Thursday, 3 August 2017

Results of an Amazon Ebook Giveaway

As I mentioned in my last post, last week I had a giveaway for my ebook Warpath into Sonora, a Western from the Apache point of view. This book came out last September and while it moved a couple of hundred units in its first two months, after that sales plummeted. It seemed that no one was much interested in Westerns. Sales got so bad that novellas I wrote five years ago were outselling it.

I decided to do one of Amazon's five-day giveaways to try to drum up some readership. I took an ad out on the Fussy Librarian's newsletter for free ebooks, which set me back five bucks. The ad went live on Thursday, July 27, the first day of the giveaway. Here are the numbers, broken down by country:

Thursday, July 27: US (296) UK (10) Germany (1) Total: 307

Friday, July 28: US (281) UK (4) Canada (4) Australia (1) Total: 290

Saturday, July 29: US (49) UK (3) Australia (5) Total: 57

Sunday, July 30: US (46) UK (3) Australia (1) Total: 50

Monday, July 31: US (41) UK (3) Canada (1) Total: 45

Grand Total by Country:  US (713) UK (23) Canada (5) Australia (7) Germany (1)

Grand Total: 749

What's most apparent is the big jump the newsletter gave me. It put Warpath into Sonora into the top five in free Native American (at times it was number one) and top 20 in free Western, where it remained for the rest of the giveaway. This, of course, added visibility and led to more downloads after the initial rush from the newsletter faded. I'll be using Fussy Librarian again.

One thing that annoyed me about those lists were the number of off-topic titles. In Native American, the Collected Stories of Conan vied for position with my book. The Western section was dominated by Western Romance, which is a different category. For a time there was also a romance featuring a muscular fellow with a kilt on the cover. I didn't realize my Scottish ancestors were actually Native American! 

What is also noticeable is the weak showing in the UK and other countries, lower than giveaways and discounts and even my regular full price sales figures. Generally the UK makes up about 10 percent of my overall sales, with the rest of the world being another five percent. This was not the case with this title.

So was the $5 expenditure worth it to give away so many books? I would say yes. First off, it got my book (and ads for my other books) in front of 749 sets of eyeballs. Also, it put my book into the Amazon algorithms so that it would show up in the "customers also bought" section. Since my sales had faded so many months ago, I was slipping out of that.

There was also an unforseen benefit. My Kindle Lending Library units went way up for that title, from almost nothing to the low hundreds of pages in the last couple of days of the giveaway and from then on. I suppose this was because people on Kindle Prime saw it and downloaded it. With these customers, while they get it for free like the regular customers who donated it, I get paid for page views. My ad has already paid for itself in real dollar terms. 


Sioux Roslawski said...

Sean--My family used to say, "There's more than one way to skin a ____" (and pathetically, I've forgotten what "critter" was skinned in this phrase). A horse? I'm not sure.

You've found a different way to get your books into readers' hands. Thanks for the breakdown and the advice. I'll have to keep that site in mind if I ever get a book published...

Thank you again.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's great it's already paid for itself. I take it the book is on Amazon only?
I've also heard a lot about fake books clogging up the free charts. I wonder how many of those books around yours were fake books.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Sean--Jeezle. It just came to me. "There's more than one way to skin a cat." I now realize why I couldn't remember the animal. Who in the world skins cats, and WHY do they do it?

Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

You can also find him on his Twitter feed and Facebook page.