Author Services Review: Amazon Countdown Deals (Inquisitor)

I've 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 shopping period, are a double edged sword.

One edge of the blade is rammed somewhere very, very unpleasant. I'll leave exactly where up to your imagination. I won't lie, I got sales when I did the countdown deals promotion for Inquisitor. But, there seems to be an interesting phenomena with sales pricing that the countdown deals promotion illuminates very well.

Some disclaimers: I am not a bestselling author. I'm a small fry. I'm someone who is trying to become a career author. I'm not there yet. So, I have no complaints with being honest about the money I make–or the money I don't make.

Maybe one day in the future, once I actually make an actual living from my writing, I'll be less opened mouthed, but I suspect that'll only be because I'm too busy trying to write books. Oh, who am I kidding? I'll still write these posts. I just might be making minimum wage or more by then.

So, as I'm someone totally not experienced with being a career author, I make mistakes. Lots of them. This blog is a veritable graveyard of my bad decisions. It's also a trophy case of when I get things right for all of the wrong reasons.

So, the set up: I started this countdown deal while amazon was actively promoting my novel in advertising mailers. This means I gave the book the optimal chance of doing well. I used the countdown deal hoping that the lower price would create a lot more sales, thus a lot more royalties for me.

I was wrong.

Sales Chart - Inquisitor et all

This is a chart showing the sales of all of my novels from the past 30 days. On May 16, you can see the release day spike. Only 14 of those sales belonged to Inquisitor, as I was running a countdown deal promotion on my other two novels. (They sold 14 and 10 copies respectively, resulting in 38 total sales.)

On May 28, Amazon started featuring my novel in a newsletter due to the surge of people adding Inquisitor to their wishlists. This was a direct result of the massive release-day promotion I did for the novel.

That was my best day of sales, with 83 sales and four borrows across all of my projects. From there, sales dipped. My second best day was the first day of my countdown deal, with just over 60 sales. While the sale figures stayed around 30 per day throughout the promotion, this didn't equate to a lot in the way of royalties.

To give a basic idea of how this works, I need 23 sales to equate 10 regular-priced sales, roughly. During the $1.99 promotion, I needed a lot more sales.

The general trend seems to be if people want the book, they'll buy the book. You lose some when priced at $5.99, but not that many. You'll get a few extras from the price drop, but there seems to be a mentality that cheaper books are not as good, and so they don't sell.

I tend to agree with this. On average, the books I buy? Cost $5.99 to $16.99 for kindle. Mostly closer to the $16.99 than the $5.99 bracket.

I picked $5.99 because I am aware my books could be better, and I feel this is a good value for the book.

Side Lesson learned: When it comes to promotion, go big or go home. Amazon promoting for you is really awesome. It looks like the email promotions Amazon was doing has ended though, so I'm on my way back to the black hole of obscurity.

Now, onto the promotion itself. If you can't read the numbers, I will recap after the image.

Promotion figures

For the week prior to the promotion, I made $601.20 in royalties. Through the entire week of the promotion, I made $399.27. I made one sale less during the promotion than the week prior. So, I sold fewer books for a notable cut in royalties.

I've had very similar experiences with non-Christmas countdown deals promotions.

Random Commentary: Princess thanks you for her four new balls, she is currently running around the house like a maniac. Your love for the kitties also bought them a new bottle of essence of cat nip. The other cats are writhing on the floor in feline bliss, their regular toys all sprayed.

No pictures, sorry. Their dignity is at stake, and they'd kill me if I ruined all of the dignity.

Back to the subject at hand: Countdown deals.

I decided, after seeing the general performance of these deals, that I would be going non-exclusive, hoping that Inquisitor's little bit of popularity on Amazon will translate to increased sales on Google Play, Kobo, and Barnes & Nobles. No, I won't be using Smashwords. I'll probably use Draft2Digital.

We'll see… but for now? I'm not sure exclusive with Amazon is the best bet. But we'll find out in August, when I get a chance to see what the difference in sales as an exclusive author is versus non-exclusive.

Somewhere in this post, there is a point. I think the migraine killed it.

P.S.: The promotion for Inquisitor cost me somewhere around $538.

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