his dark empire

Kindle Countdown Deals. My First Experience.


If you're an author (like I am), and you belong to Amazon's KDP Select program (like I do), it means a couple of things: 1. Your titles are only for sale on Amazon 2. You get some perks from Amazon to keep your titles local to their store.

There are plenty of arguments to be made for being in KDP Select, and for NOT being in KDP Select.

This post isn't about that.

There are places where you can find out how the KDP Select program works. I recommend this one.

This post isn't about that either.

This article is about my experience with the newest perk Amazon just launched, in an effort to keep their current authors in the program, as well as to potentially get new authors to sign up. They call it Kindle Countdown Deals, and it is essentially a time limited sale on a title.

You may be saying, "Wait, you couldn't put your Kindle book on sale before?"

Yes, you could, but you had to go into the admin tool and change the price to whatever you wanted the sale price to be, and then change it back when you were done making it cheaper. There are 2 main drawbacks to this:

1. Anything less than $2.99 gets 35% royalty 2. Nobody knows its on sale. It appears on Amazon as though its the regular price

I've added text the description to help with #2, but there's nothing I could do about #1. Until Kindle Countdown deals.

When a title is part of a KCD, it gets 4 benefits: 1. 70% royalty, even @ 0.99 2. List price is the original price ($4.99 in my case), with a line for sale price 3. A little dialog that says its a deal, and how much time the viewer has to get your title for a song 4. It's place on its own dedicated deals page

1-3 are good, but #4 is the clear boss of the deal. You want visibility? How about being on a list of ONLY books that are on sale and who are ONLY in the Select program? There are a lot of good books out there that nobody is reading (like His Dark Empire, in my unbiased opinion ;) ), and putting your title into a smaller bucket can only help.

Which means nothing, without results.

So, I put His Dark Empire on sale from $4.99 to $0.99, to see how it would perform. I did no other marketing for it, because I wanted to keep the experiment as pure as possible.


The screenshot describes the outcome:

Royalty per hour went up 47% compared to the week prior. Revenue per hour up 55% Sales volume went up over 400%

In short - it was a winner, while it lasted.

Unfortunately, the increased sales over those days didn't lead to any post-sale increase. In fact, sales are back to where they started in the two days since. Still, I got 112 people to pay for the book, and hopefully a good portion of them will read it, and then buy the next (His Cure for Magic, Spring 2014). With any luck, some of these readers might enjoy it enough to move on to The Divine Series too.

If you're in KDP Select, I recommend taking advantage of this new benefit. If you aren't, would this cause you to consider becoming Amazon exclusive?

Book Cover Experimentation

If you scroll down to the bottom of this page, you'll find a link out to the blog of Joe Konrath. Joe is an author who worked his ass off for years to publish the traditional way, until finally switching over to self-publishing, and hitting it big in a huge way. He's the guy every self-published author wants to emulate (his success anyway), and his advice has a lot of meaning to me. One piece of his advice that I often keep in mind (paraphrased): "If something you're doing isn't working, try something else"

I launched His Dark Empire about a month ago. Compared to Balance, it's been a little bit of a disappointment, as it hasn't sold anywhere near the levels my first title did. Why not? I don't know for sure. Maybe traditional fantasy isn't in as high demand as urban? Maybe the story isn't enticing? Maybe the book just isn't that good?

I think the book is good, and my wife thought it was better than any of the Divine books (she doesn't ready fantasy in general, so for her to read it through in one day says something to me). But... it's also VERY different from Balance. I'm not sure there is too much overlap between audiences, and in some sense I'm starting from scratch.. which is fine.

There are also probably a lot of new authors out there who would love to sell 100+ books in a month. I don't want to come off as whining, because I'm not unhappy. What I am is curious.

I see the sales as a combination of a few things:

1. Visibility 2. Intriguing blurb 3. Attention-grabbing cover 4. Strong opening (i.e. look inside the book)

As far as #1 goes, the first 30 days of a new book is the best it's probably ever going to get.. which is why it is important to me to try to make as good of a showing as I can during that time.

#2 ... I've struggled with this for HDE. I know what the story is, but while the pace is fast, the build is gradual. I feed you information slowly to build suspense, mystery, and intrigue. That makes the description hard, because I don't want to give too much away.

#3 ... I like my original cover but... when I see it in the 'Customers Also Bought' with the other covers... I don't know that it grabs your attention. It's so dark, I think it just gets lost in the mix.

#4 ... I did my best :)

As you can see, #2 and #3 are the two factors I have some control over. I've experimented with the blurb, and some have definitely performed better than others, but I don't feel like I'm there yet. I'm trying version #4 out now.

Cover... now that is one area I want to test, to see if there is any kind of improvement by making it more eye-catching. I'll post a follow up once I have some data, but in the meantime, here is the before and after:

His Dark Empire
His Dark Empire

As you can see, I lightened it up A LOT, and also gave it a burst of color(red) that hopefully will draw the eye. Finally, it's a bit different for a Fantasy book cover (but then again, I think the first one is also)... we'll see if that winds up being a detriment.

I have to say, I am a little concerned that men might reject it, because of the prominent use of the female head, though I'm hoping the run of blood under the 'eye' might sway it back into masculine coolness.

What do you think? Is the new cover an improvement? Do you think it's too feminine, and you wouldn't go near it?