Kindle Countdown Deal, the Results

My Kindle Countdown Deal for Panama has run it’s course. It’s time to assess the good, the bad, and the ugly. Hey, I made Panama a link, because you can still buy it.

What Amazon is saying. The information about a countdown deal is sparse. In a nutshell, it’s like a blue light special for books. It’s supposed to be exciting and bait consumers into buying the book. Exposure for one story will spark interest in my other stories. The requirements are all available, but you have to dig for them. This should have been a sign. I ran my promotion and only learned some things the hard way. The point is that I learned them, and I’m going to share them with you.

One thing to remember, your results might be dramatically different from mine. I don’t write in the most popular genres, and maybe you do. Maybe you have a broader social network than I do. That kind of thing.

What I wanted out of this promotion. I really wanted to offer this to my blog friends at a discount. People have been so kind to me that my primary goal was to promote the deal here for my followers. I could have done a free promotion, but then I’d never know how the countdown deal works.

I gave away a mountain of books during the Wild Concept promotion. If I sold even half that many at $0.99, maybe I could recoup the price of cover art. I don’t think $0.99 is gouging anyone, but I could be wrong. 

On a side note, does anyone have the name and address of the asshole who decided we no longer need a cents symbol on our keyboards? I’d like to pay him a little visit. I can’t even find an emoticon for it. ¢¢¢ (On my iPad, I have to hold down the $ key and slide my finger to the ¢ symbol.)

Biases that I’m admitting to. Think of this part as opinion. A sale is no guarantee someone will actually read the story. I’d be surprised if half the people bother to read a free book. When they pay for the book, the odds increase. Writers want to have their stories read. Sending a free book to some cloud based landfill isn’t achieving my goal.

Pricing a book at ¢99 puts it into the category of an impulse buy. It’s similar to those little things they place near the checkout stand at the grocery store. In fact it’s cheaper than a Bic lighter or Tic Tacks. Mom and dad can pass the kindle to little Bobby in the back seat so he’ll stop asking, “Are we there yet?”

The effort I put out. I blogged about the promotion several times. This isn’t a huge blog, but I’m at about 370 followers. I used my new membership in the Rave Reviews Book Club to promote too. There are about 500 members there, and the retweet power must have reached 10,000 more people. While I seriously doubt anyone buys anything based upon a Twitter promotion, the price was right – free.

What Happened. I sold exactly four (4) copies of Panama. Enjoy the shock value for a second. Let it sink in. There, done? It really isn’t as bad as it sounds. I know every single person who bought a copy, because they told me so. Here’s how they break down:

  • Two regular readers of this blog, who are also friends I interact with. (Including one who couldn’t get the sale price. Thank you Allie.)
  • One personal friend who is also a blog reader.
  • One member of the Rave Reviews Book Club. Lorraine Adair also tweeted about it to several thousand people.

Why isn’t it as bad as it sounds? Because those same people are much more likely to read the story than the hundreds who grabbed a book during the free promotion.

Assessment. I want to feel negative about this, but I can’t. This promotion didn’t cost me a cent. It provided blog fodder, and I sold four more books than I would have otherwise. All these folks are prolific readers too, and if they have something to offer it will be worth hearing. Three of them are writers themselves.
Amazon dropped the ball on this play. While a giveaway gets Amazon promotion, a countdown deal gets nothing. Amazon places a countdown clock (blue light) on my book page and walks away. It’s my job to drive people to the page.
It was in the fine print somewhere, but I missed it. The countdown deals are only available in the US and the UK. Many of my blog followers are from all over the world and could not take advantage of the offer. It can’t be any harder to make this available in other countries. I would have been just as well served to give a PDF of the story to some of my blog friends. I may still do that.
Does anyone else see the irony that people from Panama could not take advantage of a promotion for Panama?
I will probably use the giveaway option again someday. I think I can benefit from a shorter time period and accomplish something. I can’t guarantee anyone will read whatever story I give away, but there is benefit in getting lookers to my Amazon pages. I may not use the countdown deal again. I have to weigh getting a few voracious readers against the unfair practice of excluding entire parts of the world from the promotion. My sense of fair play is offended.
A broader assessment. I wound up shopping the Rave Reviews Book Club stories. I think my prices are too high. I believe I’m cheaper than a Starbucks or a Red Bull, but most of the self published books seem to be cheaper than mine.
This amazes me, because a server spends ten minutes with me and I leave a bigger tip on the table than what I charge for a book. I spent a year or more writing a story and invested some small amount in the cover art too. Facts are facts, and I probably just have to accept them.
Right now, I could make more money as a writer by finding a piece of cardboard and writing “Will Work for Food” on it.
I’m not actually discouraged. I enjoy writing. While I don’t enjoy the promotion and salesmanship, I also like learning new things. I’m just in the process of learning what doesn’t work.
Please weigh in. I’m signed up under the KDP 70% royalty option. This means that for every $3.99 book sold, I get $2.79. If I moved over to the 35% royalty option and sold books for ¢99, I would get ¢34 per sale. It’s the idea of making it up in volume. While I don’t think anyone can answer the question, I have to try somehow. At the lower price point, I would have to sell eight times the number of books to see the same income.
Another option is to stay in the 70% royalty program and lower my price to $2.99,which is the lowest possible under this option. This might be the better solution to my mind.
I’m not particularly interested in leaving the KDP program and trying other venues. While I may move more books by adding Nook, or Apple, I don’t really want to spend the extra time. Between my full time employment and writing, I’m already working seven days a week.
This isn’t all about the money. I’d be lying if I said I’m not interested in it; I like money. Ten years from now, with more titles available, if I could supplement my retirement significantly I would be ecstatic.
I also want people to have fun with my stories. To do that, they have to read them. I could put them all online for free and accomplish that. What I need is a happy middle ground.
Readers of this blog all seem to be pretty savvy. Many of you are writers yourselves. Let me hear from you. I don’t have to change anything today, but a change is coming. Amazon won’t let me change anything for Panama for another 14 days anyway. I’m looking for opinions here so speak up.


