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Kindle Select Experiment

I’ve been waiting a few weeks before showing these numbers because in order to do it right, you need some time to see if you’re getting the results you want. So finally, two weeks after concluding my Kindle Select sales, here are the numbers.

I put two books in the Kindle Select program and ran a week long sale (free) for each one. The first book I did was Tyrmia. I had to go into Smashwords and PubIt and turn off the book for those venues before starting this experiment. It was not a hard choice as the combined sales could be counted on one finger. (Remember that, for future reference.) The sales for Tyrmia on Amazon were pretty dismal too. I think the ranking was in the 400,000 range.

I’m not sure exactly why I elected to burn all my free days at once, but I think it was related to the fact that the book was as elusive to buyers as a can of cooked Dodo bird. The sale started on a Friday and went until the following Wednesday. How that equals out to five days is beyond me, it must be Amazon math. I didn’t notice it “selling” until Saturday. I need a better word for selling when referring to a give away. How about moving? On Sunday morning I noticed it was heading fast to a hundred downloads. It was moving so fast, I could not refresh fast enough to keep up with individual downloads.

By noon it was past 300 downloads. I kept checking in and wondering where all those people were coming from. By the time I went to bed, it had been downloaded north of a thousand times. Over the next few days it amassed some pretty impressive daily numbers and made it onto several Free Best Seller lists for Sci-Fi. Awesome! But the real test was how would it do after the sale ended and people had to spring three dollars to get it?

It sold 2,175 books in the time it was free. Now that’s a pretty decent return, for books. The following week Tyrmia actually sold 74 books. Significantly less to be sure, but the interesting thing was how the numbers for my non-sale book did. Starstrikers began to sell very respectably in the week that followed the sale. I sold 29 of them. So at least some readers were liking Tyrmia and coming back for more.

I muddied the waters a bit by doing another sale inside that first week. I put Starforgers up for a week that went from a Wednesday to a Sunday. That book had about 700 downloads and during the week after the sale, sold 52 copies. Not too shabby. I think doing two book sales back to back was probably a bad idea. Next time I’ll spread out the love. Seeing all the sales for those books rise and also the sales of Starstrikers (29), constituted a decent Halo Effect for me to see the value in doing occasional giveaways. The total amount sold after the sales weeks amounted to 116 books, including two sales of my anthology.

The third book I tried this with is my Mystery novel – Null Pointer. That book is under my pen name of Johnny Batch. So I didn’t figure a sale on it would bother my SF stuff. I was right. NP only managed a hundred downloads in two days – Wednesday and Thursday. So far, a week after the sale, it has gone back to obscurity. Disappointing, to be sure, but I also changed up the genre and the sale days. Perhaps it’s best to start with a week to give the book time enough to get on some best seller lists. I only have a short story for sale by Johnny Batch and so far that one has not moved at all. So no Halo Effect on that book either.


Based on these modest experiments with the Kindle Select program, I’ve determined to move all of my ebooks to the program, including the short stories that I sell for a buck. The shorts are only on Kindle right now as it stands. The novels continue to sell reasonably well on Kindle, so staying there makes financial sense.

I understand the desire some authors feel for being in as many markets as they can, believe me I was in everything before this experiment. But truthfully, I was not selling very well in any market other than Kindle. Since Amazon lets me do these sales periodically, and they do seem to generate sales, why should I care about being in markets that are not selling for me?  That seems like a goal to aspire to after I’m doing extremely well on Kindle.

My future plans call for moving all my ebooks to Kindle Select and for running a free book sale every weekend. It might be a short story, it might be a novel but something in my inventory will be free every weekend. The plan is to keep that Halo Effect going all the time, constantly rotating the inventory and picking up new readers. I won’t be able to do this with all my books until March. But after then, we’ll see if the free weekend approach can boost my less than mid-list numbers.

Already, this month my sales are averaging 2 per day for Starforgers. Combined sales are averaging 4 books a day. That comes out to be around $245.00 per month. My goal going forward is to boost that to $500.00 per month and then to $1000.00 per month. Maybe that’s impossible, but who knows until you try, right?