I've just finished my second "freebie promo" for ON ANGEL MOUNTAIN -- a five day period between 9th and 13th November, this time spanning a weekend. For comparison, I have described the earlier promotion (in May) here:
...........and added a short analysis of the after-effects here:
This time round, the results were rather disappointing. Over the 5 days, the total number of free downloads of the book was about 880, compared with about 3,500 downloads in May. Downloads in the UK outstripped USA downloads by about 3:1. The average number of downloads per day was 176, and I didn't notice any difference between weekday downloads and weekend ones -- so my conclusion must be that you probably don't need to be too concerned about the precise timing of a freebie promotion.
So why was this particular exercise so much less effective than the first? Difficult to say. Time of year is probably not a factor -- one might have expected more downloads at the beginning of winter than at the beginning of summer. But in this case the May promotion was 4 times more successful than the November one. Might it be that there is only a limited market for most books, and that once you have grabbed the attention of those who might be interested on Promo number one, you are not going to grab their attention again on Promo number two? Against that, one might expect that with the expansion of the Kindle readership, there should be enough "new readers" coming along who would not have encountered the book before, and who might wish to try it -- assuming that they actually noticed it in the welter of other freebie promotions.
This is where the crunch comes. I think that there are now so many titles available for the Kindle, at very low cost, and indeed so many freebies available at any one time, that the chances of "being noticed" are declining all the time. This time round, I did work quite hard at bringing the book to people's attention by tweeting furiously (!!) to all of the "Kindle freebie" sites and by using other social media like Facebook. But one is very dependent upon messages being forwarded or re-tweeted, and as Twitter grows at a phenomenal rate the chances of your tweets being noticed are diminishing all the time.
Amazon itself promotes freebies quite heavily, and makes sure that the info gets out there -- but I have heard that they put more effort into promoting books being offered free for the first time, and less for books which are free for the second or third time. I don't know how true that is. As far as I could see, the "Free Books for Kindle" website puts out the info as usual, without mentioning the number of previous freebie promos. I noticed that even with the very modest number of downloads this time round, "On Angel Mountain" spent some days in the top 10 of historical fiction best-selling titles. I don't think that at any time the title got into the "top 100 fiction titles." (To get into that list, you probably need to be getting at least 30 downloads per hour -- last time round, I was getting one download per minute for a good part of the freebie 5-day period.)
Another thing that might affect the likelihood of your tweets being mentioned or retweeted is the nature of your tweet. Should you make it dull and matter-of-fact, like most of the other tweets which are promoting free books? Tweeting is after all a part of the advertising and promotion business, and dullness never triumphs in this particular sphere. But how wacky should you make your tweets, when you only have 140 characters to play with? And should you actually mention the book title in the tweet, in addition to providing a link to the right Amazon page?
These are some of the tweets I tried this time round:
I really have no idea which of these was most successful in attracting attention! I also have no idea of the extent to which potential downloaders are influenced by the cover design of a book, or the publisher's blurb, or the reader reviews featured on the Amazon web site. Maybe, in a highly diverse market-place, some are influenced by one thing and some by another, and some by none of those things, but by word of mouth and personal / private twittering somewhere out there in the twittosphere, beyond our ken..............