Disappearing in Plain Sight–Five Free Days–Part Three

a study of contradictions - bruce witzel photo

In part one of this series, I mapped out the route that I took on the road to the decision to try for a a BookBub (BB) slot. Part two was a detailed description of things I did once the BB slot was secured. This post is the fun! I get to tell you how the whole promotion went.

Free Day One

Disappearing in Plain Sight (DPS) went free at midnight on Thursday, March 25th. When I awoke on the morning of the 25th and checked my Kindle Direct Publishing page, 15 books had been downloaded. I was ranked around 22,000 but had managed to make my way to #8 in the category of literary fiction – sagas. A modest start but quite a change from where DPS usually ranks.

First ranking check of the day

As I watched the download total climb, I set about posting to various Facebook groups, creating a blog post and responding to twitter action.

My ranking dropped from 22,000 to below 1,000 and by mid-afternoon I had gained the #1 spot in literary fiction – sagas. I pre-scheduled another round of hourly tweets for the following day and my last check on the 25th saw total downloads of DPS at 227. I was stunned.

Literary Fiction - Sagas - DPS

Free Day Two

The day began with 96 downloads. I was ranking 500 in the Kindle Free Store and hanging onto that #1 category spot in literary fiction – sagas. The Fussy Librarian spot and my inclusion in fellow author, Peter Ralph’s, email had kicked in. Twitter action continued to spiral higher and higher, Facebook friends shared my posts and blog followers clicked through to my buy links. I saw my rank hover back and forth – a bit over 300 and then a bit below. Sometime in the late afternoon, I noticed that I had garnered a handful of sales of books 2 and 3 in the Crater Lake Series. I was stunned. Prior to this weekend, The Light Never Lies (LNL) and Chasing Down the Night (CDN) were nearly dead in the water with rankings up over a million. At last check before bed, I had managed 635 downloads for a total of 862 over two days.

I had a hard time going to sleep knowing that the so-called best was yet to come with the BookBub slot scheduled for the next day.

Poised and ready for take-off- Bruce Witzel photo

Free Day Three

My first check-in was before the fireworks began. 51 downloads. Between 7:00 am and 8:00 am downloads shot up – 563 – 810 – 1088 – 1550. I was still sitting ranked at 272 in the free store but had gained the #5 slot in the category of coming-of-age stories. After this point, the promotion started to take on a frenetic pace with me hitting refresh on my Kindle Direct Publishing Report button every five minutes. By 9:00 am, I had over 4000 downloads! Oh, and another batch of sales for LNL and CDN! This is the part that stunned me – I expected a ripple effect over time but the line on the sales graph was rising steadily even as the free days on DPS continued.

3rd day - 3 ranking capture

At the point of 12,000 downloads, the whole thing took on a surreal quality. I imagine this is how someone working at a bank counting $100.00 bills must feel. The money or the numbers start to lose their intrinsic meaning.

By 8:00 pm, I had been watching the computer screen for twelve hours. I was absolutely exhausted. DPS had been downloaded over 21,000 times. I was racking up downloads in every single Amazon market and I felt as though I had stood on the corner and hawked each one of those copies. Sales of LNL and CDN continued to rise. The day ended with 22,221 downloads, 40 sales and 1300 KENP’s (if you aren’t familiar with this acronym – please check out the 2nd post in this series).

Fully loaded - Bruce Witzel photo

Free Day Four

day 4 - number 2 in the top 100

Woot, woot, woot. I made it to the #2 slot in the Top 100 Amazon Free Books – right next to all-star marketing genius, J.A. Konrath. I had racked up over 2,000 downloads by 8:00 am. I was also seeing a radical increase in KENP’s – up over 3500 and the day was yet young.

At 2:00 pm I had over 5000 downloads and 24 sales. Definitely slowed down from the BookBub day but I was still riding a huge wave. Checked again at 6:00 pm. Over 7000 downloads and 29 sales.

Free Day Five

At 9:00 am, 800 new downloads, 1 sale and almost 5000 KENP’s. Things may be slowing in the sales column but the KENP’s are more than compensating. I am almost halfway to breaking even on the overall cost of the promotion and the free days haven’t even ended.

