Random Inspirations

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4800 eBook Downloads in 48 Hours: How to Optimize Amazon KDP Select Free Days

on October 23, 2013

This Monday and Tuesday, I experienced another milestone in my journey as an author: I listed my new eBook, Rumspringa Break, as free on KDP Select. I’d heard the free-day success stories of authors like Joanna Penn and Tom Corson-Knowles (i.e. thousands of downloads, gargantuan jumps in Amazon rankings), so I was excited and a bit intimidated to try it myself.

Rumspringa Break‘s two-day free period exceeded my expectations. My book received about 4,800 downloads (4,728 to be exact), and peaked at #59 Worldwide in Free Books on Amazon Best Sellers. It was #1 in the Teen & Young Adult Short Stories category, and #2 in the overall Short Stories category!

I performed many steps in preparation for my free days, and am eager to share them with any new authors out there who want to get noticed on Amazon.

Here’s my step-by-step free-day promo strategy!

  1. As soon as my book launched, I recruited reviewers: friends and family, other authors, and indie book reviewers. I’m still not an expert at getting reviews, but my book did have five by my first free day, which helped it to rank higher on Amazon.
  2. I planned my promo days to be within two weeks of my book’s release to optimize its “new release” discoverability.
  3. Since self-published authors gain the most momentum by using only one or two free days at a time, I decided to use two.
  4. Starting four days before the scheduled free days, I planned my attack — armed with an arsenal of free-book promoting websites, Twitter handles, and Facebook pages from a video by Tom Corson-Knowles. Some websites needed to be notified days in advance, others only on the day of the free promotion. Also, some of the websites would only list books with a certain number of four- or five-star reviews, which made me grateful I’d thought of that ahead of time. Several of the Facebook pages were closed groups, so I joined the groups a few days before I wanted to promote. Planning ahead was crucial!
  5. On the first free day, I posted descriptions of my eBook on all the free-book promo Facebook pages.  I repeated this on the second free day.
  6. On the first free day, I announced the book on my Facebook author page and my Google+ page. I also included an eye-catching graphic with the announcements.

    The eye-catching graphic I used on my Facebook and Google+ pages.

    The eye-catching graphic I used on my Facebook and Google+ pages.

  7. On the first free day, I tweeted three times about the book, with a slightly different leading tweet each time.
  8. On the first free day, I launched a two-day Facebook ad campaign that helped to drive traffic to my author page and the book. I received ten new likes on my author page.
  9. On the second free day, I launched a Twitter ad campaign targeted at followers of popular teen figures (i.e. Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez) and free-book Twitter handles (i.e. Bookyrnextread and FreeKindleBooks).

Then, I sat back and let it happen, making key observations along the way. The interesting thing was that before the promo, I had sold 40 copies of the book in 10 days and my Amazon ranking was fluctuating between 30,000 and 50,000 in paid Kindle books. The morning after the promotion my rank had plummeted down to around 150,000 in paid Kindle books. As the day progressed, however, my ranking rose steadily. I sold about 90 books in 1 day, and my Amazon ranking went up to 1,800 in paid Kindle books.

Total downloads on Amazon KDP

Total downloads on Amazon KDP

Although Amazon does not disclose the algorithm it uses for recommendations, I believe that my success during the promo triggered the algorithm to recommend my book to more Kindle users after the promo.  The other interesting thing was that during my free promo, my other short story, A First TIme for Everything, sold about five more copies per day than usual. I am not sure if this happened because there’s a link to its Amazon page at the end of Rumspringa Break, or if it happened because the Amazon algorithm recommended the book more — probably a combination of both.

I’m now in the midst of an experiment: I’ve listed A First Time for Everything for free today, and I’m doing no promotion whatsoever except on my Facebook author page, Google+, this blog, and Twitter. Then, on Friday, I’m offering Rumspringa Break for free again, but I’ll be promoting it the same way I did earlier this week and trying out some new tactics as well. I will be sure to blog about the outcome of this “experiment” and the new promotion strategies I learn along the way. And if you haven’t checked out my eBooks yet, feel free — literally — to take advantage of the promo days and download them!

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9 responses to “4800 eBook Downloads in 48 Hours: How to Optimize Amazon KDP Select Free Days

  1. J.W. See says:

    Great stuff! Thanks a lot for the details.

  2. […] days on KDP Select, and I can’t tell you how valuable that has been for me. Here’s a blog post I wrote on the […]

  3. […] days on KDP Select, and I can’t tell you how valuable that has been for me. Here’s a blog post I wrote on the […]

  4. […] are a gold mine for new authors looking to get their books into readers’ hands. Check out this blog post about how I received 4800 downloads in 48 hours on KDP Select Free Days. If you self-publish, I […]

  5. […] own promotion plan, and it worked well. I didn’t experience the runaway success of my first KDP Select Free Day promotion, but the box set did peak in the high 20,000s on Amazon–and that’s […]

  6. […] own promotion plan, and it worked well. I didn’t experience the runaway success of my first KDP Select Free Day promotion, but the box set did peak in the high 20,000s on Amazon–and that’s definitely […]

  7. KINDLE BOOKS says:

    […] own promotion plan, and it worked well. I didn’t experience the runaway success of my first KDP Select Free Day promotion, but the box set did peak in the high 20,000s on Amazon–and that’s […]

  8. […] are a gold mine for new authors looking to get their books into readers’ hands. Check out this blog post about how I received 4800 downloads in 48 hours on KDP Select Free Days. If you self-publish, I […]

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