1. John Rebell
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    John Rebell Member

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    For Ginger, Who Likes Marketing Specifics :)

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by John Rebell, Jan 2, 2015.

    Ginger you might be interested in this. this is from my personal notes when I did a KDP promotion for Mia's Journey. Let me know your thoughts.

    What I did in this instance was read everything I could on the subject on Kindle marketing, and KDP promotions. (2013) Then picked 10 methods I thought would work the best given my situation. Once I was prepared, I SHOTGUNNED those 10 methods. So at this point, because of Amazon's lack of information, I don't exactly know which methods performed the best. What I know is the result of all these various methods working together.

    The purpose of this post isn't to outline the methods I used. The purpose is to show the RESULT of the methods I used.

    What we lack at this point is real world results. We've all read about this person doing this, and that author accomplishing "X" but I haven't been able to see any real world results. That is what I'm attempting to to show. What CAN be accomplished, by real people, using methods at hand, cost-effectively.

    Goal: To reach top 100 free kindle downloads during 5 day KDP promotion.

    Preparation time: 1 month

    • · To get 7 reviews, with more in pipeline.
    • · Setting up accounts.
    • · Joining groups on Facebook/Twitter
    • · Adding backlinks to sales page
    • · Total cost: $100
    Resources used:
    • SEO optimized description on Amazon
    • · Goodreads Ads and free marketing
    • · Posting updates on Facebook groups (twice a day)
    • · Posting updates on Twitter groups (twice a day)
    • · Added to free kindle book groups on internet
    • · (1) Microworkers campaign.
    • · (1) Paid book blasts
    Measurement:
    • Tracking using Google shortened link to search/sales page
    • · Amazon rankings
    • · Amazon Kindle promotion stats.
    Results:

    3 February, 2014: (Baseline)

    • · Started out with rank between 510,000 to 247,000 in Amazon sales rank. (In flux during day)
    • · 7 reviews
    • · Posted to facebook
    • · Posted to twitter
    4 February, 2014
    • Posted Facebook/Twitter/ at 8am and 6pm.
    • · Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,880 Free in Kindle Store by 8am.
    • · Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,465 Free in Kindle Store by 11:00am
    • · 8 reviews
    • · Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,657 Free in Kindle Store by 1pm
      • #72 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Erotica (Broke top 100 in category Erotica)
    • · Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,329 Free in Kindle Store at 3pm.
      • #38 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Erotica
    • · Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,043 Free in Kindle Store at 6pm
      • #23 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Erotica
    • · #732 Free in Kindle Store by 10pm.
      • #15 in Kindle Store > Kinde eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Erotica (Broke onto first page)
      • #89 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction (broke into new category)
    • · Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #568 Free in Kindle Store by midnight
      • #10 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Erotica
      • #69 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction
    577 units downloaded for day
    5 units sold (?)

    5 Feb. 2014
    · 10 reviews (total)

    · Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #374 Free at 8am.
    • #7 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Erotica
    • #43 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction
    · Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #342 Free in Kindle Store at Noon.
    • #6 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Erotica
    • #41 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction
    · Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #207 Free in Kindle Store at 6pm.
    • #1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Erotica (Sub-goal reached)
    • #27 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction
    · Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #207 Free in Kindle Store at Midnight
    • #1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Erotica
    • #27 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction

    Total downloads to date: 1543

    Note: This is interesting. On the second day I have hit #1 in a major category (erotica) yet I’m not even ranking for my intended keywords. Not that I’m complaining. It just seems weird to aim for a squirrel and hit a bear. I would, ideally, like to reach number one in 3 categories as secondary goals.

    The other interesting thing is while it says “#1 in Erotica” I can’t find the book in the search. I’m not sure what that means, or if it means anything. But if it is true then I bumped out ‘Fifty Shades of Gray’ which I find hard to believe. Or it takes time to propagate across servers. Or Amazon stat rank is total fiction.

    Also notice that while twice total number downloaded today, the upward momentum is slowing as it gets closer to the “Top 100.”

    6 Feb.2014
    • 11 reviews
    • Added $100 worth of marketing.
    · Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193 Free in Kindle Store at 8am.
    • #1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Erotica
    • #23 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction
    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #198 Free in Kindle Store at Noon
    • #1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Erotica
    • #23 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction
    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #187 Free in Kindle Store at 6pm.
    • #2 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Erotica
    • #21 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction
    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #229 Free in Kindle Store at Midnight
    • #2 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Erotica
    • #23 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction

    Total Downloads: 2173


    Note: Notice how the upward momentum slowed down once rank got around 200. (Good info to know!) Totals downloads are still more than the first day, but less than second. It meets stiff resistance at 200. (Why?) I added another $100 in marketing to try to push past this mark. In the future, I would set the marketing up in a staggered fashion. One at launch and another push at the day 3 mark.

