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Discussion Starter #1
Okay, I have to say, I've been experimenting again. Since Amazon's latest changes to the algorithms and their threat to remove affiliate accounts from bloggers who list too many free books, it seems to have made the free days less and less worth it.

I've had a ton of freeloads over the last year. 134,000+. While the bump used to last a decent amount of time, now, within a week or so, the bump goes away.

I was thinking that maybe the book's been over-downloaded. But, since I wasn't sure, I tried a low-price sale instead of a freebie. The book immediately soared to the top of the bestseller charts and while it's not at the top anymore, the bump's lasted almost a month. Even with fewer downloads than a freebie would get, the economics of it all has been much better.

I'm seriously thinking of pulling my books out of Select at this point. If it wasn't for the lending library and the doubled-pot, I would have done it already. Now I have to wait until my next deadline approaches. Unless Amazon has something new up its sleeve, or they change the way Select is valued, it seems that the huge benefits of Select are a thing of the past at this point.

Is it Select though? Or is it just me? What has your experience been?
 

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It may have.

I'd be more than happy to quit trying to give away freebies if everyone else did, too, so we can go back to selling books.
But right now it feels like you have to run with the herd to get any traction.
 

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I SHOULD have said this tho: I didn't expect a bump. That's not what I used the free day for.

My network is very small. I had a new book coming out. Going free occasionally sends your books way past your reach. I hope that all those 4 & 5 stars (which is what 99% of the free reads have been so far) come back and get book 2.

 

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Discussion Starter #5
I can understand that. I'm thinking though, that it may be worth doing once to debut a new book, to get reviews generated and some visibility, and then to pull out and go with discounting instead.
 

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Sophrosyne said:
I can understand that. I'm thinking though, that it may be worth doing once to debut a new book, to get reviews generated and some visibility, and then to pull out and go with discounting instead.
I considered that, but that's the one time that you know you're going to get sales. All those people who were (hopefully) waiting for the next book just get it for free. That would be my worry.
 

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134,000 pairs of eyeballs, potentially, on your books over the last 12 months is a big deal.

I use Select once per year, do the the three months, then put my book back elsewhere. Not much of a track record, second year doing it. The profits from the one Select run outweigh my royalties for the rest of the year.

It's SUCH a long life for ebooks. For you KDP Select, a free promotional program (you get paid for lends, and get to go free, and only "pay" what you lose in royalties in other venues which for MOST, not all authors, is not much) might be spent. But as someone who just threw a book published in September 2011 in and making it to #2 in Free, I'd say it's still a great potential marketing vehicle for new books or even established books that need a little more exposure.

And your sale price might have been influenced by the free runs etc. As someone who has just put my book at $0.99 and then waited for months for the rush of sales everyone said would happen but didn't, I know that's not a magic bullet.

There is no magic bullet, or we'd all use it and call it a day. Every shred of marketing builds on the previous efforts. I had readers who read the book OVER a year ago because of a blog post I wrote in 2011 comment and help spread the word about my free run THIS time around to tell their friends. I never would have had that "Pssst, get this book, I read it and liked it and it's free" if I hadn't reached them last time around.

Layers. And once you put on a couple, it gets really hard to look at the bottom layers and say "Pffft, this stack would be just as high if you didn't exist."
 

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For me the Select train has come and gone.  As a short story writer I can't afford to be in it.  The free days are worthless, I've never had a single borrow (stories just continued to sell as normal) and Amazon does not make me enough money to even consider being exclusive.  In terms of monies earned, B&N is running a very close second with them and my combined sales from all the Smashwords channels is not something to sneer at.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I wish I could figure out a way to make Smashwords viable for me. I adore Mark Coker. But every time I've listed books on SW, I've made nothing. Okay, well, not nothing. In the last 18 months, I've made a whole ten dollars and seventeen cents and sold 5 books on SW. How are you able to get SW to be profitable for you?
 

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I think Select's still good for the first 3 months of a new book if you don't already have a devoted following who buys all your new releases.

YMMV with genre/length/quality/quantity.

I think everyone agrees it's not as good as it was even six months ago, and that wasn't nearly as good as when it started.

To me, it seems that the effectiveness hasn't gradually ebbed away, but that it's been dramatically downshifted at least twice.
 

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Sophrosyne said:
I wish I could figure out a way to make Smashwords viable for me. I adore Mark Coker. But every time I've listed books on SW, I've made nothing. Okay, well, not nothing. In the last 18 months, I've made a whole ten dollars and seventeen cents and sold 5 books on SW. How are you able to get SW to be profitable for you?
This reflects my thoughts exactly and I have no idea how to make Smashwords work for me. It's especially risky because I tend to do well in borrows and they're making me a fair amount of money at this point.
 

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David Adams said:
This reflects my thoughts exactly and I have no idea how to make Smashwords work for me. It's especially risky because I tend to do well in borrows and they're making me a fair amount of money at this point.
I did decently in borrows until last month when Amazon added the bonus. Just my bad luck.

This month, I've already got half the borrows I had all last month so the borrows might work for me again. I think the additional monies in the global fund and opening up borrows to other venues is Amazon's way of giving a boost to Select.

I'm taking my four book series out because it needs a shot in the arm that putting the first book perma-free should help. Even if Amazon doesn't price match, it'll still be free on all the other venues. I'll see how it does for at least three months.
 

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Select has been useful for my purposes. Last month I used it to give my readers a book for free for 5 days as a Christmas present. I didn't want or expect a bump to that book or any others. Though it did bring in readers to my other books.
 

