Kindle Giveaway (via KDP Select) – Success or Failure?

So the giveaway is over.  I put two of my titles, SOLE OCCUPANT and DEAD OR ALIVE, on free promotion from Wednesday 12/10/14 to Sunday 12/14/14.  How did they do, you ask?  Well, between the two of them, I gave away 144 copies of the two short stories.  I really didn’t know what to expect as far as numbers, but it was mentioned to me by SF/Thriller author Steven M. Moore that giveaways used to be measured in the thousands and now they’re measured in the hundreds.

I piggy-backed this giveaway on the concurrent giveaway of QUANTUM ZOO, hoping for a few shares of my posts promoting both giveaways on Facebook so that I would be exposed to other authors’ fans, but the only share I got was by D.J. Gelner, the editor of QUANTUM ZOO.  (Thanks DJ!)  It did help, because instead of around a hundred people seeing my posts, close to 300 saw the first post with the links in the comments.

SOLE OCCUPANT got more downloads than DEAD OR ALIVE did, in the US by 75 to 50.  It’s a much shorter title, with two stories adding up right around 3100 words, while DEAD OR ALIVE is a single story of about 7800 words, something like that.  DEAD OR ALIVE is part of a larger “trilogy” of vampire detective stories, which I hoped might work in its favor.  SOLE OCCUPANT has a cover made by professional Rich Siegle, while DEAD OR ALIVE features a home-made cover.  I don’t think it sucks, but no way is it as good as Rich’s cover.

My hope was that perhaps I might get a paid download or three of one of the collections.  I haven’t had a paid sale in a month.  My other goal was to get a review or three.  But so far, out of 144 titles given away, there are no additional reviews, either good or bad.  I don’t know if that means that most of the downloads haven’t actually been read, so I suppose there’s still some time.

A third goal was simply to get some of my work into the hands of readers, who may or may not like it, but I figured it was worth a shot.  Tastes vary, and out of 144 tries, you’d think that maybe I might get a new reader or three.

It’s sort of depressing.  A commenter, John Ellsworth (I think) on one of my other posts suggested that I focus on writing something longer.  I have longer pieces out there, nothing approaching 80K words (the length he suggested) but maybe closing in on 50K for a couple of them.  Nothing under 23K, I think.  Mostly horror, though one of them is a mystery.

It’s sort of one of those catch-22’s, in that I want this to be a self-supporting hobby.  I am willing to pay for covers and editing, but I want to see enough earnings to suggest that it’s worth it for me to do so.  I hoped to sell enough short stories to make enough money, even if it was just a hundred bucks a month, to pay for cover art for some of these longer projects.  But it’s been a no-go.

So what should I do?  Keep writing?  (I’ll do that anyway.)  Keep publishing?  (Not as certain about that one.)  I’m dismayed by the lack of reciprocal promotion I get from authors whose works I’ve promoted on my FB page and here on the blog.  Not even a “Like” from any besides D.J. and J. Michael Major, who has also reviewed a few of my stories on Amazon.

That’s okay.  I have to admit, however, that it makes me less enthusiastic about supporting (via promotion on either here or on my FB page) other indie authors.  I’ll still support the ones I like to read by buying their books, and possibly reviewing them if the mood strikes me.

Maybe this giveaway experiment will result in sales down the road.  Maybe it will result in a few reviews, positive or negative.  But right now, I have to come down on the side of “failure” when asking myself if it was a success or failure.



4 thoughts on “Kindle Giveaway (via KDP Select) – Success or Failure?

  1. D.J. Gelner

    Hey Scott, happy to help. One thing that a lot of people who promote on Facebook don’t realize is that when you put a post up there, only 10-15% of your friends see it–it only starts to reach more as it gains likes and shares. That’s why I’ll make a post on Facebook about a new release or whatever, but I (similarly) don’t have many people who “Like” or “Share” my stuff on Facebook–that’s why I’ve concentrated more on Twitter as far as promos go.

    I think one way to overcome this would be to start friending a lot more authors on Facebook–we tend to be a reciprocating sort, so if you have 200 regular friends, and friend 200 new authors, there’s a good chance that out of the 40-50 people that would see your post, half of those people would be authors, and things would start to snowball a bit that way. Just a thought…

    Definitely keep at it! My novella, “Rogue,” struggled to give away 60 copies over a few days last time I tried it out. It’s an inexact science, to be sure, but with each giveaway, I learn something new about the marketplace. Hope this helps, Scott!


  2. Scott Dyson Post author

    Thanks, D.J. I think that is exactly what I will do. Just keep plugging. How do you network with authors? Like, I’m friends with Morgan Johnson and you and Bridget McKenna, but I haven’t been able to find any of the other authors on FB, except sometimes as an “author page.” I like their pages from my own account and my author page. I’m friends with a couple of different horror authors, and I sometimes comment on their blogs. Just haven’t seen much interest from most of them when I let them know about new releases and such. Even when said stories are free like this last promotion. We’ll see what happens. Thanks for the advice!

  3. Steven M. Moore

    Hi Scott,
    The last time I ran a KDP Select give-away, I did 2 dB better, but I was disappointed. My Pumpkin’ Promotion Countdown did even worse. More disconcerting is that I often have hundreds or thousands of new hits on my site, but they don’t seem to translate into readership.
    What’s going on? One take is that there are many good books and good authors now (I wonder how many new ebooks are released every month), so the market is saturated. It’s like a tsunami swamping a coastal town–somewhere beneath the waves our books can be found, but there aren’t enough readers anymore to find them.
    Another possibility, maybe a propos to your case, is that people don’t like short stories and novellas anymore. My anthologies have never done well. I’d be interested to learn the stats on Quantum Zoo (maybe in an email to keep it private). BTW, 80K is about right for a sci-fi novel with a lot of descriptive world-building, but a sci-fi thriller can have 60-65k words. I never have a word count in mind. If it’s too short, it’s a short story; a wee bit longer, a novella; and 60k+ a novel–unless you’re writing something like Clancy’s Red Storm Rising!

  4. Scott Dyson Post author

    If I get those numbers on QUANTUM ZOO I’ll let you know. I’m led to believe that downloads were in the thousands. DJ Gelner posted a blog entry on his blog ( about the numbers, I believe.

    I’ve been just writing till the story that I want to tell is done. I have a handful of longer works almost ready – in need of editing and such. Most end up being short novels (40-45K) or novellas (20-35K). I’ll keep trying on the longer fiction. Maybe I’ll figure it out one of these days.

    I have actually gotten a few borrows on KU on my short stories (ODD MAN OUT and SOLE OCCUPANT) since the promotion, so that’s good. Someone must have liked what they read, at least enough to try another for free.

    Thank you for the comment, Steve. Looking forward to your next novel…

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