A few weeks ago, I wrote about ALT’s 2011 sales figures. Many of you were kind enough to offer suggestions, and the general consensus seemed to be to try giving ALT away for free. Long story short, I took your advice and enrolled in Amazon’s KDP Select program earlier this week.
I’ve heard of insane success stories surrounding the program–authors who previously had just a few sales suddenly had thousands of them following a free promotion. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? You give your book away for free and then people start paying for it. Too good to be true.
I decided to test the waters myself. There wasn’t a lot of time to plan–I didn’t get to enroll until Tuesday. I wanted to see how far I could take the book on Amazon without relying on planned features or paid advertising. I went into this armed with only social media, my personal email contact list, and this website. The goal: break into Amazon’s top 100.
Sales weren’t a factor to me. At this point, I just wanted the book in more hands. The more downloads, the better. Amazon recommends products to others based on its sales. If ALT is “purchased” many times, it will be recommended to others many times. See the pattern?
Friday was the selected date. From 12AM PST until 11:59PM PST, ALT would be completely free to anyone on Amazon. I went about spreading the word, first in video form, then email, and then my blog post Friday morning.
I had a hard time getting to sleep Thursday night. I was excited, but I was also nervous, scared. ALT didn’t sell much. What if no one downloaded it? What if I couldn’t give it away?
And then Friday morning came. I crawled out of bed and started getting ready for work. Bleary-eyed, I sat down at my computer and opened the browser. I took a breath and loaded Amazon. By this point, ALT was free for four hours. The ranking hovered around 10k. I didn’t bother checking the KDP dashboard (which shows month-to-date sale metrics). Shrugging, I turned off my computer and went to work.
I have a half-hour commute. In the time it took me to get to work, the ranking had jumped 7k spots. Again, I didn’t check the KDP dashboard. I went about my day.
Around lunch time, I checked again:
An hour later:
#1280. Wow. I went back to work, feeling more excited than I had that morning. I wonder how far this is really going to go? Surely it’s going to hit its choke point sometime . . .
I checked again at the end of the work day:
Holy shit. ALT broke 1k. Until this point, I didn’t really believe ALT could break 1k. My hands were shaking when I left work. My head swam with possibilities. I honestly don’t remember much of the commute. When I got home, the ranking had jumped another 100 spots:
This was about the time I started using Facebook and Twitter like a mad man, posting continuous updates on the rankings. I’ll spare you all the screenshots (there are many), but over the next several hours, I watched as ALT climbed the charts, eventually breaking into the top 500.
However, that wasn’t the highlight for me. No, the real highlight was seeing this:
On the left are the top 100 paid titles in Mystery & Thrillers. On the right, the top 100 free titles. At number 82, the Little Book That Could. I updated here earlier that evening with a screenshot at number 98, but as the night wore on, the number kept climbing.
By this point I was tracking the actual downloads. Sometime around 11 PM, the book reached 500 downloads globally. I decided it was time to celebrate:
I don’t drink often, but I have to tell you, folks–that was the best Jack & Coke I’ve had in a long time.
I managed to last until 1:30AM. The day was a whirlwind, and by that point I could barely keep my eyes open. I posted on FB and made one last tweet, leaving it in the hands of my followers. I woke Saturday morning to a screenshot taken by my friend Tracy:
In the end, ALT was downloaded a total of 577 times in the US, 39 in the UK, two in France, and one in Germany. 619 times globally. Amazing.
Where do we go from here? Well, as I expected, actual sales trickled in after the promo stopped. Such is the risk of promoting on a Friday. I’m okay with that. In a few weeks, I suspect I’ll do another promo, but this time there will be more planning behind it. For now I’m going to refocus my efforts on TLM edits.
To say I’m elated is an understatement. While the fact that my novel climbed the charts and was downloaded by so many people is reassuring, something I find even more uplifting is the amount of support that came from you folks.
You wrote reviews, you clicked the “like” button, you shared with your friends and co-workers, you retweeted–I have you all to thank for this. I don’t care if the book didn’t make a dime. That wasn’t my goal. I don’t even care that the book didn’t break the top 100 overall–it still cracked a top 100 somewhere, and I think that still counts. What I do care about most is that I have your support. I can’t fully detail how much that means to me.
So something happened this weekend, and it was more than just ALT getting some much-needed exposure. You reassured me that my work has some value. Some days I tend to forget that.