Amzon’s Kindle Countdown Deals explained and my results

This post is the fifty-fifth post in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

For the past two weeks, I have discussed offering your novel for free. My most successful promotions have come when doing this as part of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select program.

With KDP Select, you agree to exclusively publish your novel on Amazon for 90 days. You can either renew after 90 days or remove your e-book from the KDP Select program. During each 90-day period, you get to choose to either offer your book for free (see previous posts) or offer it as part of their Kindle Countdown Deals. (Of course, you are not required to do either of these promotions.)

With a Kindle Countdown Deal, you can run limited time discounts on your e-books on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. Customers will see both the regular price and the promotional price as well as a countdown clock showing how much time is left at the promotional price. But you get to keep your selected royalty rate. This means you can get 70% royalty when you are selling your book for just 99 cents.

Another of the benefits is that there is a dedicated website for customers to browse through all the active Kindle Countdown deals.

When you go to the KDP website and look at an example of this promotion, here is what they show you.

Your book is listed at $4.99. You start your promotion on Monday at 8 a.m. and start by offering your book at $1.99. You set three price increments to run for 24 hours each.

  • Thursday @ 8 a.m. – Price is discounted to $1.99 for 24 hours
  • Friday @ 8 a.m. – Promotional price increases to $2.99 for 24 hours
  • Saturday @ 8 a.m. – Promotional price increases to $3.99 for 24 hours
  • Sunday @ 8 a.m. – Price returns to original list price of $4.99

During each promotional day, your book’s detail page will display a counter announcing the promotion, the current price, the time remaining until the price changes and the next price.

To use this promotion, your original price must be at least $2.99, you must be in KDP Select for at least 30 days, and you must discount the book for at least $1. And unlike the free book promotion, you must run your Kindle Countdown Deal all at one time. (All 7 days versus running one deal for 3 days and another for 4 days.)

Now before I decided to try my own Kindle Countdown Deal, I did a little research. Many authors suggested not going up in increments but keeping your book at one special lower price. So, when I put Blood Bond on this deal, I went from my normal price of $2.99 to 99 cents for 7 days.

As with my previous experience with offering my books for free, I knew I would need to do some sort of promotion to let readers know about this deal. While looking into advertising opportunity, I read a blog by someone who used Facebook to advertise. I had a good response on my free book Facebook ad so I thought why not try that as my only advertising option (beyond posting on my blog, Twitter and my Facebook Page).

Sadly, it did not go well. While I had several clicks on my Facebook ad, I didn’t sell a single novel through this promotion. While I am sure that this promotion can work, I definitely think you need advertising other than Facebook ads. It certainly would be something I will try with a future book.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb

#42 – Deciding on Front Matter for your novel

#43 – Deciding on Back Matter for your novel

#44 – Formatting your eBook for publication

#45 – Pricing your e-book

#46 – Selecting Categories and Keywords to improve your Novel’s visibility

#47 – Book Promotions: Cover Reveal and Pre-Orders

#48 – Publishing your novel with Amazon and KDP Select

#49 – Publishing your e-book with Smashwords or Draft2Digital

#50 – Marketing your E-book

#51 – Finding your Book’s Target Market

#52 – The importance of Book Reviews and how to get them

#53 – Is it worth it to offer your book for free?

#54 – My results from offering my novels for free

My first few months as PTA president are complete

I’ve been PTA president for a while now so thought it was time for a brief report on how it has been going. Hmmm….it is going better than I thought it would be. I had two main worries when I took this position – filling all the committee chair positions and public speaking.

Last year at this time, I think there were six or seven positions open. If the positions don’t get filled, then the rest of the board is supposed to cover the position, but last year’s PTA president did a lot of it on her own. No wonder she felt so grumpy all the time as she did most of the work herself.

Of course, the lack of committee chairs may partially be attributed to someone on the board whose personality was off-putting. She is a take-charge type with a strong personality and frankly, many of us feel it caused others to stay away from the board. This year, she isn’t back. Luckily for me, she decided to take a year off from the PTA.