    7 Feb. 2014
    • 14 reviews
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #231 Free in Kindle Store at 8am.
      • #3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Erotica
      • #22 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #257 Free in Kindle Store at Noon
      • #3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Erotica
      • #27 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #322 Free in Kindle Store at 6pm.
      • #6 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Erotica
      • #38 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #374 Free in Kindle Store at Midnight
      • #9 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Erotica
      • #43 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction
    Total Downloads: 2517

    Note: It appears to have bounced hard off the 200 spot best sellers rank. But these are HUGE, competitive markets in fiction. This is also the first level of resistance. So the question becomes, how many downloads does it take blow through it? I would also think, at rank 100 competition will be even more fierce.

    Downloads are also slowing down. Now it has dropped below the first day’s level. This corresponding with the downward slide of rank tells me downloads are the overwhelming weight given to this algro. This also tells me I’ve reached, or I’m reaching, Facebook/Twitter level of saturation. My best guess at this point is you need about 1000 downloads a day to maintain the momentum.

    The promotion still has one day to go and I added marketing yesterday. Whether it has time to translate into anything meaningful remains to be seen.

    8 Feb. 2014
    • 16 reviews
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #351 Free in Kindle Store at 8am.
      • #10 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Erotica
      • #45 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #356 Free in Kindle Store at Noon
      • #10 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Erotica
      • #46 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #329 Free in Kindle Store at 6pm
      • #7 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Erotica
      • #35 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #317 Free in Kindle Store at 11:45pm
      • #7 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Erotica
      • #35 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction
    Total Downloads: 3016

    Lessons learned:


    I missed my stated goal of getting into the top 100, but not by a lot. Considering I started at 247,000, 169 was the best it did that I saw. We can call it close, but no cigar.

    It did climb into the #1 spot in erotica and stayed above top 10. It got into the top 25 in genre fiction. Which has to be considered a success. This tells me to get into the top spots in fiction, you need to double the pre-launch efforts, minimum.

    But it also says, in nonfiction, where the competition is less fierce, you should be able to dominate those niches easily with what I’m doing. I’m not saying you need to “game” the system, but you do need to know what makes Amazon search tick, and how to feed it what it wants to eat. So far it seems to dine on high download numbers, if free (1,000/day) and positive reviews. (For fiction) High sales numbers, (to get into the top 10K you need 10 sales a day) if not free, and positive reviews.

    Facebook and Twitter are only going to get you so far, boys and girls. If “Free” is your entire marketing plan, you’re going to be disappointed. Facebook and Twitter posts are only good for about 3 days before they lose their effectiveness. (See graphic hint below to maximize) Same with book blasts. I will continue all the same, but FB/T becomes a secondary source of views and downloads after 2- 3 days on a 5 day promotion.

    A graphic hint would be to create a custom graphic for the maximum size graphic for the facebook normal viewing. (375x200, 72 DPI) I would create a different one for each day of the promotion. Or at the very least, don’t use the same one two days in a row. (Ad fatigue)

    I would suggest using the bit.ly or Google URL shorteners going to the search/sales page. It does give you a little extra bit of info. Not much, but still better than no info from Amazon. You can at least see the effects of your marketing efforts in a vague, general way. The downside is, some facebook groups and some websites don’t allow/want you to use them. This ain’t Google analytics, folks.

    I still can’t tell to what degree, or how well the Ninja search/sales URL strategy has worked. But I don’t think that it hurt.

    I’m also averaging about 1 review approx. every 500 downloads. Paid sales might be more, or less, than that. But it is a good baseline to start and figure on.

    For pushing negative reviews down, “Like” all the positive reviews, and “Dislike” the negative ones. Have your friends do the same thing. This removes it from the default page setting of “Most helpful Customer Reviews” and forces it down the page. It will still show up on the right hand side with “most recent customer reviews” but that’s life.

    My goal was between 3,000-5,000 downloads and make it into the top 10K in paid sales, or number 1-3 in sub categories. It looks like I limped into the lower end with a few more than 3000. In the next marketing go-round, I would change that goal to 5,000 downloads minimum (41/hour) and plan accordingly. I haven’t ranked yet in sub categories, or my keywords, so I don’t know if it worked or not.

    Sunday it will go into paid, and then the big question will be, what does all this equal in paid sales ranking? The goal is the top 10,000 in paid sales.

