into sales. Your Kindle Direct Publishing account tracks sales in real time so you can see how well your downloads are going.
Tracking Visitors To Your Book Page & Stats
I am able to track visitors to my Amazon book page which is vital if you want to measure your advertising efforts. Few new Kindle publishers know how to do this, but it is absolutely vital if you are to make good decisions about your marketing efforts.
You do this by creating a link. (There are other services which will do the same thing).
Copy the web address of your book on Amazon and then go to and create a new link by pasting in your book link into their link creator form.
Use this new link to spread the word about your book.
All you need to do then is visit the site to see where visitors are coming from.
This is what my link for the Inbetween looks like: I also created one directing to the US site.
From the stats I know that slightly over 900 visitors viewed my book page during the free period, but not all of them actually downloaded the book.
Put another way, roughly 30% of those who clicked to the page downloaded the ebook.
Broken down by country, these are the download figures for The Inbetween during the free period:
US       185
UK       80
DE          5
Total: 270
Remember sales will only occur after the free period ends. Here are my results:
UK      9
US       1
DE       1
Total 11
If my math is correct, 1 in 24 free downloads resulted in a sale.
If you take out the US and DE sales which were very small, it becomes 1 in 9.
I’m not sure I’m entirely correct in interpreting these figures this way, but if we assume that more free downloads equates to more sales after the promo period ends then you can easily work out how many free downloads you need to give away to get a reasonable number of sales.
This is actually a hugely valuable piece of information as it had a massive impact on my Amazon ranking even though the sales were very small.
Here is a screen shot taken 24 hours after my free promotion ended.

You will see that I made the top 100 in Books/Fantasy/Historical and also Books/Fiction/Fantasy/Historical and was ranked 19,244 in the Paid Kindle Store.
I actually did better than this as The Inbetween rose as high as 13,300 in the Paid Kindle Store, but unfortunately I wasn’t in a position to get a screen shot!
Though quite pleasing, it isn’t really anything to whoop about as remember my sales were tiny! To stand a chance of making any real money selling fiction I need to get in the top 100 of the Kindle Paid Store and top 10 in the categories so a long way to go yet!
Although sales were disappointing, I did gain some valuable insights into marketing my particular book.
For instance I now know that I need to concentrate my efforts on a UK readership and if I decide to do another free promotion I should aim to get at least a 1,000 downloads from UK readers which will hopefully translate into 100 or more paid sales.
This should give me a fighting chance of making the top paid 100 unless there are other factors influencing rankings of which I am unaware!
Ranking high on Amazon is very important as it will trigger Amazon’s own marketing and promotion tools.
As you can see from my experience, making use of the Amazon Select programme does work, but and this is a big but … it requires a lot of effort!
To make it worth doing you need to generate thousands of downloads and the only way to do that is to promote your book everywhere you can including the many free listing sites around the web and on social media.
It is extremely time consuming and mind numbingly boring.  I haven’t repeated this experiment since, but should I decide to do so again I will be looking to outsource most of the work.
Don’t let that put you off though!  It is always best to try things out for yourself so to get you started here’s a list of sites which accept free Kindle books.
Hopefully this article has helped you with your book marketing efforts so if you’ve found it useful, please visit The Inbetween and give it a like!



About SueK

Author, freelance writer and small scale farmer.
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One Response to Kindle Direct Publishing Free Promos Are They Worth It?

  1. Jen says:

    Pretty much what I found.

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