OK, so I have read many threads where authors trash KDP Select and free promos--so many that, when my indie humor book finished its first 90 days April 20, I left Select. Mostly, I left so I could put the book on Nook as well as Kindle. In one week, I sold just one Nook copy--the one I bought myself to make sure it had loaded properly. Meanwhile, I missed 15-20 borrows per week (and with a $2.99 price tag, each borrow pays a little more than sale). My Amazon sales rank plummeted from the top 100 in humor to down around 25,000 overall. I went from an average new positive review every other day to about two reviews per week. I could only find a high ranking in humor when I arranged by customer review (because of all the good reviews that came from my free promos) or checked "previous 90 days" (because of free promos) .
So I came back to KDP Select.
I removed The Cat Manual from Nook, waited 24 hours, then reactivated Select. Immediately, people started borrowing again. Today I am starting my first 2-day free promo since coming back, and at 3 p.m. CDT there are 2,000 downloads (about 30 in the time it took to type this post). I'm #4 in free humor and inching near the Top 100 Free at 124. At least a dozen blogs that push free books have my title featured today, and there will be more by tomorrow. My goal is to be #1 in free humor sometime tomorrow, and in the top 50 of all free books.
If previous promos are any indication, I will have huge sales days all next week (at least compared to normal). Moreover, when my 2nd volume of this series is ready later in the summer, I'll have a much larger fan base than I could have had without the promos. So yes, some of those thousands getting it for free might have become paying customers, but if even 10 percent recommend the book to friends and buy the next title, it's still net gain for me.
Indie authors have so few avenues to promotion, that I am sold on the effectiveness of this one.
I've had three books in several editions published the old-fashioned way--your big-time agent sells to a major publishing house (in my case, Scribner, Random House, National Geographic, Bloomsbury, to name a few), you get half the advance up front (less agent's commission, the check shows weeks later); finish the book for the other half (less commission again), wait a year to actually see the book in print, send preview copies (for FREE!, heaven forbid, via FedEx) to about 200 review outlets, do some degree of book tour, appear on a dozen or more hours worth of five-minute media interviews, and wait and see what happens.
That's how the pros have always done it under the old model (and still do). This involves TRADITIONAL promotion, which means giving away lots of stuff for free--not just the book itself, but tour travel, maybe an ad or two, a huge FedEx bill, etc.. Books with a big push will see the publisher spend up to $200,000 on promotion, not counting the salaries and benefits of the promotion staff, and that is not because the company thinks the book is "worthless." Promotion is never free. Someone has to pay for it--the more WORTHWHILE a book is, or that you believe it will be, the more money you should be willing to risk on promotion, unless you are a moron, at least when it comes to marketing.
My point was, almost nobody creates a bestseller without promotion (there are just a few famous exceptions), and most indie authors cannot afford to spend the many thousands of dollars the old model costs. The new indie model--giving away free Kindle books at Amazon--is easier, faster, cheaper, more open to newbies, and may turn out to be just as effective as the more expensive OLD model. I am happy for idiots to believe that giving a book away means you think it is "worthless," on the off chance that your book is in my category and better than mine--mine will still outsell yours, thanks to promotion.
Any author who has ever sat alone in front of a mountain of destined-to-be-returned books at Barnes and Noble in Huntsville or Memphis knows how risky (not to mention soul-killing) that model of promotion is. I think the KDP Select model is the way to go in an E-book world.
I edited out a couple of typos in the post, and dialed back the degree to which I bad-mouthed the author of the "worthless" comment above.
Three hours after the original post, I'm #3 in humor and #56 in "Top 100 Free Books"--so the promotion is working.
And notjohn, I am sure you are not really a moron (which is why I tried to dial back the badmouthing in my response to your flippant comment), but if you meant what you said, I am equally sure you are ignorant of basic marketing principals. No company ever paid good money to mail you a free sample of their shampoo or stain remover because they thought the product was "worthless"--they did it because they thought the product was great, and wanted you to think so, too. Book promotion works exactly the same way, and has worked that way for centuries.
Out of my 147 ebooks I have for sale on Kindle, I decided to try one in the Select program, just to see what happened. I've now nearly reached the end of my 90 days and during that time I've had a total of one borrow. Worthless program in my eyes and I can't wait for it to grind to a dismal end once and for all time. At least then people's Kindle's won't be forever filled with an over-supply of free ebooks they've downloaded. Sales have plummetted ever since the Select program was introduced last December. If Amazon doesn't put an end to this farce, they're just going to be shooting their own business repeatedly in the foot.
Thirty years ago I started writing. Everything was written by hand and then carefully typed. One copy only. No saving anything on computers. I wrote because I could. Because I loved writing. It paid off because I've made a career out of it and have earned well so I could never think my work was worthless.
I wrote for magazines, newspapers and later, the internet, and most every article I have written has been published.
Getting my fictional work published wasn't so easy. I wasn't making money out of it but writing was an outlet for my emotions and imagination; I still continued and eventually a novel was accepted by a publisher.
Years prior to my book being published, I had had a good clear out before moving house. All my old manuscripts, so carefully crafted, seemed sad just sitting in a cupboard. They'd never be published, I decided and in an impulsive moment, threw them all away. At least I'd enjoyed writing them, I thought, and that's what was important to me at the time.
Even now my sister will remind me of those 'great stories' I had written all those years ago, and how I could have published them now on Kindle if I'd kept them. Of course, they won't have appealed to everyone but but they could have brought a little light escapism to some readers. When I made the choice to scrap them, technology wasn't so advanced and what 'was' worthless was having manuscripts stored in a cupboard, sight unseen. What value is anything if it is not being used or appreciated?
Being able to offer our books for free means they are being read. Isn't that why we write? It draws attention to the fact that they are there and I have found the free promotions do lead to more sales.
I'm unlikely to ever have a Best Seller but I'm grateful to having been able to make a good living from being a ghost-writer. Perhaps this has taught me, too, that acclaim is not the reason I write, either. It's just something 'in me' that I have to do. I never expected wonders from my writing but have been rewarded in that I've been able to make a profession out of my skills.
I'm very happy with KDP Select and the free promos as it gives me a chance to share work that in the 'olden days' would be sitting, worthlessly, on a shelf gathering dust. If my fiction gives just a handful of people a little pleasure for a few hours, that makes the book of value to them and to me. If I can make a little out of it, financially, this adds to the pleasure. So I agree, what's not to love about KDP Select?
I like you had manuscripts setting around. I am overjoyed at just being published. First at Smashwords and then Amazon.
However, I do not rely on my books for income. Other very successful Indies do. Nick, Saxon,Thetimucuaqn, Vicky, Notjohn, et al. have lost a large part of their monthly income because of the KDP Select program and the new influx of writers such as you and I.
So I may bitch about it but it really means little to me but ego. Others it is necessary income. THAT IS WHAT NOT TO LOVE. IT HAS KILLED THEIR INCOMES.
They will not have it forever. I think they are trying to give the indie writers a chance to gain readers. Nothing is set in stone when it comes to publishing. Sometimes the tides are in your favor, and sometimes they aren't. However, independent authors needed some brand of promotion. A lot of your publishing companies have promotions. This is one way to make sure that their authors are getting exposure.
[i]"They sell Kindles. Ebooks is just a sideline."[/i]
I know this gets said a lot, but it just isn't true!
Amazon make next-to-nothing on the Kindle hardware - this is a documented fact - you can take it apart and add up the bill-of-materials yourself... and if you Google, you'll see that several people have!