Sunday, February 24, 2013

Amazon Sales Rankings, Marketing With KDP Select Free Books, and Pricing to Drive Sales Ranking

I love to get free books on my Amazon Kindle. In fact, after years of not reading fiction anymore, I have discovered several new fiction authors I really like and spent a fair amount of money buying their other books. I once again read works of fiction!

This is the idea behind the KDP Select's free give away program. By entering your ebook into Amazon's KDP Select, which requires a 90 exclusivity period, you can give the Kindle edition of the book away for free for five days (Be sure to read all the details of how the KDP Select program works and then make your decision if you want to participate in this program).

The idea is to give away your book for free and have it climb into the Amazon Top 100 Free Kindle Books for that genre or category. This can translate into sales once the free trial period is over.

If an author has multiple books in a series, the idea is to give away the first book in the series to encourage new readers to try a new author. If the reader likes the free book, the reader can become a fan and buy the remainder of the books in the series.

There has been quite a bit written about this tactic, but that is the basics of the approach.

I have a non-fiction book that has gotten several 5-star reviews and every customer who has e-mailed me with a question has raved about how helpful the content has been to them. Yet the book persists in selling about one or two copies a month.

So, on March 5 through March 9 (2013), the Kindle version of this book is going to be free. My hope is to give away as many copies as possible. If it does not help sales of this particular title but gets customers to buy my other books, then it will be worth it. I have no idea how to collect and monitor specific data to see if this tactic will drive sales of my other books, but since the book is not selling anyway, this experiment can only help.

My other experiment is currently in progress. My best selling book for over a year was the first book listed when doing an Amazon search for its category. Within the last three months it had slowly moved down the rankings on the first page of search results, and with that decline, so has sales for the title.

The better the sales ranking on Amazon, the better the book will do in search results and the more sales the book will generate. The more sales the book generates, the better the sales ranking, etc. As one declines, so do the others.

The challenge is how do I work to restore the title's sales ranking and position in its category with a marketing budget of zero dollars?

I just could not bring myself to give the book away for free. So I lowered the price to 99 cents. I blogged about it on my website. Mentioned it in my newsletter and, horrors, tweeted about it on my Twitter account. The only cost was 20 minutes of my time.

Sales have jumped considerably in the first two days of the experiment which will last until February 28th. 

The sales ranking in the key search category has improved during those two days and the book has climbed from 12th on the page to 5th. The two other common search result queries have seen the book climb 2 and 4 spots on the pages results.

I certainly am not making much money on the sales this price has generated.

Then why did I do it?

This is not a new book. I have no money to invest in promoting it. So I have to work with what is available to me. The book has valuable content. It has good reviews. It has been edited, has a good cover and professionally designed interior and ebook conversion. It should be selling better but there are newer titles competing for the same customers.

Improving the sales ranking, search results position seems to be the only viable approach I have.

The lower price has certainly boosted sales in terms of units sold, sales ranking and improved position in search results.

When March 1st rolls around and the price goes back up, I hope the sales stay at the same level and generate the revenue this title used to generate.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

Since most self-published authors have the same marketing and advertising budget I do, namely zero, it pays to experiment and see what works for your books. This is a business.