"Free" and other Promotions

I ran a "free" promotion for my latest novel, EMPOWERED,  from December 19-24 and must admit I found the response to be underwhelming.

The book is "free" only if you want the electronic version, have a Kindle-compatible reading device, and you somehow find out about the promo.  I can access this promotion (or the newer, "countdown" promotion) only when the ebook is enrolled in Kindle Select, a program where the author agrees that the only place the ebook will be listed and sold is Amazon.  Even then, the "free" promotion is limited in length to 5 days during a 90 day time frame.

I've used this program with most of my previously released novels.  Typically, I'll initially release the novel on Amazon (along with the paperback copy,) and then three months later I give it a broader release with other devices and through other distributors.

The first few times I did this, I would end up giving away 1,000 to 2,000 copies.  Afterward, I would see a bump in sales of related titles, as well as the promoted book, that would last 2-3 months.  It definitely justified giving copies away.  Last week that total was reduced to a sad 131 -- a total so low that I doubt I'll see ANY follow-on sales.  I admit I did little to promote the "free" promotion, but even if I had, I'm sure the response would have been muted.

I've got a few theories as to why this was the case.  First, I think the market is saturated with this type of promotion.  In the early days, there were a limited number of book offered for "free" at any given point in time.  Now the total is overwhelming -- so many so that today a reader could easily read nothing but free books, and never run out of material.

Secondly, I think the popularity of the Kindle is waning as the popularity of tablets to rise.  I see more and more IPads and other tablets when I go to events.  And while you can still purchase Kindle books and read them there with the appropriate APP, you also have other options, some of which integrate more easily with the platform.

The third cause is my lack of active promotion.  Truthfully, I'm just weary of this kind of work.  I'd definitely rather write the next novel than promote the current one.  That said, I think this is a 3rd order effect.

So I think I will deviate from past practice when the next novel comes out (SYNERGY) and try to find something new and fresh to get some attention for my work.  Anyone have any ideas?