70 Hours into a Countdown Deals Promotion

As promised, I'm back to talk a bit more about my countdown deals promotion with amazon.com. Here's a very brief recap of this postFirst, only KDP Select members may attempt a countdown deals promotion. All previous contracts and sales with other e-book providers must be cleared off the books before you enroll in KDP Select. You may start a countdown deals promotion thirty days after you enroll in KDP. You can't change the price of your novel for a certain period of time before / after the promotion.

The story:

On December 9th, my countdown deals promotion launched. See the post above for the general play by play of the deal.

On December 10th & 11th, the price increased from $0.99 to $1.99. Something interesting happened. My book managed to make it onto five top 100 lists. At it's peak, here are the categories and the rankings:

  • Overall Ranking: 3,393
  • #10 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Horror > Dark Fantasy
  • #10 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Horror > Dark Fantasy
  • #58 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery
  • #74  in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Epic
  • #89 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Epic

In the first 33 hours in the $0.99 bracket, I sold 60 copies of the novel. In the second 33 hours in the $1.99 bracket, I sold 41 copies of the novel. At the time of this posting, I have sold 1 novel at the $2.99 bracket.

It took approximately 50 sales to breach the 4,000 overall rank on amazon, and the remainder of the sales has kept it fluctuating between 4,500 and 3,390 overall ranking.

Here is the sour truth of things: Prior to the countdown promotion, I had sold a grand total of 25 books via amazon. (My indiegogo campaign ‘sold' an additional 37 copies of the novel.)

In short, the countdown deal promotion has made a significantly huge impact on my fledgling writing career. This is entirely thanks to the Google+, twitter, and facebook communities, as well as thanks to the power of family and friends.

I definitely couldn't have gotten even this far without your help.

Now, a little sidetracking to discuss the problems with this promotion.

First, because I'm an unknown, new author, I don't have the selling power of others. I don't have a fan base. I have to entirely rely on people seeing the cover, checking out the description, and then deciding to check out a sample. That's a really hard sale. A really hard sale.

Because so many people bought the book as gifts for others, the book has gotten a great deal of exposure I otherwise couldn't get.

I'm steadfast against free book promotions. Why? I worked many long and hard hours on this book. It's my career. It's my life. I give away a lot of my time as it is. I need to pay the bills. Free promotions don't help me pay the bills. At least with $0.99 and higher countdown deal promotions, I can at least try to pay my way in my household and catch up on holiday season bills. This lets me reach fans who aren't certain about my books because of its normal price.

I priced Storm Without End at $5.99 to reflect the length. It's almost 100,000 words, compared to The Eye of God ($4.99) which is 80,000 words. I will mark Storm Without End and The Eye of God both down a dollar or two when the second books of their series launch. I feel this will give new readers a chance to get older books at a more reasonable price. (And I will also run countdown promotions in conjunction with novel releases so new readers can get more books for a better price.)

Second, I'm an independent author. There is definitely a negative connotation with being an independent. There is a belief that because I'm an independent, I'm automatically not good enough to be a traditionally-published author. Now, I don't know if this is true or not. Sure, I submitted my books. Sure, I got rejected — on requests for fulls after partials.

I've also learned a lot since then. You can read this post for more on why I am so very grateful to have been rejected. But, as with all things, reality and finances got in the way. I had to choose: Go independent or give up my writing career completely.

I chose going independent. I am a writer. That is what I do, and that is what I'll always do. But, because I don't have a publishing house backing me, I have a lot of hurdles I must overcome. I don't mind it, but it is a major complication in the whole launching a career thing.

The Issue with Gifting

Back to the quirks of the countdown deals promotion: When I launched this promo, I suggested that people give my novel to their friends and family as a cheap Christmas present. A lot of people liked this idea, and that's what they did. When you deal with rankings with amazon, gifting only counts to your ranking when the receiver accepts the book.

Almost 40 hours after the end of the $0.99 promotion, there are still people accepting the gifts. This is great! But, it means you will have no idea what your actual numbers will be (or how your rank will be impacted) because of how gifting works. This is just something you should be aware of.

The Lure of the Stats Page

Don't ask me to make sense of the stats page. I really can't figure out how it works. Sometimes it is real time. Sometimes it isn't. Sometimes, it can take a day or more for a sale to be noted. Sometimes seconds. I'm convinced that sometimes, it just doesn't get added at all.

I can't give you tips on how to avoid obsessively checking out the sales/stats page in the kdp site. I haven't succeeded at avoiding staring at it in hopes my novel will somehow be a runaway best hit. (And the realist in me says that I've probably hit my peak and will be extremely, extremely lucky if I ever even get remotely close to the 3,000s ever again.)

It is what it is. (You mean poopyhead stats page!)

I will leave you with this as food for thought for now.

There will be more, probably at around the 100 hour marker in the countdown deals promotion. It'll probably involve me crying into a frosty glass of something alcoholic as my chance for fame crumbles to dust. Or me breaking out the port because the unthinkable success runaway I don't think could ever happen to me happened. Either way, I suspect there will be alcohol involved.

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