KDP Select; 2 genres, 2 outcomes Part 1
First of all, let me just tell you all a huge thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you to those of you who downloaded a copy and those who helped to spread the word. I had more success at this experiment than I had any right to hope for. It was truly one of the most magical experiences of my writing career so far (second only to finishing writing my first novel, selling my first copy, and getting those first few reviews/fan letters asking me about the sequel).
As of the time I’m writing this I Wish, these are my stats:
These are by far the best numbers I’ve ever had on I Wish. Prior to this I think the lowest I’ve ever gotten was in the #7k range. So let me give you a quick break down on how this went down.
I joined Select around the end of January. I wasn’t sure what to do about my free days and based purely on the fact that I liked the sound of “Friday Freebie”, I decided to set my first free day for the first Friday in February so that I could see the difference in income from January to February. Obviously I wasn’t expecting huge successes. Actually, let me tell you exactly what I was hoping to get out of the program.
Before I put I Wish into the program, it was bouncing around between lows of the #200k and highs of around #50k. Last month I sold 23 copies of the book in the US store. That’s not even 1 copy a day. I have a screen shot from a little while ago I can add for perspective.
I tried to figure out why people weren’t buying my book. The reviews I’ve gotten have all been very enthusiastic. So I concluded that the story wasn’t the problem. It was getting people to READ the story that was giving me issues. I knew it was the cover holding me back. I made it myself based on a few books that had a wonderful use of white space. They were clean and appealing to me. Oh yeah, and they also looked like an entirely different genre than I was trying to sell. Oops.
I looked at some websites to see what kinds of covers were hot for YA paranormal and came across the “pretty girls in beautiful dresses” trend. Love! I found a photo of my own pretty girl in a beautiful dress at 123rf and my love went to work. A new, more appropriate for the genre cover deserved a chance for some exposure, I thought, and that’s when I started to consider the Select program.
Deciding to pull my book from other stores wasn’t a hard choice. I’d only ever put it in B&N in the first place because when I was getting started we hadn’t ever tried to format per Smashwords’ requirements and it was extremely intimidating. Last month I sold 8 copies of I Wish through B&N. I figured surely my experiment would yield enough exposure to sell an extra 8 copies. The way I thought of it, it was like paying $30 for advertising. Maybe it’d pay off, maybe it wouldn’t. It was a gamble, but I didn’t feel like I had much to lose.
My hopes for this experiment were small. I hoped to increase my sales which shouldn’t be hard since I wasn’t even moving a copy a day. Really my hopes were set on building a loyal fan base who will happily buy the other two books in the Witches of Desire trilogy. That’s it. I’ve heard of great things happening for people who do the program, but that wasn’t what I was expecting by any stretch.
As I said earlier, I put my book free on Friday. When I woke up I’d had a couple of hundred downloads. I was thrilled. I had a second book come off free the day before and it didn’t have these results. I’ll post more on that tomorrow. But suffice it to say that my expectations were extremely low.
Sometime around late morning my sales took a sudden noticeable uptick and I was having books download 30-50 a minute. Every time I hit the refresh button there were more downloads. That’s when I realized that this might be a bigger deal than I hoped. I decided to make some efforts to promote my giveaway.
I posted on Twitter several times, blogged about my free book, made sure to update FB. But my downloads were bigger than all of that could account for. I mean, I’m awesome and all, but c’mon. It turns out that Pixel of Ink found me somehow. I mean, if I’d been more organized or had bigger dreams I might have thought to contact them in advance of my promo, but it never even occurred to me. I can almost surely attribute my amazing showing on the free charts to them.
I was glued to my computer all day. I watched my rank drop to the #2k range and was thrilled. Then it dropped to the top 1000 and I was even more thrilled. Then I made the top 100 best seller list and I thought I might throw up. I was literally so happy that my body thought the appropriate response was to vomit.
