Thursday, January 10, 2013

Kindle Select - What Works, and What Doesn't (a follow on post)

Last month I ran two Kindle Select giveaways.  The first was for a copy of the Christmas poetry chapbook Blooming Red that I co-authored with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, and the second was for my novel Black Cow.  When I blogged about these last month I promised an update with the results of this and here it is.  Here are a few things I learned the hard way:

1.  Promote EARLY. There are a ton of sites that feature free e-books and all of them have unique subscribers who want nothing more than to download your book, but most of them require you to submit your book at least 2 weeks prior to the free day. If you wait until the day your book is free then you'll miss out on a lot of opportunities to get the word out to new readers.

2.  Make sure that your Kindle book is perfect.  When I converted Black Cow to Kindle format, a lot of strange typographical issues crept in.  For example, about 25% of my L's disappeared, leaving me with words like four for flour and fat for flat. I did check formatting but didn't do another proofread after conversion which meant that the fantastic results - nearly 2,000 downloads that I got for Black Cow - were, to a certain extent, wasted because all of those downloaded books were typo ridden.  I was able to get Amazon to agree to send out a link for all of those who downloaded the book to re-download a perfected copy, but it will take them another 2 weeks to get to that (if you've got one of the l-less books, a cleaned-up copy should be with you soon - sorry!).  When you're getting your work into so many new hands, it's important that this be your best work. Anything less is not only a lost opportunity, but can impact on your reputation.

3.  Be prepared to get a few negative reviews (especially if you don't do #2).  If 2,000+ new people are downloading your book, your book is bound to get into the hands of a few non-ideal readers.  Take it on the chin and keep smiling.  Not everyone will like your book and not everyone is your target market.  That's just part of the game.

Overall, both books sold copies in the days immediately following the free days.  That alone was worth it, as was the opportunity to get the word out and attract a number of new readers.  So I'm definitely planning to do it again.  In fact, Carolyn and I are having another go with our book of unconventional love poetry Cherished Pulse in time for Valentine's Day. All you do is go to on Jan 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15th and click.  This time, we've followed all 3 points above.  

Magdalena Ball runs The Compulsive Reader. She is the author of the poetry books Repulsion Thrust and Quark Soup, the novels Black Cow and Sleep Before Evening, a nonfiction book The Art of Assessment, and, in collaboration with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Deeper Into the Pond, Blooming Red, Cherished Pulse, She Wore Emerald Then, and Imagining the Future. She also runs a radio show, The Compulsive Reader Talks. Find out more about Magdalena at


  1. Great advice for those of us who have not taken the E Book plunge.Thanks for sharing the good and the bad.

  2. Great tips, Maggie. I'm still procrastinating on taking the plunge, but know I have to one of these days. :)

  3. Thank you for sharing the results of what works and what doesn't. These are all important points to remember.

  4. I love your followups, Magdalena! And everyone, don't forget that if your book rating runs high on Amazon--overall bestseller or in its category--that's food for more marketing. Something that sets you book apart from the crowd. (-:


  5. Thank you for sharing what you've learned! Glad it worked out well for you.

  6. Really interesting Maggie--and so pleased about the new readers and sales--well-deserved. Off to download The Cherished Pulse--many thanks.

  7. Glad you got the L issue worked out. This is what makes me pause about dipping my toes into the world of self-pubbing. I think I'd totally have to hire formatters, because I'd so mess up a lot of things. LOL
    Great to hear you had success with your free giveaway, and I'm wishing you much more in your future xxx Thanks for sharing your experiences.


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