Kindle Book Promotion

Day one of my very first Kindle promotion for my short story “The Path” just ended.  When you sign up on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select you are given up to five days during the 90 day period where you can offer your book for free to Kindle users.  This allows you to (potentially) gain a significant number of new readers who may not have heard of you or your book before.  The ultimate goal is to gain positive book reviews and create word-of-mouth buzz to boost your book sales.  Also, as John Locke noted in his book, How I Sold 1 Million Ebooks in 5 Months, if you have other books available for sale, when a customer reads and enjoys your free book, there is a good chance they will buy your other books.

I don’t mind sharing specific details, as this whole experience is an experiment to learn the best approach to promoting ebooks on Amazon.com.  Because I do not have a novel to sell yet, I am relying on a short story to carry out the research.  This already puts me at a disadvantage because when faced with getting a free novel or a free short story, I’m sure most would go with the former.  However, they can also download both — so there is hope yet :).

My story has been available on Amazon.com since April 4, 2012 — approximately two weeks.  I did some promotion of the story on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn — first focusing on letting my friends and followers know that my story was available.  And then promoting the fact that the story was free for Amazon Prime members.  As I mentioned in a previous post, because I am not able to offer the story for free at all times, it normally has a cost of $0.99.  Do I expect to sell a lot of units at $0.99?  Definitely not.  Since this effort is really about getting some exposure, and learning the ins and outs of promoting a book/story I really just want downloads, whether I get paid or not!  This is why the promotional days are so important.

So let’s get to the results.  In the two weeks prior to the “free” promotion I actually sold four units!  It doesn’t sound like much, but I was happy that four people were willing to pay $0.99 for my story!  This meant that some of the elements of my promotion worked — be it the cover graphic, or its description, or simply curiosity from one of my tweets or posts.  What ever it was, I sold four copies!  In just one day of the “free” promotion I had an additional 106 downloads!

That is quite a difference in exposure!  Now potentially 110 people have read my story on a Kindle, and hopefully most of them will check out my future stories and novels!  I am pretty excited about the potential here.  To put it in perspective I had previously posted the story on my website and invited friends and social media contacts to check it out.  If I had to guess I would say I got about 40-50 views.  I also posted the story to Wattpad and got another 85 views over the course of a couple months.  When I signed up with KDP Select I removed the story for both of the other sites.

In order to promote my Kindle story this time, I came up with 4 or 5 tweets that I could post throughout the day which would let my followers know that my story was available free for a limited time.  I also used tags such as RT to ask for a retweet,   #Thriller to classify the story genre and allow people searching for thrillers to find my posts.  I used #Kindle and #Amazon for the same reason, as well as some others like #authorssupportingauthors which helps to rally the writing community to support you.  I used HootSuite to schedule the postings at specific times throughout the day, as I work full-time and would not necessarily have time to manually do this myself.

I have been observing my fellow authors and writers on Twitter for several months now, and there are definitely techniques and best practices for promoting your books on Twitter.  Because of the nature of Twitter, a post can get lost almost immediately, so it is necessary to post many times throughout the day.  I often notice this practice on my Twitter feed and although it seems like overkill or even borderline spam sometimes, it would be difficult to capture enough attention without this practice.  I highly recommend not doing this with some other social media platforms, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, however as those feeds have a much longer life and this would definitely come across as spamming your “friends” and colleagues.

There is definitely a fine line.  I posted two of the five tweets to my Facebook and LinkedIn accounts as well.  Even that felt like too much, but from past experience, I have gotten much more response from Facebook than other platforms as there is a personal connection and my Facebook friends are often truly interested in what I am up to.

Tomorrow is day two of my “free” promotion and I look forward to many more downloads.  I will be utilizing 4-5 different posts again on Twitter and perhaps one on Facebook and LinkedIn.  I will be recording the results, and refining my methods as I go along.  Then I will have three days remaining, over the next few months to repeat what I have learned.

I am currently working on more short stories which I hope to complete in the next few weeks, and a non-fiction project that I will be discussing soon enough.  I hope that each time through the process will become easier, and more successful.

Please check back to read more about my experiences publishing and promoting ebooks on Kindle and other platforms including Nook, Apple iBooks, KOBO and others.  I look forward to comments and suggestions!

Twitter Power 2.0 Book Review

Below is my review for Twitter Power 2.0: How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time by Joel Comm (@joelcomm).

I bought this book about a year ago, shortly after I first signed up on Twitter. At the time, I was already using other social media platforms like Facebook, blogging, and LinkedIn but I wasn’t yet sold on Twitter. I mean, it’s not that I thought it was just a bunch of status updates from people I didn’t know — I could definitely see where it would be useful for large companies, but for entrepreneurs and others?

But over the last year, I have really been thinking about and working towards growing my personal brand, since I have been doing more business consulting.  I am into many things outside of my day job — including writing, blogging, and consulting.  So I have begun promoting myself rather than my specific business.  I write a technology column for a local youth magazine, and regularly deliver seminars and presentations via local economic development and other business organizations.  The idea of promoting my personal expertise and brand really began to hit home.

Along with this change in outlook, came a new insight and appreciation for Twitter.  I started to follow more social media, business and technology experts and quickly began to see Twitter as a valuable source of information, opinions, statistics and more —  much of which I did not come across through my traditional news sources.

I began to get excited, and at this point I grabbed Twitter Power 2.0 from my bookshelf — desperately looking for Twitter strategies, tips, and tools. The beginning chapters were definitely geared to newbies, and had I read the book when I first bought it, perhaps wouldn’t have been so obvious or basic — but for a new user it is all good information.

But then it got really good.

I learned some really great strategies for gaining followers, and for being “interesting” on Twitter.  Through a combination of retweeting valuable posts from other experts, providing my own insights and information, as well as more personal or fun tweets, I began to pick up followers myself.

I am getting more involved in the Twitter conversation — providing comments and responses to other tweets, tweeting directly to the individuals that I follow — I have become much more active on Twitter.  And it is fun!

I particularly enjoyed Chapters 8 – 11 of the book. Now we were getting down to business!  From using Twitter to build your brand, to making money on Twitter and learning the best ways to use Twitter to drive traffic to your website, blog or affiliate links — this is the stuff I was looking for.

Then I learned about a whole bunch of third-party apps that would allow me to become more efficient at using Twitter. From how to follow multiple Twitter feeds at once, ways to post tweets across multiple social networks, to accessing Twitter’s own data to see trends and hot topics, there are many apps and services that can help you build your Twitter presence and make money.  Most of the services Joel talks about here, I was not familiar with. I have since begun to explore these and I am using several of them already.

Twitter Power 2.0 has not only answered a lot of my questions, but has provided me with a fantastic toolkit for growing and leveraging my Twitter presence.  Although some of the information is becoming dated (the book was published in 2010) I would highly recommend Twitter Power 2.0 to anyone looking to either more fully understand the power of Twitter or (and more emphasis here) anyone looking to take their social media presence to the next level.

I only wish I would have begun sooner!

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