Before going to bed, I had 2,855 downloads, 20 sales and 8100 KENP’s for the last day of the promotion.

Little car, big truck - Bruce Witzel photo

Tune in for part four of this series where my post-game analysis recaps costs and benefits.

Post Publication–One Month and Counting


Disappearing in Plain Sight has been romping free in the world for a month. Taking in that bit of excitement is an ongoing process. My publishing agreement with Friesen Press means I access sales information through my author account with them. The reports for outside venues are slow to arrive – 2nd week of the month for sales in the previous month for most places and closer to the end of the month before I get any information on Amazon Kindle sales. It is a waiting game on that front.

I try to satisfy my curiosity by constantly checking my Amazon ranking, which is so silly I cannot even imagine why I’m broadcasting the news. The numbers are meaningless from a statistical point of view. No one seems to have any idea how Amazon calculates rankings. Ah well, I am as guilty as anyone of clinging to straws in the absence of actual data.

The month has not been totally taken up with nail-biting ranking checks. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time building my social media platform, researching and learning about the marketing /promotion options that will work for me, and writing. I’ve logged about 10,000 words on The Light Never Lies.

Promotion and Marketing Update

Three of the things I decided to pay for:

  • One advertisement – I chose BC Bookworld – this publication is distributed free of charge to multiple venues in the province and has a large circulation – if you have ever ridden a BC Ferry you may have picked up a copy from the ship’s gift shop.
  • Join one professional organization. I chose the Alliance of Independent Authors. The annual membership paid for itself in knowledge and contacts almost immediately. Access to discussions on the members’ only Facebook page is priceless.
  • Enter one contest. After quite a bit of internet research, I chose the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Award. An expensive gamble after entry fee, providing them with a copy of a real book, and mailing it to the US – but it was something I wanted to do.

That dreaded word – budget

I’m working from a limited marketing/promotion budget. We spent a good deal of it on the above items and purchasing books for local sales,which, by the way, are going exceptionally well. Bruce has turned out to be an enthusiastic promoter and salesman. I’m planning to attend a few local events where book selling will be my goal. I’ve got a couple of launch events in the works. I’m also working to have the book made available on a consignment basis through two local book stores.

Making community work for me

Vancouver Island loves its local artists, and I want to tap into that love. I’m working on a couple of different press releases – one for local papers and one for venues where my name would not be familiar, always emphasizing that I am a long-time Vancouver Island resident. Every little bit helps. I’ve recently put up posters on community bulletin boards and hope to get a few into the staff rooms and lunch areas at various places.

Using my academic connections to my advantage

I believe Disappearing in Plain Sight will have an appeal to mental health care workers (counselling themes, counsellor as a main character, youth who struggle with real-life issues). I have provided some key people with a copy of the book. I am hoping this can create buzz in what is often a tight-knit community and perhaps lead to an endorsement of the book for this group.

Social media

I’ve been promoting my Facebook author page. Feel free to click and check it out. I’m taking the advice of many who say that the author page had better be about more than me promoting my book in update after update. I put up links to my blog posts, intriguing quotes and pictures.

Book reviews

I’ve been quite fortunate on this front. In the first month that Disappearing in Plain Sight has been out, it has garnered six 5-star reviews on Amazon. A few of these reviews also appear on Goodreads, which in turn allows its reviews to be picked up by the Kobo Store. Huge thanks go out to all of these people for taking the time to read and review!

Best Advice to Date

I asked a question on the Alliance of Independent Authors Facebook page about how one goes about getting early reviews. I had read that the first days out on Amazon were crucial. A few experienced self-published authors were kind enough to respond at length. One spoke of how self-publishing is more of a marathon than a sprint. Building a loyal fan base is the goal. Focus on writing and producing a good sequel novel and the rest will fall into place.


The journey continues . . . .

If you are a newly self-published author – any tips you would like to share are more than welcome. If you are considering or working toward self-publishing, is any of this helpful? Please let me know what you think.