Thanks for stopping in at Self-Publishing Central.
Today's topic is the current viability of Amazon's KDP Select Free Promos. My short answer -- they still work, just not the same. The longer version is below.
If you've listed free promos through Amazon's KDP Select program in the last two months or so, you've probably noticed that the "three day bump" that almost always followed free promo days earlier this year has all but disappeared. The reasons are explained in this blog post from Indie Bookspot and the links contained in that post. It's recommended reading; but not mandatory.
The disappearance of the "bump" is too bad for us indie author/publishers. There was great visibility in the way Amazon allowed our books a chance to see Top 100 exposure to the public, and as a result, make some significant sales. (My own personal experiences earlier this year are detailed in previous posts on this blog. No need to link them, because it doesn't work that way anymore.)
In April and May, Amazon adjusted their infamous "algorithms" that determine book rankings in the Kindle Book arena. In the new ranking system, free books have been severely devalued and KDP Borrows aren't counted at all. The result is that our books don't shoot up the Amazon rankings the way they did in January through March. As I said, that's too bad.
But...there are still advantages to KDP Free Promos. We can still get our books into the hands of potential readers without (direct) cost. That kind of advertising is hard to buy anywhere. Even if a good share of the books never get read, your name and book title flash across a consumer's mind while downloading the book. All exposure is good. And a certain number of downloaders WILL read your book. If they like it, they may buy more of your books or tell their friends. This is all good, but may not, by itself, justify the exclusivity required to be a participant in KDP Select.
Other Benefits of KDP Select
I'm sure the importance of the $2.00 per book from lending library revenues will vary from author to author. For my books, this steady income is a nice perk, and exceeds my historical revenues from other sales outlets such as B&N and SmashWords by a fair margin. I gave these outlets a second chance after my first 90-day Select conscription, and they didn't do very well selling my books. I regularly earn several hundred dollars a month from Borrowing revenue. Compared to other sales outlets, KDP Select is the clear earnings winner with my offerings (at least for now).
How about the lack of that "3 day bump"? Does that mean there is no sales bump at all?
For my books, that has not been the meaning. In the wake of three, recent free promo offerings, each of my offered books has seen a significant increase in sales over the next thirty days. (This period corresponds with what would be predicted under Amazon's new algorithms.) The ratings increases aren't as dramatic as they were earlier in the year. I'm not seeing my books nearing the Paid Top 100 overall on Kindle. But the rankings definitely go up. How much your book's rankings go up will depend on how many books you give away.
My latest free promo, which ended yesterday evening, has already boosted THE 19TH ELEMENT to No. 481 overall and No. 36 in Kindle Paid Suspense. I expect those rankings to improve over the next few days to a week, and then taper off slowly. And based on past experience, the rankings will taper off more slowly under the new Amazon system than they would under the "old" (Jan thru Mar) algorithm. So the book's sales increase will not be as dramatic; but it will last longer. It WILL be worth the effort and worth the book's exclusivity on Amazon.
Are there changes to how I should conduct free promos?
Yes. I believe so.
Since the new algorithm looks at a 30 day period of "sales," and not just a 24 hour window, I recommend that you shoot for a longer free period. In the "old" days, a two or three day promo was optimum. Today, I'd shoot for four or five days. Keep the promo going as long as your downloads continue to be strong. (This will be a relative condition, depending on the book, the author, and the author's platform.) When the pace of downloads decreases significantly you will reach a point where you may be giving up cash sales in exchange for too few free downloads. Use your own judgment on that one. I can't give you a formula. I terminated my recent giveaway after about three and a half days due to a decrease in download rate.
There is one other change that has occurred since January and that is very important to the success of your free promo. There are now MANY sites that promote free kindle books. And readers DO patronize them. So you have to use them, too. These sites are where your book promo will be seen -- where readers will download your book.
I suggest you look at this wonderful list put together and posted by Rachelle Ayala on Rachelle's Window. Try not to be overwhelmed. Do what you can. But take advantage of this great resource about a week in advance of your free promo dates. It WILL increase your book's download activity.
Amazon KDP Select is still alive...at least for now. Take advantage of its benefits before everything changes again in the publishing world (which you know it will).
Thanks again for stopping in.