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Discussion Starter #1
I ran a free promo via select, putting my first novel into Select to do it. Book ran Wed and Thurs. Hit #1 overall free within 5 hours. Sat there for 36 hours, finished the free run at #10 after 40K free downloads.

In the three paid sales days following, on that title, which typically sells 10-15 per day, I've seen 100 sales. Day #3 following a free run is usually the biggest paid sales day.

I did a bookbub ad to juice it. It worked.

Basically, I saw 60 paid sales at $4.49 so far. So about $180 net. Cost of the ad was $240. I'll break even because there will still be sales tomorrow through day 6.

Anyone contemplating the value of free would be cautioned to take a very hard look at those numbers. Especially being number one for most of the run. Meaning, this is the absolute best you can expect - a handful of dollars that, after the ad, won't buy lunch. I'm guessing #2-5 didn't do nearly as well.

Bluntly, free now has literally no positive effect on sales. My hunch is that Amazon just did their final algo change, making free a non-starter, even if #1. Perhaps you believe your experience might be different. I have a friend running a promo tomorrow, and I'm watching that one closely too. My money's on it does squat.

You heard it here first. Sorry to be the bearer of ugly tidings, but it is what it is.
 

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I'm wondering what you'd call a success from your free run? Maybe I'm missing something, but it did seem you had quite a boost, and to have broken even by day 6 seems pretty good? My post sales boost usually lasts for around a month?
 

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Thanks for the data. I am running a 5 day free promo this week (Cry Me a River) to get some more reviews.  I am using the free promos now as a longer-term strategy.  I need to develop my "platform" and open up more exposure and "social currency."  The risk I take is that people who download my book for free will not be my ideal audience and so the reviews may reflect that.

I think your point is that the old algorithms allowed for a 40,000 unit give-away to segue into comparable sales ranking the next day out of free.  The good news is, though, that out of those 40,000 units, you can potentially grow your readership for your back list by up to 10,000 new readers or more. I think that is the only advantage of pushing the button on free.  Gaining market share of readership previously untouched by your marketing efforts.
 

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That's a pretty pathetic return, especially if you subtract the number of sales the book would normally have had during those days (without promo and advertising).

These days, the only benefit you'll see from paid ads+freebies like this is if people go on to buy your other books.

But I'm doing that with perma-free, which costs nothing since I don't advertise, and the only people who download it are the people who read the genre, and I get fewer "I don't normally read this genre, and I'll tell you what, it sucks" type of reviews.

I don't understand why Amazon doesn't kill Select. All the benefits of the program are dead.
 

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Patty Jansen said:
I don't understand why Amazon doesn't kill Select. All the benefits of the program are dead.
Agreed. It's run it's course, it seems. A lot of people coming in now are unaware of what it used to do for post free sales. Even as a relative newcomer, in Dec I gave away four thousand and had 100 sales and thought that was rubbish compared to what I'd been hearing it was like a year earlier, where I'd heard I could have expected more like 500. But FORTY thousand for just 100 sales? No thanks.
 

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Patty Jansen said:
I don't understand why Amazon doesn't kill Select. All the benefits of the program are dead.
Because they get exclusive content that way. And most people don't know the benefits are lackluster at best.

Beyond that, I had a very successful Bookbub sponsorship on the 1st. Over 1000 paid sales across all channels so far =~ $3500-$4000 on a $90 ad. Now, just to clarify: 1) I have no way of tracking and associating the fact that the Bookbub ad has an effect after a handful of days; 2) I have no idea if the Bookbub folks are even buying the rest of the series; and 3) these sales figures are not just over the moon above what I normally do in a month. In other words, don't trust my result as the de facto proof that Bookbub will propel you to new heights of grandiosity. It may, or it may not. I like them and will keep using them. Others may waste the money.

It has caused an uptrend in what previously was a downtrend, though. As with all things, your mileage may vary. A lot.
 

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My results in Select have been quite different; no ugly tidings at all.

I did a free promo at the end of April: almost 44,000 downloads, made it to #2 overall.

Sales for May = 1218 (compared to 160 the previous month) plus KOLL = 613 (Total = 1831)

(Sales in my other books also increased.)

 

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JB Rowley said:
My results in Select have been quite different; no ugly tidings at all.

I did a free promo at the end of April: almost 44,000 downloads, made it to #2 overall.

Sales for May = 1218 (compared to 160 the previous month) plus KOLL = 613 (Total = 1831)

(Sales in my other books also increased.)
I don't doubt your results at all. However, that was two months ago. Does anyone have good free results from within the past few weeks?
 

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MichaelWallace said:
I don't doubt your results at all. However, that was two months ago. Does anyone have good free results from within the past few weeks?
Different genres, different price points, different promos, different goals - but I'm happy to share my results over a late-May free run with multiple books with zero dollars spent on promo vs this month's free run with 2 books getting a BookBub boost. All data is for the US store only. (Bear with the length, please, this post is a good place for me to capture and work through my data.)

MAY 27-31

MW had 13,600 downloads - best rank = #27
154 more sales than were made in May - $2.99
Note this title had a higher rate of borrows vs sales post-free - 92 borrows vs 62 sales over May's totals; the other books had 20 borrows between them

RP had 10,000 downloads - best rank = #41
110 more sales over May's total - 99c
This is #2 in a 2-book series (the only series book in the group); no real benefit seen to Book 1 sales, though there's also a box set that we put on sale, so that could be impacting collateral sales on Book 1

SR had 8000 downloads - best rank = #63
80 more sales over May's total - 99c

RESULTS 3 weeks out over 3 books
$0 ad dollars spent
112 borrows over May's totals at an estimated $2/borrow = $224
62 sales on the $2.99 title = $124
190 sales on the two 99c titles = $66
______________

Total = $414 extra direct profit over May

JUNE 22-27

We have 5 books in the Top 100 right now for comparison purposes (we have a 6th one sitting at #104 so I may also include that one in a later update if it climbs some more).

