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  • Writer's pictureElaine Marie Carnegie

My Sugar Rush Amazon Campaign

by Kimberley Gillan

Please welcome Kimberley Gillan to the Writers Journey Blog with her entertaining experience in publishing!


My Sugar Rush Amazon Campaign

 

Coffee mug in one hand, I sit down and log into my Amazon KDP account. Through the window, there’s a peach fuzz horizon with long shadows on the lawn. A Pretty Face wallaby is nibbling at the grass around the fire pit. She is as shy as she is pretty. I watch her unseen, holding my breath. She looks upwards, our eyes connect, and she’s gone with a flick of her tail. Taking a large sip of my morning brew, I look down at the KDP sales report.

178 purchases.


That can’t be right?  I push papers aside to place my mug down. What was it yesterday? Maybe three purchases? No – two. I got three last month.


I refresh the screen. 179 purchases. I clean my glasses, go out of reports, and back in again. 180 purchases.


Being a writer, I have the presence of mind to take subliminal notes on how I am feeling right now. Confused – tick. Worried that I’m reading it wrong – tick.  Beginning to feel the possibility that I have made it rise up inside of me like a severe case of heartburn – double tick and underline. My overwhelming emotion is that I need to protect myself from disappointment after what happened Saturday.


Two days before, was my first market stall, set up with Helena, another member of Mareeba Writers Group. Prior to this, we agreed that it didn’t matter if we didn’t sell a single book, either of us.  We would just have fun with it. At the end of the day Helena had sold nine books. Me? None.


The moment I got home from the market I cracked open a bottle of red wine and attacked a large block of chocolate. Alone, I could wallow in my why-am-I-doing-this thoughts, that sometimes plague me. After my second glass of wine, I handed over all cognitive functions to my inner child. This is never a good idea.


It was while I was overdosing on chocolate, that those Amazon numbers started slowly ticking upwards. While I lugged a full box of books from the car back to the house, berating myself for polishing off all that chocolate, magic was happening. The sugar rush Amazon campaign had begun.


Dawn Monday morning comes. Mesmerised I keep refreshing the screen. Every so often there is another sale. I feel sick, anxious, elated, and short of oxygen.


As I sit there, I wonder why this was happening. It is a good book. A needed book. It deserves to be found in that wallowing ocean of Amazon books. Every writer will tell you that about their book. But this one is different. I’ve written feminist erotica and for a while, those books had a bit of a following in Germany. While I loved writing them and will return to them, they are not needed.


The book is “How Low Can You Go? Nutritious meals from $30 per week.”  A local GP recommends it to patients struggling with the cost of living. It has five-star reviews from strangers urging fellow readers to “purchase immediately” and “this book is chockful of gems.” 


Writing it, I was always thinking about who my audience was. I wanted to sit across the table from them in a coffee shop, squeeze their hands in mine, and tell them you will get through this, I know, my story is not so different.


The book answers one central question - what is the lowest price you would have to pay to feed yourself and your family without compromising your health? A background in economics helped but really, all I had to do was summon up the anger I felt at what was happening around me – the increasing homelessness, the old lady putting back a small packet of mince at the supermarket, and the useless advice provided by the media.


I released “How Low Can You Go?” in May 2024 without fanfare. Then I ran an email subscription campaign. Subscribers would be told in advance when the book was free on Amazon. Setting up the 3-day free promotion was easy. Getting friends and family to subscribe was damn near impossible.


Nevertheless, emails were sent out to remind the faithful few that the e-book would be free to purchase for 3 days from the 7th of June. That Friday, the 7th of June I go online, and the book hasn’t been discounted.  The chatbot tells me that “it is free on Kindle Unlimited.” Definitely not helpful. He also blithely informs me that Amazon cannot make the e-book free.

I send a frantic email out to subscribers explaining that the book is not free, but I have discounted “How Low Can You Go?” to $3.99. A few sales come in. I prepare for the market stall telling myself that dealing with Amazon is a steep learning curve.


The thing about a sugar rush is that it is instant, intense, and then dissolves in your bloodstream. On Monday as I watched the numbers tick upwards, I did not know that the book was now free. Amazon had initiated the free promotion according to some other time zones. As for that chatbot? Perhaps he was preoccupied with his plans for world domination.


Still high on the continually changing numbers I posted on Facebook that I sold “378” copies. It wasn’t 378 copies. In my haste to share this moment with someone, I read the wrong line. A few hours later I’m posting a correction and an apology to over 1000 writers who had responded to the post. Embarrassed doesn’t begin to describe how I felt explaining myself from a Facebook pulpit to those who flocked to my post to share my success.


My husband was texted those same numbers amongst lots of champagne emojis. He arrives on the doorstep that evening brandishing a bottle of expensive champagne. My voice crumbled explaining my mistake to him.


The final count on that free promotion was 237 e-books in a 72-hour period. For one golden moment, I was ranked number one in two of my categories and second in the third category. Yes, in the free book category, but still, I’ll take it. Paid advertising has begun. I’ve since sold enough books to cover the cost of that champagne. (Just).


Looking back, I’ve learnt some lessons.  Next time around I will stay grounded. Next time around I will plan (and prepare) for the possibility of success as well as failure. My advertising campaign will be better timed to take advantage of a possible improved ranking. And if my book returns to the depths of that Amazon Ocean never to see daylight again, ultimately, I will accept that also.


Why? Because not writing is not an option. You might just as well ask my inner child to give up chocolate. I do it mainly for the high. The true high is in the act of writing itself. And when you hold that finished book in your hands? That rush never dissolves.

 

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BIO: With a background in economics, policy and strategic planning, Kimberley uses her wit and practical knowledge to find new answers to old questions, such as - what is the lowest price you would have to pay for food without compromising on nutrition? Or - what are the key ingredients in a washing powder? In answering these questions Kimberley uses fundamental economic principles to come up with revolutionary answers on what your minimum spend should be, in order to live your best life.

Kimberley is a full-time author (when chronic cancer permits). She lives in Far North Queensland, Australia and has previously been shortlisted for her fiction.

 


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5 Comments


Jim Bates
Jim Bates
5 days ago

I loved this!!

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markscheel
markscheel
6 days ago

Yes, dealing with Amazon and the tech aspects of marketing can be mass confusion, even without a sugar high! Ha. All the best going forward.

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Tim Law
Tim Law
7 days ago

I hope that sales are still steadily climbing. Congratulations… I love the title and love the story…

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kljesmer79
kljesmer79
7 days ago

This post was an interesting read and it sounds like, despite the bad info at first, you did well on your sales. I'm an anthology writer so far, but I hope to put out some books of my own one day. I'll check for your book, too. Very needed info these days - at least here in the US.

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Lisa Huffines Owens
Lisa Huffines Owens
7 days ago

I enjoyed your story, Kimberly! Being on a budget, I tried to find your book on US Amazon and I wasn't able to locate it. It sounds like a book everyone could benefit from in these times of rising inflation (at least here in the US). Give yourself a big hug! I have only every been in anthologies and don't have an entire book... yet, so enjoyed your process of checking your numbers and making announcements and then recending those announcements and the expensive champagne! LOL😁 Congratulations.

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