Filed under Writing

24 responses to “Kindle Countdown Deal, the Results

  1. Wow! I’m still shocked. I have been with amazon for a few years. I’ve had times when I sold well and even when I haven’t gotten anything. Amazon can make or break you, sadly.


    • Who knows. Wrong time of year, unpopular genre (paranormal historical), wrong days of the week?

      It won’t stop me. I just have to try other things. I try a lot of stuff. Some of it works better than others. I’ve gained blog followers one at a time, and my readership will grow the same way.

      Today there are four of you. Tomorrow there will be five. Thanks for taking a chance on Panama. I really hope you enjoy it.


  2. Thus is the life of a writer. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


  3. I know far less than you do, so I’ve been reading about this in the hopes of learning from you.


    • I’m always willing to share my findings. Without agents or publishers, we all have to help each other.

      Maybe I need to write about sparkly vampires or bondage next time. There are some creatures in Panama that are similar to zombies, but I refuse to call them that.

      I could write about sparkly vampires who attend a wizard school to learn bondage from some zombies. Or, or…


      • I am SO with you. Sparkly vampires having BDSM orgies in wizard school, while zombies look on. If you can find a way to inspire people with that plot, you’ll make millions!

        I’m in the process of downloading reader cloud thing onto my laptop so I can read all the e-lit. I’m just a print kinda girl ๐Ÿ˜‰


      • I love print and own a ton of it. I can see the writing in the wall for paper books though.

        This whole self publishing gig wouldn’t be possible without e-readers and I don’t want to be a hypocrite either.


  4. There are always ups and downs in selling.
    What about a Panama blog hop/tour? Each of us promotes Panama on a certain day. We cross-link to the other participating blogs, there are also lots of rebloggers and retweeters out there.
    I need to complete some other books first (among others ‘Wild Concept’), then it is Panama’s turn. ๐Ÿ™‚


    • You’re always so generous. That would be wonderful, but I ought to wait a few weeks. I’ll probably lower my price and it might be a good time.

      I’m convinced I should lower my prices. Maybe put out the next one at this price and lower the previous ones in succession.

      Figure out a way for me to give it to you for free, and I’ll do that too. All I can come up with is emailing a PDF or something.

      Lots of pondering to do right now.


  5. I didn’t have much response when I tried Countdown. I think Amazon is trying to add “scarcity” to the marketing mix, but it’s falling short. At least so far. You’ll do much better with the right paid advertising and a 99ยข price promo. A free promo works best when you have several books in the same series. After people get your free book, many of them will buy one or more of the other books in the series.

    Also, many of the writers I know that are making decent money from self-publishing have at least two series with four or more books each. Some of them have made either a prequel or the first book free. Others have the first book at a reduced price. For example, book 1 @ $2.99 and subsequent books at $3.99 or $4.99.

    I’ve been told by several people I should lower my book to $2.99 because I’m an unknown author. I think that’s bunk. But just the same, I tested my prices, trying first $3.99 for a week, and then $2.99 for a week. I didn’t see anything that convinced me a lower price would make a difference so I put it back up to $4.99.

    What you and I both need is to find our target market! When that happens, our “high” price of four or five dollars won’t be a barrier.

    By the way, on a PC, Alt+0162 will produce the ‘ยข’ character. ๐Ÿ˜‰


    • What a great response, thank you. I believe we have to share with each other. I’m glad you feel the same way.

      I avoid series as a reader. I don’t mind another story with the same characters, but don’t like feeling obligated to buy five books to read one story. I still read some, but I like a good stand alone story.

      I’ve heard the series marketing plan called the crack dealer method. i.e. The first one’s free.

      Thanks for all the great input.


