Monday, June 24, 2013

Free Kindle Days – Are they worth it?

My novel, COYOTE WINDS, was inspired by my father’s stories of growing up in eastern Colorado during the Dust Bowl years. In honor of my father, I decided to run two FREE KINDLE DAYS on Amazon starting Father’s Day, June 16, 2013.

For those of you unfamiliar with Free Kindle Days, if you sign up for KDP Select (Kindle Direct Publishing Select), you agree to offer and sell your ebook exclusively on Amazon for 90 days, and in return you earn higher royalties on some foreign sales.  Plus you may offer your book for free (or at a very low price) for up to 5 days during each 90 day period. 

The goal of Free Kindle Days is to get your book into the hands of more readers. Since nothing sells books better than word of mouth, these readers will hopefully become more mouths to spread the word.

The Free Kindle Day program has become so popular that there are thousands of free ebooks offered every day. I wondered if COYOTE WINDS would be discovered in such a crowd.

I choose my dates about a month in advance and contacted various websites which list and promote free books.  It helped that COYOTE WINDS had a number of 4 and 5 star reviews. I had also just won two prizes in book contests. Some of the sites I contacted were

Ereader News Today
Here’s a link to Galleycat's listing of more sites:

I woke up early on the first free day and emailed practically everyone I knew. I also posted on Social Media sites. Then I waited and watched. 

I got a few emails from friends and acquaintances saying they had downloaded the free copy.  (Ahhemmm, they waited until it was free?)

I searched and found that COYOTE WINDS had been listed as a “highly rated free ebook” on several sites including --

My “sales” started off slow, may 20 to 30 an hour.  By about 2 PM on the first day, the ebook had been downloaded about 190 times. The pace picked up to about 60 an hour. I was thrilled. By the time I went to bed, the total reached around 650, including sales in the UK, Germany, even one in India and one in Japan. Cool. 

The next morning I was disappointed that my sales had slowed back down to 25 an hour. I felt like old news on the second day.  I set my expectations at about 1000 total downloads and started my workweek.

Somewhere in the early afternoon, sales skyrocket. 
Between 1 and 3 PM there were more than 1000 downloads, and it didn’t stop there. COYOTE WINDS jumped into the top ten downloads for both Historical Fiction and for Teen—Literature and Fiction.  By 4 PM, it was number 1 in both categories and in the top 40 of all free Kindle downloads.  

It was exciting, mysterious and a little scary.  What had made the sales jump?  The NSA might know, but I certain didn’t.

By the end of the second day, free copies of COYOTE WINDS had been downloaded 4,465 times, including 14 in the UK, 8 in Canada, 4 in Germany and 1 in each of Spain, Japan and India.

Wonderful, but those were free downloads. The real question is what happened to sales since.

I decided to keep the ebook price low, at $2.99.  I had been resisting lowering my price because I felt it cheapened my work.  But my goal is to find readers, so I gave it a try.

In the week since the Free Kindle Days, I have sold more ebooks than I had in the four months before combined.

Two new 5 star reviews have been posted.

And maybe some of those other 4,465 downloaders will become readers and word-of-mouthers.

So was it worth it – those Free Kindle Days?  Absolutely yes. I am sure 99.99% of those who downloaded the novel would have never found it otherwise.

I will update my report again after 30 days.

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