No, this blog is not the chronicles of what happened 24 days before Cillian Murphy awoke from his coma to find most of London devoured by zombies (though it would probably make a good movie–lots of people to kill and eat). Instead, it’s to fill you in about what’s gone on with my novel, “On Unfaithful Wings” in the four days since I ran a free promotion on Kindle.
To recap: in a three-day period, I gave away 8400 copies of my e-book in North America, U.K., Germany, France and Italy (I mention the last two more for my own feeling of success than anything else–only 1 person in each of France and Italy downloaded my book). I’m quite happy with the number of downloads, though it’s low compared to some of the other promos that have been run. A friend of mine just ran his second free promotion over the last two days and had 15000 downloads (his first time? 50000!), but I’m not here to make comparisons. For me, hitting 8400 was beyond expectations.
And how have things been since? Well, that’s the question all Kindle authors are asking nowadays. You see, Amazon has changed things up a little. Before the middle of March, when you came off your promotion, the free downloads counted as sales, so authors who had successful campaigns ended up high on Amazon’s popularity lists. This equated to sales. After the ides of March, this no longer seems to be the case. Different lists show up on different browsers (as I write this, the Kindle store on my laptop shows Hunger Games as their most popular book while on my iPhone, it’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, a book that doesn’t even seem to be available through my laptop).
I know…weird, right? Nobody knows what effect free promos will have now.
Well, here’s what it’s done for me. On the first day after, my book was purchased 11 times. Day 2 — 14, Day 3 — 13, Day 4 — 15. That’s a total of 53 times my novel has been purchased in the last 4 days. Is that a success? Some might say no. Before mid-March, others have come off their promos and sold hundreds, sometimes even thousands of books. But, as I said, I have no interest in comparing myself to others. What I’m looking at is the fact that, before the promo, I’d sold 11 books for the month of March, and at least 5 of those were ones I gifted to people.
If you use that as your means of comparison, I’d say the promo campaign worked. Isn’t more than quadrupling sales in 4 days a good thing? And where do these sales come from? As far as I can tell, it’s from ending up on a bunch of ‘also-bought’ lists. If you’re familiar with Amazon, you’ll remember the little side-to-side scrolling list of books below most of their wares available that they title “Customers who bought this item also bought…”. In author-speak: ‘also-bots’. My book is now connected to about 100 other books on Amazon. Now, when someone views those books, they have an opportunity to see mine.
If the pace continues at an average of 13/day (and I don’t know at this point if it will or not), that means I will sell around 400 books/month or 4800/year. That would add in the neighbourhood (see, I’m Canadian) of $9500/year to my household income. Not bad for a part-time income doing something I love. But is it worth it?
Absolutely. The average advance paid by a traditional publisher is around $8000, so I could out-earn that in one year with one book. But I’m in this writing thing for the long-haul. The second book in my Icarus Fell series, “All Who Wander Are Lost”, should be available by summer. The first book of the 2-part ‘Khirro’s Journey’ epic fantasy, “Blood of the King”, should be out by summer’s end and part 2 by the end of the year. I have plans for at least three more Icarus novels and there are lots more books in me after those.
In my view, every time my book was downloaded for free, and now every time it’s purchased, I’m potentially creating a loyal reader who will purchase the next book. and maybe the next.
I’ll say I’m happy with the results of my first run on Kindle’s free promo. Was it a screaming success? Ask me in a couple of years.