Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Is Free Still Viable a Marketing Tool on Amazon?

I just finished my most successful free run on Kindle. History Bytes, 37 People, Places, and Events That Shaped American History ranked number three in the Kindle Free Store after giving away 24,000 copies in a forty-eight hour period.

Not too shabby.

Especially for a book that ranked 215,000 in the Kindle Paid Store just hours before it started, it's free run. Two weeks before that I ran another high performing free run with my book, Life Without the BS: Rants, Raves, and Other Crazy Stuff. At the end of its five-day free run, it rocketed up to number twenty-three in the Kindle Free Store. Since then, it ranked number one in one of the political humor categories for nearly two weeks. Just recently, it was knocked down a peg to number two. Still not bad for a book, that ranked around 600,000 just before I started promoting it.

It's still too soon to tell what will happen with History Bytes. I assume it will rocket up the charts, and become a top seller in several of the history categories.

But, there is the question of ROI (return on investment).

It cost a small fortune to promote each book and push it up the charts. After two weeks, Life Without the BS has sold seventy copies (including 26 sales, and 47 Kindle Unlimited reads). In dollars and cents, that is roughly $80.00 in royalties versus the $189.00 spent to promote the book.

Is that a good investment?

I'm not sure. The odds are I will come close to breaking even by the end of the month so moneywise, it's a bust. Reader-wise - my book was made available to nearly 9,000 new readers. If only ten percent of them read it, that's 900 new people who've read one of my books. If just ten percent of them purchase my new book, that's 90 new readers waiting to plunk down $2.99 for the new "Nick book."

I can live with that.

I spent just over $400.00 to promote History Bytes. If I don't sell a single copy, that's still 24,000 more books out there. If we assume ten percent of the people who took time out to download it actually read it, that's 2400 new readers. Based on the same math I used with Life Without the BS, that's 240 people who will be ready, willing, and able to purchase my new book.

I ran a similar promotion with History Bytes three months ago when I first released it. That promotion cost me $200.00, and I ended up giving away nearly 13,000 books in a five-day period. Over the next five months, I sold nearly 250 copies at $2.99 each and gathered another 400 plus Kindle Unlimited reads.

I'm hoping for better results this time but will take whatever I can get.


I think the big takeaway is FREE is still a great option for getting the word out, and giving your book a boost, but ... And, this is a big but. It's only going to work if you promote the hell out of your free days and make the most of it. If you want to sell more books, you've got to rank in the top one hundred - better yet in the top twenty of all books in the Kindle Free Store to really make an impact on your sales once your book returns to paid.

That's my take on it.

What's yours?