WITCH HEARTS – KDP Select Days Led to Bestseller List (Holy Eff!)

First off, I have to thank everyone who helped promote the 3 free days I hosted WITCH HEARTS on Amazon’s KDP Select Program. It’s something no author (indie or otherwise) could do without the help of others and I am grateful and humbled by the amazing support given to me over these last few days.

I make no secret in the fact that I’m a huge Amazon KDP advocate. If you’re an author curious as to the why (as well as if you’re on the fence about KDP), scroll down.

So, on to the great news. WITCH HEARTS had so many downloads that it hit #1 for 2 straight days in the Top 100 Free Kindle ebooks in Paranormal Fantasy. To me, that’s huge because the longer you stay in the top (read: the first page), the more exposure and downloads you get. It hits that particular genre, which is terrific because those readers looking specifically for those types of books are definitely my market.

Witch Hearts at #1 in Kindle Free - Paranormal Fantasy

Witch Hearts at #1 in Kindle Free – Paranormal Fantasy

Even better? My book hit and stayed at #7 on the OVERALL Free Kindle Bestsellers, which is of course terrific to reach an even bigger audience. When you enroll and use your KDP days, your goal should be to hit that top 10 and stay there for at least a few hours. You get more downloads and exposure from people who might not think to go all the way down the rabbit hole into genres. No screenshot for that one, but here’s the really awesome news that came from the first batch of goodness.

Thanks to the publicity and downloads, the book (as well as the other two Donovan Circus books) have continued to sell even after the KDP days ended last night. Because of those sales, it’s bumped up my ranking and is currently #83 in the Kindle BESTSELLERS list under Ghost Fiction. (UPDATE: At 10pm this same evening, I rose to #31. Holy eff.) For those of you who think that it’s not important to hit that because it’s genre and not overall, I’d argue that this gives me the boost I need for exposure. It helps in those Amazon secret sauce algorithms, not to mention it’s just a great reason for me to boogie in my chair as it’s the total highlight of my week (and perhaps even my writing career thus far). While I won’t be putting “Best Seller” on my covers just yet, it’s a great thing to be able to say I hit that list. What author wouldn’t want that kind of cool news?

Witch Hearts at #83 in Kindle Bestsellers Ghost Fiction

Witch Hearts at #83 in Kindle Bestsellers Ghost Fiction

This is why I’m such a huge fan of the Amazon KDP Select program. Sure, there are pros and cons to it like everything else, but for those authors on the fence or wondering why they should participate, this is a great way to explain – because I don’t really make that many sales off B&N or KOBO (less than 10 a month), I see no reason to pull myself from those and be exclusive on Amazon – for now. I’m not a big name and because I get the majority of my sales from Amazon anyway, I’ve got no problem hanging out with them for at least 90 straight days in order to get my free or discounted days. In the marathon that is a writing career, 3 months is nothing. Why NOT be a part of something that can get you such exposure?

Fact is, with the 3 KDP days I set up (complete with submitting to website and including an ad from BookBub for their Supernatural Suspense readers – $40!), I had approximately 18,500 downloads worldwide (the majority coming from the US, though a surprising amount from Canada and UK). That’s over 18K people that now have my book on their Kindle who didn’t have them before. Sure, I’m aware that not all of those people will read the book – but they could if they wanted to now that they downloaded it.

I’ve already gotten 2 new reviews and downloads have now rolled over into actual sales. And not just for WITCH HEARTS, but for both Donovan Circus books, too. While that could be coincidence, it’s more than likely readers see the author name and want to give them a chance. With GIFTED at only 99 cents, there’s not a lot to lose, you know? That gets them in the circus world and hopefully they enjoy it enough to try BURNED and maybe want to keep up with the series. KDP has given me readers for my other books, too!

All in all, if you’re an author looking for reasons to be in KDP Select, I say go for it. There’s nothing to lose but 90 days and again, in the grand scheme of things, that’s nothing. If it doesn’t work for you, go ahead and see how you do over at B&N, KOBO or any other outlet. That’s totally cool. I’ve found a plan that works for me (for now) and I’ll work it with everything I’ve got! Thanks again to all of you who helped make this possible. I’m humbled beyond belief, as well as can’t stop dancing in my seat. I appreciate it more than words can say.

Amazon KDP Select: How I Got Over 20K Downloads

Last month, I made GIFTED, A DONOVAN CIRCUS NOVEL, free for 3 days to celebrate my new release WITCH HEARTS. I spent weeks beforehand preparing a strategy, figuring out how to promote it, and goals that would hopefully be achieved during it. The hard work paid off, because I had over 20,000 downloads, stayed at #5 in the Top 100, and even got new reviews out of it. (Update: I have received 13 new reviews, which is definitely awesome!)

Put simply, KDP Select is a program authors can sign up with through Amazon for Kindle. You are enrolled for 90 days (and automatically re-enrolled once it’s over, so if you only plan on using it once, pay attention to your days) and your ebook can only be available on this platform. You get 5 promotion days to use throughout the 90 day program. You can use them as you see fit – 3 days and 2 later, 1 and 1, etc. Most authors recommend using at least 2 days in a row and I would have to agree – if you’re trying to get as much bang for your buck as possible, 1 day won’t cut it. (And while you could schedule all 5 at once if you wanted, you probably want to stash a day or two for later. Remember, you’re enrolled for 90 days, whether you use them or not. And no, KDP Days do not roll over to the new 90 day period.)

