Saturday, January 21, 2012

My KDP Select Experience--with numbers

I wanted to be open about this process, so I'm giving the exact figures.
Sales of my first mystery, Haunting Refrain, had fallen steadily, going from 16 eBooks sold in June to 2 in October. In anticipation of Cold Comfort coming out in December, I did a little promotion for it and reduced the price to .99. It sold 5 at $2.99 and then 10 copies at .99, almost enough to buy a Big Mac. In January I put the price back to $2.99 and signed it up for Amazon's KDP Select program. I chose two days to offer free downloads, Jan 13 and 14. By the end of Jan 14, I had 4,779 downloads. I did this knowing I wouldn't make any money. It was for promotion and name recognition. It reached #3 on the free Kindle Mystery/women sleuths list, #5 on free Kindle romantic suspense, and #98 on the overall free Kindle list. I was thrilled.
As of this morning, HR has had 4,962 downloads with 7 units borrowed. Six units have been refunded. I'm not sure what the "refunded" means, but it may be units that were borrowed and returned. Also, most of those 183 units may be Amazon Prime borrows; Prime members can borrow one book a month for free. If so, any royalties for those units will be based on a percentage of the $700,000 pot Amazon provided, probably a very small amount. The month-to-date reports don't separate borrows from purchases. I'll have to wait for the regular monthly report to see that.
I hoped the Haunting Refrain promotion would help bring attention to Cold Comfort, which was released Dec 4. I don't have numbers for CC, but it went from 194,677 in ranking on Jan 11 to 30,176 on Jan 15, which must mean something. Even the print copy went up in ranking.
The Peeper, the suspense novel I co-wrote with Jim Christopher, had a good jump in ranking (413,049 to 102,923), but I don't see those reports so I don't know what it meant in sales.
For me, this was much better than I hoped. I'm really pleased with it. 


Sandy Cody said...

Thank you, thank you for sharing those numbers. I'm getting ready to put something up and the info is most welcome.

Ellis Vidler said...

If you read the material and know what you're signing up for, I think you'll be pleased. Nearly 5,000 copies of my book are out there somewhere. How bad could that be?

Polly said...

I'm getting ready to put my one KDP book up for a couple of free days too. I'm waiting until I get my fourth book on Kindle to reap the most benefit. You know, maybe someone who likes the free book will download one of my other three.

Your numbers are great, Ellis. I'm sure it can only increase awareness of you and your skill as a romantic suspense author.

Susan Schreyer said...

Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I have been (and many others I know, as well) adopting a wait and see attitude with this new program. I have 3 books in wide distribution, so have been unwilling to pull them (and I'm not sure I could, to be honest). I've got a 4th book planned for release this spring and now I'm thinking it might not be a bad idea to dip the 'ol toe in the water!

Ellis Vidler said...

Polly, you could use some of your 5 free days now and more later. That might work.

Susan, I wouldn't have seen that many downloads in fifty years. And I do think if people like one book, they'll probably go back for another one by the same author. At least, I hope they will. :-)

E. B. Davis said...

I think you need to write a blog explaining terms, such as what the Kindle Select Program means, Ellis. I'm new to all of this so reading your blog is kind of like trying to interpret a foreign language.

William S. Shepard said...

Ellis: Also, all those downloads increase the possibility of reaching new readers for reviews! I downloaded your book, and look forward to reading it. You'll have an idea on free "sales" versus real ones with the six week report, which is updated every Sunday. Good luck!

Lynn Reynolds said...

Ellis, this sounds great, but I agree with E.B. I'd love a separate blog explaining exactly what the Kindle Select Program is and what a writer has to do to qualify for it!

Linda Lovely said...

Ellis--Thanks for sharing the numbers. Will be most curious to see the numbers of Cold Comfort and (if you can get them from your publisher) the average sales for a comparable title released in the same time period without the KDP boost. (Your publisher wouldn't have to name names!)Congrats on the number of dowloads. Your books are great and the distribution will have to increase name recognition and build brand.

