A few days ago I was notified by Amazon about a new promotion scheme for customers in KDP Select. It's called Kindle Countdown Deals and the details of it can be found here.
Up until now, KDP Select books (that is, books enrolled in the KDP Select program which are not allowed to be sold anywhere other than Amazon for a three month term) could be set free for up to five days per enrollment period.
A lot has been said about the diminishing returns of free promos. A lot of noobs come to the table and think that getting a couple of hundred downloads is great, because every one of those will be read, right?
Nope. A fraction at best will be read, and you're looking at a review per 1000 or so free downloads, and it might not be a nice one.
The reward used to be the huge knock-on sales you'd get from the promotion because of the increased visibility of your book. Then Amazon tweaked the algorithms so that your book got little to no additional visibility at all. It went straight back to being unseen, and the sole benefit of free promos was if your promotion was the first book in a series.
Now, this new promotion allows you to reduce the price of your book to as much as $0.99 yet still make 70% profit, and it will be promoted on a special area of the site with a timer showing how long the deal has left to run. The page is here.
An author whose book is in Select can only choose one option or the other in each enrollment period.
So, what do I think about this?
I think it's great.
Not particularly for what it is, because I'm pretty sure that it won't help me sell any extra books. What I do think it will do is drastically reduce the number of freebies, meaning those books which are perma-free will get a lot more visibility on the best, um, seller lists. I'm not the greatest mathematician in the world but if 50% of the books enrolled in Select go for the Countdown Deal option then that means they'll be 50% less books clogging up the free lists. If I have a perma-free listed at #10 in a Top 100 category then perhaps it might be listed at #5 without shifting any extra copies. Of course, theoretically it should then begin to shift more copies because its higher up the list and has better visibilty.
Free is an incredibly powerful marketing tool but when everyone is doing it it loses its effectiveness. I'm very much of the opinion that 80% of self-published authors are flash-in-the-pans, as in they're either pure hobbyists or they're get-rich-quick types, meaning they'll publish one book, fail to sell any copies, and give up. Good. I don't care about those people because I'm in the careerist boat, and the less competition the better. I had a look on Amazon today and there were 63,200 new ebooks published in the last 30 days. Holy crap that's a lot of books. I'd be quite happy if 50,000 of those authors never published another book, but even if they don't, those 50,000 books are still floating around, making it more difficult for people to find mine. And that's just in the last month.
The only free options I see as viable these days are perma-frees. There is a possibility that after the completion of the Tube Riders series the first book might be made perma-free in order to advertise the rest of the series. If the Kindle Countdown Deals promotion takes a few thousand other dystopian young adult ebooks over on to some other bestseller list, then that leaves a bit more room for mine.
So, in my rambling way, that's what I think about it.
How about you? All comments are welcome as always.
3rd November 2013