Friday, October 09, 2015

Looking at the KENP "Tail" After a KDP Select Promotion by Kitty Bucholtz

Woman with books and laptopOver the last several months, I've been sharing my Amazon sales numbers with you as I compare changes during and right after my KDP Select promotions.

I wrote about the results from my May 5-days-free promotion here, and I just updated the earnings this week to "actual" rather than a guesstimate, showing I overestimated revenue. I also tallied the results from my August 5-days-free promotion here. (I'm still showing revenue guesstimates until I get the final numbers for September, but I'll update that post soon). Both of these promotions have been for Little Miss Lovesick, which has been in KDP Select since February 26, 2015.

Comparing Borrows After a Free Promo

FreeNow I want to discuss my "borrows" - which I'll refer to as KENP (Kindle Edition Normalized Pages) for periods beginning July 1, 2015. I've been studying the "tail" of sales and borrows after my promotions to see how long it lasts. (The length of the period after a sales spike is commonly referred to as the tail.)

I don't want to leave my book in KDP Select forever, but at what point has the positive impact of the 5-days-free promo in each 90-day period stopped influencing borrows/KENP? It's not cut-and-dried, particularly because you can't truly compare "borrows" of full books to KENP, "pages read" of full books. But for me, for this book, it looks like there are 4-6 good weeks of borrows, with the first three weeks the very best.

For example, for the first 2 1/2 months of the first KDP Select 90-day period (February 26 - May 25, 2015), I had 1 borrow. In the two weeks during and after the free period (May 19-31), I had 71 borrows! Then another 88 in the month following (June 1-30).

But the second month after the free period showed a sharp drop - 2381 KENP pages read. Little Miss Lovesick has 402 KENP pages, so that's the equivalent of about 6 books borrowed and read July 1-31.

[NOTE: Little Miss Lovesick was earning about $1.35 per "borrow" through June 30, 2015. Since Amazon changed borrows to KENP pages read on July 1, the book - at 402 KENP pages - now earns about $2.32 if a reader reads every page.]

Comparing the Second Round to the First

Little Miss Lovesick book coverDuring the second 90-day period (May 26 - August 23), I tried to recreate the circumstances as exactly I could. During the two weeks during and after the free period (August 18-31), there were 24,899 KENP pages read! Because I don't expect that every reader reads every page (copyright page, author bio, excerpt, etc.), I'd guess that's between 62 and 66 books borrowed and read (compared to 71 borrows in May).

The following month, September 1-30, there were 15,567 KENP pages read. That's probably about 38-42 books borrowed and read (as compared to 88 in June).

If you'd like to see exact numbers, here are the KENP pages read by week for the last seven weeks. Day 1 of Week 1 is the first day of the 5-days-free promo.

Week 1: 7246 KENP pages read
Week 2: 17,653
Week 3: 7831
Week 4: 3780
Week 5: 1692
Week 6: 1811
Week 7: 1274

It's too early to guess what October's numbers might be, but based on one period of history above (not a good way to show statistical integrity), and understanding that the previous way Amazon counted borrows (1 book, regardless of how much of it was read after the 20% mark) is significantly different from the new method (by page, exactly), my guess is that October's numbers will be bleak.

The reason why I started looking at these numbers this week is because Little Miss Lovesick is in the middle of another 90-day KDP Select period, and I need to decide which five days will be free. Knowing that the sales/borrows tail will be good for at least three weeks, I want to do the free promo at least three to four weeks before the end of the period so I can get all the revenue I can from borrows before the book leaves the program.

KDP Select banner 

My Conclusion and Action Plan

Unless I change my mind and leave this book in KDP Select for another term (through February 19, 2016), I'll set the five free days to start sometime during the week of October 18. That will leave me a four-to-five-week tail to get paid for as many KENP pages read as possible before the book leaves KDP Select on November 22.

ACK!! That doesn't give me much time to figure out where and how to promote it to best advantage!

And that is why I wrote this post for you. :) If you put a book in KDP Select, you need to think through all the potential good that can come your way and figure out how to harness it. If you leave your 5-day-free promo to the end of the period, and don't renew the book in KDP Select in the following period, you stand to lose hundreds of dollars or more in KENP lost revenue.

If your book isn't selling anywhere else, as was the case with this book, it probably doesn't hurt to keep trying different ways to gain readers using KDP Select. For instance, if you don't want to make your book free for five days (and they can be any five days, but everyone I know, myself included, has found the best results when the five days are in a row), you can try KDP Select's Kindle Countdown Deal.

The key is - whatever you decide to do, think it through and make a plan. Good luck!