Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Amazon KDP Select Experiment: Phase 1

As I've previously posted, I enrolled "The Box" in Amazon's new KDP Select program.  Now, what this means is two things:

Firstly, that it is exclusive to Amazon - I can't sell "The Box" on any other store, which is fine.  To be honest, most of my sales of "Show Me the End of the World" came from Amazon anyway.  I might have sold four or five copies for the Barnes and Noble Nook, but for the most part, Amazon was where it was going.  Since I only had the one book, I was reluctant to give Select a chance, and some of the conflicting stories I've heard about it made me wary.

Secondly, and here's where the meat of Select comes into play, I am allowed to give "The Box" away for free for five days.  And here's why people are saying that Select is a bad idea if you've only got one book: If you give it away for free, you're not getting any money.  I've read accounts from other indie authors who say that they've given away the first book of a series in order to promote sales of the subsequent books.

Now, if I were to give away "Show Me the End of the World" for free before I had released anything else, my promotion is doing nothing but giving away free books.  Maybe some of those people would remember me and check back later to see if I have anything new coming out, but that seems unlikely.  More likely, I'd simply have given away a bunch of books and gotten nothing in return for it - and I don't even mean just money.  Will those readers turn into fans?  Again, probably not because I have nothing else to offer them and they'll forget about me and move on.

So I enrolled "The Box" in Select because I figured, now I have something out there to offer and the risk is somewhat minimal.  So I can give away "The Box" for free in the hopes that people will like it and seek out and purchase "Show Me the End of the World" as a result.  At least, that's the thinking behind it. I've seen stories of people who have found success in this method, and others who think it's one of the worst mistakes they've ever done as an author.

I'm not ready to declare anything like that at the moment.  Right now, I'm sort of laughing at myself because for the week or so that I offered "The Box" for a mere 99 cents (it is, after all, just one short story, maybe even the low end of novella but that seems like I'm stretching) I sold about six copies.  Now, because the list price is so small, I only make about 35 cents royalty on each one of those.  I don't get the whole dollar, not by a longshot.  But I put some advertisement out there... I put links on my personal Facebook page, on my Olympus Mans page, on Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and Goodreads that I was doing this promo.  And then when the time came and the book was live for free, I put the links out there again and asked people to share it around.

So in over a week I'd sold six copies of my 99 cent story and made a grand total of about two bucks.  In 12 hours, I gave away over 100 copies (about $30 that will not go into my pocket).  At this point, "The Box" has given away more free copies than I sold of "Show Me the End of the World" in total.  Am I happy about that fact?  Eh.  Like I said, this is a promotion.  The whole idea is that I'm trying to build an audience, that this audience will hopefully enjoy "The Box" so much that they'll go buy my other book.

Has that happened? Actually, yes.  According to the sales reports, while at this moment I've given away over 100 copies of "The Box" someone did, in fact, purchase "Show Me the End of the World" today.

Obviously, I'll need more time to look into how this whole thing will work out.  For the moment, I'm a little impressed that I managed to give away so many copies.  I hope everyone who reads it will enjoy it, and I hope that I get some fans and some feedback.  "The Box" was, after all, sort of a holdover from "Show Me" anyway, even though I think I got a little more attached to it than I thought I would.

So if you're reading this, and you've read "The Box", please sound off on your thoughts in the comments.  And if you're feeling really generous, rate it on Amazon.  I'd love to get some gold stars up on that page.

Current Soundtrack:
"X-Men: First Class" by Henry Jackman