One problem facing indie authors is the lack of honest sales figures. Self-reporting is often vague or exaggerated. While Hugh Howey’s Author Earnings page is a good source, more data are needed. I recently did a five-day free promotion on Amazon and would like to share my results.
I’m writing a series of post-apocalyptic novels titled the Toxic World. Book One, Radio Hope, came out in February. In March I published a 10,000-word short story titled The Scavenger. The series is in the KDP Select program so I can take advantage of free giveaways and countdown deals.
The Scavenger is priced at 99 cents. It’s not intended to make money, but to advertise the series, so I use my free days. I get five days to offer it for free every ninety-day period. My first promotion was from Friday, April 4 through Tuesday, April 8. I did little promotion. I mentioned it on my blog and several times on my Twitter feed. Several blogger buddies mentioned it. A few nice people tweeted.
Friday, April 4: US (79), UK (13), Spain (5), Germany (2), Canada (3), India (1). Total: 103.
Saturday, April 5: US (82), UK (9), Germany (1), Canada (1), Australia (1). Total: 94.
Sunday, April 6: US (58), UK (2), Germany (1), Canada (3), Australia (1). Total: 65.
Monday, April 7: US (61), UK (11), Australia (1). Total: 73.
Tuesday, April 8: US (47), UK (8), Spain (1). Total: 56.
Grand Total: US (327), UK (43), Canada (7), Spain (6), Germany (4), Australia (3), India (1).
Grand Total for all markets: 391.
The giveaway numbers mirror my sales — the U.S. is by far the biggest market, with the UK a distant second and the rest of the world a small but significant last.
My first day was my biggest. Fridays and Saturdays are good sales days as people look for weekend reading. There’s a severe drop off at the beginning of the week. This was reflected in my giveaway numbers.
That good first day got me into the top 20 in the Post-Apocalyptic and Dystopian categories on Amazon UK and into the top 20 “Kindle Short Reads” on Amazon US. This increased visibility and encouraged more downloads, creating a positive feedback loop and getting the attention of some “free ebook” websites and Twitter feeds, which presumably helped keep numbers up.
Reader reaction was prompt. While the giveaway was still on, someone added The Scavenger to Goodreads and I got three reviews.
What about sales of Radio Hope? During the giveaway I sold six, twice what I sold in the same five-day period a week earlier. I have since had several sales of Radio Hope to people who said they’d been pulled in by The Scavenger.
So what did I learn?
Don’t expect astronomical numbers. As a little-known author in a flooded genre, you won’t hit number one.
The friend factor only goes so far. Few downloads were by people who know me. Most had already bought or been given a copy, or don’t read this genre. Only a few spread the news.
The first day is essential. Getting those numbers up quickly makes you visible. This encourages more downloads that will keep you visible.
Weekends are better. Split it across two weekends instead of a single five-day block.
You’re building a tower, not launching a rocket. While this giveaway didn’t get me lots of sales, it did get my series onto nearly 400 Kindles. That’s a start.
BIO: Sean McLachlan is the author of several books of fiction and history. Check him out at his Amazon page and on Midlist Writer.