In a continuation of my shared self-publishing adventure, I thought I’d share the results of my Kindle Nation Daily Romance of the Week placement. I paid up the budget-busting amount of $399.99 for the week-long placement of my book, Before He Was Gone – the second in my Starstruck Series.
In a daily-changing industry I have been trying different things with my book marketing since first publishing to Amazon in May. I was especially excited about this KND promo because I’d read good things and also, their figures seemed to point to great success in the Kindle charts for all involved. The general consensus out there seems to be that Kindle Nation Daily works to significantly boost book sales… although to be fair I couldn’t find much info outside of their own website.
I was lured by this blurb: “Woo potential romance readers by providing a free excerpt of between 3500-7500 words from your romance book. Over the course of one week you’ll reach over 158,500 readers and make hearts beat faster throughout the Kindle Nation, BookLending.com, and BookGorilla communities.”
Here’s the basic weekly calendar of Romance of the Week elements, and what happened with my book as a result of each, starting Friday September 5th – Thursday September 11th 2014 (results and conclusions at the end):
- Day One (Friday) – We introduce your book to our readers with a prominent post on the KND website and Facebook pages, linked to prominent posts about your book on KND’s Romance search pages. (The posts go live by early afternoon on Friday and remain live on KND throughout the week.)
My book did indeed go live on their site. I saw the post on the KND Facebook Page, although I wasn’t tagged in it and neither was my author page. I did think this might have been a nice addition to help readers connect more, perhaps? On a page with 100,000+ likes, my book’s post had just 33 likes. It could be that people weren’t that interested in the book of course, but I did notice that hardly any books posted on there have more than 50 likes.
There was also a tweet sent, but it came from Stephen Windwalker and not from a specific KND handle. Stephen has 4,038 Twitter followers. I was a little surprised by this. I have more followers than Stephen and I’m quite sure most authors spending $400 on extra marketing help will also have more followers than this. Just saying.
- Day Two (Saturday) – Your book is featured on the BookLending.com Facebook page and also appears (if it qualifies with a discounted price and a strong review profile) in a BookGorilla Daily Deal email blast.
I saw the promised posting on the BookLending.com Facebook page and it had zero likes and zero comments. An amusing bright pink meme posted later had 39 likes. I did not receive the BookGorilla Daily Deal email blast – not sure why. I emailed them and asked if they could please send the email I must have missed, and I had no response. I tried to sign up to the newsletter advertised on their site again, in case I’d missed it somehow (although I’m quite sure I already subscribed) and got an error message. I forwarded this and had no response. I saw another tweet from Stephen however:
I can’t see an official KND handle anywhere – maybe I’m just not seeing it (?!) Following this link sent me to a KND Daily Digest page and yes, my book was there… buried in about 30 others, after I scrolled pretty far down the page. In reality, hardly anyone will have seen this, right? Considering I paid these guys $399.99, I’m not feeling too great about things so far – yikes! I have not yet seen any tweets about my book from BookGorilla either, which consequently only has 3,581 followers. It’s possible I missed this, but I tried a search and didn’t see it.
The book is currently at #3,247 Paid in Kindle Store, and #63 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Women’s Fiction > New Adult & College. The book was higher in the Paid store before this promo as it had just launched and I’m part-way through a blog tour.
- Day Three (Sunday) – Your book is presented in a special Romance of the Week sidebar widget on pages throughout the KND site. This widget remains live through Thursday night.
Yup, the widget is there as promised. But then, it was there on day one, too.
- Day Four (Monday) – Your book’s Romance of the Week spot is featured in a post in our Kindle Nation Daily Digest email blast.
I didn’t get this email blast, and I’ve still had no response to my email about the error message on the sign-up page. Of course, even if I was correctly subscribed I would not be getting EVERY single email, as they are targeted. This said, I’d hope someone would send me them all anyway, just to keep me in the loop.
- Day Five (Tuesday) – Your book is featured in a free excerpt of 3500 to 7500 words on the KND site, which is amplified via the KND Facebook page and also sent out via email to all members of the BookLending Romance email list.
This Facebook post (which gained just 22 likes) and this one tweet is all I can see on social media to advertise this sample. The excerpt was pasted on the KND site as promised but there’s no way I can see or tell who clicked it/read it. Still not had any emails.
- Day Six (Wednesday) – Your book is featured in a post in our Kindle Nation Daily Digest email blast linking back to the free excerpt.
I didn’t get this email blast either, BUT I have just had a response from Stephen via email, to say he has been in New York this week and will be back tomorrow to help with this. My campaign ends tomorrow.
- Day Seven (Thursday) – KND features a “last call” post with a link to your book and the free excerpt.
My book is now #5,010 Paid in Kindle Store and #90 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Women’s Fiction > New Adult & College. So it has significantly dropped in the charts throughout this campaign. Here are my figures from the day my Kindle Nation Daily campaign started to when it finished. I grabbed it from the 4th-12th, so a day either side (click to enlarge). *note, KND takes a few days to settle these figures by the looks of it. I checked mid-week and the sales/borrows for each day have increased since then. They’re steady now.
- The most copies sold in one day was 39 (September 6th).
