The Free Promotion Made Money

So it’s been over a month since my free promotion of Star Riders. How did it go? The short answer is: I’m pretty happy with it.

As I said in my last post, I did a five-day promotion giving away the Kindle version of Star Riders for free, starting February 5, with the goal of increasing my reviews on Amazon.  I paid two online services to advertise my promotion by emailing their lists of readers, Freebooksy and TheFussyLibrarian, for a combined fee of $95.

The results?  First of all, Star Riders was downloaded 3,351 times:

Screen Shot 2019-03-15 at 9.43.14 AM

That’s pretty exciting right there.  That means over 3,000 people now have a copy of Star Riders. They may not all read it, but a good number of them will.

(Lesson learned for next time: I should have staggered the promotions on Freebooksy and TheFussyLibrarian, so I could tell how many downloads resulted from each one.)

The rule of thumb for reviews is 1 review from every 100 readers, so if all 3,351 people read the book, that means I could expect 33 new reviews. I didn’t get that, but I did get 10 new reviews, all 4- or 5-star, for a total of 21 reviews with an average of 4.3 stars. And that’s pretty good.  I’m happy with that (although I still want more, of course!).

If that was the only result, I’d be happy with my $95 investment. But what surprised me was that it seems to have led to some paid sales.  To set the stage, you should understand that before the promotion, there wasn’t much activity.  In January, I sold 1 e-book and 3 paperbacks, and had 0 pages by Kindle Unlimited readers (also called KENP, or Kindle Edition Normalized Pages Read).

After the promotion, I sold 9 e-books and had 21,402 KENPs:

Screen Shot 2019-03-15 at 9.51.10 AMScreen Shot 2019-03-15 at 9.47.21 AM

Now some of those e-books might have come from other sources, but it’s hard to attribute the Kindle Unlimited pages to anything else, since they went from zero to a pretty strong showing.

My estimated royalties from all this amounts to $120.  So I actually made money, when I thought I was paying $95 to give away my book.

It’s also curious that the KENP chart doesn’t show a spike during or after the promotion, trailing off afterwards, but it’s kept a good level ever since, on average.  What’s causing this?

Amazon’s algorithms are secret, but I suspect this is due to “also-boughts.”  These are ads Amazon places under a book’s page, showing what people who bought that book also bought.  So I think what happened was that a sufficient number of people got my free book to make my book show up on other books’ pages. Nice!

Another interesting point is that these sales are not just in the US.  The 9 e-books included two from the UK, and two from Canada.  I think UK Amazon users see the same reviews as in the US, but Canada is separate for some reason.  Canada Amazon has only one review for my book (thanks, cousin Paul!).  The Kindle Unlimited pages broke down like this:

  • United States          16,314
  • United Kingdom      3,698
  • Germany                      548
  • Canada                         547
  • India                             292
  • Japan                                3

My book is a total of 548 KENP, so that means the German and Canadian readers finished the book, but the India reader stopped halfway through.

What’s next?

I’m finishing up my novella prequel (which still needs a title!).  It’s going to my editor March 30, and should be ready to publish in May.  I’ll be recruiting some ARC (Advance Review Copy) readers, who’ll get a free copy before I publish, in hopes they will post reviews when it goes live.

I’ll run another promotion in May for Star Riders, this time not free, but for half price ($1.99).  The 21 reviews will help this.  At the back of the book, I’ll offer a free copy of the novella prequel for signing up on my email list.  The goal here is to increase the size of my email list, so when I’m ready to publish the full sequel novel (around the end of the year), I can email those people and convince them to buy it.

Author: RickAAllenSF

Semi-retired engineer, now a SF author. Recently moved to Colorado Springs, where I work in front of a window looking out at Pikes Peak.

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