JK ROWLING, Stephen King, James Patterson, Lee Childs… you guys have a new rival.
Yes, seriously. Better start upping your game, looking over your shoulder.
Who is it?
Well, little old me, of course. Rippington’s the name, gangster fiction the game.
And my Boxer Boys series is about to take the world by storm.
How? You may ask. You were selling 200 percent of nothing a short while ago.
Let me explain…
I’M not a great fan of exclusivity deals. I figure that if you aim to sell books you need to spread your wings as wide as possible.
When I released my first novel Crossing The Whitewash I made sure it was available with Amazon, Nook, Kobo, I-Books and sympathetic book stores all over the UK.
The results were disappointing. Though I had a few people begging me to make the book available on I-Books, for instance, no one else seemed to invest. In fact, having made only two sales, I haven’t even been paid as the accountants at Apple deem it below themselves to transfer cash unless you have earned more than $10.
What I did find, though, was I sold more books through Amazon than anywhere else. Perhaps it was because I often targeted my Facebook Ads towards them.
Anyway, when I launched Spark Out on July 10 I bit the bullet and entered it into KDP Select – just to see how it would go. In return for exclusivity they offer you a number of marketing options, including a “countdown deal” where you set the book at a cheaper price for a few days.
The other option – and the one I chose – was to give the book away FREE for a short period. This week I was delighted I took the plunge.
Spark Out went to the top of an Amazon Bestseller chart.
Admittedly, it wasn’t one of the big categories like thriller or action – but even so to see your book sitting above everyone else and be able to marvel at the fact you have had more than 400 downloads in just over two days is a pretty heartwarming feeling.
Particularly after marketing the book relentlessly through a live launch, blog tour and everything else, only for sales to be so insignificant they weren’t worth talking about.
So what made the difference? The fact that the book was a freebie, of course, but also some strategically targeted ads to ‘help’ with visibility.
By enrolling exclusively with KDP Select you have a five-day window where you can offer the Kindle version of your book in a free promotion. I chose to start on August 8 and run the free promotion in one block. You don’t have to do this: You can spread out those five days across the initial three-month contract period.
I also decided to try something else.
Having had hardly a sniff of sales in the United States I decided to advertise the book on Instagram. This form of social media seems to be taking off over the Pond and many people tell me it’s the next big thing.
So I ran a £5-a-day ad on Instagram over here and a similar one in the States. These can now be set up through the Facebook power editor by clicking a few boxes. I had some nicely designed images from my cover designer J-D Smith and used these.
Alongside it I ran a £10-a-day ad with Facebook, targeting lovers of Martina Cole, Ian Rankin, Stuart MacBride, Harlan Coben and Dennis Lehane. I rather cheekily pointed out it might be the best thriller they’ve never read!
Having done all that, I sat back in hope rather than expectation.
These were the results after a day (UK top, US below)…
Amazing. Not only did the downloads start pouring in, but also I noticed people were paying for things. I couldn’t work it out. Spark Out was free. There was no option to pay.
Then it hit me like being bashed on the bonce by Reggie – my protagonist Big Mo’s tough-as-teak enforcer in Spark Out: People were not only downloading the new novel for free, they were actually PAYING for the book that started it all, Crossing The Whitewash. Happy days.
So I had nearly two days at No.1 in Contemporary Urban Fiction, and a spell at No.2 in Urban genre fiction, only being pipped to top spot by Roy and Garry Robson, fellow Londoners who have their own little police series called London Large which is going great guns.
Now I am a convert to KDP Select, but it will be interesting to see what sort of visibility my books have once the promotion period is over.