    I’ve spent approx. $250. My best guess is total marketing cost to reach top levels in fiction would be $500. That figure can be refined downward as it progresses. But I would budget $500, FOR FICTION in the beginning. Nonfiction you could probably do it for $100-$125

    Which starts a whole new conversation…ROI

    If you come off promo with strong sales, and reach the top 10K ranking in paid sales, it would mean approx. 10 paid sales a day. Top 5k would mean 25 paid sales a day. I would put the opening price at .99 cents to boost sales even more. After all, you’re getting visibility from Amazon now. (Hopefully) Once it hits the top 3 positions in any keyword, I would raise the price to $1.99. Then as I was hitting more top positions in keywords, $2.99

    Let’s say I get 250 sales at .99 cents. = 250x0.30 (35% commission) = $75.

    I need another 87.5 sales at $2.99 (70% commission) to break even, or 362 sales total, or an average of 125 sales overall. But after that, I’m making a profit and would need only periodic maintenance to maintain that profit level indefinitely. Which MIGHT be accomplished with Facebook/Twitter only.

    So what’s next?

    All of the above has been prologue to the main event. The above was to understand and measure what happens AFTER a book comes off free. KDP in and of itself doesn’t make you any money. It is simply a springboard to make money in paid search. It is one step in a process. This has to translate into sales, and if it doesn’t, you’re screwed. Naturally, the more sales the better. Once we get basic numbers, I have a baseline, or a “control,” from which to measure all other efforts.

    With that info in hand, I can use that information and can draw some educated guesses about what works, what doesn’t, what to spend more on, what to discard, etc. I use what I learned and I take it to the next level with Three Pagoda Pass and try to beat my baseline.

    A better marketing plan for fiction might be: (Assuming pre-launch reviews and backlinks)
    • Facebook/twitter posts in the beginning
    • Free Book blasts at day 2-3
    • Paid book blasts, timed after it comes off free.

    Another marketing plan might be:
    • 3 day free promotion
    • Pre-launch
    • Facebook/twitter for 2-3 days
    • Book blasts, free and paid, after promo.
    • Save other 2 days.
    The saga continues...

    9 Feb. 2014

    Total downloads for promotion: 3031


    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62,606 Paid in Kindle Store at 8am.
    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,156 Paid in Kindle Store at 10am.
    • · 11 units sold as of 11:30am
    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,193 Paid in Kindle Store at noon.
    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,754 Paid in Kindle Store at 2:45pm
    • · 15 units sold as of 2:45pm
    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,141 at 5:30pm
    • · 17 units sold as of 5:30pm
    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,990 at 6:45pm
    • · 19 units sold as of 5:30pm
    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,146 Paid in Kindle Store at 7:30pm
    • · 20 units sold as of 7:30pm
    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,406 Paid in Kindle Store at 9:45pm
    • · 21 units sold as of 9:45pm
    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,225 Paid in Kindle Store at 11:15pm
    • 23 units sold as of 11:15pm.

    What’s interesting here is how the sales rank is creeping up and the number of sales it is taking to do so. The good news is, is that it isn’t taking very many sales to climb the ranks. This suggests that with time, more money, and more refinement, this marketing plan does have potential to climb in the top competitive categories in fiction.

    I’m not ranking on the first pages (Yet) for a single keyword. Yet many of the books ranked have fewer reviews, lower paid search ranking, and worse reviews. (So maybe there is another competitive edge? Like date of publication? check page stats) It could also take more time and depend on overall ranking in the bigger categories.

    If however, I search by “popularity” under “erotic Thriller”
    • · Under new and popular I’m #24
    • · Nothing under default page “Relevance.”
    • · Not ranking under any other keywords.

    The Ninja URL shortened Link Result
    538 total clicks on the shortened link. Breakdown as follows
    • · Facebook 28.8%
    • · M.facebook.com (?) 30.3%
    • · Unknown 39.6%
    • · T.co 0.9%
    • · Bottlenose.com 0.2%

    This tells us next to nothing except that I received a lot of clicks from facebook postings, and “Unknown” (Not very helpful. [​IMG] ) Does anyone know where to get a decent tracking link?

    All together KDP is still an excellent pre-launch strategy. It will move you up in the paid ranks quite a bit,(I went from 247K to 20K, but it didn’t lift me into the top 10K of sales rank) and it will get you reviews. After that, you’re on your own. Which means you should put ALL of the paid advertising on AFTER the free promo. The tradeoff is that now you’re married to Amazon for 90 days and can’t publish elsewhere.

    Also, it doesn’t appear that “Amazon Best Sellers Rank: ### Free in Kindle Store” means anything. It’s fiction. Or at least, it doesn’t translate easily into paid sales rank, or ranking within your keywords. It helps, but you can’t tell to what degree it helps, or measure it.

    I’m also going to revise my fiction cost estimate.

    • $250 for nonfiction (Top of page one, any market)
    • $500 (decent return (page one) on competitive markets)
    • $1000 (Can rise to the top of page one in most markets)
    • $1,500 (Blitz to the top of page in any just about any market, including most competitive fiction.)

