Free e-book promo case study part-two (now with better ideas)

Matticus Primal

Journeyed there and back again
#1
I'm not adding this to under my previous thread on this topic so it's more obvious for anyone looking for promo strategies. That said, that first thread has a lot of background, and I'm going to also reference (briefly) this thread on a Goodreads case study.

First off, I'm deeply indebted to members @Tanniel and @jo zebedee for any success I had on this, particularly the former since he opened up my most successful avenue this go round.

So last free KDP giveaway I basically had no idea what I was doing and did not know about online hangout spots for fantasy fanatics like this one or reddit/fantasy, the latter of which @Tanniel pointed out to me. He also suggested I take part in the Fantasy Writer of the Day Ask Me Anything (AMA), which I did (find the process here). I signed up for a Wednesday, and therefore decided to have that be the central anchor of my five-day giveaway (eg, Monday-Friday).

This time around I had a bit more planning as well as budget, and while researching fellow Gunpowder Fantasy authors (mentioned in the Goodreads thread), I found one who had used the company Goddess Fish Promotions to get word of his book out. Because I had $60 burning a hole in my pocket, I decided to use their Virtual Book Tour option, and set it the day before my reddit AMA.

I also started a thread here looking for fellow authors who want to swap guest blogs/ interviews, and the wonderful @jo zebedee took me up on the offer, saying she would host a guest blog on her website the day after my AMA.

Finally, I set my goal. Last time I got about 225 downloads by engaging all my friends/ family. This time I didn't tell any of them what I was up to so I could compare the two attempts. Since last time was 225, I hoped for 250 downloads.

Okay, so that's all the prep work. Next post will be the week of.
 

Matticus Primal

Journeyed there and back again
#2
Alright the week of:

First, I went to my Goodreads ads and added "FREE DOWNLOAD THIS WEEK!" to all five of them. I also bumped up my ad bids from $.35 to $.75 so more people could see it. If you do this strategy, I suggest you change your text the DAY BEFORE your free giveaway since the mods at Goodreads have to approve your ad changes. Fortunately for me, they did so within a few hours, but those were still a few hours of downtime (not that it mattered, but we'll get to that).

So Monday, I announced on this site that I was doing my giveaway and got a wonderful review from @Elvira out of it, so that's one success. But because reddit/Fantasy has around 250-300 members there at any given moment, I also announced it there as well. I should probably note that self-promotion there is as frowned upon as it is here, so I had spent a few weeks on that site making an online presence (albeit a minimal one). This was the only action I took that day, but I was shocked to see my downloads at 170. Since this was more than half of my expected 250 downloads for the week, I extended my goal to 500.

Tuesday my Goddess Fish virtual book tour kicked in, and while they did all they promised, I think I should have done more research before I hired them. Mainly because although I thought they dealt with genre fiction, it turns out they're more focused on "romance fiction (in all its sub-genres: fantasy, suspense, paranormal, historical, etc), other genre fiction (mystery, SFF, etc) and Young Adult / Middle Grade fiction." HEAVY emphasis on the "romance" here, and so while all of a sudden my social media blew up due to their tweets/ facebook posts, once I started looking at the blogs I was featured on, I realized this was not my demographic in the least.

Again, they did all they promised like professionals, so any complaints should be leveled entirely on me for not doing enough research. And I did get 113 downloads out of it, though I suspect that had a lot to do with my post on reddit/fantasy still being up (my downloads dropped significantly the hour it left the front page).

Oh, I should also note that at my peak, I was the #4 free download in Historical Fantasy, which is kind of like being the best left-handed Jewish slide guitar player on the Lower East Side* in terms of modifiers needed to be the best, but it still swelled my heart to see that.

Wednesday I did my AMA, where again I am indebted to @Tanniel for showing up and keeping the conversation alive with some very insightful questions (which makes me feel a bit of shame for not doing nearly as good of a job during his own previous AMA). Since most of the people asking questions were entirely unfamiliar with my book, the questions were fairly generic, like "what fantasy world would you live in if you could," but I did get at least one person partially through the book after downloading it because of my Monday reddit post who said some very sweet things.

I do believe I had drained the reddit well by this point though, Wednesday being my lowest download day with 36. So it looks like with promotion, like stocks, you need some diversity.