Ellis Vidler said...

Here's the link to it.

If you own the rights to your book and are willing to give Amazon a 90-day exclusive, you just sign up. But remember that there are no royalties on free books. Seventy percent of nothing is still nothing. :-) The exclusive was no problem for me. B&N linked it to the wrong book when I put it on Nook and then said they couldn't fix it, so no loss there.

Kaye George said...

I'll be following to see if you eventually make money from this. With a higher ranking, you'd think that would be the case.

Brave woman! And thanks for the honest report. When I get a second in the series out, I'd like to do that for the 1st, if the program is still around.

Jacqueline Vick said...

Maybe the refunds belong to people like me who lose track and purchase a book twice. :) Congratulations on your numbers. And thank you for sharing them.

Star said...

Hello Ellis, It was interesting to read your notes. Thank you for that. I have sold 90 e-books so far this month (21 days), writing as Amanda Marigold. I have noticed that the sales increase each month. It started with 1, then 2, then 3 per day. I wonder why that is? Either the word is spreading or ?
I wish you well with your new book.

Ellis Vidler said...

Star, I didn't know about Amanda Marigold. What have you written under that name? Those are really good numbers. People must like your books. I hope the upward trend continues!

elysabeth said...

I've been tracking my sales (not much of anything to brag about) on a weekly basis and posting about it. I hope by the end of this week to publish my short store, "Bride-and-Seek" and will have it listed only in the KDP Select program. I figure my sales are pretty even on other ebook sites for my other books that I'll do one at a time right now and see how it goes.

The refunded means someone purchased the book and then returned it for their money back - I had to do that around Christmas when I thought I had more funds in my accuont than I did and so returned the books but have purchased them again.

If you have that many downloads from the Prime members through the KDP select then you get whatever percentage that comes out to from that $700,000 for the program. I hope when I put "Bride-and-Seek" up that it will generate some interest in my other books. Hopefully this program will be a good thing for name recognition more than anything else. Thanks for sharing your numbers - E :)

Elysabeth Eldering
Author of Finally Home, a YA paranormal mystery
"The Proposal" (an April Fools Day story), a humorous romance ebook
"The Tulip Kiss", a paranormal romance ebook
"Bride-and-Seek", a paranormal romance ebook

Jacqueline Seewald said...

It sounds like you are getting good publicity and ebook readers are ordering your work. I'm sure you're building a sound readership.
Wishing you every success.

Ellis Vidler said...

Thank you, Jacqueline. It's a challenge. My goal now is to finish my next book.

Ellis Vidler said...

Elysabeth, I hope your books do well in the program. Name recognition/general promotion is my purpose in doing it. This is the only one I have to put on it, but it's doing well enough to please me. I don't know anyone else's numbers.
I wish you success with Bride-and-Seek and your other books.

elysabeth said...

Thank you, Ellis. Wasn't someone on the SinC forum posting their progress with the KDP Select on her book(s)? To me that's the biggest part of self-publishing - name recognition and general promotion using this program, reachign readers one wouldn't normally reach.

I've been trying to get followers on my blog and have just posted a following freebie this past weekend - when I reach 150 followers, they will have their choice of either Finally Home or the two short stories already published ("The Proposal" and "The Tulip Kiss") as ebook choices. Every follower will receive their choice so I'm keeping track of other numbers too, not just sales.

Since you co-authored The Peeper, you can't put it in the KDP select program? I just remember that the exclusive is not to have it digitally published elsewhere for 90 days but it can be print published everywhere. Also, how did B&N connect you to the wrong book? Haunting Refrain is not to the right book on Nook? - seems kind of odd - so far I've not had a problem putting my books on Nook and getting the wrong ones there although I have to search for my name to pull up all of my correct titles because there is that movie with Sandra Bullock called The Proposal and there are several other books with Finally Home in their title out there. I'm not sure about "The Tulip Kiss" though. The advantage with doing everything yourself - lol you know your book is connected to you.

