Monday, January 13, 2014

KDP Free Days or Kindle Count Down Deal - What's all the fuss about?

There seems to be a lot of confusion about how to best use the Kindle Countdown Deal.

Some authors don’t understand how to use it; some worry about it not being available in all areas; others look at it as a watered down work around for KDP Free Days.

First, we need to take a look at exactly what the Countdown Deal is. In Amazon’s own words it’s a “new KDP Select benefit that lets authors provide readers with limited time discount promotions on their books available on and Amazon.UK. It’s a great opportunity to earn more royalties and increase discoverability of your book. Customers will see the regular price and the promotional price on the book’s detail page, as well as a countdown clock showing how much time is left at the promotional price. You’ll also continue to earn your selected royalty rate on each sale during the promotion.”

A quick read through of Amazon’s description will answer many of the concerns authors have about using Kindle Countdown Deals.

First off, it’s a limited time promotion. You can set the time period you want it to run – anywhere from one hour to seven days. You can also set the discount levels. If your book is $3.99, you can split the promotion over three levels. Your book would start out at 99 cents and increase in price by one dollar increments evenly split across the time period for the promo. The timer resets for every price level, showing how long buyers have to purchase your book at the discounted price.

Some of the complaints I’ve heard are it’s too confusing; or there should be just one price point – 99 cents for the entire promo; or the counter is too cheesy, or pushy. I think this ignores the whole point of the Countdown Deal. It’s the urgency of the timer ticking away that makes readers rush in to buy now, before the price moves to the next level. If you take away the timer, sales are going to nosedive. If you only want one discounted price for the entire promo, you have total control over that. When you are offered a choice of sale increments, choose one.

Another area authors are concerned about is the deal is not available to everyone; just to readers in limited areas. Martin Crosbie talked about this in an Indies Unlimited blog post saying he had problems changing prices worldwide so no one would feel left out. The point is Amazon has chosen to make the Countdown Deal available exclusively to book buyers in the United States and the United Kingdom. It’s an Amazon thing. Authors shouldn’t feel obligated to figure out how to make the deal available to readers in areas where Amazon didn’t intend to extend it. If you’re running an ad to promote your Countdown Deal and are concerned that international readers will want the discounted price you can state something about Amazon only making the deal available in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Some authors have said they don’t intend to use it because they’ve heard from others that it didn’t work for them.

KDP Free days don’t work for every author. It all comes down to the book you are promoting; the days you are promoting it on; whether other authors in your genre are running deals at the same time; and a good dose of luck.

Let me give you an example. I ran my first Countdown Deals two months ago. I tried it with ten of my books. One of them moved seventy-five books in the seven-day period, and another sold sixty-five copies. That was two to three times the number of books I sold the week before without running the Countdown Deal. Not too shabby. Five of my other books sold from five to fifteen copies during their seven-day run and three of my books didn’t sell a single copy during their promotional run.

Overall, I was happy with the results. The two books with the best sales sustained their initial bump in sales for almost a month and stayed in the top five sellers in their category.

The best indicator the countdown deal helped came from my Kindle sales and commission reports. Total Kindle sales were up 250 copies for the month, and my royalties shot up by nearly $300 from the previous month. Create Space sales shot up over $700 for the month, but I have no way of tying that to the Count Down Deal.

Would I run the Countdown Deal again?

It’s a no-brainer. Yes, I would, and I am doing it right now. The two best books from my last run eBay 2014 and eBay Unleashed are having a good run again. One surprise seller is Abraham Lincoln: The Baltimore Plot.  Both of my KDP Free Day promos for it failed to give away over a few hundred copies, and sales never took off. Before this promo, I probably never sold over five copies in seven months of trying to promote it. In the first three days of the Countdown Deal, it’s sold twenty-one copies. This may be the breakout it needs to start selling.

Sales for the two eBay books would have been much higher this time around, but one of the heavy hitters in the eBay category, Steve Weber, ran the Countdown Deal on his two bestselling books for the same period I chose to run mine. Luck wasn’t on my side this time, but it's ok - I still had a great promo. Sales of eBay 2014 are still going strong two days after the Countdown Deal for it ended.

One point Weber’s Kindle Count Down Deals emphasized was the promo works amazingly well for bestselling books. His book Barcode Booty jumped from a 12,000 to 15,000 ranking in the Kindle Paid Store to around 1800. Three days later it’s still hanging in there at around a 7800 ranking. For one day three of his books ranked one, two, and three in the eBay category. All of them were propelled there using the Count Down Deal.

Another Kindle author Steve Scott talked about the Kindle Countdown Deal in one of his blog posts. A few of his books sold several hundred copies during the promo and kept going strong afterward. Some of his books didn’t do as well. He shared the same info about using Kindle Free Days, sometimes they work sometimes they don’t.

If you don’t try it for yourself, you’ll never know what works best for your books.

The final complaint I saw concerned royalties paid to authors during the Countdown Deal. Under the rules of the program, you’re supposed to be paid at the current royalty level for your book, either 35 or 70 percent. Some authors mentioned their royalties were paid at the lower level, and I did see some of this in my sales reports too. That may be a temporary reporting glitch, or it may be one of the kinks Amazon is going to have to work out.

Whatever else you can say the Kindle Countdown Deals is a great promotional tool for authors. Unlike KDP Free Days it helps you get extra sales and make money too.

Authors need to keep close tabs each time they run a promo and decide for each book which promo is going to do a better job – Free or discounted pricing.

No comments:

Post a Comment