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Old 12-09-2012, 03:21 PM   #1
David Marseilles
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When to schedule freebies? (kdp select)

On my first freebie day, the day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday), I managed to giveaway a little over a hundred copies. On my second, a few days later on a Sunday, I managed almost 150. On my last, yesterday (Saturday) I only managed to give away about 15 (assuming data lag isn't holding back too much). All three days were about equally unpromoted -- I don't really have much of a platform to promote from at the moment.

While there could be other explanations for the big disparity, I wonder if this time I simply chose a day with so many other higher ranked freebies that mine was undiscoverable, while I got somewhat lucky on prior days with less competition.

Has anyone developed some rules of thumb on scheduling promotional days, perhaps not just for the day of the week but also the time of year? Right off the bat, with very limited input from this experience, I want to avoid Saturdays, but since Select offers so few promotional days to experiment with, I'd love to plan future giveaways with context from your experiences if you care to share.

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Old 12-10-2012, 08:27 AM   #2
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I wonder if shortly after Christmas, or Christmas day might be your best bet for the next one... once everyone opens their new Kindles they will be looking for books.
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Old 12-10-2012, 08:55 AM   #3
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Interesting, that's more than mine have garnered.

That's okay though.

I have no idea about scheduling, but as always am interested in learning.
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Old 12-10-2012, 10:43 AM   #4
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I seem to recall that Amazon uses an X day rolling average on the app store, and I would imagine something similar with books. My guess is more experienced kdp authors have a pretty good sense of how long it takes the freebies to maximize rank, and try to get that effect into the system in advance of high traffic days to actually sell well. I didn't really see my title rise in rank much until after cyber monday, and I still don't have a great sense of how long it takes for a spike in downloads to boost the rank to peak. 2-5 days? If my pre-thanksgiving and pre-cybermonday downloads were high, perhaps it's because those in the know scheduled their promo days earlier so they'd peak in rank on the busier days. Had I scheduled a little earlier, I might have been dwarfed then too.

@Vydor, I plan to only use one more free promo this year, and save the last for next. I want to target the pre-travel periods, since I think my ebook is attractive for short and low commitment bursts of travel reading. After Christmas might be a good time indeed, both since there are new devices, trips home, and perhaps because the other books might (?) focus their freebies pre-Christmas to drive up their ranks to make actual sales during that time, leaving less competition among freebies.

But knowing there are better and worse days to promote out there, I'd hate to waste another on a day with too much competition, and it's all guesswork right now for me.

@kenny, if it makes you feel any better, I don't have much to show in the actual purchases category and I'm sure you've bested me there many times over.

Last edited by David Marseilles; 12-10-2012 at 11:45 AM.
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Old 12-10-2012, 11:26 AM   #5
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I have not used KDP at all - but I have noticed that a spike in free downloads of my first book (which is free on Amazon) does not show in sales till the NEXT month. So while my "sales" rank might jump with the free book (seen it jump several thousand in a day), I see no change in PURCHASES of my second book till the next month.

Currently I get around 1 purchase to 10 free downloads. I suspect I will see a spike when I release book four... soon, and hopefully very soon!

Since I do not use KDP I do not have "free days" to worry about. My first book is always free. That might change the dynamic a bit. I am not sure. I am just guess my way through this book thing.
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:00 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by VydorScope View Post
Since I do not use KDP I do not have "free days" to worry about. My first book is always free. That might change the dynamic a bit. I am not sure. I am just guess my way through this book thing.
It seems like you must be pretty good. A month later sounds like your freebie readers are being converted into fans of the series as they finish the first book. And 10% of the downloaders converting probably means a much larger percentage of the readers are moving on, given only a percentage of the downloaders will read it.

If there's another mechanism there besides conversion, something structural relating to boosting exposure that happens a month later, I'd be interested to hear about it, that's just what came to mind.
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:58 PM   #7
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If there's another mechanism there besides conversion, something structural relating to boosting exposure that happens a month later, I'd be interested to hear about it, that's just what came to mind.

Me too.