Good luck with it and I'll see you on the KDP Select area soon (hoping by the end of the week to put it there) - E :)

Elysabeth Eldering
Author of Finally Home, a YA paranormal mystery
"The Proposal" (an April Fools Day story), a humorous romance ebook
"The Tulip Kiss", a paranormal romance ebook
"Bride-and-Seek", a paranormal romance ebook

M. Louisa Locke said...

Dear Ellis,

Thanks for sharing your numbers (and for the lovely comment on my blog.

What surprised me with my similar success on KDP was the fact that people actually decided to borrow a book that was only $2.99 -- until I realized that if you look at the top 25 or so in the main categories, almost all of them are Amazon Prime, and most of these are indie authors with relatively low costs. The trad published books (which aren't in Amazon Prime, have higher prices, and haven't had the boost in sales rank that the KDP free promotion produces are lower down in the list. This may mean that someone looking for a "free book" through the lending program decides they would rather spend it on a highly ranked book, even if it isn't one of the big names.

Second nice surprise is that in the 3 weeks since the my 2 day free promotion of Maids of Misfortune, I have had 14 reviews 11 of them 5 star reviews, 2 or them 4 star, and only one negative review. This were probably people who downloaded it for free. This of course is going to make the book even more likely to be bought in the future, even when the books slips down in the over rankings.

Donna White Glaser said...

Thank you for your transparency. Just this morning I put my book, Enemy, up for two free days in the KDP-Select program. Made me very nervous so I'm glad I read your post here. I recently read an article by Carolyn McCray where she talks about "price pulsing" to boost sales. Basically she describes lowering the price to achieve momentum, then adjusting it back up to earn a little money. Then back again as needed.
Good luck and thanks for sharing!

Ellis Vidler said...

Louisa, thanks for sharing so much of your information. It's helpful and inspiring. I hope this results in some reviews. That always helps. I bought Uneasy Spirits today, so add another one.

For those of you who are interested, here's the link:

Ellis Vidler said...

Donna, I hope it works for you too. For me, this program has been a big boost. I tried lowering the price to 99 cents, but the bump in sales still resulted in less money.

Eloise Hill said...

Ellis, congrats! Although my stats were not as impressive as yours, I got a nice spike in new readship and sales on my first book, in Jan., and was very pleased with the international interest. Really appreciate the info.

Wyndes said...

Your Month-to-Date Unit Sales report should have a spot for Units Borrowed. That's the last entry in the chart and it's where you find the number of Kindle Prime Borrows. You mention the number 183--is that where that number is from?

Units refunded means that people bought the book, then changed their mind and asked for their money back. This seems to happen on the Kindle sometimes because of lag--people click, trying to move, and then discover they've bought the book by accident and get an immediate refund. I had several of those on my free day, too, which seemed weird--why bother to return a book that cost you nothing?--but I was told it was likely to be accidental downloads.

You did great on number of downloads, though. Did you do any promotions? How did you spread the word that it was available? I had my book up for free for two days (1/13 and 1/14) but didn't do much to tell people about it and only got 600 or so downloads. I don't think I've really figured out the Kindle tags, though. There seem to be all sorts of mysterious niche categories that I don't know how to get into.

Your free days have definitely added you to more Amazon lists; Haunting Refrain showed up on my Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought list for the first time today.

Ellis Vidler said...

Wyndes, I had 8 borrows. I did do a lot of promotion for the two free days. I posted it on the lists I belong to, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I didn't take out any ads, but I think several friends reposted it on FB and Twitter.
The 183 was the number sold in the few days immediately after the free days. All in all, I was very happy. It's still selling a few a day fairly consistently.

Donna White Glaser said...

