The Six-Day Fantasy Swag Post-Mortem, Part I


As many of you know, in an attempt to promote some of my shorter fantasy titles, I recently (June 22-26) held a six-day sale of three of my short stories: Sword of Kings, Assassin, and Seven Into the Bleak. I thought I’d give an analysis of what I was aiming for, what I achieved, and some of the lessons learned.

The Idea
Visibility is the name of the game here in Independent Author Land and few things get noticed like the word FREE! tacked on to the front of one’s book description. My three fantasy works, all released in the last six months, had been selling in a trickle but had garnered few reviews, ratings, or mentions since publication, so I wanted to bring them to the surface and show them off a bit to see if I could spark some lasting interest.

Each of these titles is enrolled in Amazon’s KDP Select program, so I was entitled to make each title free for 5 days out of each 90. KDP is not the gold mine it was even a few months ago, but–as I mention elsewhere—free is still a great way to achieve aforementioned visibility.

I had a more specific idea in mind, however: I wanted sustained visibility. While the standard thinking for KDP titles is to make them free for two days (the first day you promote, the second you catch all the people who were promoted to), I wondered what would happen if I daisy-chained three consecutive two-day sales (hence the “six day” sale). Would the synergy work to buoy all of the titles? Or would people get tired of the promotion in triplicate and avoid me like the plague?

The Analysis
Here are the numbers for each of the titles before the sale (sales numbers from period 6/1/2012 – 6/20/12):

Title Amazon Sales Reviews Stars avg. Likes Rank(s)
Sword of Kings 2 2 5.00 3 #349,776
Assassin 3 2 5.00 3 #350,049
Seven Into the Bleak 2 0 0 0 #361,586

All these numbers leave something to be desired, but I took heart in the fact that not all numbers are created equal; I believe you can draw a direct line that goes something like this:

Likes → Stars → Reviews → Sales → Rank → {Self-perpetuating cycle}

While this is a breathtakingly unscientific way to analyzing promotion and sales, I think there’s a fundamental “soft” approach to improving one’s numbers that is both linear (i.e., Likes will eventually translate to Rank) and incremental (i.e., an improvement in each stage will lead to the next). I’m not saying anything new here; this is what I believe we all understand to be the path to success on Amazon:  if I could convince more people to Like my titles, that would encourage others to Star (Rate) them, which will lead others to write substantial Reviews which should, in theory, lead to higher Sales and Rank…which—once the title is Ranked high enough– itself becomes an enticement to new readers to buy the book.

The Goal
With that in mind, then, my main goal is to draw new readers in to Like, Rate, and Review the titles with the eventual aim of leading to higher Sales and Rank.

There’s a wild card, here however: KDP Select. During your free run, the number of units you give away are counted towards your Rank as if they were sales. Granted, that ranking is temporary (lasts only as long as your title is free) and you are very clearly marked on the Free List, but that kind of exposure has its own side benefit:

What’s up, George? Say hi to Tyrion for me.

Who wouldn’t want to be two screen-inches to the right of George R.R. Martin’s mega-selling Game of Thrones series, free or not? Now, what would happen if I was up (or near) there–not for two days–but for six?

The Numbers
At the height of each title’s two day sale, here are the “exposure” numbers, split over two tables for readability:
Downloads, Dates of sale, Days of Sale

Title Final # of Downloads Dates of sale Days of sale
Sword of Kings 1703 6/21/12 – 6/22/12 Thur. – Fri.
Assassin 1183 6/23/12 – 6/24/12 Sat. – Sun.
Seven Into the Bleak 213 6/25/12 – 6/26/12 Mon. – Tue.

Downloads, Dates of sale, Days of Sale

Title Rank(s)
Sword of Kings #168 overall in Kindle Store
#1 Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Fantasy > Epic
Assassin #256 overall
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Fantasy > Historical
#2 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Fantasy > Epic
Seven Into the Bleak #1578 overall
#37 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Fantasy > Epic

Stew on those figures for a while. In Part II, I’ll cover what I did to promote the sale, what I think I achieved (and didn’t), and how I think I can do better next time. Thanks for tuning in!

Writer of crime fiction, psychological drama, and dark humor.

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Posted in My Books & Titles, Tips for eAuthors
2 comments on “The Six-Day Fantasy Swag Post-Mortem, Part I
  1. [...] June 29, 2012 by Matthew Iden This is a breakdown of a recent KDP Select experiment (a six-day sale 6/22-6/26) I ran on three short fantasy titles of mine—Sword of Kings, Assassin, and Seven Into the Bleak—to see if visibility for one would mean sustained visibility for all. Read Part I here. [...]

  2. WOOTS Matthew!
    I still owe you an Amazon review for Seven…been a bit under the weather and rushed off my feet. It will get done. I felt Seven was the strongest, but the darkest, of the three (IMHO) In the fullness of time it will get 2 posts on my blog…a standard one and a “spoiler” one, with a more in depth discussion that talks about the story (like my “Snakes” reviews).
    Off to read Part II….

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