  6. Ali Isaac

    Well dont be downhearted… its disappointing, but not surprising. Its a long slog getting there, but you will. One of your commenters said those with most success have several books out. Readers then bounce from one to another. This seems to be the general consensus. Its all about visibility not price, I believe. One book, no matter how much enjoyed, gets forgotten in the year it takes you to write the next. I started out at 4.99. I dropped it to 2.99 but it made absolutely no difference. I have left it at 3.99. People who want to read it wont mind shelling out 3.99 or 4.99. If you want your book to actually be READ, please dont lower it to 99c. It will only put your book in a category you wont want to be associated with. You want readers to believe they are getting a quality read for their money dont you? If you dont value it, they wont either. Its not about price its about visibility.

    Some social media help with visibility. Twitter is great for linking to other authors etc. Its hard to find readers that way. This week I read a post saying to follow the followers of other famous authors in your genre. I started doing this and got a lot of followers. Some even went to my blog. Google+ has really helped me. It has driven a lot of traffic to my blog. And I have actually sold a few books because people connected there with me and I interacted with them. I enjoy Google+…its like a friendlier version of twitter. Do you post all your blog posts to fb tumblr pinterest linkedin and stumblupon? I
    do and get visits to my blog from them all.

    My blog is not as popular as yours. Im heading for 200 blog followers so Im way behind you. But with each blog post I get a couple more. And when I have a whole series of booms to blog about, then it will matter. Until then, Im just gonna keep on putting tbe work in and forget about ‘marketing’. We are worrying too much on that, because its all anyone blogs about, instead of focussing on our writing.

    Sorry for the long essay…just my opinion.


    • Ali Isaac

      Sorry… booms=books lol!


    • I like long essays. WordPress allows for some good interactions. So far the consensus is to leave the price alone.

      I don’t actually like a lot of social media. It’s WordPress and Twitter right now. Every bit of this requires a certain amount of babysitting. I’m already spending too much time on this part.

      The best news is I started all this with four complete stories to publish. While I was fiddling with that, I also wrote Will ‘O the Wisp. I’ll have multiple titles in short order.

      Never thought about pirating followers of famous authors. That’s pretty creative. Thanks.


      • Ali Isaac

        It wasnt my idea, but I think its a pretty good one! As far as social media goes, pick what you enjoy doing, if thats twitter, and you enjoy it, you are more likely to make it work for you.

        I use the share buttons under my posts to post them to tumblr etc. I dont regularly use these accounts, only the ones I enjoy which for me are my fb page and Google+. You can spread yourself too thin trying to present yourself everywhere. Better to be really active and do it well in one or two sucial media sites then be crap on lots of them lol!

        Your strength is your fab blog posts… Im sure if you could drive more traffic to your website you would have a lot of people hooked and buying your books.


      • The blog was always intended to be Craig Central.

        I know one person who has an automatic upload to other social media. It’s annoying, because when she blogs, it sends out to all the other programs. The other programs think she’s posted something and it re notifies the programs again. It’s kind of like holding a mirror up to a mirror. I never want to fall into the position of being that annoying guy who clogs up your timeline.

        One of the things I am certain about is that it takes time. I’ve grown my blog one follower at a time. My readership has grown in similar fashion. I have every belief that I can scoop up more followers, and if that’s possible so are more readers.


      • Ali Isaac

        Great! I’m sure you will too!


      • Ali Isaac

        It wasnt my idea, but I think its a pretty good one! As far as social media goes, pick what you enjoy doing, if thats twitter, and you enjoy it, you are more likely to make it work for you.

        I use the share buttons under my posts to post them to tumblr etc. I dont regularly use these accounts, only the ones I enjoy which for me are my fb page and Google+. You can spread yourself too thin trying to present yourself everywhere. Better to be really active and do it well in one or two sucial media sites then be crap on lots of them lol!

        Your strength is your fab blog posts… Im sure if you could drive more traffic to your website you would have a lot of people hooked and buying your books.


  7. I see someone already told you what I was going to say that ALT+0162 makes the ยข sign. (Not that it’s very helpful… I still have to look up the code every time I need to use it!)

    As far as Amazon, I still think it’s what I originally speculated… that people are not at the computer as much over the summer. Personally, I’ve only recently decided to make the switch to a Nook. And I’ve been working to replace (and get rid of) the mountains of paper books I already own then will be getting new ones, Panama included.

    Are you planning to sell it as a paper book on Create Space? Or are you also going to try your hand with a literary agent? Can’t hurt, they’re both free, right? ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Bummer. I am running with the Amazon KDP program. This means not available for Nook. I could look at the whole createspace thing though. I think Amazon allows that. You can also get the kindle app on computers and laptops.

      Can you read a PDF on the Nook?


      • Yes, you can read a PDF on Nook, but I also have a program that converts PDF to Kindle and Nook. And it may convert Kindle to Nook as well. Createspace definitely works with Amazon for printed copies. And best of all, it’s free. I think you might have to pay a very small fee to get your copy of your book’s proof (something like $25, not too much) and once you get that, then you look it over and either make changes or tell them it’s ready, then you can start selling it along with the kindle version on Amazon.


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