How to Sell Your Own Weight in E-Books

I should probably first point out that, for those of you who are composed of matter, the title of this blog suggests a physically unattainable goal. I have, however, initiated the first phase of a plan which I believe will sell a large quantity of my books, and I'd like to share it with you now, so that you may seek to emulate my dubiously speculated future success. Feel free to thank me by buying all of my books.

Phase 1

It was more than a month ago that I put Phase 1 into action. I unchecked the auto renew box for KDP Select on all of my titles. In a few days, none of my books will be in the KDP Select program. I know what you're thinking. Phase 2 probably involves me publishing my books on a bunch of other platforms, right? Wrong. All but two of my books' Select cycles have expired, and yet they still remain exclusively on Amazon, despite not enjoying any of the benefits of KDP Select status.

Phase 2

When the last of my books' Select cycles expire, Phase 2 is going to be bumping up the price of all of my $0.99 titles to $2.99, and enrolling all of my books in the Select program again.

This plan seems... How should I put this? Is "fucktarded" too strong a word?

This plan seems... How should I put this? Is "fucktarded" too strong a word?

Phase 3

I'll wait a month.

Yeah, I'm gonna stick with "fucktarded".

Yeah, I'm gonna stick with "fucktarded".

At this point, you're probably thinking I'm laying down needlessly complicated steps toward the goals of "wasting time" and "losing sales". And yes, my April sales have taken a hit, and I attribute that in large part to having removed all of my titles from Select. So why the hell am I doing all of this? One reason.

The Kindle Countdown.

Allow me to back up to last September. I was just a regular self-published schlub trying to get his hilarious comic fantasy books in front of the eyes of potential customers. And by self-publishing standards, I was doing okay. Friend and fellow writer, Robert Brumm, tipped me off to a little website called Bookbub, which would, for a substantial fee, announce a promotional discount for your book to its many many subscribed clients. I paid the fee and ran a free five-day promotion for the flagship of my series, Critical Failures. During that time, I gave away about 17,000 copies of the book, and picked up some nice reviews. Even better, I got a nice little boost in sales for my other titles. My Amazon author rank shot up in the Fantasy genre too. Have a look:

The crappily drawn red arrow indicates the time which I ran the Bookbub ad. Notice that before that time, the graph fluctuates wildly up and down, up and down, reflecting a few sales here and there. Just me in a sea of other self-published fantasy writers who enjoy a bit of limited success. Notice that to the right of the arrow, my rank stayed pretty consistently above 1,000. 

You mentioned something about Kindle Countdown?

You mentioned something about Kindle Countdown?

Oh, right. Well things were going along swimmingly after that, and a few months down the road, I decided it was time for another promotion. Always eager to experiment, I thought I'd give this newly offered Kindle Countdown promotion a try. I ran a Countdown promotion on my two novels. It worked very nicely, as you can see in the picture of the same graph I showed above, but with a different crappily drawn red arrow.

This is the six-month version of the graph. You can see that the Kindle Countdown promotion gave my sales a huge boost, kicking me as a fantasy author, all the way up to #149. That's creeping dangerously close to mattering. And you can also see that, beyond that point, my rank tended to hover a couple hundred places higher than it had before. It may not seem like a huge difference, but remember that the competition is a lot fiercer the higher you climb. 

Okay, I get it. You had a nice experience with the Kindle Countdown. Good for you. What the hell does that have to do with those stupid phases you were talking about earlier?

I'm glad you asked. There are certain stipulations you must adhere to in order to make use of the Kindle Countdown promotion. One involves pricing. The Kindle Countdown promotes temporarily discounted ebooks, and so the minimum list price a book is allowed to be is $2.99, and it must have been at least that much for thirty days prior to the promotion. This is to keep people from gaming the system. You can't, for example, hike the price of the book up to $100, Countdown it at $1, and claim it's "99% OFF!" That should explain Phases 2 and 3. But what about Phase 1? Why bother taking the books out of KDP Select in the first place?

The other stipulation involves timing. You aren't allowed to run a Countdown promotion within a certain amount of time before the end of your current KDP Select cycle. I think it's fourteen days, but I can't be bothered to go look it up. Anyway... the point is that you have a limited window of time during any given Select cycle to run your promotion. In order to ensure that I'd be able to Countdown my books all at the same time, I decided to just wipe the slate clean.

And that right there is the big plan. I figure, based on the success I had from running the Countdown promotion on two titles at once, running 14 of them at the same time (and hopefully running another Bookbub ad) should send my books skyrocketing up the Comedy and Fantasy genre lists, and hopefully land me a spot on the top 100 Fantasy Authors list, at least briefly anyway. 

The best part of the plan is that, if it's successful, it's something I can repeat every three months.

So why am I jumping the gun, letting you all in on my big scheme before I even know whether it's going to work or not? I could very well be wasting your time. If that turns out to be the case, future me apologizes. But I'm really excited about it, and had to get it off my chest. That, and I'm long overdue for a blog post.

If any of you see any gaping holes in my proposed strategy, I'd love to hear about them in the comments. And if you feel you can't wait a whole month for my big promotion, you're welcome to buy all of my books right now. I won't mind.