Well, despite the pessimism I expressed about the benefits of Amazon Prime, I have managed to succeed in one respect at Kindle Direct Publishing. Going exclusive enabled me to have five free promotional days per 90 day cycle and last week I availed myself of the chance and scheduled a "President's Day Free promotion" starting at midnight on the 19th. I had low expectations. Last night I had my laptop on while I watched a DVD with my wife. I surfed over to the KDP page and checked my stats. I had managed to sell four books total in the month of February on the strength of re-writing my book description. I raised my price from 99 cents to 2.99 and then I submitted a new cover image, one I designed using elements from my website. It couldn't hurt, I figured. At first, nothing.

My jaw dropped as I looked at the number of units downloaded: 421. I said something in a strangled voice to my wife. She believed something was really wrong until I showed her the figures. What's more, my ranking in Kindle free thrillers was in the top 25. At the moment I stand at 26. I've had 827 downloads in the USA and UK.

I don't have one penny more in my pocket, but I have a chestful of dreams.
 
It's official: I entered WIN OR GO HOME in ABNA, the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. Here's how it works. The contest accepts up to 5000 entries in general fiction and another 5000 in YA. The first cut comes on February 23rd based on a 300 word pitch. I entered ABNA three years ago and failed to get out of the first round. I felt humbled, devastated, spurned.  I learned the power of the pitch. It's like an agent query. Shou
For this entry I wrote, re-wrote, submitted for criticism and revised my pitch before sending it in. I also got the idea to use the pitch for the WIN OR GO HOME Amazon page. Right away I sold some books after four months of zero sales. Not enough to quuit my day job, but a sale is a sale. Potential readers felt attracted in a way they hadn't before.
The 500 entries face a second round of selection by Amazon reviewers reading a 5000 word excerpt in order to make it to the quarter finals. Only 50 will survive a total manuscript review by editors of Penguin. Out of those, three become semifinalists and Amazon customers will vote on the outcome. The winner gets a $15,000 book deal with Penguin and a trip to Seattle to accept the award.
Do I think I can win? Of course. Is it likely? No, but remember that old saw about a man's reach should exceed his grasp? If I can finish as a quarterfinalist I can use that for marketing.
I titled this post Changes, didn't I? The changes are two: I just submitted an alternate cover to Amazon for WIN OR GO HOME. If you are reading this blog post you will recognize the image from the Main Page. I admit it looks a bit rough around the edges, but I intend the effect. I also raised my price to $3.99. I figure, increased demand deserves a higher price, plus I can get back into the 70% royalty column again.
I have been disappointed by Amazon Prime. Nobody has borrowed my book so my share of the big pot of gold is zero. Think I'll become a free agent next month and put my book back out at Barnes and Noble. I had some sales there.