What I Learned From My Amazon Kindle Countdown Promotion

This past weekend, I experimented with putting Finding the Core of Your Story on an Amazon Kindle Countdown promotion. If you’re not familiar with the program, it’s a feature that Amazon recently added to KDP Select. The idea is that your book goes on sale, counting back up to the normal price over a period of time. So, for example, when I did my sale, I set up five countdown milestones that each lasted 12 hours. My book began the sale at $1.99, then went up $1 every 12 hours until it returned to the usual price of $6.99.

It was a great experience to try out the new promotion option. Some of my author friends asked how it went, so I thought I’d write up some of my takeaways.

Positives

You book stays on the paid chart

This is definitely one of the biggest perks about doing a Countdown promotion instead of a Free promotion. Amazon has different top 100 charts for paid and free books. If you make your book free, you go to the free chart, and then when you go back to paid, you lose all or most of the ranking you gained during the promotion. Not so with the Countdown promo. My book climbed to about #45 on the paid chart in my category. When the sale was over, it stayed on the top 100 paid books chart, and it’s still there as of this writing. I’ve made more sales that usual since the promotion ended, which I’m attributing to the increased exposure I’ve gained by making it on the chart.

(By the way, if you’re looking for a great book on taking advantage of Amazon’s ranking system, I highly recommend that you read Let’s Get Visible. It’s one of the best books on Kindle promotion I’ve read.)

You still earn the 70% royalty

This is huge! If your book is already eligible for the 70% royalty tier and the sale drops your price below the tier threshold, you don’t get switched to the 30% royalty for those sales. So rather than earning 30¢ on a 99¢ sale, you make 70¢. I’ll take it!

You get to try multiple price points

Okay, so a brief sale isn’t going to tell you definitively which price is going to fare the best for your book, but it might help. One thing I found interesting was that all price points in my sale didn’t perform equally—or even as I expected. I thought that when my book was selling at the lower prices, I’d make more sales because it was a bigger bargain. But I actually sold more books during the last two increments ($4.99 and $5.99) than I did at earlier prices of $2.99 and $3.99. (I did sell the most books at $1.99, but not by a lot.) I’m not drawing any concrete conclusions, but it’s intriguing to me that the higher price performed better for my book. Perhaps a similar experiment will help you find your optimal price.

The stats are nice (and fun!)

As I noted above, you get to see how many books you sold at each price point. The Countdown promotion report contains some of the most detailed data that Amazon will give you about your book’s performance, even down to the very fun statistic of royalties earned per hour.

Negatives

Fewer places to promote

When you do a Free promotion, there are websites all over the place to submit your book, often for free. But right now, the Countdown promotion isn’t very well represented on the deal sites. I searched for places to submit my Countdown to get more exposure, but I didn’t come up with any. My marketing efforts ended up as a couple of posts on Twitter and Facebook from my own accounts.

You probably won’t move as many units as with the free promo

Obviously, people love free better than on sale. If you’re trying to get mass exposure of your book for a launch or to get some new reviews, a Countdown promotion is probably not for you. You’re not likely with a Countdown to see the hundreds or thousands of books you can “sell” with a freebie, especially with fewer places to spread the news about your promotion.

What I’ll change next time

Do a longer sale

My price points lasted for 12 hours each, but I wish I’d done 24 hours for each price point to give me a better look at the stats for each level. As I mentioned above, I am very interested in how my book performed at each price, and more data on that would be wonderful.

Promote better

I didn’t realize there weren’t many sites where I could announce my Countdown, so it caught me by surprise when the sale began and I had nowhere to shout about it. With this in mind, my next promotion will be better planned. I might post on my social media for every price level, maybe talk about it a little bit ahead of time, and so on.

So, wrapping up, I highly recommend Amazon’s shiny new promotional tool. Hopefully my experiences will help you create a great campaign for your own book.

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