From Scott:

Some time ago, I did a blog where I documented my attempt at attracting new readers by advertising my books for free (via Amazon’s KDP program). For those who missed it, the idea is both simple and complicated. Put simply, the more times your eBook is downloaded, the better your chance of achieving more sales. The reason for this is a bit more complex.

Here are the links to the two previous articles. Just keep in mind that these were two years ago. Amazon and the indie publishing world is constantly changing, so some of the information in those posts may be outdated. The concept remains the same, though.

SCOTT GOES OVER TO THE DARK SIDE

SCOTT’S JOURNEY TO THE DARK SIDE, INTERRUPTED

Amazon has a complicated algorithm they use to determine what books receive advertising on their site (and as I said, they keep making changes). When you look at an eBook on Amazon.com, scroll down a bit and you’ll find several book covers Amazon is advertising. They are telling you that people who bought the book you are looking at, also bought the books they show in this section. The books listed here are picked by the algorithm, loosely based upon the number of times a given book is downloaded. It doesn’t matter if the customer paid for the book or received it as a freebie… it only matters that the book was downloaded.

A few years ago, I ran several of my books on five-day free download offers through KDP. I managed to get Martyr’s Inferno listed on what was, at the time, one of the top free eBook sites (that site is no longer operated). For a time, Martyr’s Inferno was the most downloaded eBook in its genre (it was a little more specific than simply the “thriller” genre, but still… #1!).

The day after the free deal ended, I was looking at a thriller novel that was on the Best Seller list. Scrolled down, and what did I see? Readers who bought this novel also bought: Martyr’s Inferno. It resulted in over 100 sales of my book over the next week, before the downloads tapered off and my book slowly disappeared from people’s sights.

Last year, I tried the same trick with several of my books. While I did get them listed on sites that advertise specials on eBooks, none of them saw the success that I had on that first campaign. It could be argued that the books have simply been out too long, but I don’t buy that. Most people don’t let their purchasing decision hinge on a book’s release date.

In fact, I’d wager most people don’t know when a given book was released. And I don’t think I’ve saturated the markets. Considering the fact that there are tens of millions of readers of eBooks out there, and I still have to work for a living, I don’t think I’ve sold my books to the entire market. There was another reason for the failure of the campaign.

The reason, in my opinion, was a lack of reach. The sites I advertised on simply didn’t (couldn’t) reach enough readers to make a difference and boost any of my titles in the Amazon algorithm. So here I am, at it again, but with a whole new strategy.

I’m not going to advertise on the free eBook sites. Instead, I’m launching my own online campaign, and I’m announcing a contest. With a free Kindle Fire going to the winner. The full rules of the contest can be found on my site, www.scottgamboe.net.

But here are the basics.

NOTE: See below at the end of my post for an additional offer from Rick for two runners-up in the contest. And after that, Rick has added some comments.

Starting on October 26, certain of my books will be available for free download on Amazon.com. To enter the contest, download a book, read it and post a review to the Amazon site. Once you have notified me via the email link on my web page, you will receive one entry into the contest for the Kindle Fire. Doesn’t matter how many stars you give me, you will receive the entry anyway.

As a means of trying to promote 14 Days ’Til Dawn, I am offering a special: each review of 14 Days will get you two entries. I love that book, but since it doesn’t clearly fit into a specific genre, I think it has gotten lost in the shuffle. Maybe a few extra downloads and reviews will help.

But this isn’t just a simple drawing. When you email me to notify me that you have posted a review, I need you to provide your guess as to my finishing time in an upcoming Ironman triathlon. There are so many factors involved that I really can’t guess the time myself. The race includes a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike course, and a full marathon run at 26.2 miles. This will be my sixth ironman. While there is no guarantee I will even finish, I successfully finished the other five. While I am hoping to finish in less than twelve hours this time, four of my five previous efforts fell between 12 hours 20 minutes at the low end, and just shy of thirteen hours at the high end. To help eliminate ties, all entries need to include a guess that is down to the hours, minutes, and seconds. If there is a tie, the winner will be the submission I received first.

As I said, more details are available on my web site. The schedule of free downloads is posted there, as well. I will be looking at the results, including the number of reviews, the number of downloads, and the trend in sales after the specials have run their course. And after I have run my course, as well…

Now, here is Rick’s offer: For two runners-up in my contest, he has agreed to gift a copy of the eBook of EITHER his novel More Than Magick OR his co-authored fantasy novel The Mosaic (your choice).

–Scott