Thursday @jo zebedee hosted my blog post, and my numbers went up back to 113. And I had also pretty much run out of ideas, so I just released the reins and let this promo-horse go where it pleased.

Friday I did nothing but obsessively watch my download numbers, which topped out at 54.

But back to the Goodreads ads: As I said previously, I was averaging around 1,000 views a day between my five ads and expected that to increase due to my higher bid. Instead my numbers dropped to around 200 views a day. I'm just theorizing here, but it also happened to be the week of Cyber-Monday, and I suspect that a lot of other people upped their bids and drowned out mine. I have since dropped my bid to $.45, yet my views have again risen to around 1,000 a day after that week.

All in all my downloads added up to 486, which didn't quite make my revised goal of 500, but was a far cry better than my initial run of around 225, which was mostly made up of friends and family. More importantly though (in my mind at least), I received several more reviews and ratings over at Goodreads, and the number of people who added my book to their to read pile jumped significantly. It's been about two weeks since that KDP giveaway and I've seen a small (and I mean SMALL) boost in my regular sales, as well as a huge (to me at least) surge in people reading it on Kindle Unlimited (or whatever it's called). I also now have followers on my facebook page, though I again don't really believe they're my target demographic.

So there you go. If I were to do it over, I would have spent more time/ effort engaging with fantasy fans on free venues like reddit/fantasy and the like and less time (and money) on my paid promotion (again, this is in no way Goddess Fish's fault, rather my own). @jo zebedee has often recommended Book Barbarian, and so next giveaway I'll probably employ them instead as I modify this case study.


* This was how one of my favorite bands, The Hangdogs, introduced their slide guitar player at their farewell concert.
 
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Tanniel

Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune
#3
Very interesting to read your data, and glad it was such a success! Even more so since I was of help, yay! It's good to see that the downloads also translated into some ratings and reviews at GR; besides the confidence boost this gives, I think of it as an indication of your book's outreach. You never know how many actually reads your book after buying or downloading it, but if they leave something on GR, it means the book mattered enough for them to do something active. Short of people opening threads (like on this forum or other fantasy hangouts), I consider people either attaching to my social media or leaving rating/review on GR to be a definitive benchmark of success in terms of readership.
 

Matticus Primal

Journeyed there and back again
#4
Very interesting to read your data, and glad it was such a success! Even more so since I was of help, yay!
I honestly can't thank you enough for pointing me in the right direction, as well as your other support here and elsewhere.

You never know how many actually reads your book after buying or downloading it, but if they leave something on GR, it means the book mattered enough for them to do something active. Short of people opening threads (like on this forum or other fantasy hangouts), I consider people either attaching to my social media or leaving rating/review on GR to be a definitive benchmark of success in terms of readership.
I'm 100% behind you on this as a metric for early success for a book. As I've said before, word of mouth and reviews weigh nothing, but they're more valuable than gold to self-published authors. Which is why I'm also indebted to member @Fantam for an early GR review.

On a more cynical note, I have gotten my friends and family to log into Amazon and GR and click the "like"/ "was this review helpful?" button on the more positive reviews to push them up to the top of the pile. And I guess that's another strategy that's worth mentioning.
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#5
On a more cynical note, I have gotten my friends and family to log into Amazon and GR and click the "like"/ "was this review helpful?" button on the more positive reviews to push them up to the top of the pile. And I guess that's another strategy that's worth mentioning.
Amazon routinely monitors for this sort of thing and may delete the votes. It is considered manipulation and is against the rules although I am having trouble finding the exact link right now.
 

jo zebedee

Journeyed there and back again
#6
Glad it went well!

I don't know how well the blog equates to sales but your post has topped 100 hits now - most of whom will be sff readers and writers. But I think it's more about exposure than sales to be honest
 

Diziet Sma

Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune
#7
I'm all stressed out reading all, you authors, have to go through! I'm so relieved I love my job and never felt the urge to write.
Nevertheless, bon courage and keep going. You all have my admiration!
 

Matticus Primal

Journeyed there and back again
#8
Amazon routinely monitors for this sort of thing and may delete the votes. It is considered manipulation and is against the rules although I am having trouble finding the exact link right now.
Yeah, I had a feeling Amazon/ GR was smart enough to see through my oh so clever ruse, which is why this is a case study rather than proven techniques. Fortunately (?) for me, I'm small time, which means I probably slip through the cracks. This is all about seeding the early reviews so there's early content when people check it out. I'm hoping it will soon organically take over based upon the actual merit of the book... which is either inspiring or terrifying. And sometimes both.
 

