The Free Ebook Experiment — Part 2 —Conclusion

Last week I said I would report on the results of my 2 “free days” on Amazon’s KDP Select: the total number of free downloads, as well as the number of sales of A Real Piece of Work in the days afterwards. So, without further ado, here are the numbers:

Free Downloads (approx.):

Day 1 = 19,000

Day 2 = 8,430

TOTAL = 27,430

Once again, if you happened to pick up A Real Piece of Work for free, I hope if you enjoy it you’ll do me the favor of a positive review on Amazon. Thank you.


Top 100 Rankings:

During the free promotion, A Real Piece of Work rocketed up the top 100 free ebooks charts and at its height reached the following rankings in four categories: All Ebooks – #3, Fiction – #3, Mysteries/Thrillers – #2, and Literary Fiction – #1. I must admit that, if only for one brief shining moment, it was a thrill to be ranked at the top of these esteemed writers—writers including Dickens, Tolstoy and Chekhov.

During the sales days (Friday–Sunday), on the Amazon Top 100 list, A Real Piece of Work reached #100 on the overall list, #13 in Mystery and #9 in Literary Fiction.


Post-Promotion Book *Sales*:

The reason I did this promotion in the first place was to boost sales. Since I had read of other writers in the KDP Select program who had magnificent sales following their promotions, I decided to see whether, if I followed their actions exactly, I could duplicate their results.

My touchstone was the woman mentioned in Part 1 of this experiment, Karen Baney, who had a total of 29,500 downloads over 2 days and 700 sales and 150 borrows in the days following the promotion.

Here are my own numbers:

Friday, 2/10:  300 sales, 75 borrows

Saturday, 2/11:  491 sales, 85 borrows

Sunday, 2/12:  586 sales, 90 borrows

TOTAL SALES =  1,377


After Sunday I stopped counting. Exhausted with doing this kind of detailed accounting for 5 days, I was ready to move on.



In my case, KDP Select’s free promotion obviously worked, and I think it will work for just about anybody. Provided you have a good quality product that you’re giving away, I believe if you stick to Karen Baney’s script for the free promotion and the days following, while your results might not be insane, they will be positive.

Initially I wasn’t keen on the idea of tens of thousands of people getting to read A Real Piece of Work for free, but the more I thought about it, the better the idea seemed. I now have over 25,000 readers out there who know me and my work, and I’ve already read comments from some of them that they will gladly pay for the next book in the series.

Amazon’s KDP Select program has worked for me, but it could stand some improvements, particularly in the area of real-time reporting. All you are given on your sales “report” page is a readout of Sales, Units Refunded and Units Borrowed, so in order to keep track of how you’re doing, you’re constantly making calculations. You’re also left in the dark about the details: where the sales are coming from, the royalty rate (70% or 35%) and other crucial information.

There should be a feature on the “reports” page that enables you to export Excel spreadsheets in real time, or at least daily, and books that are given away during a free promotion should be segregated from those that are actually sold.

While I hope my novel continues to sell gangbusters, I’m glad the promotional experiment is coming to an end. You wouldn’t think so, but constantly checking sales figures and rankings is stressful. I’m a quiet writer who likes writing and giving readers a great story; being an entrepreneur or self-promoter doesn’t come naturally to me.

To other KDP Select members who are considering doing free promotions of their own, I have one piece of advice: follow Karen Baney’s script—to…the…letter.

In my next entry I’ll be writing directly to readers, my “fans,” about when book #2 in the Dakota Stevens series, The Rich Are Different, will be coming out.


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By Chris Orcutt

Writer — The Dakota Stevens Mystery Series, Short fiction, Plays — Editor & Speechwriter for Hire — Avid Golfer, Chess Player & Awesome Wood-Splitter — Twitter: @chrisorcutt

Comments (7)

  1. Pingback: Why I’m Selling My Books Everywhere Now, Instead of Just on Amazon – CHRIS ORCUTT

  2. Adel October 25, 2015 at 2:29 am

    I have heard that between your January free prnotmioos and the later ones several things at Amazon changed as well. (I am pretty sure you know this, but I’ll post it in case anyone else reading hasn’t heard.)For one, they now pull books off of the free list faster so that you don’t get quite as much post-freebie exposure.Another was changing the amount that a borrow effected your rank (Sorry! I can’t remember if it was the popularity or best seller list.)I let my KDP select expire and gave the books a month on Barnes and Noble. Barnes and Noble has its own issues as far as exposure for books is concerned and I didn’t sell a single title the whole month! Some people had said their sales were higher over at BN now, but before KDP select I had sold at least a dozen a month at BN.Anyway, I hopped right back over to select because a handful of borrows looked better to me than no sales. ; )I don’t know what I will do next. I’ve given away about 10,000 total on my freebies, not enough to attract suspect reviews but not enough to make more than a couple hundred extra ales either I hesitate to write BN off forever, but but I’ll just have to pray and see I guess. Traci

  3. Christy Phelps February 14, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    I loved your book! It was such a nice change to get a fresh perspective instead of all the formulaic who done its. Not that I could write one at all. On the final pages, it asked me to comment on Amazon, but I can not find anywhere to do that! The links were dead ends on my ipad.

    Anyway, I looked, hoping to see if you had score of other books in the series, but no. So what do we need to do to get the next one published? You don’t ever have to give it away for free again. I did know Shay was going to bite it and hated that, but hopefully in your next novels You will surprise. But please – get the next ones out. We need fresh writers. And I am a redhead.

    • Orcutt February 15, 2012 at 5:28 am

      Christy, if you really want to, you can leave a review on the Amazon page itself. First, go to the link below. Then, at the top of the page, where it says “47 (or whatever) Customer Reviews,” click on that link. Then, on the next page, at the top there’s a button that reads, “Create Your Own Review.” Click that and you can get started. Here’s the link:

      Thank you for all of your compliments, and as for book #2, you can expect it sometime in the early summer.

      Finally, I mentioned it to him, and Dakota likes the fact that you’re a redhead. :) You can see his website here:

  4. Karen Baney February 13, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Chris – Congratulations on some amazing results! #3 overall is a huge accomplishment and so are the sales numbers you’re pulling. The best part is that you’ve done a great job in getting the word out about your book. I’m so glad you found my article helpful and were able to achieve such great results.

  5. Grace Elliot February 13, 2012 at 5:41 am

    Have you given any thought to when you will use your remaining ‘free’ days.
    I went ‘free’ for one day with pleasing results (but nothing so dramatic as yours) That was 6 weeks ago. I dont want to upset the people who have consquently bought the book, but also,, I feel a bit more savvy about the whole thing now and would like to give it another whirl.
    What do you think?

    • Orcutt February 13, 2012 at 5:52 am

      I doubt I’ll be using any more of my free days. In fact, some authors who have tried using free days a second time report lousy sales results afterwards. (And the extra days killed their rankings.) I only did the free days to get the book out to a wider audience, to build a kernel of readers who will now activate word-of-mouth.

      But don’t take my word for it. Read this post by the author of RUNNING, Patrice Fitzgerald:

      Best wishes for your own work, Grace,