This is a very informal and unprofessional comparison of Amazon’s KDP Select and the bargain book placement on Ereader News Today.
I published an ebook In October of 2012 called A Dodge, a Twist, and a Tobacconist. My first problem was how to categorize it. It is fiction, and is a decidedly Christian book. It also features characters from classic authors like Dickens, Alcott, Kipling, and others. So I call it a Literary Tribute, but it also falls into a category that is unusual for Christian books. That category is Steampunk. At the time, Amazon didn’t have a Steampunk category, so I put it down as sci-fi and Christian adventure, basically. I also enrolled it in Amazon’s KDP Select program.
That means I got 5 days to promote it free, plus I also produced an illustrated version of the same book and offered that free as well. So I had 10 free days between the two books during about 105 days (I put the illustrated version out about 2 weeks after the plain version.)
On the free days, I got a total of about 1500 downloads of the book. I also now have 17 reviews. I have been told the main reason for doing free days is to get reviews but most have come quite a long time after the books were free. I know that people load free books onto their Kindles and forget about them. I do that too. But I still was a bit disappointed in the results for having the books in the KDP select program. Blame it on the genre or whatever circumstances, but I elected not to continue in Select and submitted them to Smashwords for distribution as soon as the 90 day periods were up.
Since that experiment I have put the plain version on sale for 99 cents a couple of times, and it has sold an average of 4-5 a month. Since it is in a fairly niche category (Steampunk is now an option, and it was still under Christian Adventure, it would show up in the top 100 for its category about every other month. I thought that was pretty good, considering a lot of the time, when I tell people, “I am writing a Steampunk series,” they say, “What’s Steampunk?”
I had been hearing for some time that people were getting their books placed on Ereader News Today, or ENT. That’s a site that has a very large following of people looking for free or 99 cent books. They invite authors to submit books for possible listing. As soon as I had 10 reviews averaging 4-5 stars (that’s a requirement) I started submitting the book to the site requesting to be listed.
Author friends all around me seemed to be getting theirs listed without too much delay, and they got some great results. But three email requests and about 8 months later, I was still waiting. I had been submitting the book as SciFi, and that seemed not to be working, so I tried Christian Fiction, and that finally worked. So I had my day on the site February 11 of this year.
Just before the book went up on the site, I changed a category to try to capitalize on the book’s inspirational character. But imagine my surprise when it started to show up in the top 100 of the category Metaphysics and Visionary. Wow. Where did that come from? Here’s an image of stats fairly late in the day. I missed the one where it pushed into the top 4500 in the store.
It got up to #1 in two Science Fiction rankings, and #3 in that Metaphysical category. Today, two days later, it’s still on three top 100 rankings, though it’s slipping a bit, but I’m still pleased.
Some of my author friends said when their book was on the site they got 300 or more sales, and continued in the hundreds afterward for at least a few days. Now it’s time for a reality check.
My sales for the month of February for that book total, if Amazon is up to date, 54. So it was a failure, you ask? I don’t think so. As I said, it’s a very niche genre. I’m waiting to see if there is review fallout over those odd category rankings. At one point it was about #7 in the top 100 of a nonfiction inspirational category. Oops. It’s not nonfiction. From selling at most 5 a month, I have gone to selling over 50 a month. 10 times the sales. So it seems to me that that’s at least respectable. And it’s continuing to sell, when it hadn’t been at all for the last couple of months.
Visibility on the ENT site and high rankings on Amazon seem to have done it some good. This is an image from this afternoon, two days and a bit later.
If your book is priced at 99 cents, Ereader News will bill you 25% of copies sold on the day it’s featured. Amazon charges you more than that just to sell it on their site anytime. When your book is free under the KDP program, you have to go around to the hundred or so sites that promote free books and notify them yourself. All Ereader News today asks is that you share and tweet their site link for your book, and that you like, and ask others to like, the post on their facebook page. It’s certainly a lot less work, and you are still getting some money for the book, rather than the nothing you get on KDP Select free days.
So how did I feel about getting to number 1 in Steampunk, and about 4500 in the whole Kindle store with a book that is about as far from Contemporary Romance (the easiest genre to get people to buy) as you can get? Giddy. Excited. Happy.
But more importantly, I hope we extended our reach. That’s what we really hope to do with all our books. More than fifty people now own one of our books who didn’t before. We even sold a couple of print copies, and we almost never sell any of those.
In the back of that book are small samples of all our books, and a link to our blog. They can read more about us, and understand our purpose, which is “speaking the truth in love.”
We want to reach more people with the message of the authority of God’s Word, and our “tough but you need it” perspectives on education, current events, and biblical teaching. We want them to know that we have books for almost everybody’s taste — historical fiction, sci-fi, homeschool curriculum, issues nonfiction, illustrated. There’s a bit of romance, a bit of mystery, and books for all ages.
I don’t feel like I did the work in this endeavor. I wrote the book, but that was a year and a half ago. I didn’t exhaust myself submitting to a ton of sites (KDP), spend a ton of money (most paid advertising), or obsessively check my sales and stats all day. (Well, maybe I did do those last two.) I was happy when I shared the stats and people said they were going to check out the book.
I hope people like my book and I get good reviews.
Most of all, I hope this lets us have a little bigger opportunity to reach people with a message I think is very needed. God loves the unlovely. God can save anybody. Evil doesn’t have to overcome good. People can come from all kinds of backgrounds. Orphans on the streets, servants, princes, cowgirls, merchants, jungle trackers — those are the kinds of people who came together in A Dodge, a Twist, and a Tobacconist to form the Alexander Legacy Company. And God started a great work through them to try to free slaves and overcome slavers. Here’s hoping this is also just the beginning of Findley Family Video’s work to bring a message that God frees people from sin, all kinds of people, and that we don’t have to lose the fight for our country, for our freedom, and for men’s souls.
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