Monday, 19 August 2013

KDP Select, Self-Promotion and ROW 80 Check In.

So this week I spent a lot of time working on the finishing and promotion of my brother's book: Tom Grafton Vs. The Environmentalists. 

The experience of editing a family member's work:
To be completely honest, I had not read the book the entire way through until I started editing it. It was a strange experience, as the book was very my brother, which is weird for any sibling to think that the rest of the world might be interested in that (like the weirdness that someone would actually want to date and marry your sibling... don't they know that said sibling pulled your hair when you were five, and let the dog bury your barbies?). However, it also gave me an interesting insight into my brother and made me appreciate his hobbies and interests a lot more. Particularly, his book made the fascination and peace he gets about deer hunting real to me. 

Having said that, I did go through in a lot of places and just go 'nope, you can't say that. Or that.' And with permission I re-wrote quite a few bits. I will openly admit that Dave was great about it, and didn't put any restrictions on me for example by saying that I had to keep any of his particular darlings etc. He was a very easy author to work with. 

However, I only got to do one run through, when in fact it needed a structural edit, then a copy edit, and then a proof read. So I feel cautious about saying 'I've edited this!' because while I did a huge amount, I probably took out 90% of the spelling mistakes/typos, but since there were some every few paragraphs, the number remaining will still look like I did a bad job. Oh well, you get what you pay for. 

A Lesson in Book Promotion
So when I took over helping to promote Dave's book it was already enrolled in KDP Select, though he hadn't done anything about it and it wasn't being particularly profitable. From my research, the biggest advantage to KDP Select for new authors is the ability to list your book on Amazon for free for a total of 5 days within the 90. (Don't believe their 'amazing global fund', you'll be lucky if you get even a dollar, from my experience.) 

As Dave hadn't done anything with this, I still had the full 5 days to play with. So, a few weeks ago I redid his cover to better reflect the genre of the book (best tip on book cover creation I have ever received: the first purpose of the book cover is to immediately reflect the genre of the book so as to attract your target market. Always do some 'market research' by looking up similar books in Amazon and noting stylistic features in that category). After I redid it we put it up for 3 days free. No promotion other than saying on his Facebook page that it was going free. 339 downloads. 

Now that is not spectacular for a free promotion (you hear of people who get 45,000 for one promotion, but they usually have something help like being picked up by a ebook reviewer etc. More on that later). However, we thought it was pretty awesome. 339 new people introduced to Dave as an author! Even more probably saw it, but these guys were interested enough to click and download.

The first two days were definitely the most successful, and it had slowed down a lot by the third. I assume it moves off the 'newly listed free' page or something like that. I would recommend starting with a maximum of 2 days, and if it is going well (which will be moving you up some lists) then add an extra day or two. 

However, we haven't appeared to receive any extra reviews from that, which was our big hope. 

This Time Around:
Well, as we did so well last time, and Dave's KDP select enrolment period was ending this weekend, I decided I would upload the revised version on Thursday and then have Friday and Saturday as free promotion. Further, I was a good, hard-working girl and found all the places that you could promote your ebook for free. Okay, so there are hundreds of places. Therefore, I then narrowed it down to the ones that seemed most recommended, and I gave them a week's notice, and ended up submitting Dave's book to literally about 50 sites (give or take a few). Though, quite a few of the sites you can submit for free, but if you want a guaranteed listing you need to pay, which I didn't do. 

I then tweeted and Facebooked, and sent an email to The Five Day Writer's free ebook list (sign up on the sidebar if you are interested in getting free review copies of the books I help bring out!).  And then collapsed into bed and waited for the numbers to surge. 

You want to know the end result? 210. 
Yup, absolutely no difference to when we didn't do anything at all! In fact, in the first two days of the last promotion we had more free downloads. I could have cried.

In the future, I would still go through with it all just for the off chance that it might be picked up. I did wonder whether the product description could have used more work (I've now updated it to something more snappy), and also the book is REALLY hard to place genre-wise, because who does social commentary wrapped up in romance, architecture and deer hunting? The romance isn't actually fulfilled until the next book, so it won't appeal to the pure romantics, not sure many people read fiction books about architecture (maybe kids, they love Bob the Builder), and while the deer hunting scenes are fantastic, there are only two and they are towards the end of the book, so people interested in guns have to wade through 2/3 about the girl and building houses. What would you market that as?
The other problem is that I think a few of the sites downloaded a version of it to have a look at before I had uploaded the new revised edition, so might have not promoted it because of that. 

