BookBub, Kindle Countdown and crossing those dastardly time-zones

I’ve been so stuck into writing my new novel, and with harvest upon us as well, that I have to confess to my marketing efforts throughout July and August have being poor (verging on dismal). No surprise then that I have witnessed a drop in sales: For the last few weeks I’ve been flat-lining with only the occasional one-or-two books perking up the sales chart and keeping me from despair.

It was that despair, however, which urged me to bung off a submission request for a BookBub UK Featured Deal. Reading the BookBub submission guidance, I didn’t rate my chances. A Bed of Barley Straw has limited reviews, and the e-book is only available on a single platform (yes, it is Amazon, no surprises there). My personal Magna Carta carries an edict which states that I must embark on at least one marketing foray each month. To be frank, submitting to BookBub felt like an easy way to tick off a checkbox, with no further effort required when my submission was rejected.

To my utter surprise and delight the book was accepted!

BookBub Abobs

My promotion was scheduled to begin on August 20th. A mere seven days from receipt of the acceptance email, with seven days prior payment required. Clearly I wanted to seal the deal and get my $40 off in rapid quick time. (Ideally within half an hour, as I’d promised the Gallivanting Granny that I would take her to market. [PS – I wasn’t selling her])

The first flappy panic – the question “when do you want your deal to end” – involved a trawl through the BookBub Ts and Cs to find out if there were any rules governing this. The information was easy to find in their FAQs (in my haste for rapid solutions I also fired off an email to the BookBub partners, who I’m pleased to say were quick to get back to me.)

Having successfully straddled that hurdle, I decided to complicate things for myself by running a Kindle Countdown Deal concurrently with the promotion. (July’s marketing tick-box checked retrospectively).

Kindle Countdown clock

I have to admit that it was luck rather than planning which enabled me to do so. If your book is enrolled in KDP Select you are permitted to run one Kindle Countdown Deal, lasting a maximum of 7 days, during your 90 day enrolment period. The price of your book must not have been changed in the 30 days prior to the Countdown commencing, and the Countdown must conclude 14 days before your enrolment period ends. Also there are price criteria, and you must be willing to discount your book by a minimum of £1 ($1 US).

That’s a pretty specific set of rules, but luckily KDP enforce them for you. So your book will not show as eligible for the deal if you are sitting outside of their criteria. Phew! It would have taken me more than half an hour to work that out for myself.

The next flappy panic involved TIME ZONES. Simple for some maybe, but my brain was having none of it.

BookBub stipulate that the e-book must be available across all platforms (phew again) at the promotional reduced price (£0.99 in my case) at 12.00pm PST (Pacific Standard Time) and that price must be in place up until 11.59pm on the day the deal ends.

My Kindle Countdown must be scheduled in GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) and I’m living in BST (British Summer Time). As someone who still hasn’t grasped the intricacies of changing my clocks twice a year, this could be a disaster. Luckily I’ve got 7 days of Kindle price reduction to span a 5 day BookBub promotion. Gotta be possible right? Flappy panic two.

(I’ve emboldened the numbers to allow you to share my hysteria, not as a useful aid to your own cross-time-zone promotional dilemmas. Sorry, but it’s no use looking to me for help with this.)

I read the blog of a fellow author who had scheduled Kindle Countdown Deals to run simultaneously across multiple time-zones. A dizzy spell ensued, which necessitated the use of smelling salts.

I scribbled vague numbers and arrows on to scraps paper for twenty minutes, before bringing in my support team – The Farmer, The Engineer and The Gallivanting Granny. To be fair, they had bigger things on their minds (harvest and market stalls) but between them they failed to allay my confusion. The GG was indignant that there wasn’t somebody else who could do this work for me. Bless. She thinks I’m corporate.

I got there eventually, with a prayer and a whistle. Flappy panic three when the Kindle price didn’t drop at 6pm on the 19th. BST of course, it dropped at 7pm (and yes, I know now, I was way ahead of myself. At 7pm in the UK it was only lunch time in America. I think).

By accident, my over-generous over-lap did provide some feedback. I followed the advice on the ALLi Self-Publishing site, and posted about my Countdown deal on Twitter, Facebook and here on the blog. Those efforts produced three sales from the Countdown Deal alone, in the hours between my price reduction and the issue of the BookBub email. (And I’m not knocking that. Three sales was more than I had achieved in the previous seven days.)

What happened next speaks for itself – screenshot taken at 9am on day two of the BookBub promo (that’s BST if you’re interested).

Amazon sales chart

Glory halleluiah, my best day of book sales to date (although I have done ‘better’ when giving them away). Interesting that I’m also seeing a rise in my Kindle Unlimited pages read.

And look how pretty my Amazon #rating is! (There’s a #39 in there somewhere, in case you can’t see it)

Amazon ranking #39

I fully accept that this is a temporary promotional blip, but I’m not going to let that burst my delusional bubble.

Today’s plan was to push on by shouting about my Kindle Countdown Deal on social media, as per the guidelines in the ALLi blog. But Unfortunately my internet is dead. I am blocked from obsessively checking my sales figures, from posting to Facebook or Twitter. I’m writing this instead, but you may not get to see it. Our internet provider tells me that we have used up our monthly data allowance. It’s only the 21st of the month for mercy’s sake!! Oh yes, YD is home from Uni, and she’s over-fond of NetFlix.

Now, should I fork out more cash to get us reconnected? Or should I take advantage of the downtime and write like a dervish?

If you’re reading this, I must have made my decision. #ammarketing

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