My Kindle Scout Campaign for Death’s Dancer wrapped on July 22, 2016. Seven of the longest days of my life later, I got an email from the Kindle Press team. Death’s Dancer has been selected for publication.
If you follow me on IG, you know there was a little celebrating. You may have heard it, from your doorstep, wherever you are. Sorry about that. I am told I have no inside voice.
Although I spent most of Friday afternoon calling and texting my peeps the news, It was all a bit surreal. To keep my mind off things I’d been focusing on a new series I’m working on. I’d completed the first book moments before checking my email and finding out the news. I am also avoiding making eye-contact with the sequel to Dancer (ugh, rewrites!) Suddenly everything got thrown into the background because my “crazy little Prague love story (with necromancers)” was in the spotlight.
Holy Moly. I admit it didn’t fully sink in until Saturday about 5am (when I woke my husband up by doing the happy dance💃🏽) And celebrating good news with family is always sweeter when you can do it in person.
Then real life (forgive the vague-blogging) came crashing in on Monday, and our little family faced a pretty big, sudden life change that left us all clinging to the remnants of that good news feeling.
All that is to say, this is why it’s taken me so long to update the blog with the news!
I wanted to, quickly, share my Kindle Scout experience while it’s still fresh; including details about my campaign stats, and final reflections. In spite of my confidence in my book going in (I promised I would publish whether or not I was chosen), there’s nothing like getting daily updates on how many people are looking at your campaign page (or not), and how many hours you’ve spent (or not) in the Hot and Trending list to turn the whole experience into a rollercoaster.
I’m a data girl, so I love looking at numbers. Having Googled other experiences, and joined the Kboards forum, I’ve seen final stats well higher than mine, and well lower. Neither predicted the decision outcome absolutely.
And though everyone is trying to figure out what the magical algorithm is for selection (pageviews/hot&trending hours +/- sample reads/time spent on page/and? = 🦄 🎉🎉) at the end of the day it’s all just reading tea leaves (or the fortune telling device of your choice)
At least this is what I told myself. Anyway, here are my final stats for the curious.
After a brief trending session, I had a major dip and overall spent less than half of the campaign in Hot & Trending (which is often seen as one of the predictors of who will be published)
I anticipated a slump around the 4th of July, so I ran some extra FB ads during the weekend.
But I have to tell you, I started dreading checking stats. It was a pretty miserable way to start the day for awhile.
Campaign page views per day:
And then one day I happened to look at the Kindle Scout homepage and BAM. I was back on the screaming train of delight. Which I rode all the way to the end of the campaign. Ta-da.
I should note here that in the last few days of your campaign, KS puts you on the homepage in the “ending soon” category, so that probably helps with the finish line boost.
But wait, hold up you say: did I say Facebook ads?
I did. I had a small budget to throw at advertising so I did some on FB, as a way to do some A/B testing of my marketing strategy.
I tried boosted posts:
Website clicks (to the KS campaign page):
His/Her Website Click promos:
And a finally, the underdog success story of my ad adventure, a short teaser video I made with the help of a couple of glasses of wine, iMovie, and a free stock video website. (If you missed it you can catch the whole thing on my Facebook page or youtube)
What did I learn? (Keep in mind, all this means is that people went to the campaign page as a result of one of the above links, and gives no indication of what they did when they got there. Kindle Scout doesn’t give authors numbers on actual nominations)
- Boosted Posts: Take a guess which of my boosted posts performed better? If you guessed #2 you’d be right. Readers responded to the image of the dancer (Isela) and likely, the shorter text block. With hashtags. Cause who rules the world? Hashtags. And girls. But mostly…hastags.
- Website Clicks: Any guesses about how the four performed? This was a bit less clear. While I will say the two “general” ads (#1/4) did best overall, I was quite surprised that #3 had the best returns overall (cost/click). What I liked is that my theory that promoting the KS program was a good way to boost my own stats seemed to pan out. I think it is a pretty neat program, and hopefully, others benefited from the boost as well. Also, that’s a photo I took of the Astronomical Clock. I was kind of stoked that people responded to it so well (I know, vain!)
- Website Clicks His/Hers: I was surprised that they did equally as well. Though I had to do a lot of tweaking to the “His” version text to get it to resonate.
- VIDEOS are the way to go. They’re cheap on FB and they get a lotta views. This may change (because FB is seems to be trying to promote the video service capabilities at the moment), but I got a lot of page traffic from that tiny little teaser video. And look, I have a 1.5 year old, a husband, and other books to write. Ain’t nobody got time for hunting down free stock photos that match my character descriptions, and I refuse to use copyrighted images of celebs that I may or may not have stockpiled on Pinterest as inspiration. (As a photographer myself, that is just NOT COOL) So I fired up iMovie, tweaked a tagline, threw in a snippet of the AWESOME blurb author Camille Greip was kind enough to write for me, and put it all over a (creative commons licensed) stock video background that reminded me of my cover. It was by FAR the best 2 hours of effort (and wine drinking) to promote the book so far.
- I was by no means doing true A/B testing. For one, most of my ads have too many variables to concretely say one thing was more successful than others. But hey, I had a budget and a bunch of things I wanted to try. I’ll take what I can get.
This is getting long, and it’s getting late.
Promotion is important: I have a lot of friends (published and unpublished) who I consider strong, proficient writers. Many better than I will ever be. And I have seen that even with the amazing books, getting a signal boost everywhere* you can is necessary to rise above the hum and get some attention.
But at the end of the day, did running FB ads help my campaign? Who knows. I doubt running an awesome ad campaign for a shitty book would have resulted in a selection. After all, part of the decision is made by an actual editorial team who factors in the stats and the nominations (which
After all, part of the decision is made by an actual editorial team who factors in the stats and the nominations (authors are given neither a total number nor a list of who nominated their book) with the book itself. It’s a bit comforting, knowing that.
So look at the stats, if you’re curious. Look at all the stats you can. Fellow Kindle Scout selected author (ha! woohoo!) Jaxon Reed has compiled a thorough rundown of perspectives on the program. It’s a great place to start.
Plan your campaign (I didn’t even touch Thunderclap, and barely tapped Twitter and IG) based on what you can do well.
But most importantly, what many others have said before me: write and polish the best book you can, and get the best cover you can afford (or design if you’re quite handy in that way), then submit your book, cross your fingers, and hang on for the ride.
P.S. Dear readers. I apologize profusely that my celebratory post became all about the business end of the stick. Confession: I don’t have a lot to give you guys yet, because I have my call with the KP team in the morning, where all questions will be answered and more things known. After that, it will be a lot more squeeing and publication announcements from here on out. Pinkie Swear. Thanks for hanging in there. Here’s the photo of a very good looking man unrelated to absolutely everything above for your troubles.