First—a brief history of my first novel (I’ve published four so far and have started a fifth that I plan to turn into a series).
I started researching and writing “My Splendid Concubine” in 1999 (total copies sold to date are almost 21,000). During that time, we visited China nine or ten times and traveled extensively throughout that country doing research. Concubine, after a stack of printed revisions almost as tall as I am—I was six-foot-four but as we age, we shrink—the novel’s 1st edition came out in December 2007, and it sold 562 copies in its first two years. In 2010, the novel went through more editing and revisions, and then the 2nd edition came out with a new cover. Between 2010 and 2013, the 2nd edition sold more than 11-thousand copies. The 3rd edition, after more editing, revisions and another new cover, came out in 2013 and has sold more than 9-thousand additional copies and is still selling.
During those seven years, Concubine was promoted in several local brick-and-mortar book store author events, through thirty-one traditional talk radio shows where I was a guest expert on China, and three book blog tours in addition to two BookBub ad campaigns: one in 2013 and another in 2014.
What follows is a brief report of the most recent $0.99 promotion of My Splendid Concubine from April 13 – April 19, 2015. When that promotion ended, I submitted a price increase from $0.99 back to $3.99, but as I’m writing this post, I see that Amazon has kept the price at $0.99—and it has now been more than five days since the official promotion ended.
Starting Sunday, 4/12, I pinned—after I made sure that price had been dropped by Amazon and Draft2Digital—a Tweet promoting the sale to the top of my Twitter page and tweeted fresh tweets to support the sale several times a day in addition to the pinned tweet that was always there.
To discover how to pin a Tweet to the top of your Twitter page so that it’s what everyone sees first when they visit, I’ve included this video from YouTube that explains how to do it.
When I checked my Twitter Analytics page (I’m not sure you can open this link), it turns out that the Tweet that promoted the sale (the pinned tweet) was the Top Tweet for the last 20 days with 4,178 impressions (number of times users saw the Tweet on Twitter—I have no idea how they measure that). Using Twitter analytic, I learned that the same pinned Tweet was Retweeted 54x, the image was clicked on 7x and the link that led to Amazon was clicked 5x, and that was just the pinned Tweet.
I have no idea how many times all of the other promotional tweets were seen. For instance, I found one of the same Tweets that was not the pinned version, and it was viewed 904x and engaged 23x. Engaged means the number of times a user has interacted with a Tweet, and I probably posted the same Tweet three to five times a day during the sale.
The price drop to $0.99 was submitted on 4/11. Note: Seven copies sold for the full price at $3.99 between 4/1 through 4/4. No copies sold between 7/5 – 7/10.
Sales by Date During the Promotion
- 4/11 – 2
- 4/12 – 20
- 4/13 – 29 (two ads ran: The Fussy Librarian and The Choosy Bookworm)
- 4/14 – 50 (one ad ran: eReaderNews Today)
- 4/15 – 14
- 4/16 – 13 (I think the ad from Riffle ran—a site with a high Alexa rank in Canada—but there were no sales from Canada during the promotion, and I’m not sure if the ad ran the day it was scheduled, because I never saw it even though I searched.)
- 4/17 – 3
- 4/18 – 3
- 4/19 – 3
- 4/20 – 1 (I submitted the price change from $0.99 to $3.99 at 7:30 AM)
During the same time span as the Concubine promotion, my other three books sold 12 copies at the full price of $3.99.
The result: More than 160 copies have sold so far in April for all four of my books—but most of the sales were for “My Splendid Concubine”. The total number of sales for January, February and March were 148 or an average of 49 copies a month. I think that an increase of sales of more than 326% for April was a success.
I think exposure is more important than profit. If the work is worth reading, the exposure might lead to those profits in the future.
For instance, Amanda Hocking didn’t earn much money or sell many books for her first eight years as an indie author, and then her sales went viral making her an internationally known author and a millionaire. For those eight years, Hocking worked part time jobs for poverty wages, and lived at home with her mother who nagged her relentlessly to get a real job that would support her. Hocking said she worked really hard developing her social media platform. I wonder if her mother is nagging her today.
In May and June, my 4th book, The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova, will be going on a book Blog Tour with a $0.99 price drop from $3.99 in addition to plans to run ads on several sites, for instance, BookBub (if the ad request is accepted), Fussy Librarian, and eReaderNewsToday.
UPDATE August 11, 2018
For a little more than a year now, I’ve been experimenting with Amazon ads and learning what works. The focus is on “My Splendid Concubine” because it has the most reviews, three hundred and twelve with 251 four-and-five stars. Amazon has run more than 800k impressions resulting in 4,169 clicks (as of today) since the start of the campaign. The cost of the clicks so far is $1,167.47 offset by $1,059.31 in royalties from the 380 sales that Amazon has linked to the clicks, but that number is misleading because of sales not related to the clicks from the ad impressions. Total sales are closer to 600 resulting in more than $1,600 in royalties. My guess is that readers that clicked the ad, bought the book, and liked it enough, talked to other readers who bought the book without clicking on one of the ads.
At 5:27 PM today, “My Splendid Concubine” was ranked #15,082 Paid in the Kindle Store and #11 for its specific genre. Sales for the e-book for August broke 100 copies this morning with twenty days to go before August ends. I plan to write a blog post about what I’m learning. I just checked and there have been another ten sales so far today.
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).
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