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I Beat the Brontes

My life feels like it's been hanging in suspended animation for the past couple of days. I threw everything I had into one last-ditch effort to rescue Bubbles Pop from the dark recesses of one million plus rankings right before I was liberated from the clutches of KDP Select. Now I'm just surfing along, trying to get back into the groove of WIP-B.

The first time I put Bubbles Pop up for a free promotion had mediocre results. With no promotion and low expectations, just throwing it up for a weekend, I had about 350 downloads. None of them posted reviews and the effort had zero effect on visibility. This time I said to heck with pride and shoved as much money and time into it as I could afford.

  1. I took out a paid ad on Goodreads. $20 for two days of a little rectangle with a thumbnail of the cover that said, "FREE Sunday, June 10 and Monday, June 11 for the Kindle."
  2. I put up a giveaway on Goodreads for one autographed copy of the paperback. In the description, I snuck in the sentence, "The Kindle eBook will also be available for free June 10-11 on Amazon."
  3. I took out an ad in a relatively high-ranking website called Kindle Nation Daily devoted to Kindle freebies. $30 for a spot in between a thriller with a picture of a woman holding a gun and watching a car blow up and a memoir about training a border collie to walk a balance beam and weave between poles.

The results: 4684 downloads! On Monday I crept into the top 100 of all free Kindle eBooks, and the top 20 in contemporary fiction, with all-time highs of #85 and #11 respectively. Here I am in the morning, one slot above Wuthering Heights:

And here I am in the evening, topping Jane Eyre and making fast work on Treasure Island:

Yes, that's right. I beat both Brontë sisters. In your face, Mr. Rochester! And later, I left Long John Silver in the dust, too—he fell about five rankings on his own while I held steady.

It's yet to be seen whether any of this will actually make me money later on, but as Sweetie pointed out, even if only 1% of the 5,000 people who have it now finish it, that's potentially 50 new reviews. I also had nine takers in Great Britain (a miracle, considering that it still has a one-star ranking from that single disgruntled reviewer), seven in Germany, and one in France. Some 130 people have added it to their shelves on Goodreads, too. Even if all 130 of them hate it, exposure is exposure.

So which parts of the marketing strategy worked?

  1. The Goodreads Ad: Useless. In the first day it was shown about 1,000 times and nobody clicked on it. The second day I bumped up the bid per click in the evening to persuade the company to show it more often, and I had a grand total of three clicks in 10,000 views. Now I have $17 just sitting there waiting to be used up. The ads are hidden down on the pages, and it's been shown that experienced Internet users are adept at ignoring sidebar ads. I probably won't try that again.
  2. The Goodreads Giveaway: BRILLIANT move on my part. Some 600 people entered to win that one copy in the span of a week, and while the entry was on the first page of giveaways my Kindle downloads accelerated magnificently. The major disappointment was that the effect was cut off prematurely thanks to Goodreads' confusing forms. I had set the giveaway to end on June 11, which I assumed meant the close of June 11. Instead, it cut off at the start of June 11, at midnight PST. Sweetie was awake at the time and saw the velocity of downloads slow immediately. Fortunately, by then I was in the top 100 lists, so I could keep going on inertia. I can't help but wonder if I could have climbed higher if my giveaway had ended when I intended it to.
  3. The Kindle Nation Ad: Meh. Maybe it helped, maybe it didn't. I know a couple of aggregate sites picked it up from their site or Facebook page, but I don't have any evidence of increased traffic from those sources. I also don't know whether I reached the right audience; those sites exist solely for the hoarders to find freebies to snap up whether they're interested in them or not.

So I will definitely do a Goodreads giveaway again, but I'll probably look into other places to advertise A Heart Unspotted. I'm not sure how I'll recreate the "freebie" effect on the giveaway, since I don't intend to use KDP Select again, but maybe I'll put it up for 99¢ for a limited time or something. But let's write the book first, shall we? ;)


Kevin Ruble (June 12, 2012, 4:49 pm)

What, no mention that Bubbles Pop beat The Scarlet Letter and The Ugly Duckling? Pity it never edged above Alice in Wonderland, though. :(

Anonymous (June 13, 2012, 11:12 am)

Congratulations! Smart moves.

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