PB had a $220 BB ad on June 22 and hit #1 - 2-day total downloads = 39,000
Book 2 in the series (a new backlist release) had 104 sales @ 99c with no other promo on June 22. We sent a newsletter out on June 23 and it had another 104 sales, so maybe half of the sales on the 23rd came as a result of the freebie. I'm going to estimate collateral sales dollars coming from the free run exposure at $54.

CTN had a $220 BB ad on June 23 and hit #3 - 1-day total downloads = 31,000
Book 2 in the series is also a new backlist release and the newsletter send impacted its sales on June 23, so the data is muddied on this one. Book 2 has sold 550 copies @ 99c. I'm going to estimate the collateral sales dollars attached to the free run at $100.

The 3 baseline books in the Top 100 with no paid promo are all standalones - we're cross-promoting 25 free and 99c books through them, so collateral sales will be too muddy to track directly:

S-TD - 2-day total downloads = 7100
AE - 2-day total downloads = 6500
CK - 2-day total downloads = 3400

I'll update with post-promo figures, um, post-promo...
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Results from one month ago, two months ago, four months ago, are meaningless to what you'll experience now. I suspected another algo change based on others' experience since June 1. So I threw one of mine onto the pile to test the water.

It's been a waste of time. Now, perhaps your experience will be different. Perhaps you'll spend most of your time at #1, and see a bunch of post-free sales. I'm not here to argue philosophy. Or counsel one approach versus the other. I'm simply reporting results of a title that's done consistently well on free promos, after its last one four days ago.

As to lift on the other titles, not really.

For me, the only free that's worth doing is perma-free on the first book in a series. Select free promos seems to be dead. I'll watch my friend's promo in case mine was a fluke, but I don't think so. BTW, I watched the other one that was #2 with me, The Blade Itself, by Marcus Sakey, which also benefited from being the guest blog on Konrath's a few days ago. His ranking is worse than mine. So anyone that thinks this is a singularity might want to ask themselves what their plan is besides Bookbub, a #1 spot for the duration of the promo, and being on one of the more popular blogs, to get more than 100 sales post-free, because if you don't have something even bigger planned, looks like you're lucky to make your ad dollars back - forget about making any money. Sure, you can tell yourself that you got a huge number of new readers, but my experience has been that the vast majority who get a free book don't read it, and those that do (maybe 5%), at least half, if not more, only read free books nowadays. So if your hope is that you'll see a big jump in sales from all those who discovered you due to your Select free run, think again. That's A) High hopes and sheer speculation, and B) unlikely.

Sorry, all. That's the lay of the land. But by all means, if you feel like throwing money and books away, go for it. I'll stick to things that seem to have a measurable effect. I'm calling OVER on free. If you think spending a few hundred bucks on an ad, and giving away tens of thousands, to sell $100 net worth of additional books after the ad costs, in exchange for exclusivity for three months (and losing the sales from those other sites - mine tend to be 10% of my amazon sales) is a good deal, go for it. Not for me, thank you.
 

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I did two free days in Select with Love Scars, my new title under my new adult romance pen name. I had about 6800 downloads and got up to #35 in the free store, though it mostly hovered between #41 and #45. In the four days since it's come off free, it's had 78 sales.

Not all that fun.
 

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blakebooks said:
Sorry, all. That's the lay of the land. But by all means, if you feel like throwing money and books away, go for it. I'll stick to things that seem to have a measurable effect.
So, what things are you 'sticking to' that seem to have a measurable effect? That's the approach I want to take.

Having been self-employed in more than one business in my life and having a bit of corporate exposure to boot, I never understood the concept of: "You paid for my book yesterday; Surprise it's free for 5 days now (too bad for you who already spent your money); Then I want everyone to pay money again; Now you plan to wait it out expecting me to make the next book free sometime."

It also appears to me that some writers forget to subtract the normal number of sales that would have occurred, without any intervention, from their post-whatever results.
 

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I've got one book left in the Select program. I've got one freebie coming up next week and I'll schedule the remaining free days shortly after - depending on results.

It's due to fall off in the first week of August and then I'm getting out of Select completely.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Well, Sapphire, I like the .99 and $1.99 BB specials. At least I see not only a bump in ranking, but also make back the ad cost and around a grand or so. Beats selling 100 books after giving away 40K, barely recovering the ad expenditure.
 

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I have been keeping an eye on Bookpub too, and I think it's usefulness might be on the decline. All good things seem to get overused in this business. I didn't go with Select either, but I can tell you about Permafree.

I went permafree with the first book in my series in February of 2012 and it has remained in the top 100 free in Historical Romance since that time. Book 1 sells the rest of my books and keeps me from having to spend a lot of time promoting.

However, permafree isn't the magic bullet either. The first time I went free with it, I gave away over 60,000 copies. To date, something close to 100,000, or around 5000 a month. The thing is, it seems to be accumulative sales that keeps it in the top 100, and not monthly, weekly or hourly as some might suspect. Therefore, unless you can somehow rack up the numbers, permafree is not a guarantee of sales either.

That's just my take on it, I could be wrong. It wouldn't be the first time.
Book 1 - http://amzn.com/B003XF1E36
 

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Wow! That's some great results you got there! So you are the author of Jet! I've been watching your book go in front of mine in the top free category, and I keep saying "Darn it Jet! You are still beating me!"  :p But seeing as I only have 1,300 downloads, you've earned that spot! Congrats!
 
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