When I published my first novel, Jump When Ready, I was tentatively dipping my toe into the waters of indie publishing and had no idea, really, what was involved. I did some research but most of my time and energy was spent on editing and formatting (and before that, writing, of course). After hitting the publish button, it dawned on me that I better start telling people my book was out there (I know, I know, but like I said I was totally green). So, I scheduled a blog tour and signed onto KDP Select to see how those things would work out. Well, the blog tour did little for sales but did produce some nice reviews from bloggers. I decided it was probably worth it to have those review quotes (plus, the tour was fun). As for KDP Select, my first run of two free days saw over 6,500 downloads and Jump When Ready broke the Top 100 Free list on Amazon. Yes, I was ecstatic but didn’t realize that a great free ranking did little for a book’s paid ranking (a very disappointing discovery, I assure you). Still, KDP Select helped me put the word out there and I appreciated that opportunity.
All the same, for Streetlights Like Fireworks, I decided to try a $0.99 promo launch while also pricing Jump When Ready the same way to see if the two books might start talking to each other on Amazon. This was a totally last minute decision too (do you get the feeling I’m not much of a planner?) when I came across an episode from Simon Whistler’s “Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast” in which he featured Darren Wearmouth who launched his first novel Activation Days this way. What was funny was that I had heard many times that the $0.99 price-point was dead. Maybe it is, overall, as a means of attracting buyers long-term but it has helped boost my launch for Streetlights Like Fireworks, at least as an alternative to KDP Select free days. I have to say, I haven’t had the same degree of good fortune as Darren Wearmouth (who broke into the top hundreds range, I believe) but SLF has seen a ranking at around #2,500 on Amazon two times in thirty days, has charted in its subcategories a few times (three times charting in all three of its subcategories and, hey, that’s my book next to Neil Gaiman’s one day!).
It may be common knowledge to many but what I discovered is that there are quite a few reasonably priced (well, most of the time) promotional opportunities for $0.99 books. Those I found most effective so far have been a Kindle Daily Nation/Book Gorilla combo (the most expensive ad I ran but very effective), a Kindles Books and Tips ad and an Ereader News Today ad (I get the feeling I was lucky to get into ENT). KND and ENT pushed SLF up into the #2,000s range, while KBT pushed the novel up to around #6,000. I have not had the same kind of luck with some of the others, which is not to say I had no luck with them (just smaller bumps). Yes, I thought about naming those promos here but why piss people off who might end up being next year’s BookBub (who, by the way, have still not agreed to take my money). Besides, you can figure that out by process of elimination and, you never know, you might have better luck with some of the others and at least you know what worked for Streetlights Like Fireworks.
So, my take-away? I’ve been pretty happy with the $0.99 book launch strategy considering my ranking jumped from #530,000 to #2,000 in a day upon “official launch” (then jumped back again and hovered around #10,000 – 15,000 for days). No, it’s not there presently (last I checked, it’s at around #38,000 but that’s not too bad, all things considered) and at least people have been seeing and buying my new novel, some reviews have come in and people have joined my mailing list (and I made back most of the money I spent on the ads). I also noticed that, this time, my “those who bought, also bought” category is populated with books more related to mine as far as genre goes whereas when running the free promo it was evident that people were just snagging freebies, resulting in Jump When Ready showing that the people who downloaded that novel about teenagers in the afterlife also downloaded books on sourdough baking and keeping their stomach muscles toned (as much as these two go together too, so go figure).
Anyway, I plan on running a few more promos over the next couple of weeks and will let you know if any more prove successful. Then, I guess I will have to raise those prices again. Oh, what that also means is that you can still buy both Streetlights Like Fireworks and Jump When Ready for $0.99 for a short while longer, so please be my guest!
By the way, fellow indie writers, I’d love to hear what strategies are working for you these days so please feel free to leave comments. Good luck with your book sales!