When the Kindle Select program was launched it gave authors the opportunity to give the Kindle edition of their books away free for limited periods of time--5 days within a 90 day period.
In order to participate in the program, the digital edition of the book has to be exclusive to Amazon for those 90 days. In other words, it cannot be available on Nook, Kobo, IBooks or any other ebook format. As the number of books being offered increased radically the odds for the indie author to get thousands of downloads, and hopefully many reviews, went down radically as well.
At this point in time, sometimes the Amazon Select promotions work, and sometimes they don't. A lot depends upon how much promotion is done in advance and how appealing the book seems. After copies are downloaded, how many are actually read? Of those read, how many reviews are posted?
The numbers are all over the place, and a 10% to 15% return is actually good. Some free promotions trigger paid sales afterwards and some don't. In a nutshell it is a "crap shoot" but still worth considering as a means to get more exposure for a book.
One of the keys is promoting the promotion. If no one knows about the book or the offer, no one is going to download it. Many websites, both free and paid, are dedicated to bringing free and bargain books to the attention of readers, and it is important to submit the book to those sites so they can make their readers aware of your offer. Websites like the Author Marketing Club make this easier by having links to many of these sites that can be accessed from their page. Or the author or publisher can opt for a paid service that will do all the submissions. In addition to that posts must be made at least a few times a day on all of the author's social media sites. Remember not everyone is reading their Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter page at the time you post and it will get lost in the deluge of posts, so it needs to be freshened. Another way to get the word out is to schedule tours of various blogs that concentrate on the genre of the book.
A teaser banner is a big help. It can say more than just the book cover and should be alternated with the cover when posts are made.
As an experiment of the difference between promoting and not promoting the free days, the offer of Ripoff as a free Kindle book from July 30 through August 1 was submitted to more than twenty free and bargain book sites, blog and social media posts were made and will continue to be made throughout the three days, and the teaser banner is alternated with the book cover in various posts. As of 10:00 a.m. on the first day of the promotion, close to 1,000 copies had been downloaded--twice as many downloads as the total for a promotion of a different book a few months before. When the book makes it into the Top 100 of free books, or any particular category, it becomes far more visible to those oking for free books and the downloads increase rapidly.
Writers' trick of the trade for July 30, 2014: Promote your promotion if you want the best return.
Morgan St. James is the author of 11 books and over 600 published articles about the craft and business of writing. For more information visit www.morganstjames-author.com and http://writerstricksofthetrade.blogspot.com. She also publishes the bi-monthly ezine Writers' Tricks of the Trade, and the link to the current and archived issues can be found on the blog.