Advice for writers

How I Got 7,000 KDP Downloads

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Lizz Lund

 

I did fairly well with free downloads and the subsequent sales, of my first novel,Kitchen Addiction! back when dinosaurs ruled the internet and XP wasn’t completely phased away; circa 2012.

Since then, besides completing two more books in the series (#2, Christmas Bizarre, published this August 2014. #3, Confection Connection, is entering final round of edits) and drafting the 4th, Perfectly Pickled, I was also engaged in silly things like being a newlywed, buying a new house, juggling 2 mortgages, finally selling the first home, moving, losing a long-time pet and my father’s passing. In other words, my life was filled with the same amount of aggravation – and writing/publishing distractions – as everyone else’s.

So re-entering the indie publishing world two years after the fact might just as well have been twenty years later. I felt a bit like Rip Van Winkle, and overwhelmed at the steep learning curve (cliff?) I had to climb in order to even fantasize about moderate success.

By nature, I’m a worrier and a list maker (insert wonderful project management skills here). While I had the worrying part down pat, I was at a loss for WHAT TO DO about this second release? And it’s $0 Kindle promotions? What do I put on my lists?

So I read. A LOT. And I took to heart the advice that was either given freely, or that I paid for.

Here’s what I did to promote my free Kindle download days for Christmas Bizarre:

Tip #1:  Sign up for long term support

In my case, I decided to use BooksGoSocial.com. Seemed like a good deal, and it was.

With just BooksGoSocial.com’s support alone, prior to the $0 promotion, I had an uptick in sales amounting to about $100 – so my investment paid for itself, almost double. And apparently, their 281,000 Twitter followers support didn’t exactly hurt my free Kindle download promotion, either.

Tip #2:  Sign your freebie days up for as many sites as possible.

I found great information from AwesomeGang.com; World Literary Cafe; a little known (to me) spot called TCKPublishing.com, and eBookBooster.com, to name a few. Long story short:  I submitted my free days to around 50 different freebie/bargain websites. I also submitted the information and link to about a dozen Facebook groups/pages.

IMPORTANT:  I scheduled my free days 2-3 weeks ahead of time. Also, many sites require a 1-2 week lead time. Giving the site administrators the courtesy of extra advance notice is not only the nice thing to do, it’s sensible: who likes to be bombarded last minute?

Tip #3: Chat, chat chat on your Facebook Author page, your personal Facebook page, and your own website.

If you’re not excited about your upcoming promotion, who else will be?

Tip #4: Tweet

Tweet like heck the day before and the day(s) of your free promotion.

Tip #5: Submit your brainchild for a review.

Not just Amazon reader reviews, but an honest-to-goodness review website. It’s a little scary, but if you really feel you have a good product, do it. You might be pleasantly surprised, as I was: 5-star review for Christmas Bizarre from Readers’ Favorite.

Tip #6: The more, the merrier.

If you are promoting your one and only published work, and have submitted the free days like crazy, and done the social media thing, you should get a decent number of downloads on your free day, plus the after effect of some actual sales for the 2-3 days following your free promotion.

Want more sales? Keep writing. The more products you have on the marketplace (note, I say products, not books because I feel it’s important to get into a retail frame of mind here) the more exposure for your line (series of novels, genre) and your brand (your name).

I have 2 published novels on Amazon, Kitchen Addiction! and Christmas Bizarre. I also have a “bundle” of both books, at a deeply discounted regular price, so essentially anyone curious about my work can get both books for just a couple bucks more. I also have a “storybook cookbook” based on Kitchen Addiction! that is 99-cents on Amazon, and free on Nook.

What did I discover from my 2nd free promotion, for the 2nd book, Christmas Bizarre? About 7,000 downloads – and almost $250 in sales from the other products, since the promotion started – just a 6 day period. No, I’m not about to have the personal finances to buy my own island. But is sure beats a week of filing as a temp, at minimum wage.

What else did I get from my free promo? Like another 6 reviews. 6 GOOD reviews – which while these do NOT affect your sales ranking, they indirectly provide impact in that a good review will help a reader who is on the fence decide to take a chance on a newbie author, and download your story.

And know what else? Christmas Bizarre’s sales ranking climbed out of its hole – down around 100,000 – and has been hovering between around 10,000 and 13,000. Yes, I know – I’m not a Kindle Top 100 Bestseller. But the climb in ranking sure beats being at the bottom of the barrel, with sporadic sales at best.

What sites worked?

In all honesty – dunno. This is because while I submitted to a LOT, I have very little idea about which sites listed the free promotion or not. (A few were good enough to send an email confirming acceptance; but other submissions were through an online form.) So, there’s no guarantee that your upcoming freebie will be listed. These sites are bombarded by a gazillion authors like us who submit free promotions daily.

Also, I have yet to discover a definitive measure for ROI. Yes, my sales ranks increased on Amazon. Yes, I gained more (paying and free) readers. But I have no idea where they came from; where they saw the promotion, etc.

You know I paid for BooksGoSocial.com – I think it was a solid investment, especially for a long-term (1 year) dedicated social media support team. For me, using them is a no-brainer. As I said, I did see some uptick in sales using their service alone, prior to the $0 promotion.

As for the freebie sites; below are just a few of the sites I used. My complete list will be growing, and changing, with each promotion I run, to make sure I don’t outwear my welcome.

You should also drill down into each site you visit, to see if they list other sites where you can also submit. Note: many sites will require you become a (free/paid) member to gain access for this type of marketing support. Your call.

So, what’s the upshot to all this?

  • Hang in there. Give yourself time. You DO have a good product (assuming objective readers’ have already given you this input). It just needs to be SEEN.
  • Get the word out. Promoting your book – letting folks know where to find it and BUY it – is not bragging. You wouldn’t decide to open up a hair salon, without putting out a sign, right?
  • Cross promote like crazy. Even if you have just 2 books out there, take advantage of your KDP days, schedule them well in advance, and fill out forms, email, whatever to get the information to as many sites as you can. Note: you will want to constantly freshen up these distribution lists; a lot of these sites will only promote your free day once every month, 3 months, 6 months – whatever – they all have their own rules and standards. You must be courteous and abide by them, and discover more. Just Google “freebies” or “free books” – and don’t just submit to free book sites. Other freebie sites love getting book giveaway news.
  • Enlist the help of an outfit like BooksGoSocial.com. It’s fairly easy to research which social media venues have satisfied clients (writers, like you and me). And it’s not a huge investment. However, as my dad the star salesman of his day liked to say, “It pays to advertise.” Invest in YOURSELF. Like the hair dye commercial says, you’re worth it. As were the last umpteen months (years?) you invested into your book.

NEXT:  KDP 99-cent promo for Bundle 1 – Twice the Fun: Kitchen Addiction! + Christmas Bizarre: 2 Mina Kitchen Novels (plus free recipes). A KDP countdown sale starting at 99¢ for BOTH books continues Sept. 26th, and should extend thru Saturday, Sept. 27th. The original price of $5.97 will return sometime Sunday, Sept. 28th. Will be very interesting to see what happens next!

Lizz Lund is an independent author. You can connect with Lizz here, atwww.LizzLund.com

Her novels are set in Lancaster, ‘Pee-Ay’ because Lizz loves Lancaster and thinks everyone else should, too. Lizz grew up in New Jersey and imported her chef husband from their old stomping grounds – he still hasn’t recovered. She holds a BA in Musical Theatre from Syracuse University, but has never learned to waitress.

All of Lizz’s books are available at Amazon, with more hard-copies and a FREE sampler at Barnes and Noble.

Questions? Please feel free send an email: LizzLund.Author@gmail.com.

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