After the free-storm

So in the last blog I told you I’d talk about what happened over this weekend when I free promo’d my first novel The Eden Plague.

The Good: I got almost 3000 downloads in two days, which to date have generated ten sales of either The Eden Plague or the sequel, The Demon Plagues. I priced Eden Plague at 99 cents following the free promo, figuring there would be a certain number of people who would go to get it free but be late – but for $0.99 they’d get it anyway. All sales are good sales, the miniscule amout of money aside. Right now I am trying to build exposure. I have hopes that as some of those 3000 people actually read the book, they will review it (hopefully favorably), and some recommend it to friends. Some will then go on to buy the sequel for full price ($4.99). I believe some will, as it’s a longer books and I believe it unlikely that, say, a $2.99 price would garner more sales than $4.99. As a reader, if I want to read a sequel, and I can afford it, a couple of bucks won’t deter me.

It started slow on Saturday morning. By Saturday evening late I had about 400 downloads. It really went fast on Sunday starting in the afternoon. I have heard the second day builds on the first; also, perhaps Sunday is the day people tend to be more relaxed, at home, or preparing for their upcoming work weeks by scooping up some new reads. In any case, this iteration was much better than my first try in June, which was 400 downloads in two days, but I did not do any advertising then. At the top I almost broke into the top 100 overall and was #36 in Thrillers. Next time I plan on doing a 3-5 day promo (when the book becomes eligible on Select, around the end of September) and using the knowledge I gained (below) from this time, but I’ll list in under science fiction. While the first book is arguably a techno-thriller, the seconds book moves firmly into the realm of sci-fi so it may do better there. I’ve heard that thrillers have a bigger market but is it better to have a bigger market for a first book or a smaller less crowded market?

The Bad: My strategy to get the downloads and attention was to hit as many sites for free-e-book promos as possible on the same days, 25-26 August. I think I signed up for about 15 sites. However, on the day of, several sites did not seem to be displaying or carrying it. I am not sure if this was because I did not give them enough time (5 days), somehow input the information incorrectly, or there was an unknown problem.  A couple of the sites required a certain number of reviews, and I met the requirements of all but one. Some of them were not automated but rather talked about “if we choose to feature” so maybe I just didn’t meet the criteria. A few of them charged nominal fees – $2 – $5 – to guarantee the front or top listing, which I gladly paid. However, I had also run across another ten or so sites between the cutoff time and the days of, and I am going to put together a tight listing of all the sites along with their quirks, requirements, and anything else I observed. One site had to be posted the day-of, so I waited until after midnight and clicked “submit”, and it worked just fine.

The Ugly: There wasn’t really any ugly yet. No bad reviews, no real disappointments except for the sites where it did not show up. I had higher hopes but this sure wasn’t bad. I’m committed to KDP Select and seeing if this model will work. Worst case, I can always pull later, it’s a 90-day-at-a-time commitment.

Here’s an interesting article my wife ran across.

My emotions about this are mixed – kind of like Captain Jack Aubrey said in Patrick O’Brian’s sea-adventure books, about corruption: something to the effect that corruption is always bad, except when it allowed him to get his ship serviced and supplied ahead of others and complete his mission; then it was necessary, even good. I found myself decrying the “review inflation” while simultaneously being tempted to pay the guy myself. That’s what it is to be an author, I believe, or any other creator/businessman. If you put your whole heart and soul into something, it seems worth some extra money to get ahead. I imagine this is the same feeling that tempts people to bribe government officials, cheat at sports or on their taxes, and otherwise do bad things for “good reasons.” It’s an interesting emotional rollercoaster, this writing thing. And in the new wild west of self-publishing e-books, the whole key is to get noticed and generate buzz, to rise above the pack. Good writing will not get the job done; there are a bazillion good writers out there. Bad writing, I hope, will help clear the field, but once you can write competently and tell a good story, a lot of it is about building a brand, building a following.

I’ll keep you all posted.


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