Monday, 28 October 2013
Book Promotion - Kindle vs. Smashwords
Between October 18th - 21st I took part in Creepy Freebies, offering Passing Time: Nine Short Tales of the Strange and Macabre for free via Smashwords. I'd previously offered my dark fiction collection for free when it was part of Kindle Select. I had totally different experiences with both promotions, and I'd like to share them with you.
If your eBook is Kindle Select, you can only distribute it via Amazon Kindle, but you can offer it free for up to five days in every 90. While this means only readers with a Kindle or Kindle App can download your book, it does offer some huge advantages - an enormous audience and multiple Kindle promotion websites (They usually have some minimum rules, such as five 5-star ratings, and some will charge a small fee).
I offered my book for free for five days during May of this year. Beforehand, I submitted my book details to multiple promotion sites. During the promotion I used my blog, Facebook, and Twitter to get the news out there. I also ran a couple of paid Facebook adverts*.
Over 800+ people downloaded my book.
The immediate result was sales did pick up for a couple of weeks after because my book moved up the Amazon sales rankings. I gained a few more reviews. But in the long-term it hasn't done much to boost my sales.
I believe Kindle Select is best used when you have more than one book published or have just released another - hopefully people will like your free book enough to buy more. However, because of the 90-day rule, you can't offer a book free for longer than five days. If you decide to write a series of books, and want to offer the first one free on a permanent basis, then don't tie yourself down to Kindle Select. Offer it for free on sites such as Smashwords, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and then get people to tell Amazon your book is free elsewhere. Amazon should then allow you to give it away.
*I'm not sure if the Facebook adverts were worth even the small fee. On the one hand downloads halved after they ended on day three. On the other, all the sites I submitted my book to ran my details over the first three days. Which was responsible for the greater downloads?
Due to technical difficulties Amazon seemed uninterested in solving, I had to re-publish both my eBooks in September. As I was not at all happy with Amazon, I decided to remove both books from Select and distribute them to all the major sellers via Smashwords.
When Milo James Fowler approached me about taking part in his Creepy Freebies, I decided to use Smashwords to offer my book for free. There are two easy methods - generate a coupon code for people to use or reduce the price to zero. I opted for the coupon code.
For this promotion I used my website, one promoted Facebook post, and twitter. My book was also promoted via Milo's site and other writers generously tweeting.
The end result was 13 people downloaded my book.
Yes. That's right. Just 13. To say I was disappointed, would be an understatement. However, it gave me an insight into what works and what doesn't. I can only conclude that if you want to offer your book for free to generate publicity and gain readers, Kindle is the better option. There are numerous promotional sites that are solely for Kindle and they do work. There are sites out there that feature all the major distributors, but they're harder to find and fewer in number.
So, what is the answer? I know writers who have tried both options - some have found their non-Amazon sales are so inconsequential they're not worth bothering with. Others have found they do steady sales all round.
What do you think? Have you had experiences with both Kindle and Smashword promotions? How successful were they? What would you do differently second time around?
I will be back on Wednesday, when M Pax will be this week's Speculative Fiction Writer and I'll be dropping into Spacedock 19. Finally, I will be revealing some exciting news. Stay tuned.