I know this post will make a few fellow authors shriek and moan and rend their clothes, so I want to say upfront that I am not urging or advising others to put their books in KDP Select. I never thought I would ever be exclusive to one sale platform – I’m not the type, lol – but after trying for a month last summer to get Zon to pricematch a book to free, I threw in the towel and went all in with Select.
I assume for a limited time.
My marketing model for 2015 – as I’ve mentioned before – is to cycle all my titles through free promos in an attempt to get noticed by readers, AND to accrue those all-important reviews. And for some reason, free book promos just accumulate more reviews.
Why is that?
In my humble opinion, the review issue is the single biggest drawback of the “first in a series” perma-free model: the free book can collect hundreds of reviews, then subsequent books in a series have way fewer. So to counteract that, I plan to offer one book free every month – with six books in the lineup by April, that means each book will be free twice, six months apart, in 2015. And folks, it’s just easier to do that through KDP Select. Price matching a different book every month would take more effort, and I only have so much patience.
SO, I am now entering Month #4 of my 2015 Marketing Plan, and I thought I’d share some interesting stats about books sales and, more importantly, borrows via Kindle Unlimited (KU). And please don’t diss me about my math skills. My goal here is to share my experience with the Zon’s Select program, and dish about borrows and dollars. Facts to keep in mind: I am not a well-known author with an established following of readers, so my pre-Select sales were very low; therefore I cannot speak to whether or not KU borrows might have affected my total sales, as some authors have reported. Anyway, here goes.
I’ll start with my November 2014 book sales figures. I’ve gotten much higher royalties from Amazon in previous months, but this figure is probably a good average for typical royalties earned Jan – Nov 2014.
November 2014 total: $143.99
$88.26 Book Sales
$55.73 KU/KOLL Units
No promos this month.
As I wrote in this post, I scored my first spot with BookBub Dec 20 for the first book in my Gen Delacourt series, Mark of the Loon. At the end of February, Zon paid royalties for those December 2014 sales. I’ll just share my U.S. sales, the others were negligible:
December 2014 total: $1,700.58
$1,170.12 Book Sales
$530.46 KU Units ($1.43 per borrow)
Trio of promos Dec 20 -24: ENT, BookBub, and BMT’s “free” ebook submission tool. BBub category: Women’s Fiction. Total downloads over the five days, 30,000+. LOON had 35 reviews when it was accepted for the BB run, and (to date) has 118. Mission accomplished!
Considering how long it took me to break into BBub, I was shocked when I scored a second promo Jan 25 for Book 2 in the series, The Last Fairytale.
January 2015 total: $3014.35 [projected]
$1,958.65 Book Sales
$1055.70 KU Units (765 borrows x $1.38 ann’cd payout)
Trio of promos Jan 24-28: ENT, BookBub, and BMT’s “free” ebook submission tool. BBub category: Mystery. Total downloads over the five days, 40,000+. FAIRYTALE had 35 reviews when it was accepted, and (to date) has 86 reviews.
February 2015 total: $2047.85 [projected]
$1,104.81 Book Sales
$942.54 KU Units (683 borrows x $1.38 projected payout)
No promos this month. Ooops! I failed in my plan. I DID schedule a free promo for Book 4, A Thousand Tombs, March 1-5 via BMT’s “free” ebook submission tool. Total downloads over the five days, 2554. I started out with about a dozen reviews and just hit 20. Mission accomplished!
NOTE: ALL sales and borrows across all titles slowed to a snail’s pace the final week of February through NOW. Anybody have a theory why?
BONUS for these free promo days – it seems a certain number of readers who subscribe to different free book lists borrow books via KU as opposed to downloading. My January free days saw 305 KU borrows. Authors get paid on the borrow even though the book is free: that means I earned about $420 via KU during that free promo FROM the free book, which more than covered BBub’s hefty $355 price tag. Sweet!
NOTE: Borrows did not rack up to that degree during my December freebie.
My takeaway? I’ll be honest, the number of borrows in January shocked me. It’s tough not to be happy about that, as I doubt I would have earned an equal amount if my series was available on other sales platforms, although I could be waaaaaaay off base.
Because countering my experience, here’s a great post by Louisa Locke plus an update outlining her thoughts and why she left Select. Also, my friend and fellow author Helen Hanson reported over 8,400 downloads from iTunes alone during her recent BBub promo for 3 LIES: A Masters Thriller. YIKES! Am I missing out?
But then, another friend and fellow author, Toby Neal, reported this when I asked her about KU: “I’m still doing great in KU! I’ve been a two-time top 100 most borrowed author. January, 2015 my number of borrows was in the several thousands.” Toby has been KDP Select since the beginning of her writing career, and has no plans to change that.
So I’ll keep at it for a while. I scored another BBub March 27 (aaacckkk!), this one for a freebie for Book 3, Paint Me Gone, which also had 35 reviews when I submitted it for consideration. Maybe 35 is my lucky number?
To close, it looks to me as if authors can be successful via different business models, including Select, making books available on all sales platforms, and first book perma-free. It’s not a one-size fits-all road to success. There is no single path. Just choose a way and keep on writing!
This original content by Molly Greene is copyright protected – did you enjoy the article? You can show your support by checking out my Amazon Author Page – and hey, buy a book while you’re there! Or, subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss my weekly posts. Your email will NOT be sold, shared, abused, or rented – that’s a promise. If you’re not already, follow @mollygreene on Twitter. Mwah! Thank you so much.