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David Adams said:
This reflects my thoughts exactly and I have no idea how to make Smashwords work for me. It's especially risky because I tend to do well in borrows and they're making me a fair amount of money at this point.
As Dave knows, i decided to keep/put my books into select over Christmas as although I want to go into the other channels, there doesn't seem a completely viable way of doing that at this time (esp. as a non-American).

I had over almost 700 borrows for Dollhouse alone in December, and for a 99c book that's pretty good, and gave me a greater chance of gaining new readers. I'm assuming the vast majority of those borrows were from new kindle owners and I realise the borrow-rate will dwindle from now on, but it was nice while it lasted :)
 

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Select hasn't worked for me-- no borrows to speak of since mid-year, and no bumps from free runs (and it even seemed that free runs hurt my sales). So instead I'm pursuing a new strategy of getting my books out to all the sites I can. Since I write romance, ARe was my first target, and so far my sales there have been good (it's anyone's guess as to whether this will continue). B&N has always been steady for me, so I'm happy to list some new books there. I've had good luck with iTunes, but hadn't gotten many of my erotic titles up there. I'm now trying to get them up via Smashwords (I've heard iTunes can be funny about erotica, so we'll see if they actually get listed). I'm also surprised to notice I'm selling a bit through Smashwords itself-- hardly enough to pay the mortgage, but a few copies every week.

I have no idea if it will benefit me to make my books available on additional sites, but there's no point in leaving them in Select when Select isn't helping sales. We all need to look at our results and adjust our strategies accordingly. What works for me may not work for someone else.
 

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"Is it Select though? Or is it just me? What has your experience been?"
I think Amazon announced 175,000 books were added to select in 2012. Select is designed as a benefit for people who join Prime. I se no business reason to think it is through. It may not be as good as it was for independent authors, but that's not necessary for it to accomplish its goals.
 

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At this point I'd be afraid to leave Select.

I started out with Smashwords, Kobo and a few minor distributors and saw nothing. I think Smashwords owes me a buck fifty or something like that.
Things picked up when I went into Select.

However, given the poor results for most free runs (from what I read here) I'm not sure it'll be worth it to stay in just for the borrows.

I just don't see a lot of promo tools at the other vendors to gain visibility.
 

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Well, some authors are still getting great results from it. Keeping up with the Mega-Thread and such, a fair amount of people are still seeing some decent results, too. And I still don't see a better way for new authors to get rolling than to sign up, run some giveaways, and see if they can pull together some fans.

But it's certainly more winner-takes-all than it used to be. While the payoff for a big run is higher, it seems like you have to pull off a big run to sell much of anything afterward. Even then, it's no guarantee. Meanwhile, it's tougher than ever to achieve those big runs because POI and ENT aren't listing as many freebies as they used to. And the need to collect tons and tons of downloads often requires going free for 3-5 days at a time. For many, it's tough to take a real shot at a big run more than once per enrollment period. For more niche genres, it can be really, really tough to ever pull enough downloads to do much afterwards.

So is Select dead and buried? As long as some authors are still seeing results, I don't think so. But I think there are a great many authors for whom it's no longer so cut and dry. It's easy to believe they'd be better off trying to get going in the other stores than repeatedly giving away thousands of copies with just a few dozen post-free sales to show for it.

Personally, I think I'm over it. I had a great run in May, but after Amazon flubbed up another attempt in July (book didn't go free for more than 24 hours after it was supposed to, and I had no extra days to tack on), I was pretty disillusioned about the prospect of trying to repeatedly hit the jackpot when there were so many factors beyond your control.

I dropped my bestseller from Select in early August and shipped it to the other stores. It was a rough road. Here's a timeline:

August: published book (Breakers) to Kobo, BN, SW, iBookstore, etc. Amazon sales slowed. Between all the other venues combined, sold 3-4/week

October: published sequel. Unspectacular launch at Amazon, but it helped things a little. Between both books, total sales elsewhere increased to around 1/day

November: did big sale promo on both books. Got things moving on Amazon and also sold ~400 on BN. It's been about 8 weeks since the sale now and I'm still averaging 3-4/day on BN

December: lucked into Kobo Boxing Day promotion. In week around Christmas, sold ~250. It's only been a week since, so small sample size theater at play, but am now averaging 3-4/day on Kobo too

To stop blathering and try to summarize: when I left Select, sales shrank from August through October, which wasn't very cool. In November and December, things turned around due to a sequel, a sale, and a lucky store-specific promo. I'll probably sell ~250 non-Amazon copies of the series in January compared to about ~650 on Amazon. Not crazy-awesome, but at least it's all been headed in the right direction. Now to get book three out before the post-Christmas glow goes bye-bye. :p

It's clearly been a tradeoff. It took several months to get going, but my situation feels much more stable and diverse than it did when I was reliant on Select to keep up the momentum. No more damn cliffs, either. On the other hand, who knows what the series might have done if I'd had free days to run on Amazon at the same time.

Meanwhile, I kept my other series in Select to prevent myself from starving in the lean months, but I don't think it's a good fit for them anymore. I'm letting them expire after their current terms to see what if anything they can do in the other stores.

So, that's my very long-winded experience. If you're leaving Select, it helps to leave with more than one title. Even then, maybe it's going to be tough to get moving elsewhere without specific ways to reach people in those new stores. It's kind of like starting over from scratch. But all the stuff that works on Amazon generally works elsewhere, too.
 
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