So, without this individual and because I worked at it – advertising and reminding people I had positions to fill – I was able to fill every position on the board, even the hardest ones: grade-level parties and fundraising. Honestly, I thought no one would want either one.

The lady in charge of fundraising is already showing how awesome she is. I have yet to meet with the grade-level party chair, but she seems enthusiastic about the challenge of throwing parties for 626 students.

As for speaking in public, it has never been my favorite thing. I do fine with a group of about 5 or 6 but as the group gets bigger, the quieter I become. I was fine holding a meeting of our officers (six people) and did fine at our first executive board meeting, though I probably did talk a little too fast in the beginning and got done quickly.

But the biggest challenge was our first PTA meeting with the parents. This meeting is always tied to Parent Orientation, so the cafeteria was packed. And to top it off, the principal announced he was making a special announcement at the meeting. Yikes! Butterflies were definitely in my stomach before the meeting began. It isn’t like I haven’t spoken to this size crowd before. I was Treasurer for two years and had to give the financial report. But that is a short bit even if we had budget amendments to do. Now it is me up there for the whole time running the meeting. I made it through the night, but this will never be my favorite part about being PTA President.

Thankfully, meetings are only a small part of my job. Most of time is spent following up with and keeping the committee members on task. With 28 other people on the board that can be time consuming, but I am figuring out how to not let something fall through the cracks. Hmmm…eight more months of this to go. I hope they go as well as the first two months have gone.

My results from offering my novels for free

This post is the fifty-fourth post in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Last week, I wrote about offering your book for free as part of a promotion. I have done this numerous times and wanted to share my results with you. But be warned that your results may vary as every book is different and every promo has differing variables that will change the outcome.

Now with my first three books, I never enrolled in Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select.

(For a refresher – KDP Select is a program where you sell your e-book exclusively on Amazon. Through the program, you can either offer your book free for up to five days or offer it at a discount using their Kindle Countdown promotion. Your agreement with Amazon lasts 90 days, and then you can choose whether to renew your enrollment in the program or not. If you renew, you get to use one of the promotions again for that 90-day period.)

Smashwords Coupons

But I have offered these first three books for free on Smashwords. Typically, I reduced their price on Amazon while offering them free on Smashwords through their coupon program, which only apply to purchases on the Smashwords website.

When I have done these promotions, I have typically advertised these on my blog, my Facebook page and on Twitter. Because my reach on these avenues is limited, downloads of my free or reduced-price books have been low to non-existent. The good thing is that these promotions have cost me nothing.

KDP Select Free Promotions

I have used this program for my short story as well as my last two full length novels.

The Search

The Search is my short story. It came out in September of 2012. I enrolled it in KDP Select for the first 90 days, so I had 5 free days.

My first free promotion, done 11 days after The Search was released, resulted in 119 downloads. I did this on a Thursday and Friday with very little promotion.

For my second free promotion which ran Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 (Thursday to Saturday), I did a lot more promoting. About three weeks before my promotion, I submitted my free book information to 14 different websites and posted it to various Goodreads groups and the World Literary Café free boards. (The World Literary Café is no longer in business.)

I joined the tweet teams on World Literary Café and posted it on my blog, which meant my tribemates on Triberr all tweeted about it for me. And I was featured on two different blogs that were both run by some great people who promoted my free book on numerous Facebook pages as well as through their own Triberr/Twitter connections.

My additional promotion paid off. Over the three days, I had 928 downloads. During this time, my short story rose to #280 on the free book list and #2 on the Young Adult/Fantasy free list. Also right after the promotion ended, I sold 2 more copies of The Search and 18 copies of my other novels. (I had 2 out at this time.)

The Heir to Alexandria

The Heir to Alexandria came out in January 2015. Again, I only used KDP Select for the first 90 days, so I had just 5 free days.

I ran my first promotion on March 10-11, which was a Tuesday and Wednesday, days that I had heard would be good for a free book promotion. Again, I used my blog, Twitter and Facebook to announce my promotion. Putting it on my blog meant that my Tribber team helped spread the word. I also listed the promotion on the Independent Author Network and World Literary Café’s free book sections. Many other websites won’t list your free book if you don’t have the required amount of reviews (typically 20 or more 4 or 5 star reviews) so I didn’t have a lot of other options.