    10 Feb. 2014

    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,898 Paid in Kindle Store at 9:30am
    • 27 units sold
    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,950 Paid in Kindle Store at 4pm.
    • 69 units sold

    Here's the takeaway and what this experiment proved: It is absolutely possible to achieve a number one ranking pretty much in whatever genre, or market you choose. And I am talking specifically about highly competitive fiction markets. I'll go even further, it is possible to achieve Amazon's Top 100 in ranking. In nonfiction, it would be even easier. All the stories you hear of self-pubbed authors making big bucks are probably true. (At least some are) It can be done. But in addition to being able to write a good book, you HAVE TO HAVE a good marketing machine in place. A 'good book' isn't enough.

    As this experiment stands in relation to the stated goals,
    • I didn't come off KDP with a rank of the top 10K, but I did achieve it within 24 hours after coming off KDP
    • I was able to get 10 5-star reviews.
    • I achieved #1 ranking, and was able to hold it, in erotica. (Main category)
    • It barely achieved the goal of 3000 to 5000 downloads in a 5 day time. (3031 was the total)
    • It also achieved a number of minor (unstated) goals as well.

    All in all, this promotion was a success and a good prototype or model for further exploration and developing into a "marketing system". The major pieces are in place. It needs fine tuning here and there, but this is a workable model. My total cost was around $250 (I'm not exactly sure, it may be more, I haven't tallied up all the receipts.)

    I hope by sharing this, you also have learned some of the inner workings of Amazon search, and Amazon sales page rank. This information is very, very, hard to find. You have now seen it up close and personal and I hope, by doing this in 'real time' rather than reporting after the fact, that it has some value.
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I know about Amazon's rankings, it's not hard to find.

    I don't want to be rude but we've had people on the forum before that were all about telling us what they'd done and very little about hearing other people's opinions. You seem a tad defensive. Is that a false impression?
     
  3. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    Will you make any money from your efforts?
     
  4. John Rebell
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    John Rebell Member

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    @ginger: It was meant to be informative and (the title) humorous. (Notice the smiley face?) You are, of course, entitled to any opinion you wish to take away, and it is very easy to misconstrue forum board writing. I might seem defensive because you seem (To me) rather aggressive and challenging in your questioning, as your last observation indicates. As if I have something I should prove to you. I don't. I'm doing my best to be friendly, informative, polite, and sharing info I've learned along the way. As this forum evaluates me, I'm also evaluating this forum. I have a lot of information I can share...or not. It's a two-way street as far as I'm concerned.

    You have been asking me what I did, You asked for specifics. Which I have replied to and just gave you. I have no experience other than my own, and my own books. So what else would I speak about? I can't speak for anyone else's books, and haven't. I asked people opinions the whole way and replied to their questions honestly. But I have to admit, after such a detailed post, about a subject you asked for specifics, your one and only response is kinda strange. Surprisingly, it isn't about the content of the post at all, but in some other completely unrelated direction. Truthfully, (and I don't mean this in an unkind way) it sounds like you're the one getting defensive.

    My post wasn't meant to be defensive. It was meant to supply the specifics you asked for. I have lots of other marketing specifics as well if you'd like those. About 3 years worth of them for fiction writing, about 15 years worth (About 12 books) for online marketing and nonfiction writing, and 25 years worth for offline marketing of retail. I track everything I do and come to conclusions about what worked and what didn't all the time. If that makes me opinionated, so be it. Do I have the most winning forum board personality? Nope. But I'm too old to do personality contests, or forum board games for that matter, either.

    So maybe I don't belong here and I'll take the experience elsewhere.

    "Will you make any money from your efforts?"
    Probably not. Not in fiction anyway for last year. Not at least for 3-5 years according to my calculus, if I continued at a rate of 2 books a year. And of course, maybe never. I certainly haven't made any money to speak of so far writing fiction. In the example above it broke even, but didn't make any money. It was to see if making money was possible, and not a pipe dream. I made a good living writing nonfiction however, and it continues to pay me to this day.
     
  5. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    :rolleyes: Is this the part where we are allowed to plead with you to stay?
     
  6. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    What did you spend your money ON?

    I noticed you'd traded reviews with several people on Amazon, so I'm assuming you got your reviews that way, rather than paying for them? So what was the money for?
     
  7. John Rebell
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    John Rebell Member

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    What did you spend your money ON?
    No, I didn't pay for reviews. I did do review swaps though with other authors where we each paid each others books, and reviewed them honestly. (7 of them, I think, the rest are real reviews) I spent the money on building backlinks to my Amazon page, bookblast sites, (Kindle Nation Daily, I believe) Goodreads and other paid advertising.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2015

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