So I signed up for the KDP program and scheduled out my 3 free days for GIFTED. Many people differ on when to host your days, but from my research, you get better sales days (actual purchases) on the weekend, so perhaps in the middle of the week would work better. Because WITCH HEARTS released on a Tuesday, my free days for GIFTED ran on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Tuesday was my biggest download day as that’s when my scheduled promos through various sites posted them. I still had plenty of downloads Wednesday and Thursday, but there was a distinct plunge of downloads by the last half of Day 2.

Because I can’t get too technical with my numbers (Amazon doesn’t like you revealing exactly how many downloads you got), instead I wanted to offer up the links I used to research as well as submit my free days. You’ll have to be willing to put in the work, but I have yet to meet an indie author who isn’t already quite prepared for that 😉

The biggest thing I did, at least in my opinion, was submitting my book for a BookBub submission. Many authors worry about the cost, as it can get a bit pricey. However, I found their customer service to be excellent and the results from their marketing absolutely boosted my downloads and ranking (I hit #5 of Top 100 Free bestselling books and stayed #1 in SF/Fantasy and #1 in Fantasy Adventure for all 3 days). I originally submitted GIFTED as a Fantasy novel and was ready to pay the $90 fee. To my surprise, I heard back from a real person who looked over my listing and suggested a better placement in YA – a $40 fee. The fact she helped me to put my book in the correct spot even while knowing it would save me money was a HUGE bonus to using them. (It’s not often you find businesses willing to part with extra dollars!)

Anywho, the email that went out about GIFTED on the first free day compared the story to The Hunger Games trilogy, a comparison that both tickled and terrified me. Regardless, I will absolutely use BookBub’s resources for all future advertising, especially on free KDP days. It’s worth the price, assuming you’ve got a decent marketing budget.

The Author Marketing Club has a page here for authors looking to submit their free KDP days for promotion. If you scroll down and click on the list of logos, it brings up a window where you can enter your information – just make sure to do it ahead of time, say at least a week, so you’re guaranteed to have it listed (plus, it’s just polite AND keeps you from going crazy at the last minute).

I also used a bit of marketing help from thedesertgirl on Fiverr. For $25, she promoted my days to several sites I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. I was happy to pay the small fee for her to handle it, since the day my sales started all I had to go was log in to see she’d tagged and promoted me with several book listing sites. I will definitely use her again for future free book days.

I  took out a Facebook ad too, promoting a post about the free download days. I think I put in maybe $25 – I got a ton of new fans for my author page and feel confident it converted into at least a couple handfuls of the 20K+ downloads.

I would absolutely recommend checking out these links for other advice too. They not only list great links for where to submit your listing, but also offer tips on when to choose your days, how to promote through social media, and more.

Laura Howard – Finding Bliss – KDP Select Layering Strategy

Interviews with India Authors – My KDP Success Story

World Lit Cafe – Maximizing Free Days on Kindle Select

A Place for Aspiring Writers of Fiction – Benefits of KDP Select Days

Before your days, make sure to submit your listings to all of the sites you can find like these (Pixel of Ink, Free Booksy, etc.). I also have amazing friends (authors and readers alike) who shared out my posts on Facebook and Twitter, hosted me on their blog for the day, and/or promoted it however they could. Next time, I hope to better implement a hashtag on Twitter (#WitchHearts/#Gifted) that will catch on with any of my communities.

On the day of, make sure you’re posting on all your networks! Use your Facebook fan page to your advantage and talk it up. Same goes for Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc. Write up a blog post announcing it and make it live that morning so it reaches your fans and followers early. Ask your fellow writing groups and author contacts to share it out  (and make sure to offer to repay the favor for them). And for all that is holy, thank every. single. person. who shares, RTs, and helps to promote YOUR product. We wouldn’t get far without them.

Amazon KDP Select: GIFTED Topped Free Charts! (Thank You!)

From April 30 – May 2, GIFTED, A DONOVAN CIRCUS NOVEL was free to download for your Kindle. For 3 days, I did nothing but refresh my pages and watch the number of downloads tick upward, my awe and excitement punctuated by my disbelief and terror. Between 3 days and several countries, the fact that my first book is now in the hands of over 20,000 people is both amazing and scary as hell.

Now, I know that it doesn’t necessarily mean all 20K people will read it. There are tons of folks out there who download only because it’s free. This doesn’t mean that I’ll even get many reviews out of it. (I will say I’ve already gotten 6 back, which probably makes it  worth it!) However, my sales have jumped, skyrocketed in my case, and while this may only be for a short time, I can’t tell you how amazed I am to see those numbers go up every time I check the page. It might not mean much to others. But it means a LOT to me. As for the KDP program, I’d say it was well worth it.

It might mean my name is out there more. It might make me more recognizable when someone goes to look at my work or buy my second book. It also bumps my ranking up in the Amazon secret sauce algorithms, which means better exposure. And that, my friends, is a win in my book.

Thanks to the most supportive group I could ever know, thanks to you the readers, thanks to the promoters who helped me with their knowledge and expertise, GIFTED, A DONOVAN CIRCUS NOVEL made it to the top in the free charts.

In the Amazon Best Sellers Top Free categories, it hit #1 in Science Fiction Adventure, #1 in Fantasy, and perhaps most exciting to me, #5 in the Top 100. My goal was to break into the Top 10 and I’m beyond thrilled it surpassed my expectations into the Top 5.

This is because of you. There are no words to express my appreciation, no thanks enough I can give to tell you just how much your support means to me. I’m honored you’ve joined me for this journey and can’t wait to see where it takes us.

To pick up your Kindle copy of GIFTED, A DONOVAN CIRCUS NOVEL, visit here.

To pick up your Kindle copy of WITCH HEARTS, please go here.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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