Over the two days, I had 76 downloads. Disappointing.

So for my second set of free days, I decided to purchase a few advertisements. I spent $15 ($5 a day) to appear on Digital Book Today’s website. I also applied to be on E-Reader News Today’s email and website. (They must approve you.) For only $15, I would be on Wednesday’s e-mail list and on their homepage. So in addition to these and my previous efforts, this time my free days would also happen during the A to Z challenge when my blog would be getting more traffic.

Here is the breakdown of my second set of free days…

April 21 – 234 books

April 22 (day of E-Reader News Ad) – 1769 books

April 23 – 737 books

Total free books – 2740

During the free promotion and the week after, I received three new reviews and sold five copies of The Search, two copies of Summoned (Book 1 of my trilogy), one copy of Quietus (Book 2 of my trilogy), and five copies of my trilogy box set.

During the free promo, I also rose in sales rank. The Heir to Alexandria got as high as 82 on Kindle’s top 100 free list. It also stayed at number 1 in Epic Fantasy for a whole day.

Blood Bond

Blood Bond came out in February 2018. So far, I have kept this book in KDP Select for three rounds, using a free promotion my first 90 days and then Kindle Countdown for my second. I haven’t decided how I will use my third. (I’ll discuss Kindle Countdown and my results in a separate post.)

This time I decided to do all five days at one instead of doing two promotions. I was hoping on building momentum. As your sales rank rises, the visibility of your free book does too.

Based on my other experiences, I knew I needed some advertising – whether free or paid. I did my free promotion from April 25 to April 29 (Wednesday thru Sunday). I bought an ad on Digitalbooktoday.com and applied for one on E-reader News but was denied so I went with Indie Author News instead. I also filled out forms to have my book featured on as many other websites as I could. As the promotion ran, I also did a free Facebook promotion for the last day. (Facebook business was trying to entice me to use them and gave me a $30 credit.)

Over the five days, I had 781 downloads. After the success I had with The Heir to Alexandria, I found this number to be disappointing. I think the difference was the E-reader news ad. I did sell 5 books in April and 11 in May.

Remember if you choose to run your own free book promotion that your results will certainly differ from mine.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb

#42 – Deciding on Front Matter for your novel

#43 – Deciding on Back Matter for your novel

#44 – Formatting your eBook for publication

#45 – Pricing your e-book

#46 – Selecting Categories and Keywords to improve your Novel’s visibility

#47 – Book Promotions: Cover Reveal and Pre-Orders

#48 – Publishing your novel with Amazon and KDP Select

#49 – Publishing your e-book with Smashwords or Draft2Digital

#50 – Marketing your E-book

#51 – Finding your Book’s Target Market

#52 – The importance of Book Reviews and how to get them

#53 – Is it worth it to offer your book for free?

 

Kids Not Feeling Well: Stay home or go to school?

School began three weeks ago. Three days in, Lexie complained her throat hurt. No fever but it was clear she had some congestion. The next morning came the familiar debate – do we send her to school because it is only a cold (or perhaps allergies) or do we keep her home?

No one likes to have to be at school or work when they don’t feel well. But the reality is that sometimes you do just need to muddle through it. And though colds can hit you hard, I don’t want Lexie to think she needs to stay home whenever she feels bad. And Lexie is the kind that would use any excuse to stay home (or up late at night).

So, the next morning, her lymph nodes are swollen. Her throat and stomach hurt. She wasn’t running a fever or throwing up – the keys to an automatic stay at home decision.

My initial reaction was to give her some cold medicine and send her to school. Yes, I may be receiving a call from the nurse later that Lexie is in her office feeling ill. But once up she might feel better and be able to make it through the school day.

But it always pulls at me that she looks and sounds so bad. She was pale and clearly feeling poorly However, I have made the decision before to keep one of the kids home only to have them running around like nothing is wrong a few hours later.

