Aftermath: Countdown Deals Promotion

After 168 hours, my countdown deals promotion with amazon has come to an end. I'm both happy and sad, as it did help generate a great deal of awareness of my novel. It also gave skeptical readers a change to try out the book without taking a risk on it at full price. It also gave me a feel for how I might be able to use this in the future.

So, onto the numbers. Prior to the start of the promotion, I had three sales for the month of December. Here are the stats (with a couple clutter columns removed) so you can get a feel of what to expect in terms of access of data if you run a promotion of your own. Note: During the promotion, I had 2 lending library sales and 5 ineligible sales.

Phase Price # Hours Earnings $/Hour Sales
1 $0.99 33 $38.69 $1.17 61
2 $1.99 33 $69.04 $2.09 52
3 $2.99 33 $38.76 $1.17 19
4 $3.99 33 $54.80 $1.66 20
5 $4.99 36 $30.96 $0.86 9
Totals 168 $232.25 $1.38 161

A few things to remember:

  1. Gift Sales are assigned to the increment they were gifted during. So, if someone gave a gift during increment 1, but the person didn't claim it until increment 5, it'll update in increment 1's section.
  2. Only eligible sales show — a Canadian purchasing via Amazon.com will not show in these statistics.
  3. You can't make changes to the promotion 24 hours before, and you can't change your sales price for a period after the promotion ends.
  4. Amazon's stats are fickle; they update at random, so refreshing to see new stats may be futile. I noticed it would update in bursts rather than one here and one there.
  5. The rules about whether it's a 70% or 35% sale apply to the promotion.

So, in order to better put into perspective how effective this promotion was for me, I'm going to share the novel's Amazon history with you, by week:

Range Sales % Price Delivery $  Royalty
11/03-11/09 2 35% 5.99 0.00  $  4.20
11/03-11/09 5 70% 5.96 0.08  $20.53
11/10-11/16 1 35% 5.96 0.00  $  2.09
11/10-11/16 4 70% 5.99 0.08  $16.56
11/17-11/23 2 70% 5.99 0.08  $  8.28
11/24-11/30 2 70% 5.99 0.08  $  8.28
12/01-12/07 3 70% 5.99 0.08  $12.42
12/08-12/14 5 70% 5.71 0.08  $19.70

Since the launch of the novel until the promotion deal began, Storm Without End earned $92.06 in royalties from US sales, before lending library royalties. My income from outside of the US is extremely minor.

Here are my thoughts about self-publishing now that I've seen a very limited amount of success — and yes, I do view this promotion as a success. More on that after this list.

I call this list ‘lessons learned and warnings reinforced' as well as potential reasons for why people say the things they do about self-publishing versus traditional publishing.

  • Self-Publishing a good book isn't cheap. It could (potentially) take years to recoop the ~$1,200 investment I made in the novel. (Romance authors and those who can use photo manip'd covers may have cheaper costs.)
  • New books by unknown authors will not magically fly off the shelves under normal circumstances. (This applies to traditional as well. Traditional publishers just tend to have a bigger budget to gamble with.)
  • You've no one to blame but yourself for your successes and failures — including editorial mistakes. (Yes, even if you hire an editor, it is ultimately your mistake.) Piece of advice: When someone tells you there is a copy error in your novel, just STFU and fix it, don't make excuses. It wasn't your editor's fault. It was your fault — it's your book after all.
  • Slow and steady wins the race; because your book won't magically fly off the e-shelves, expect to be in there for the long haul.
  • Reviews make a huge difference on sales — and anything ranked between 3-5* is a potential sales motivator. 3 & 4 * may hurt your pride, but if these reviews say positive things about your book, it may convince a potential reader to buy. (I got my first reviews during the promotion and noticed a spike in sales thereafter.)
  • Editorial mistakes can kill a novel's chances — or get it a lot of bad reviews, even if you write a good story. Yes, it was worth mentioning twice in this list.
  • Perception of value matters; people like sales. I think this is rather obvious.

The Impact of A Sale

One thing I definitely noticed was that the countdown promotion impacted my sales for The Eye of God — after soul searching, I've decided that Storm Without End is the better book on all accounts (I've learned a lot from writing The Eye of God) but the sale of one book has kicked in the backlist, for all my backlist is one whole book. Here is the proof:

Date Sales % Price  Delivery $  Royalties
11/03-11/09 2 70% 5.86  $  0.06  $  8.12
11/10-11/16 1 35% 5.96  $     –  $  2.09
11/10-11/16 1 70% 4.99  $  0.06  $  3.45
11/17-11/23 4 70% 4.98  $  0.06  $13.78
11/24-11/30 1 35% 6.99  $     –  $  1.75
11/24-11/30 2 70% 4.99  $  0.06  $  6.90
12/01-12/07 3 70% 4.99  $  0.06  $10.35
12/08-12/14 10 70% 4.99  $  0.06  $34.50

As a note, there were two additional sales after December 14.

The jump in sales on The Eye of God is definitely noticeable, comparing the original peak of sales (4) with the promotional peak of sales (10).

The conclusion? It's just like everyone sales — a backlist will help you generate more sales because fans will buy other books by the same author, even if that other book isn't quite as good as the first one they read. It has crystallized one thing for me, however:

I'm going to make Royal Slaves even better, to make up for the fact that The Eye of God just isn't as good as I think it could be.

I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions, but the countdown promotions deal was a huge success for me, as far as I'm concerned. I didn't become a runaway #1 bestseller, but I think my novel performed very well for a fledgling novelist.

I also think that my performance as a starting novelist is on average with the starting performance of any novelist in his or her first six months of release.

I hope this information proves useful to you.

Leave a Comment:

2 comments
J.J.Hartly says December 30, 2013

Very useful. Thanks for taking the time to share your sales figures and experiences. 🙂

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Author Services Review: Amazon Countdown Deals (Inquisitor) says June 6, 2014

[…] written about Amazon Countdown Deals before. In December of 2013, I ran a promotion right before Christmas. It worked extremely well. I have since learned that countdown deals, outside of the Christmas […]

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