Monday, March 25, 2013

3 Days (Left) of Free eBooks


Of the 30 Days of Free eBooks, that is. As some of you may have noticed my good intentions to do continuous blogs on this project dwindled noticeably by the twelfth day.  There are many reasons for that, not the least being my tendency to procrastinate. But in my own defense, I seriously underestimated how much time it would take.

While I released the titles as scheduled, I found that submitting notices to the various sites that publicize free books was more complicated than I ever imagined. Each site required different time frames. Some wanted full promo copy, bio, full story description, and extensive contact info, while others were quite happy with name, title, book cover and buy link.  Some wanted up to a month's notice, others wanted the titles posted the same day they went free. For an Arizonan, doing that efficiently meant getting up way before my wake time. Oh, yawn, whine, whine, whine, coffee, more coffee ending with, whine, now that they're done it's too late to go back to sleep. I'm beginning to realize that I'm about to borders on too much information, so let's move to the stats for a while. 

Total Free Downloads Over 27 Days: 

5,954 or 220-1/2 eBooks per day

By Title: 

Chills & Thrills Box Set:  865 downloads + 239 = 1104
Murder at the Toadstool Café: 330 downloads + 486 = 816
The Fire Opal: 1291 downloads. + 1837 = 3128
Old Bones: 287 downloads + 365 = 652
Dead Elf in Santa's Workshop: 254 downloads. Only one free run.
So where did these numbers come from? Danged if I know. Just kidding. I already stated that Chills & Thrills had no reviews and was also hampered by a hastily constructed cover, but it still did a respectable eleven hundred plus. Old Bones, also scarce on reviews, did reasonably well for a short story and drew in two glowing reviews. Not too bad for an under-appreciated short. Murder at the Toadstool Cafe did better than Bones and my former bestseller, Dead Elf, which pulled in nearly 8,000 downloads on my group effort last November, was way low on the totem pole. Then again, it is, after all, a Christmas story. The biggest surprise was The Fire Opal, which pulled a total of 3,128 downloads.

Your question at this stage is probably, has the free blitz increased sales?  Would you be impressed if I told you it doubled them - which indeed it did. Alas, my February sales were so dismal a doubling is not cause for celebration, but it looks like it's about to double the double and it's possible I'll see rising numbers through the end of the month.

What I find most interesting is that almost every title performed better in the 2-day second-round release than in the 3-day first round. What's even more interesting is that my posts to the free ebook promo sites got fewer as the blitz progressed and for many of the titles I did no promotion at all during the second round.

Most of all, I learned a few things. First, as I've already complained, I learned it is a big project to post to the many promo sites. I was particularly pleased with Awesome Gang, Indie Book of the Day and Pixels of Ink. I'm not sure how well the other sites performed for me and this whole area of publicizing through book sites is still a mystery to me. There are lots of them right now and - no surprise - some are more effective than others.

What worked best for me was Twitter. I'm already a Twitter fan but I was unaware how many free Kindle and eBook sites maintain a Twitter address where people go to read and retweet your posts. This is best kind of word of mouth promo and it has traffic both ways - people coming into see what's there and people re-tweeting promo on books they find interesting. Start collecting addresses for free Kindle and cheap book accounts because they'll cross over and give you tremendous expose to a large number of readers. Each day, I sent a tweet to these sites, but I had in now way collected enough of them. I had no idea how valuable these Twitter sites were until I did this promo.

So what would I do differently if I were ever crazy, er, I mean ambitious enough to repeat this project? First I'd compile my advertising strategy before I began because now I know I need one. I also would never run one for an entire month, which means that I'll have to manage my free days better so they don't pile up again.

I'll aim my marketing efforts at the places where people actually download free books - the Twitter sites. That means I'll have to start collecting the Twitter addresses for those peeps.

I'm now convinced that free days do not produce the up-tick in sales they once did. While I have no hard evidence, my research has indicated that Amazon now only gives free uploads one credit for every ten uploads. When the KDP Select program was first launched, free books were credited one for one, giving authors a huge sales ranking, which also translated to post-event sales.

I'm also taking my short stories out of KDP Select so I can expand their exposure and earn a higher royalty. I may eventually pull some novels out of the program, too.

But overall I see some silver linings here. Kindle publishing isn't a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, it's more a yellow brick road to building a business and a following for our books and stories.  But more on that in my next blog for Much Cheaper Than Therapy Is There Gold in Them There Hills, Part 3, which will post on April 9.

In case you missed it, I'll repeat part 2 of . . . in Them There Hills on Wednesday, and if you also missed Part 1, you can find it in the index to your left.

My last free giveaway in the 30 Days of Free eBooks will be the Bootcamp for Novelists, Basic Training Manual, a collaboration between me and my friend and business partner, Linda Style. We'll be all over Twitter reminding you that the book will be free Monday, March 25 through Wednesday, March 27.


Click Here to Download

Have you always wanted to write a novel, but don't know where to begin? Have you wondered why there isn't one simple, easy-to-read, down-to-earth explanation of the basics--what you need to know BEFORE you start writing?

Award-winning authors of over two dozen novels, Linda Style and Connie Flynn, co-founders of Bootcamp for Novelists Online, created the Bootcamp Basic Training Manual: What you need to know BEFORE you write your novel, specifically to give their writing students a down and dirty introduction to the language of publishing and the core elements necessary to create a cohesive story. Linda and Connie condensed all their Bootcamp Basic Training information and knowledge, from genre definitions to manuscript formatting--and everything in between--into one brief, reader-friendly manual. Learning what you need to know BEFORE you write your novel will save you time and energy as well as laying the foundation for a successful writing experience. It's never too late to learn the basics!

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