How I sold 120 books in a weekend with a Kindle Countdown Deal

Selling one book is still exciting to me, so imagine my delight at selling 120 of them in one weekend! A Kindle Countdown Deal is a good way for newbie authors to get the thing we want above all else: discovery. Escaping the obscurity that plagues independent authors is a relentless battle. Let me show you what I mean.

Right now (Saturday, February 25), here is where The Girl from Oto ranks in the Kindle store out of more than 1 million books:

 

That’s not too shabby, considering how many books The Girl from Oto is competing with. But during my Kindle Countdown Deal from February 17-19, look what happened to the book’s rankings:

 

But wait, there’s more: The Girl from Oto got all the way to #18 in European Historical Fiction in the Kindle store, a personal best. Woo hoo!

Here’s what I did

As a member of Amazon’s Kindle Select program, I’m eligible to run one Kindle Countdown Deal per 3-month enrollment period. All I had to do was select my price (99 cents) and dates (up to a week, but I chose a weekend based on research that tells me the first few days of a deal perform the best). Research also told me that digital book sales tend to be best on weekends. If you’re going to do this, keep in mind the deal has to end 14 days before your enrollment period ends.

Now that I had my dates, I needed to set up promotions. Last time my favorite promotion site was Fussy Librarian, so I signed up again with them. I also booked promotions with the following sites: Awesome Gang, Book Lover’s Heaven, BookGoodies, BookScream,  and ManyBooks. I spent about $60 on this. Then I booked an ad on Facebook at $10 per day for 2 days, targeting people who like Kindles and have interests that relate to themes or settings in my book. Finally I scheduled a series of tweets about the promo through Hootsuite.

When the Kindle Countdown Deal started, I posted it on Facebook and asked people to share it. I also tweeted about it and made sure to include @BookPugUK on the tweet, because I really want to get some traction for my book in the UK.

I’m happy to report @BookPugUK did retweet my tweet, but I made a mistake that probably explains why I didn’t end up getting any UK store sales. My link went to the US store only. So any UK person who clicked it was not directed to the UK store. Lesson learned! I did get several Canadian sales, which was great.

Here’s how the final numbers looked:

For the month of February my e-book sales have been between 1 and 10 per day. (Which is fantastic for me, because before I started running Amazon ads in January, I was lucky to sell even one e-book a day.) During my 3-day Kindle Countdown Deal, I sold 120 books. The second day (Saturday) was when most of my promotions hit, and there was a corresponding jump in sales.

Let’s see how the promotion affected pages read in the KENP program, where subscribers to Kindle Unlimited can read my book for free and I get paid a tiny amount per page.

I ran a Facebook ad from Feb. 3-12 advertising FREE downloads of The Girl from Oto for Kindle Unlimited subscribers, so I can feel pretty confident assuming the big spikes in pages read Feb. 10-13 result from that. The actual days of my countdown deal didn’t cause any wild surges in pages read, but subsequently they shot up higher than ever before, which could be from all the promotions I ran. Currently the royalty per page is about $.004. So on a 1,000 page day, I earn $4, which is about what I earn from royalties per sale of one paperback ($18.99) or one full-price e-book at $4.99. The royalties per page in KENP have been declining steadily for the past several months, according to other authors who publish with KDP. That may be ominous in the long run, but personally I’m thrilled that people are discovering my book through KENP and since I’m new to this game, every new reader is incredibly valuable to me.

What was going on with my paperback all this time?

I’ve sold 35 copies during February, and 6 of the sales were during the promotion. This tells me that having a paperback is worth it, because even when someone can get the e-book for 99 cents, if they don’t have an e-reader or simply don’t like e-readers, they will still spend $18.99 on a paperback book.

Did I achieve my goal?

I made a little money from my Kindle Countdown Deal. (I spent about $80 on ads and promotions, and I sold 120 books at 99 cents each, of which I get 70% royalties minus 16 cents per copy for “delivery charges”.) But making money wasn’t the goal. My number one goal as an author is rising out of obscurity. So few indie authors manage this. The only way to get people to read your book is to promote, market, and advertise. Little by little, I’m getting there. These are all baby steps, and I’ve made some dumb mistakes along the way. I’ve had failures and rejections that make me doubt myself and what I’m doing in this ridiculous game.

But at the same time, I know it can be done. I can do this. Heck, I’m DOING it! I have to keep my blinders on, stay positive, and keep writing the next book. To all of you out there just starting out, know that you can do it too. The trick is not to give up, not to let any single mistake or failure or rejection derail you. Because they will continue to pile up, I promise. Keep writing, juggle all the other balls in the air as best you can, and know that there has never been a better time to be an independent author.

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Posted in Blog, Publishing and Marketing, The Girl From Oto and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

Amy Maroney

I'm a writer living in the Pacific Northwest with my husband and daughters. It took 4 years to write and publish my first novel, The Girl from Oto. Before that I was a writer and editor of nonfiction. This blog charts my progress as an independent author navigating the fog-shrouded switchbacks of "authorpreneurship." Come along for the ride...I hope what I've learned along the way can help you, too!

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