Following on from the last post, I thought I’d give a few thoughts for those who do wish to go ahead with running a KDP Select promotion.
Please note that the following is based purely on my experiences, and is no guarantee for success.
First things first. Your book is finished. Congratulations!
I’m going to assume that at this point you have done all of the necessary additional bits, since they will play a huge part in your success. Formatting, editing, proofreading, etc.
Make sure that you have a good title (one that is pretty unique, so that it appears easily in searches), cover and blurb. These are essential hooks for drawing a new reader in.
Don’t publish yet.
Get yourself established in various forums. Kindleboards, Goodreads, Facebook, etc. Those communities are more likely to react favourably to someone who’s been positively posting for a while than for someone who drives by and spams with adverts for their books once in a while. Bearing in mind that these are your contemporaries and have a hell of a lot of advice and support to offer, if you don’t piss them off.
Search for genre-forums, and get active there as well.
In terms of self-preparation, start developing a thick skin. Your book is your baby, but it won’t be to everyone’s liking. You will attract (at best) some negative reviews. At worst, you may find yourself the victim of unwarranted attacks.
Contact reviewers as early as possible with a ready-to-go copy of your book. Approach them politely, remembering that they may not be able to respond in the time you need them to. Most will, where possible, try and support the launch of a new book at the time specified, with enough notice. A few genuine and positive reviews will help immensely. Do not, under any circumstance, solicit or write fake reviews!
When you do publish, make sure you have a firm online presence with the forums, Facebook page, Goodreads page, etc, and most essentially on Amazon’s author pages (all countries).
Your initial audience for your book is most likely to be family and friends. Sorry, but that’s the truth. No one else knows you.
So, here’s my personal advice. You have up to five days. No one knows who you are. Your friends and family are most likely to help you once – any more is pushing it. Forums will help you when you have good standing, but they won’t do it over and again. Make your first promotion count. Go for broke with this one!
Scheduling your promotion
The start and end of the month are the most popular days for promotions. Try and avoid them.
If there is a particular event/holiday which ties in nicely with your book, look at that as a possible date to work with.
Try and get part of your promotion over a weekend.
Use the full five days – the downloads are cumulative during this period. The longer you can get them at the top of a genre-specific chart and keep them there, the better.
Give yourself at least one month before you kick the launch/promotion off.
Promoting the promotion
Your friends and family can be leant on a little bit to help. They might not all want to, but you can probably get away with it once. Use them.
Facebook, Twitter, etc – promote your promotion. Too much, and you risk spamming people who will unfriend/unlist/unfollow you. Go for a reasonable amount – you won’t be attracting new people with this, but you want to reach those you’re in contact with, and get them to spread the word to their friends.
Contact key websites that advertise free books (I’ve included a list of some at the bottom, but keep searching for more). Some will charge – and you need to make the decision on whether you want to pay. Some are wonderful, friendly and free – and will do anything they can to help out.
Contact Twitter accounts that promote free books – making sure to check any relevant #tags
Look at any alternative sources you can use – for example, a friend of mine runs a World of Warcraft podcast, and agreed to mention my promotion for a fantasy piece.
Depending on where you live, where you can access, you may want to consider physical advertising – you’d be surprised at what you can get for free/very low prices. I’ve handed out business cards printed with my book and promo days on it. If you can tie this in with a local event (e.g. Comic convention), then do it.
Look at unlikely sources – I’ve had (minor) celebrities retweet my promo days, for example. It certainly doesn’t pay to hassle them, but you may get lucky.
Look at where you’re promoting – remember that KDP Select currently works in America, UK, India, Germany, Italy, Spain and France. America is obviously the largest market, but don’t shoot yourself in the foot by missing an opportunity elsewhere as well.
Don’t forget that there are countless other places for free advertising – newspapers, free advert sites (e.g. Gumtree, Craigslist, etc) – some are worth popping a message in.
Keep some time ready for the kick-off of the promotion itself.
And understand that things sometimes change drastically…
You may fall ill. There may be a domestic or work emergency. Can someone else support your promotion that little bit for you?
The more thought you put into this, the more creative, the more work – the better your results will be.
And so, it arrives. The day of the promotion.
Ideally, you should have some time ready to go on this.
Let people know! Again, the reminders on your social media (provided you haven’t spammed people to death!) and requests for retweets/reposting/sharing etc.
Post adverts relevant for that day on whatever system you’re using (e.g Gumtree, Craigslist, etc) – you want them as visible as possible, and reposting/bumping isn’t always an option. Be warned, though, that some of these will not allow links to be posted – hence your title and image should be as easy as possible to find.
Remember time differences – your promotion will start at approx. 00.00hrs in the US, and 08.00hrs in the UK for example. Time your messages accordingly.
Keep your eye on the forum boards
Don’t cut the promotion short – remember your results are cumulative. Keep yourself as high on the genre charts for as long as possible.
Be ready to accept that the numbers you want may not be possible. ANY download is a good result.
Keep an eye on the various sites – problems with Amazon are not unknown. A problem in the UK may not affect the US, for example. Do not rely on your links – regularly go in and search for your title. Make sure it still appears, and contact Amazon immediately with any problems.
Keep an eye on the Kindle Community boards for issues as well. They are, thankfully, rare – but very frustrating when they hit your promotion.
Ideally, you should have some decent figures with your downloads, and you should see some of those figures converted into reviews.
There’s nothing wrong with sending out the occasional message/Tweet asking for people to post a review if they picked up a copy.
Maintain your online presence – don’t just do your promotion and run away.
Write! Now that you have someone willing to download your book, they’re interested. You want them to come back for more – so try and have something in the pipeline, at least.
And, if you can, help the writing community in return. If you want reviews, are you prepared to give them yourself? Are you willing to be a proofreader, beta-reader, formatter, editor? Maybe, maybe not. But it’s always nice if you can be.
And… that’s about it. I’ve been tempted to write a much longer article, but this covers what I want to say. Personally speaking, my promotional experimentations are over. I know what I need to change for my next book, and how I need to do it. My next stage will be to leave the KDP Select programme, and move Clown over for publishing elsewhere as well. I’ll keep you posted on that, too.
Some useful links which may help:
Vistaprint are a fantastic company for discounted business cards and other assorted promotional material. They run regular special offers, and are well worth checking out – www.vistaprint.co.uk
Samples of general advertising websites:
Sample Twitter accounts for promotions:
These lists are in no way comprehensive, but may help. Hopefully.