- The most borrows was 78 (September 9th, which is when the sample was posted, so that appears to have been marginally effective).
I have since been corresponding with Stephen in an effort to see what happened, as I expressed my disappointment at low sales and what I felt was a lack of communication… and if I’m honest, marketing, all week. He was very precise in his explanations and sent me the archive links to several of the newsletters I didn’t receive. I’m still not sure why I didn’t get them as I’m quite sure I signed up, but like I said, I had an error message when I tired to re-suscribe and was then ignored all week. Stephen says:
“Regarding the specific promotions that were done during the week, there were over 20 distinct promotions for your book during the seven-day period, including several targeted Facebook posts to our three opt-in Facebook communities with a total of over 151,000 fans and 13 separate email newsletter promotions for your book to subscriber lists ranging from 35,000 to over 100,000 opt-in subscribers.”
Sure, there are a lot of impressive numbers here, but we can already see that the Facebook posts don’t seem to excite too many people. Aside from the sample post seeming to attract a lot of borrows on the 9th, my KDP page is not displaying great results from the campaign in general – newsletters and all. 🙁
Regarding the lack of an official Twitter handle, Stephen writes:
“I won’t go into a lot of detail about that, but we don’t invest in Twitter for these purposes and it is not part of our overall marketing plan beyond the fact that we use @Windwalkerhere as our corporate handle for the simple reason that it is followed by a fair number of bloggers and journalists in the ebook ecosphere, people with whom we have built up relationships over the past decade or so, and they often pick up book deals that we share with them. We don’t expect our sponsors to plug into that; it’s just a nice thing that happens when it happens.”
I find this quite shocking, as I’ve personally found Twitter to be by far the best way to reach an audience. Of course, I’m new to all this, but most of my click-throughs to blog posts come via Twitter, and not Facebook. As I’ve covered, the KND Facebook posts evidently don’t excite too many people, so perhaps they need to spend more time on Twitter? Most of my catchy image-led tweets and quotes, as opposed to salesy posts, are re-tweeted and I’ve seen a great response and a growing number of followers in the past few months.
Additionally, price was a factor, as was the fact that Kindle Nation Daily featured other ‘bestselling authors’ at the same time as me. Stephen writes:
“On price, $2.99 is getting tougher and tougher as a price point for emerging authors, especially since the court-ordered end of the agency model pricing scheme in the Spring of 2013. The obvious cause is the fact that A-list bestselling authors and Big Five publishers are engaging in fierce pricing competition at the same sub-$3 price points that previously were primarily the domain of indie authors…. During the same 7-day period while we were promoting your book we also featured low-price promotions for previous New York Times bestselling books by Daniel Silva ($1.99), Dennis Lehane $1.99), Mary Higgins Clark ($1.99) ETC.”
This is a fair point. Why buy my book when you can have a bestselling one instead, for less money? However, I’d have hoped that my spending $400 on marketing at the same time would have made Kindle Nation Daily think a little outside the box to help the indie authors they claim to support – maybe send a few more exciting tweets, add something more personalized to the Facebook posts to help? Stephen also explained:
“in spite of our effort to portray the book as a stand-alone [this] can have a bit of a negative effect on sales.”
Also a fair point. However, I didn’t see much ‘effort’ here to be honest. At most the borrowed description of ‘standalone sequel’ was used. In one of the newsletters, the description was jazzed up a little but made no sense. I assume there should have been a period after the word ‘adventure’ but it reads as quite a sloppy running sentence to me. And why the ‘warning’ at the start? Sigh. This is all I’ve seen in the way of KND ‘personalizing’ this experience for an author in any way… and I think I’d rather they hadn’t:
Would I use Kindle Nation Daily to market my books again? To be honest, no. All things considered, I think $400 is too much money for what these guys actually do. I would prefer to concentrate on blog tours and then, once every few months, lowering the price to appeal for a slot in a BookBub newsletter. These things in my own experience are cheaper and more effective. I recently had a book blog tour with Xpresso Book Tours, whose frontrunner Giselle was an absolute superstar, personalising every tweet, every blog post, keeping me in the loop every single day, all for $140. I also recently shifted 24,000 free books in 4-days in my own promo without BookBub.
Stephen has very kindly offered the following, as he admits results for my campaign were disappointing:
“I would certainly like to see you have a more positive experience. With that in mind, if you have any plans to offer either of your books at any price from free to $1.99 between now and the end of the year, as a one-time thing I would be happy to include it in a BookGorilla promotion at no charge, just to see if we can give your one of your books another little push, if you can give me at least two weeks notice with an email listing ASIN, promotional price, and date range for the price.”
This is a nice gesture, but I’d have preferred more time and care had been taken during my campaign, really. I was disappointed more by the lack of care and communication from KND this week, than by losing $400. I may have made my $400 back actually, depending on what Kindle Unlimited pay out, but only just. And it hasn’t been a fun experience, like my blog tour with Xpresso, when I could literally see people getting involved as a result of Giselle’s interest and dedication.
You live and learn, I guess. It’s important to try different things and I’d be interested to hear about other people’s experiences with Kindle Nation Daily. Perhaps I just had an unlucky run. Next time however I’ll save my money for something else.