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.