Posted on June 27, 2012 - by MG
As promised, about six weeks post launch of THE DESCENDANT here are some early results.
If you remember from my last post THE SELF-PUBLISHING EXPERIMENT PART 7: PUBLICITY AND MARKETING, we (i.e. Darkwater Books) plan to deploy a number of strategies. Not all have been implemented yet.
I’ll cut to the chase. The reboot of the pre-existing Alternate Reality Game brought about 50 ‘likes’ to The Descendant facebook page, where you can read about the competition to win a Kindle Touch. Based on views at Where is Gabi Beltran? and its Youtube channel, I can see that about a hundred people were following the story, at some stage.
This enhanced content around THE DESCENDANT certainly increased the extent of THE DESCENDANT‘s Internet footprint. That is, when you type ‘the descendant’ into a search engine, results that are relevant to this book appear in the top ten results. Not easy to maintain given that in 2011 a major Hollywood movie (‘The Descendants’) and a major Malaysian, Chinese language TV drama (The Descendant, 2012) of the same title are competing for space in those results.
A big Internet footprint won’t sell books – directly. It may, however, contribute to credibility.
In summary, all these promotional activities, including me sending out emails to my mailing list, resulted in sales of around fifty ebooks/books in about four weeks.
Not too spectacular. But then, I doubt any single Joshua Files book sold much more via Amazon, during the same period. Certainly THE DESCENDANT often ranked at a higher level than any of The Joshua Files Kindle books.
I was aware, by then, that discoverability is the be-all and end-all of sales at Amazon. Other self-published authors had been reporting via their blogs that advertising and blogging, Tweeting and posting in Kindle forums etc, was having minimal effect. The only marketing tool what appeared to have any effect was the Kindle free promotion, available to authors who had enrolled in the KDP Select program.
We geared up for a two-day promotion by scheduling the following:
- Pre-notifying sites like Pixel of Ink. If you fancy paying for an advert on Kindle Nation Daily, there is that too. (We didn’t)
- Prepare an email for any mailing list
- Schedule regular tweets. However, be aware that if your project is heavily retweeted, as THE DESCENDANT was (for which many thanks, guys!!!), some people are going to see a lot of tweets about your freebie. It may tip into spam… On the other hand, advertising gurus tell us that in these times of information overload, we need to see something twenty-odd times for it to register. One person’s spam may be another person’s vague awareness of your books’ existence.
- Ask any influential contacts to retweet your freebie. I’m massively grateful to Chicklish and SFSignal for their power tweetage of THE DESCENDANT freebie. Once those guys were on board, the book really began to shoot up the charts.
- Line up some kind of online news/promotion for when the free-promotion ends. I’d arranged with YA author Luisa Plaja,one of the creators of the popular Chicklish blog, to have an interview about THE DESCENDANT appear on Chicklish on the Monday after the free weekend. I’d also written a blog post for the Demention Blog, about my favourite post-apocalypse novel. That’s more of a Joshua Files tie-in, but still – on Amazon, all my books are linked.
The free weekend went pretty well! By the last six hours THE DESCENDANT on Amazon UK had shot to #1 on the Free Kindle action & adventure chart, #2 in the thriller chart and at its peak reached #14 in the overall Free Kindle chart.
Which means that for that time, and for all the time it was in the top ten (which was all of the 2nd day), THE DESCENDANT became visible to anyone browsing the top 10 of Action & Adventure and Thrillers.
Things didn’t go as well on Amazon US, where it only reached #633 in the overall free chart and #17 in Action & Adventure.
Amazon US – 580 free downloads
Amazon UK – 2118 free downloads
What’s the point of giving your book away to the only people who might have bought it? Seems counter intuitive, right?
However, my approach is that your email and Twitter contacts deserve a little something for bothering to keep in touch with an author. If they manage to grab a book they’d like to read while it is free, more power to ’em.
Meanwhile, the Amazon free Kindle promotion acts like a catapult. It shot THE DESCENDANT from a rank of #70,000 overall to #14 (in the Free chart, but that’s a lot of visibility).
Once the promotion ends, Amazon takes around an hour to calculate its new position in the Paid Kindle chart. Amazon watchers are guessing that recent algorithms count free downloads as 1/10 the ranking value of paid downloads.
(A few months ago the Amazon free Kindle catapult had a more pronounced effect, because the free books were ranked 1:1, but those days are gone. Easy living lasts for so little nowadays…)
On the Monday after the promotion, THE DESCENDANT ranked at #3266 in the paid chart. However! Then the real sales catapult began! Now priced at 99p, the rank rose throughout the week. By Friday it had peaked at an overall rank of #191.
Just to stress how unusual that is for me, I have NEVER seen any Joshua Files book at a higher rank than 450 in the Amazon UK chart.
From #191 the book has begun a dignified slide down the chart. At the time of writing it is now #1307. The paperback version is also selling, albeit in very modest figures.
As of now, THE DESCENDANT is my best-selling book on Amazon. Selling even better than APOCALYPSE MOON – which only came out in April.
THE DESCENDANT sold 400 copies (about 380 ebooks, 20 paperbacks) in a single week. Not earth-shattering but not nothing either, and lot more than Amazon sales of The Joshua Files during the same period.
The question is – how to sustain that? This will be the next challenge.