Kindle Countdown Deal vs. Free Book Days

I’ve been running a Kindle Countdown Deal (referred to as a KCD from now on) on my books this week. If you are not yet familiar with what a KCD is, here’s the basic idea:

A book that is normally priced $2.99 or higher can be put “on sale.” You can run the KCD for anywhere from 1-7 days, but only once per 3 month period (so, to maximize the benefit, it would seem you would want to run your KCD for the full 7 days). During that time, your book is offered for a discounted price. My deal, for example, based on my book price, was offered initially for $.99, then for $1.99, and eventually will (or has) return to it’s usually $2.99 list price. This allows people to pick up your book at a discounted price, but it also shows them a small box telling them when the price goes up (or returns to normal), which theoretically makes them want to buy before the deal is gone.

This sounds like a good thing. Particularly when compared to the fact that, on days when I offer my book for free, there’s no money made, since with a KCD, I do still make money. How it sounds, and the personal experience I’m having with it, are two different things however.

So far, my experience is very lackluster and not at all encouraging. Let’s start with comparing my KCD sales with average day sales.  I’m not a bestseller like Stephen King or Nora Roberts, nor do I expect to be (someday, maybe, but not right now). However, I do make sales on an average day – fairly decent ones, I like to think. During my KCD, however, my sales have noticeably dropped. We’re not talking a small handful less, we’re talking a dip so deep you’d need two ladders to get out of it. The dramatic decrease would make you think I’d increased my price, rather than lowered it.

Now, let’s discuss the comparison between the KCD and days when I offer a book for free. Well, I think it’s pretty obvious, since the KCD is worse than average day sales, it’s worse than free days. The thing is, there’s another part to the free days: after I give away however many books for free, I often see an uptick in sales during the following days. It can be anywhere from a small handful to a huge increase. I’ve had one KCD end already, and thus far, am not seeing even a minute increase in after sales. I’m waiting for the others to end, and will see what the results are with those.

I’ve considered a variety of possibilities to explain this. I thought that running a KCD on my books for Black Friday/Cyber Monday would be a good way to go. Everyone is always looking for deals at that time, so it would make sense to offer deals at that time. So now I’ve considered that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea – perhaps my deals got lost in the pile of other deals that were being offered at the same time – let’s face it, it seems like everything is on sale during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so perhaps jumping on that bandwagon was just a bad idea.

I have to make some decisions now, though. I only get one promo choice during each 3 month period. So, I have to decide now if I want to give KCD another shot, and if so, when and how to schedule it to truly get results I can look at without wondering if they’re skewed because of a holiday or something. Or I can go back to the free days, where I have a pretty solid idea of what I can expect: plenty of books given away, followed by an increase in sales, whether minimal or huge.

That’s the other problem with this – I can only do one or the other during a 3 month period, which makes it very, very difficult to do any real comparisons. It would be nice if I could run a KCD and a free day alongside each other, so that I could get a better idea of which one was getting better results. Sales are so drastically different in each month, that it’s not really a valid comparison to try to look at a November/December KCD with October free days. It just doesn’t work.

I’ve got a lot to think about over the next few days and weeks, some big decisions to make.

If you’re an author, and you’ve used KCD, what are your experiences?

5 thoughts on “Kindle Countdown Deal vs. Free Book Days

  1. I am glad you posted your experience with the Kindle select program. I tried it once last year with the free days and was never lucky enough to see an uptick in sales. When the new graduated sales price program rolled out I was impressed- especially when I saw that they had a special page just for all the ksp sales. My thoughts on this though, with it being a new thing, I feared many authors would take that automatic plunge in to try the program. Those that had already used their free days won’t be able to try it for another 3 months. This ultimately means that there will be a deluge of books on that special page- burying everyone alive.

    It may be a year before things even out and we will actually be able to see the benefit of this program. I decided I will probably hold off from using kdp select until I see things die down a little lol.

    1. That was the other thing that I was considering – that so many authors might be trying it out that everyone gets lost in the pile.

      As much as I don’t like to give away what I’ve worked so hard on, I also have to admit that I’ve found it really does seem to usually increase my sales a bit when I do free days, so I’m kind of leaning toward going that route again, for now. But I’m still not entirely sure. Since I’ve got some time before I can do either option, anyway, I’ve got time to do some more thinking and see what I can learn about other authors experiences with it.

  2. You say you can’t run a free day alongside a KCD day — why not? Can’t you choose one promo for one title, and the other for a different title?

    1. I could, but that wouldn’t be a true comparison. For a true comparison, I’d need to run one of each for the same title, to see which promotion does better. My different titles all have different sales, number of reviews, etc., so there are other variables there that could make a difference. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’d be comparing apples to oranges, but it wouldn’t be a completely accurate comparison.

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