Here’s a recap on the September launch/promotion of Perfection Unleashed, the cost, and the return on my investment (ROI) in terms of book sales and borrows:
September 3 – September 17
Activity: 14-stop blog tour, supported by twice-a-week Tweet Teams from World Literary Cafe. I posted daily to Facebook and Google+. I posted at least once every two days to Goodreads and Book Blog forums. Check out a full list of the blogs I visited.
Cost: $75 in Amazon gift certificates ($50 for the Rafflecopter giveaway, $25 for a blog tour host) with the purpose of adding to my Facebook fans and Twitter followers. If there was something in my promotional plan that I would not do again, it would be the blog giveaway. I don’t think it made a significant difference in my Facebook fans / Twitter followers.
ROI: 26 books sold, most in the first week. (This number, frankly, confuses me, and may have more to do with the overall Amazon market than with my blog tour. Many people reported a spike in book sales in the first week of September, and then absolutely dismal results in the following week.)
September 18 – September 20
Activity: KDP Select Giveaway, supported by several free book sites announcing that Perfection Unleashed was available for free. Check out Free Promotions for the full list of book sites.
Cost: $15 for paid advertising on Kindle Book Review (all three days)
ROI during the promotion: 7,669 books given away on Amazon.com, 1,435 on Amazon.uk, 70 on Amazon.de, and 1 each in France and Spain. The results of my giveaway exceeded my expectations. Within eighteen hours, Perfection Unleashed broke the Top #100 list of Amazon free books. At its peak, twenty-five hours after going free, Perfection Unleashed was #22 on the Amazon free list; it was #1 in Science Fiction series, Science Fiction, Fantasy series, and Fantasy. It had similarly high ranks in Amazon.uk. Perfection Unleashed stayed in the Top #100 for the duration of its free promotion.
What I noticed: It is important to spike your ratings early because momentum helps keep you there. There are diminishing returns as the promotion drags on. If I held the free promotion for more than three days, Perfection Unleashed would have dropped out of the Top #100 by the end of the third day. Lesson learned: If you’re running a free promotion for more than 3-days, it may be worth a paid advertisement on day 4 to spike the book up again.
ROI after the promotion: ZERO. It used to be that your free giveaways counted (at a reduced percentage) toward paid sales in terms of determining your rank on the Amazon paid list once you came off your free promotion. My paid rank prior to my KDP Select free promotion was in the 70,000 range. When I came off my free promotion, my rank was 200,000 (which makes sense–three days without paid sales.) That was a huge disappointment. If you are counting on your free giveaways to boost you up the paid ranks, don’t. It doesn’t work anymore.
September 21 – September 23:
Activity: Paid advertising through Digital Book Today (Friday), World Literary Cafe (Saturday), Kindle Book Review (Sunday). Of all the paid advertising opportunities, I received the most Twitter exposure through World Literary Cafe, in part because they tweet through their three large Twitter accounts and through all of the people who used the tweet teams on that day. In effect, I had more than 60 accounts tweeting for me on Saturday. For several hours on Saturday, ‘@JadeKerrion’ was the eighth most frequently mentioned name on Twitter. Digital Book Today also tweeted for me beyond the day of the promotion itself, and that was great. On those days, I focused on retweeting to my followers, and I also posted links to the promotions on my Facebook and Google+ accounts. None of the Twitter activity has shown any definitive link to sales, so don’t exhaust your Twitter followers…
Cost: $4o per paid advertising, for a total of $120
ROI: It’s not easy to determine the ROI tied to a specific paid advertisement, because the point of marketing is to stack them. Let me give you a perspective on the ROI a full week after my paid advertising kicked in. Books sold: 83. Books borrowed: 16. In terms of sales rank, I peaked at 5,283 on the paid list on the morning of September 24th (after the weekend sales were tallied,) which got me onto the top #20 list in Science Fiction series and Fantasy series. Since then, my sales rank has hovered above 20,000 which is far higher than my average of 100,000+ prior to the promotion. Overall, I’m selling as many books a day as I used to sell in a good week back in August.
Was my September 2012 promotion a success?
Yes, it was. I reached a far higher rank on the Free list than I had expected, attained something close to my hopes/expectations for the Paid list (~5,000) however briefly, and broke even on my ~$200 investment within a week. My book is in many more hands and is connected to many more books in Amazon’s almighty “People who bought this also bought that” algorithm. Most importantly, I now have a functional blueprint on how to promote a novel. Yup, I’d consider my promotion a success in terms of lessons learned, the most important of which is “Don’t lose money…”