Matticus Primal

Journeyed there and back again
#9
Glad it went well!

I don't know how well the blog equates to sales but your post has topped 100 hits now - most of whom will be sff readers and writers. But I think it's more about exposure than sales to be honest
Yep, yep, exposure is the word of the day. Just like I said in my goodreads thread, the goal of my ads isn't clicks/ sales, rather people constantly seeing the cover and being familiar with it, even if its just unconsciously. Same with the blog posts.
 
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Matticus Primal

Journeyed there and back again
#10
My next strategy is to start trying to engage with the fantasy book bloggers out there, which I consider the mavens if you're going to use The Tipping Point terms (which I also consider earlier reviewers from this forum). I'm starting with this list off of reddit, but if anyone knows other book bloggers they actively read, please let me know.
 

Tanniel

Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune
#11
if anyone knows other book bloggers they actively read, please let me know.
This is also the elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for me. I've contacted dozens with little to no luck; part of that is probably that my pitch doesn't sound appealling. I'll check out that list you posted, and I can add this one to the mix: http://www.theindieview.com/indie-reviewers/

I didn't have much (if any) success with it, but it may be of use to you or others in here.
 

jo zebedee

Journeyed there and back again
#12
The problem is everyone has access to that list. Civilian Reader! He is inundated. Up to his eyes. Etc etc

For me - and I do well SM wise and have developed a reasonable following in 18 months although am not in the tipping zone yet - book bloggers cold called is the equivalent of pinning the tail on the donkey.

Any reviews with decent sized review sites I've had were through personal contacts - all made on forums. My support base came from forums. My advice would be to get yourself onto the bigger forums as a fully engaged active member. Sff chronicles, sffworld etc etc.

But, also! Conventions. So important. Any near you? Ask for a place. Get to know the organisers - they all support each other. I've been a panellist 5 times now. People like to support people.

But, also (I blogged about this here http://jozebwrites.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/on-giving-up-day-job.html?m=1) - writing alone is not enough to make a writing career.

This year I set up a coaching business to support writers (I'm an experienced and qualified coach in my day job). Next year I have a course in writing spec fiction running at a local arts centre, am on a mentor listing for a large arts organisation in Ireland and am running a series of workshops to writers.

All that pays. All that generates word of mouth. All of that makes things more sustainable. (Having a publisher who is actively putting promo in place for me helps a lot, too - I have time for all this.)

If you want to make writing your career then it needs to be a business - with all the discipline that's entails. Hoping for a tipping point won't do it.

Gosh. Sorry. That went on a bit. :D
 

Matticus Primal

Journeyed there and back again
#13
The problem is everyone has access to that list. Civilian Reader! He is inundated. Up to his eyes. Etc etc
What?! You mean there isn't a silver bullet answer to this?! NOOOOOOOoooooo!

But yeah, thanks for the straight dope. It behooves us all to get smacked in the face with reality sometime.

Also, your suggestions are just the sort of thing I'm looking for here. Now I just need to implement them as part of my dastardly master plan...
 

Matticus Primal

Journeyed there and back again
#15
Thanks for sharing that Matticus. Very interesting. I just wish I'd been paying attention and had realised it was free!
Well, it will be free again, probably in another three months or so. And certainly before book two comes out.

But as a regular reader of your blog, I could easily be convinced to send you a review copy.
 

Noor Al-Shanti

Is a wondrous friend of modest Kruppe
#16
Just wanted to say thanks for putting this case study here. It's hard to find actual, detailed info on what works and what doesn't that's presented in a useful way! :)
 

Matticus Primal

Journeyed there and back again
#17
Just wanted to say thanks for putting this case study here. It's hard to find actual, detailed info on what works and what doesn't that's presented in a useful way! :)
No worries. I probably should have updated this again after my last giveaway when I didn't promote it much to see what the baseline was (disappointing by the way).

I'm running my second to last planned free giveaway this Sept 9/13-15 with my very last in Dec with my next reddit AMA, so I'll try and update this thread again then. I'm trying something pretty cool for this, so be on the lookout...