After a discussion with both my husband and then Lexie, it was decided she could stay home. I stressed to her that she couldn’t play Xbox all day, and if she began running around like nothing was wrong that I would immediately take her to school.

I did leave her home alone while I went to the dentist. When I came home, she was asleep. After lunch and some more rest, she began to perk up. By 2 p.m., she was feeling better. And she did go to school on Friday with no symptoms, which made me wonder if it was allergies verse a cold. Or perhaps the rest did its job and let her body fight off the cold.

In this case, it was a good decision to stay home. She is better and didn’t miss too much at school since it was only the fourth day of classes. But next time who knows if it will be the right decision. It would be much easier if I could stick to the fever or vomiting equals staying home and all else means going to school, but obviously it is not as easy as that.

Is it worth it to offer your book for free?

This post is the fifty-third post in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

You have published your book and want readers and reviews. Many authors choose to offer their book for free. (It is one way to get reviews.) But should you offer your novel that you worked so hard to produce for nothing?

Well, that depends…

I have heard many authors claim that it is a bad idea to offer our books for free. We are diminishing what we do, they say. We worked hard on our novel so shouldn’t we expect to get paid? Are we setting a precedent for readers who will now expect free books all the time? Are free books deterring them from actually buying books?

These are all valid concerns but from a marketing stand point offering a novel at no charge has its benefits. It allows readers to get a taste for your writing without them having to risk any of their money. Your hope is that if they like your free book and purchase your other novels.

The keywords here are “other novels.” To make this an effective marketing strategy you need other novels for them to purchase. So offering the first novel in a trilogy for free would hopefully entice readers to fall in love with your series and buy the next two books.

Basically, this is a sound economic principle. You offer one book as a “loss leader” because you will be making your money by selling your other novels. Many authors have successfully increased their readership with this “loss leader” strategy though some authors have noted that they don’t make enough money to make up for the books they’ve given away. And others have said that offering a book for free only boosts sales for a short period.

Be warned that if you are offering a book for free, you may not see immediate results in your sales of other books or reviews of your current free offer. If the person has downloaded a lot of free books, it may take them months to get around to reading yours – if they ever do.

Quite simply you will never know if the thousands of downloads of your free books are actually being read. People simply cannot turn down something that is free and sometimes download more books than they can read. I have seen numerous comments by readers supporting this.

Of course, you still may reap some benefit, even if they don’t read your book. Every time they open their e-reader and scroll through their books, they will see your name and title. Maybe later while searching on the Internet they come across one of your books and recognize your name. They may not remember where they saw it before but perhaps that recognition will get them to buy your book.

But the readers you hope are downloading your free book are the kind that finds a new author and buys all of their books. These readers are hungry for new books and will keep coming back. By offering them that first book for free, you are building your readership with them. Many readers will pay for books when they find an author they love.

Still, it is hard to put your 80,000+ word novel out there and not get paid for your work. In this case, you might consider putting a short story or novella out there for free instead.

I did this with my short story The Search. I used one of the characters from my The Elemental trilogy and wrote a short tale of what happens before the trilogy – a prequel of sorts. I included the first chapter of Summoned (Book 1) and hope that readers who like my writing will buy the trilogy and then my other books.

So remember that offering a book for free can be good advertising and a way to gain readers. But, and this is very important, you MUST have other books available for readers to buy. Otherwise, you won’t see any benefit from offering your work for nothing.

Now I have offered several of my books for free on different times – some through KDP Select and some just as a promotion through Smashwords. Next week, I will go over my results from these free book promos.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb

#42 – Deciding on Front Matter for your novel

#43 – Deciding on Back Matter for your novel

#44 – Formatting your eBook for publication

#45 – Pricing your e-book

#46 – Selecting Categories and Keywords to improve your Novel’s visibility

#47 – Book Promotions: Cover Reveal and Pre-Orders

#48 – Publishing your novel with Amazon and KDP Select

#49 – Publishing your e-book with Smashwords or Draft2Digital

#50 – Marketing your E-book

#51 – Finding your Book’s Target Market

#52 – The importance of Book Reviews and how to get them