This blog is devoted to remembrances and essays on general topics, including literature and writing. It has evolved over time, and some older posts on this site might reflect a different perspective and purpose.

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Friday, March 1, 2013

Watching the Numbers All Day Long

            A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about giving away copies of my mystery novel, The McHenry Inheritance, as a Kindle promotion to build readership. That blog got an uncommonly high number of page views, leading me to follow up here with additional thoughts and details on the practice.
            Wednesday was my birthday, and believing that I shouldn’t be the only one getting presents, I scheduled a free giveaway on Kindle that day. On giveaway days, I check every few hours (no point being obsessive about it) to see where I stand on Amazon’s free book sales list.
            The morning of the 27th dawned bright and clear in coastal California, and at 6:15 a.m., Linda picked up her iPad and did the first check. She yelled out the number, and I forgot to write it down, but it was 21 thousand and something. It gives you a scary idea of how many books and authors are out there that on a weekday, there would be at least 21 thousand books being given away on Kindle.

Cresting, Like Obama

            At that time of day, of course, the West Coast is just getting up, the East Coast is going to or arriving at work, and Europe is still at work in the afternoon. The people buying books at those hours are probably in India, Australia and New Zealand.
            By 8:48 a.m., I had climbed 11,000 places on the list, to number 11,092. At 10:33 a.m., I had soared to 6,648th place, a climb of 14,000 places since the day began. I tweeted about it. At 1:45 p.m., I was up to 5,010th place.
            Clearly, like Barack Obama in a presidential election, I do better as the results start coming in from the west. The book continued to creep up the charts for the rest of the day, and when I checked at 10:07 p.m., before turning in, it was number 3,460 on the Amazon free book hit parade.
            How does that translate into actual sales? Amazon tells me that 64 people “bought” the book that day. What an author hopes for in this situation is that at least a few of them will read it, like it, and tell their friends in some way. Maybe they’ll even post a review on Kindle.

Weekdays Versus  Weekends

            One thing this tells me (and it reinforces earlier data, so I should have thought of it sooner) is that weekdays generally don’t seem to be too good for giveaways. Earlier in the month I gave the book away on Saturday the 16th, the first day of a three-day weekend in America, and it moved more than 150 copies, or twice as many as on the weekday. Stands to reason, since that’s when more people are likely to be looking for something to read.
            Nobody knows how Amazon’s algorithm works in terms of generating referrals for a book, but anecdotally, it seems mine has gotten some mention after a good giveaway day, so I want to be trying to maximize that.
            Accordingly, my next big idea is to use my three remaining free promotion days on weekends in March, clustering more giveaways closer together than I’ve done up to this point. The questions should be, first, are more people snapping up the book when there’s a free offer, and second, are the ones I’m giving away generating any increase in paid sales of the book. Trial and error, but I’ll let you know how it turns out.