Sunday, January 29, 2012

The giveaway experiment

Recently I embarked on a grand experiment by giving away my ebooks, and this seems like a good time to bring you up to date. This involves Amazon’s Kindle Select program, where writers may offer their enrolled titles for free for up to five days at no cost to the writer. One downside is that Amazon demands at least 90 days of exclusive distribution, which doesn’t sit well with everyone. But 90 days isn’t forever, so it seemed worth a try.

Promotion is entirely up to the writer. I was determined to spend no money, so Google ads and such were out of the question. (A couple of years ago, I’d tried that route and decided that paid ads are a waste of money.) So my channels amounted to a couple of writing groups, a few blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. My Facebook “friends” total 750, while my Twitter “followers” are up around 1800. (The terms make you want to rethink their meaning, don’t they? In my high-school days, a friend was someone whose company you enjoyed, a person with whom you bonded. Back then, I had about four of them. And followers? I’d have thought you were talking about a cult. Now you get them with a couple of mouse clicks.)
Anyway, I’d tweet several times daily, with messages looking something like this:

Getting Lucky #freeebooks all day today at #mysteries #kindle #kindlefire "Highly recommended!"

It seemed to work pretty well for the first two titles. Getting Lucky had about 1600 downloads in a day, then Little Mountain about 3500 in two days. And then this weekend came my humorous crime novel, When Pigs Fly, which is up to over 13,000 by Sunday morning. How is this happening, and can others duplicate it?

Before, my tweets had been full of nearly duplicate messages sent out at irregular times. This time I tried free tweet-scheduling software called Timely. It allowed me to write out nine messages per day, to be sent out on their predetermined schedule. Each tweet contained a separate phrase I’d pulled from Amazon reviews, and since a few people had (very) generously compared my crime fiction to Elmore Leonard’s, I occasionally added the hashtag #elmoreleonard. Then I always ended with “Pls RT.” Some people did just that, apparently to good effect. (The title probably helped as well, although it’s not to be confused with a children’s book.)

The result? This morning When Pigs Fly was #1 in the free humor category on Amazon, and #16 overall in free downloads. Results may vary, as the ads say on TV, but my point is that with some planning and organization we all should be able to improve our books' visibility.


Jean Henry Mead said...

Great news, Bob! Continued success!

online research writing jobs said...

Very nice!

Morgan Mandel said...

It sounds like you really achieved your goal!

Lots of great publicity!

Good for you, Bob.

Morgan Mandel

Randy Rawls said...

I see others who talk about their experiences on Kindle Select program -- some good, some bad. Sounds like you've done well on the free side. Here's hoping it holds when the price goes back on.
Is the KS program only for self-pub'd? I know, I could check it out, but I thought I'd ask you instead.
Happy Sales!

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Haven't been able to convince either of my publishers to try this.