I just finished my 2 free day promo from KDP-S and I LOVE it! Over the 2 days, there were 24,950 copies of THE ENEMY WE KNOW downloaded. I can't comprehend that many people having my book. :) It made it to #5 ranked in the free list. Kind of humbling when it returns to the regular paid ranking, which after two days of no real sales, came in at #180,000. However, I still considered this experiment a great success.
I purposely did NO promo/marketing during that time period. I didn't mention it on soc nets, or send emails or anything. I really wanted to see what the results would be in the "pure" state of just KDP-S action. I figured this was the best time to experiment like that since I only have the one book pubbed right now. I was pretty happy.
And then! Then it started selling! Since Friday morning it's sold more than 300 copies. Eeeee! and there are 25+ borrowed, which earns a little dough too. Enemy is ranked at #255 in the PAID list and I've never been so happy! It's the only promotion that ever made me a profit with no investment on my part. Also, there's no telling what will result from the original free downloads if I could get my other books uploaded and published. Color me: MOTIVATED!

Polly said...

Donna, did you put your book up on a Wednesday and Thursday? I'm curious which days are the best. If anyone else has an answer, I'd be interested since I'm nearing time to put mine up.

Donna White Glaser said...

Polly-I ran mine on Jan 25 & 26. They run midnight to midnight so it would have been midnight Tues. to midnight Thurs.

Polly said...

Interesting, Donna. Thanks. Anyone else have a clue about which days bring the most exposure?

elysabeth said...


You may not have done any promo/advertising for you book during those free days but it was being promoted. I subscribed to the E-Reader News Today newsletter and usually get it about 5 PM EST, so kind of late in the day for that day's free books or the featured book of the day. Your book was listed in Wednesday's (or maybe it was Thursday's) newsletter and I downloaded it and then shared on my FB page, not that I have a lot of followers but I've made my wall postings public so that it is opened to all the however million folks on FB.

Those are very impressive numbers - 25,000 in 2 days plus over 300 sales right afterwards.

I've not had a chance to start reading yet as I'm working my way through several other books right now. I've got Ellis' book on my kindle as well but haven't had a chance to get to it; my TBR collections are growing rapidly considering I'm finding with the E-Reader News Daily that there are usually a couple of books that sound interesting that I'll go download - lol.

I hope the first week of February to be able to put one of my short stories in the KDP-S program and hope to see impressive numbers across the board for all my stories available. I have a couple more stories behin "Bride-and-Seek" that will go up but then it's back to my 50-state mystery series to get them published. I'm still debating on whether to put them up as ebooks or not but right now I have too many other things going on to think about putting them up as ebooks. Off to do some writing related stuff - thanks for sharing your experience. - E :)

Elysabeth Eldering
Author of Finally Home, a YA paranormal mystery
"The Proposal" (an April Fools Day story), a humorous romance ebook
"The Tulip Kiss", a paranormal romance ebook
"Bride-and-Seek", a paranormal romance ebook

Donna White Glaser said...

Love your name, BTW! That's interesting about the E-Reader News. It was also listed on the iReader blog, which I read daily for the e-industry news. It was so surreal to see Enemy there!
At any rate, I was pleased with the WOM promotion that got rolling, and I certainly didn't want to stop that. :) But what I wanted to see was how it progressed without me running around like a loony, shouting up every soc net that I'm on. It was quite a learning experience, for sure!
Good luck on your ventures! Keep us updated on your progress.
And Ellis? Thank you for opening this topic up. Your post gave me the final bump to check KDP-S out. I would still be stalling if it weren't for your Muse story.

Ellis Vidler said...

Donna, that's fantastic! It's a good book, so I should think word will spread. I'm so glad to see your numbers after the free days too. Once it starts getting out there, I expect it will continue. Get those other books up!

Elysabeth, I didn't know about E-Reader News or the iReader blog. Thanks. I'll have to check them out. I promoted mine myself. I don't know if it was on those or not.

Donna White Glaser said...

Thanks, Ellis! There's another blog, I LOVE MY KINDLE, that also posts free or cheap reads. Bufo Calvin is the author of it and in addition to those posts, he keeps very current on Kindle news. I have subscribed to both iReader and ILMK blogs and get them on my Kindle.