The maddening thing for me is I can not figure out what causes movements on the sales ranks. Randomly I jump up to even top 70 or so and then fall to 6,000s This all happens with out me doing anything at all. If I could just figure that out, I could be rich!!!
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:01 PM   #8
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Speaking from the other side of the equation, as someone who used to look for and post interesting freebies in the Deals forum, I can tell you anecdotally that I paid considerably more attention to the KDP Select exclusive-or-else slushpile on days when I had more relative leisure time (i.e., not on new-release Tuesdays or the 1st of each month or on Mondays when a guaranteed slew of religious and business freebies trickled in every week and where after posting about a dozen new listings/updates, I really didn't have much remaining inclination to trawl for the backlist/indie stuff).

So going from that, I'd say that good times to freebie are when people have the spare time to casually browse on the internet in order to see your book in the first place, and also the corresponding extra free time to decide whether it's interesting enough to 1-click or not based on the blurb/sample.

Based on this, I suggest trying holidays/holiday aftermath long weekends, and Sundays. Friday is not too bad (end of work/school week when the load tends to lighten up a bit; people want to relax a bit before gearing up for the weekend), but it, like Saturday, tend to be days when people tend to have other entertainment plans scheduled which may not involve surfing the internet.

Also, if you've got a blog/other website presence, pre-announce your freebie well in advance and post a reminder on the day it's free as well. I can't tell you how many times I idly went to a site on a holiday to see if they were having a sale or not, and lo and behold, they were, completely without any indication before the very day or announcement other than on the website frontpage.

For what do I subscribe to the newsletters for again, if they're not going to bother to use them to send out actual useful news?!
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Old 12-22-2012, 02:17 AM   #9
David Marseilles
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Based on this, I suggest trying holidays/holiday aftermath long weekends, and Sundays. Friday is not too bad (end of work/school week when the load tends to lighten up a bit; people want to relax a bit before gearing up for the weekend), but it, like Saturday, tend to be days when people tend to have other entertainment plans scheduled which may not involve surfing the internet.
Sounds pretty well-reasoned, and matches my limited experience as well. I'm contemplating either the 26th, 27th or 30th right now for my last freebie of the year.

Thanks
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Old 12-22-2012, 09:32 AM   #10
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I should note that my book sales, both free and not free, are higher on weekdays then weekends. Seems like people shop for my ebooks while they are are work mostly.
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Old 12-22-2012, 02:51 PM   #11
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I should note that my book sales, both free and not free, are higher on weekdays then weekends. Seems like people shop for my ebooks while they are are work mostly.
That seems so wrong, but good point. Maybe the 27th would be where I might catch both travelers and office drones in one sweep.
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Old 12-22-2012, 07:18 PM   #12
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I also don't use KDP but have had free titles on Amazon through price-matches to other sites. I can say that overall, at least for me, free downloads are way down from what they were a year ago. In 2011 my two free titles were averaging almost a thousand downloads a month, with over 4k in the month they were first offered. Since July my free downloads are well under 100/month on average, and a third book I added in June only managed 264 downloads in its first full month. I'd say it's due to higher competition.
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:39 AM   #13
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On my first freebie day, the day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday), I managed to giveaway a little over a hundred copies. On my second, a few days later on a Sunday, I managed almost 150. On my last, yesterday (Saturday) I only managed to give away about 15.
FWIW, I ultimately ran it on Thursday the 27th and managed about 95 downloads.

Thank you everyone for the feedback.
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:08 PM   #14
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Wow, thanks so much for posting this thread. I learned a lot. I recently published a short story collection through KDP select and ran all my freebie days at once. I'll have to space them out next time and see if it makes a difference. I'm certainly a newbie
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Old 02-14-2013, 11:13 AM   #15
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On my final freebie day, another wednesday just before a holiday, there were 117 downloads. I actually did a little promoting this time, contacting a few related blogs the day before to let them know about it, got a couple of posts and a couple of tweets, though I can't be sure of the impact they had.

That's my final day for the quarter. Next time I might have to look at doing some two days in a row. I noticed mine climbing on the top free rating, and its possible an extra day might have resulted in far better exposure if it kept climbing at that rate.
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