Around 7 or 8pm EST I was sitting at #11 and I decided that since it was going so well, I’d go ahead and extend my promotion another day. I was doing well and I figured I’d see if I could get any higher on the list. By midnight I had 8k downloads and was sitting at #9. I broke the top ten.
When I woke up on Saturday I was in the #5 spot and that’s where I spent almost the entire day. I never moved up any higher than that. I started to drop in rank around 6 or so in the evening so I decided to pull my book early so that I could leave on a strong note, hoping that would help my paid rank.
I pulled my book at 8:30 and my rank immediately went to #158k on the paid charts. About 100k places lower than it was before I started. I was a little bit agitated. At this point I’d had 15,853 downloads and spent 24 hours in the top 10 free books, most of that time at #5 and this was what it translated into? I also couldn’t see myself on anybody’s Also Bought list. I tried not to freak out too much, but it was frustrating for sure.
About an hour later my rank fixed itself and I think I was in the #4000s? I can’t remember and I didn’t seem to take a screen cap of it to reference. At any rate, it was a lot more reasonable to me than 150k.
I made 30 sales on Saturday night after coming off free. I also started getting borrows for the first time. I think there were 18 of those. I went to bed excited to see what Sunday would bring.
The answer, I found out, was an extremely slow, frustrating day. My sales from the night before positioned me at in the #1400s, but my sales had slowed down. It was still more than I’d sold before, but nowhere near the velocity of the night before where I’d sold 30 copies in around 4 hours. It was something like 20 copies between midnight on Saturday and 10pm on Sunday. I was really bummed, but still, I’d succeeded in my goal of getting my book into more hands.
I’d started watching a few other books that’d been on the top ten list with me to see how their rank was after going to paid. 2 of the books were priced at $.99 so I figured they were bound to make a lot of sales since it was such a low risk to take on a new author, but the 3rd was priced around $4.50, I think it was. I don’t know because the price dropped to $.99 in the first hour or two. And, predictably, the rank dropped significantly too.
I toyed with the idea of dropping my price at that point too. I hated to lose the momentum I’d built up and all day long my rank was slowly slipping from the #1400s to a heartbeat from #3k. Seriously, I think I was at #2950 by the end.
Basically it came down to the question of whether I was willing to drop my price down to $.99, something I told myself I’d never do again, or lose my rank and fade back to obscurity. I decided that since I’d accomplished the goal of reaching a wider audience, I’d just trust that they’d come back for Your Word is My Bond and I’d take whatever sales came to I Wish on my terms and if that meant that I’ll never see the top #100, I’d live with that.
But then around 10:30pm, like magic, my books started moving. I was up until 2 am last night and I sold 65 copies during that period. It was about 4 copies every 15 minutes. My mind was blown. Did I mention that I sold these copies while maintaining my price of $4.99? As of right now I’ve broken the 16k mark. I’ve sold 162 copies and had 51 lends. Of course, I’ve also had 52 returns. I started getting them while my book was still free. I have no idea why anyone would return a free book, but I’m here to tell you that it happens.
It also had a bit of spillover on my 3 short stories. I’ve sold a combined total of 21 copies of those since Friday. That was unexpected, but nice. I’ve basically sold enough short stories to buy some tacos. That’s a good day.
It’s far too early to draw any conclusions. My sales seem really slow again right now compared to last night. So it could mean that I’ve peaked. Or maybe they are transitioning to work right now. Or maybe the people who love my book the most are night owls. There’s no telling. But if this is it, if I’m done selling, I’ve still accomplished my mission of increasing my exposure and starting a loyal fan base for the rest of my series and made more in 2 days than I have in the entire career of this book. I’m pretty happy about that.
I’ll post part 2 of the great KDP experiment tomorrow, in which we’ll look at another title I put up which is not having anywhere near the same level of success as I Wish has had. In the meant time, I gathered up a bunch of articles about different authors and their perspectives on KDP Select.