Kindle's KDP Select program opened up some real opportunities for independent authors to make money from our own work. With three books on the market, it wasn't hard for me to tweak the formatting and upload them to KDP.
The deal is widely known: give Amazon an exclusive on distribution for 90-day periods, and you can not only sell your e-books for a 70 percent royalty, but you're also paid each time your titles are borrowed in their Kindle Prime program. You can offer them for free for up to five days within that period as well.
For me, this program has been an immediate success. My titles have been downloaded over 30,000 times, mostly as freebies, but the attention has also generated a fine, if temporary income. I was determined not to spend any money at all on advertising, so I focused almost all my energy on Twitter. When giving away a title, I always included the #free hashtag in my tweets. It's like bears to honey. People love freebies. But one surprise to me was that a certain number of people would see the free offer and pay for the book instead, as it was only $2.99. After an initial announcement on Facebook, I used it very little, partly because of the lesser reach and partly because it felt more intrusive, like always getting in someone's face. Twitter is anonymous, and the connections seem more distant. Ironically, while Facebook is bigger, it seems that tweets can reach more new people quickly.
Still, you know the saying about all good things. Until a week or so ago, Twitter and I seemed to be generating steady sales--and then sales seemed to fall off a cliff and go splat. There's a certain group of people who retweet my messages, and I always do the same for them, but apparently my market is tapped out for now. My followership is at about 2,400, and probably that number has to increase by quite a bit to reach a significant new group of potential buyers.
February sales have convinced me that the market is out there. Book lovers will spend 2.99 on an unknown author if they are given the opportunity. Could Facebook ads provide that extra kick? I tried a brief experiment, uploading an ad for all three books that would cost me slightly under a dollar per click. My plan was to try it for a week, budgeting $10 per day. My Twitter sales had already flatlined, so any Facebook results would be obvious. By the time I had 32 clicks, the cost to me was about $26, and I had sold two books. So let's see:
Sale price: $2.99
My share: $2.05
Amazon's share: $0.94
Facebook's share $13.00
Someone please help me out, because I'm not very smart. If I lose about $11 per sale, can I make it up in volume? Since the answer is probably no, I canceled my FB ad today.