- product description really, really important. Do not just whack something up and hope it works.
- free promotion still good if you have no readership, because there are now almost 500 people who have Dave's book who had never heard of him before. 
- plan your promotion in advance, and decide whether you are going to put some money into it. (It was usually $10 per site for guaranteed inclusion).
- please, please, please: write to a market! If you want to sell your book on everything, you are welcome to, but it is really hard to promote. 
- enjoy the free downloads, but don't count on it going viral. Even after putting in a lot of work, there is still a lot of chance involved. 
- KDP select: make sure you use the free promotion if you are going to enroll. I didn't use it for The Five Day Writer, because I also wanted to sell it on my site, but I think for my next book I might try it, now that I have other things on Amazon they can buy as well if they like my book.

ROW 80 Check-In:

In recap, my goals for last week were:

1. Write up everything I want to change/add to improve A Little Bit of Leaven.
2. Create a Print On Demand version of 'The Five Day Writer's Retreat'.

3. Finish editing 'Tom Grafton Vs. The Environmentalists'.

4. Organise my first writing intensive workshop! 

How did I go with that?
We will just overlook number 1. It is scheduled in for another month now.

2. Done! It took a while longer than it should have because I perfectly formatted it... to the wrong trim size! (in that I hadn't done it to any trim size.) However, the proof copy will arrive for me on the 4th of September. I'll get to hold my very own book. Yes, am ridiculously excited about this, regardless of it being self-published. So mid-September it should be available worldwide for print on demand. Would make a great Christmas present for friends who are writers... just saying :D

3. Well, I think I've said enough about that.

4. I sat down and worked out the schedule for the intensive, emailed the first person who was interested, updated my websites, particularly to have all the information, and started to contact accommodation in the area to see if they would offer a discount to my guests. The schedule is up on The Five Day Writer, and I have to admit, it looks pretty fun, if I do say so myself. I'm now trying to work out where to advertise in order to get more guests, which is pretty exciting.

If any of you are interested in coming, I could be tempted to offer a 100FD special to my first intensive, as a Thank You for all your support. Or if you know someone who would be free and interested, I could do mates-rates. 

Details: Friday 25th Oct 8pm - Sunday 27th 2pm, in Woodend, which is 50 minutes north-west of Melbourne. Topic: The Fundamentals of Self-Publishing. Current cost is $250 for the weekend, including meals but not including accommodation. It is going to be a really relaxed, intimate weekend where you get to talk about your writing and authorship dreams.

Give me a buzz at if you're interested!

So, anyone got any KDP select free promotion success stories? Any advice? 


  1. Congrats on the POD set up. I've just received my first ever proof, from Createspace. Marvellous! It's a great feeling and it looks more 'real' than having an ebook on my Kindle with my name on it. :)

    I hear you over marketing... I've considered doing the FREE thing on KDP select, but it has marginal impact. Think if you'd sent out 350 copies to reviewers? That would have generated reviews for sure. I did a FREE day on Smashwords and 'sold' around 200 without anything other than the site-wise promo. Got zero reviews on that site though. Thing is, freebies are so normal now, people download them without even reading the description and forget they have them. They become expendable, almost. I know because I do it myself.

    But I know some people have had great success from the Amazon FREE days, moving up a few lists at least, getting exposure. For reviews, you'd be better off booking a review tour with a VBT company (although it's difficult when the genre is so vague). I have one coming up which will generate 12 reviews for $30 approx. I already have 13 reviews, so that gives me a firm 25 reviews. If they're all above 3 star (as the 12 I already have are) then that will be a sold representation of what a reader can expect. Whether that helps drive sales is another matter.

    It's and constant effort, and a game of chance as much as hard work. Best of luck!

    Shah X

  2. Between you and Shah, Buffy, I've been getting a LOT of information about how book marketing works (or doesn't work as the case may be) in this self-publishing world.

    I'm surprised your brother would want the book sent out without a full-scale edit. You did advise of those problems? I imagine it's still somewhat weighing on your mind, just because of the amount of energy on this post spent to it. Just what I think I'm seeing...

    The course/retreat looks so fun, save that the airfare alone would be prohibitive... Bleh! I miss traveling. Do you?