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Here's the situation. Amazon has never allowed me to permafree the first book in my mystery series no matter how many times I push them. So I have a different strategy I am working on, and I want feedback from you fine folk. First some info.

I released the 2nd book in KDP Select and promoted the free days, and it actually reached close to number one for a brief while in a couple of sub-genres. The third book didn't do as well while it was in select.

The fourth book in the series is currently in pre-order and it comes out on St. Patrick 's Day. The fifth book is in final edits and will go out for ARC and review shortly. Conventional wisdom seems to be that the fifth book in a mystery series is when readers become interested. I want to capitalize on the fifth book's release as much as possible to try to get the books to rank. Here's my plan.

The first book is currently 99¢ everywhere. I plan to upload a new version of the first book with more promotion of the second through fourth books on the page right before the story starts. (edit; I'll also be rebranding the covers at this time on all platforms. See example in followup post.) Then I'll drop the price to free on all platforms other than Amazon and promote it as a sale. Next, prior to the release of the fifth book, I'll pull it from all platforms other than Amazon, and I'll put book one in Select in advance of book five's release. The five free days will be consecutive and coincide with the release of book five -- which will NOT be in select but will be 99¢. This will be just as book one's run in Select is scheduled to end. Books 2, 3 & 4 will all be $1.99 on all platforms for that same period.
The idea being that I can hopefully boost the first book, and since the "ad" for the rest of the series will be on a page that will even show up in previews and since there will be a limited time incentive, hopefully it will boost books 2 -- 5 at that time. I might even re-work the description of book one to note the sale if possible.

Then, after the Select period for book one ends, ALL books will go back to their normal pricing (i.e. 99¢, $3.99, $2.99, $4.99 and $4.99,) then a month or so later I'll release an omnibus "boxed set" edition of all five books for $5.99.

Any input on this plan is appreciated. Has anyone ever tried anything like this before?
 

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I'm not a promo expert, but re the permafree thing, are you on Google with book 1? I understand Amazon are more keen to price match with them than with other outlets.
 

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I'm guessing you've straight out emailed Amazon and asked them to set the first book free? Makes it hard when you can't experiment with permafree :(

Select might be the way to go (as you said) if you can't go permafree. But do I understand that just book 1 will be in select though? It's messy and I'd normally say 'don't do it'. But if you've tried everything else and can't get traction, it might be worth a try. You might even have a turn of luck and being able to set book permafree after the Select period ends.

I had no luck at all with KU, but that doesn't mean your book won't. (I hope it's okay to suggest that the covers would probably benefit from being updated to being more like what's expected from mystery covers. Not that I don't like your covers - I do - but if I was looking for a mystery to read, these probably wouldn't pull me in.)
 
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1) Cover is too dark. It also doesn't say mystery. More horror.

2) For a series, a very good strategy is

1st Free
2nd $1
3rd $2
4th $2
5th New Release $1.

This seems close to what you're doing. However, I'd make sure the 5th book was available AND at $1 WHILE the first one was Free.

3) Have you considered options like Wattpad for the 1st book in your series?

4) To get Amazon to match try lots of stores and make it free there. Do you have D2D or Smashwords. Is your book free there?

5) I would recommend SIMPLIFY as much as possible. Have a marketing strategy you can explain in 1 or 2 sentences i.e.

1st Free, #2 to #4 cheap, #5 New Release at $1.

And then don't change it too much for a week or two. The 1st 2 weeks of #5 you want ALL your books feeding into #5 sales.

Do your books point to the other books in the series? To your email newsletters?
On 1st page?
On last page?

*******
Biggest thing you can do to make your promo successful is Covers. Even if it's premade covers, something that catches the eye, looks well thought out, and conveys mystery.
 

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If you pull all your books from the other platforms, doesn't that mean you lose all reviews and rankings there?  When you put them back they will be as-new again?  Anyone who purchased them in the past won't be able to download any revisions for free...

I just moved from D2D distribution at Apple to direct and though I was prepared mentally to lose all of the reviews, it still hurts a little...
 
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