Way back in the beginning of November, I wrote about the new Kindle Countdown Deals that Amazon had come up with to try to make KDP Select more attractive to writers again. I signed up for a promotion with my collection of short stories, Dragon Time, and promised to write about the results after it was over.
Well, Nanowrimo happened, and then Christmas happened, and now we have 2014, and I still haven’t posted about my results.
There’s one good thing as a result of that, however, and that is that I have some data now to compare, since my Arthurian short story, Gawain and Ragnell, went free at almost the same time that Dragon Time was available as a Countdown Deal.
My experience of the Countdown Deal is that it’s worth next to nothing unless you have some big promotion going on to push it. This, of course, is true for a limited-time free promotion as well, and the Countdown Deal has the advantage that you are sill making money on your book, AND at better royalty rates. So if you want to shell out the big bucks for an ad with BookBub or one of the few other places that are still effective for moving books, you could earn back the expense for the ad much quicker with a Countdown Deal. If you sell next to no books on the other platforms, B&N, Kobo, iTunes, etc., and you’re willing to push the promo with paid advertising, the Countdown Deal might be an argument to return to Select. But I suspect only under those circumstances. Free promos aren’t worth much any more either these days.
For Dragon Time, I only announced the promo here and on my Facebook page, and tweeted it a couple of times. I sold one copy of the story collection.
At the time the Countdown Deal started and Gawain and Ragnell went permafree, the sales of my ebooks had come to a complete standstill. I hadn’t done any promotion for my books since May 2013, and every month thereafter my sales dropped more. The first week in November, I’d sold two books total across all my titles. And it ended up being my single worst month ever for ebook sales. (It didn’t help that some apparent “fan” went through my books, buying them and then returning them three days later. When you’re selling so few books, that kind of behavior becomes pretty obvious.)
But once Gawain and Ragnell was finally price-matched to free, an interesting thing started happening. The first few days, it didn’t have that many downloads. I did exactly the same promotion for it that I did for the Countdown Deal for Dragon Time, announced it here, on Facebook, and on Twitter. At first it looked to me like permafree was going to be the same washout as the Countdown Deal. But then somehow it started gaining traction, and by the end of the month, 342 people had downloaded the story. In December, it was a lot less, but still another 171. And that’s enough to keep Gawain and Ragnell in a couple of top 100 lists. Here’s where it is right now:
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,686 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
#11 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Arthurian
#28 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Myths & Legends
#48 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical
This is what’s so good about permafree — it gets one of your books where people can see it. And the downloads are cumulative, so I don’t lose that ranking. Yes, this is a lot lower than the story was the end of November, but it is still in those crucial top 100 lists.
November ended up being my worst month for sales ever. But in December that trend actually turned around. And not only did I sell more books, I sold more of the 2.99+ books like Yseult (which is where the money is, with the 70% royalties) than the cheaper ones. This month so far, I’ve been selling about a book a day, all at 2.99+. That’s still not very much, I know, especially not after those amazing stretches I’ve had when I sold nearly ten books a day.
But right now I’m just glad the downward spiral has been reversed. And I’m determined to get a few more permafree books out there, once I’ve caught up a bit on the big translation job.
So anyway: download Gawain and Ragnell! It’s free, and you’d be doing me a big favor! *g*