It's tough being a debut author. There's so much you can do wrong even after seeking guidance from others. I recently attempted my first Kindle Countdown deal, and I thought I knew what I was doing, but despite my research on the KBoards, there was plenty I didn't know. I'll share my mistakes so you won't repeat them!
1. Unbeknown to me, you can manually set the start time of your Countdown. I didn't notice the dropdown menu. The default start time is 8:00 AM Pacific. Many promo newsletters go out early in the morning, so 8:00 AM is much too late. Your discount needs to be in place before the newsletters go out. Most promo services check your price before including your ad in their newsletter. If your price hasn't been reduced, they won't run your ad. Furthermore, you risk being banned from using their services in the future. This is not an idle threat. More about that later!
2. You can structure your Countdown deal to have more than one price. I selected a seven-day Countdown with two price points. The default setting split my campaign into two equal segments of three and a half days. I suspect I could have manually adjusted this so I had a full day at one price or the other, and in retrospect, that would have been more sensible. Instead, I simply avoided confusion by not booking any promos for that day.
3. Canada is NOT included in a Countdown deal, only the US and the UK, and if you want a Countdown in the UK you need to set up a separate campaign. I discovered this too late to make the timing coincide with my US Countdown deal. I salvaged the situation as best I could by belatedly adding a UK Countdown which started 8 AM GST. No doubt I should have moved that start time earlier as well, but I was in damage control mode and too rattled to think clearly.
Usually when computer programs have a default setting it's wise to use the suggested setting. Not so with Amazon! My Countdown fiasco taught me that, if nothing else. Explore all your options and review your selections one last time before your campaign goes "live." Your campaigns cannot be altered in any way when you're within 24 hours of the start time. You can't even view your settings.
So, what happened to my cancelled promotions you ask? Did I lose my fees? Did the providers ban me from future promos? No, fortunately. After I explained what happened, both of the promos that had omitted my ad graciously agreed to move my promo to the following day. In some cases, this would not have been possible as certain sites limit the number of books they promote per day.
Many authors launch debut novels with a flurry of promos, hoping for lots of sales and reviews. I used a different approach. I started at full price and depended on ARCs for a handful of early reviews. In my next post I'll explain more about my strategy and the results.