As I stated in my previous post, there is a controversy over the value of the free promotion – giving away your book for $0.00 for a limited time. Kindle Select allows you five free days over a 90 day period for promotion. Some view this as a great way to raise the visibility of your work. Others say it cheapens your work and gluts the market.

The debate rages on.

I did a one-day promotion during which 445 people downloaded my book. I gave no advance notice, and the promotion had no noticeable effect on my paid sales.

Since that time I’ve changed my cover and massaged my blurb. The impact on sales was limited – two sales from 137 hits to my Amazon book page, for a conversion rate of 1.5%. I either need to up my conversion rate, or drive more hits.

My Kindle Select term expired this week so I decided to burn my last four days of free promotion, starting on Monday, March 18. Again, no advance notice.

From 3 a.m. Monday to noon Wednesday, 2,418 people looked at my book page – normal traffic over that period would have been closer to 200. Of those, 1,382 downloaded my book from seven different Amazon sites. That’s a conversion rate of 57%.

During that time my ranking in the free Kindle store hit a low of 210 and I was at number 9 in my genre. As soon as I cracked the top 20 the number of hits soared.

Then I tried something different. Instead of letting the promotion run out on its own, I stopped it in the middle of the day on Wednesday, March 20.

My analytics told me this was the peak time of the day for hits to my book page. How long would it take for the massive increase in hits to subside? Answer: it took a while. And over the next eight hours I got 362 hits and sold eight books for a conversion rate of 2.2%. I sold four more overnight including my first to Japan. My ranking shot to 17,000 in the Kindle store and is still under 30,000.

Here are my takeaways:

  1. You can use the free promotion to drive paid sales if you take advantage of the momentum to drive traffic to your page.
  2. The conversion rate before the promotion (1.5%) is about the same as the conversion rate after the promotion (2.2%). The increased sales are due entirely to the additional traffic.
  3. A good use of the free promotion might be to test changes to your cover, blurb, or sample. If you’re only getting a few sales per week it can take time to see the impact of a change. A one-day promotion will drive a lot of traffic to your page and give you answers right away. But you will need to set up your analytics to calculate your conversion rate.
  4. Ranking is everything. Once you make it onto the first page of the top sellers in your genre, the hits increase, the sales increase, the ranking gets higher and the circle is unbroken.

I know this experience will not settle the controversy. It wasn’t intended to.

But facts trump theory.

Copyright © [2016] by Charles O’Donnell, All Rights Reserved

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