First a note: Because I’m writing this as the publisher, not the author, I’m reluctant to
release exact numbers. Instead, I’ll give a range, which I hope will at least make this useful.
We had a really good book on our list - Landfall by Joseph Jablonski. As I’ve mentioned before, the author passed away suddenly a year ago. His wife Darlyn, and son Peter, worked with us on the publication, but promoting a book without the author is tricky. Sales were slow.
In addition to being a great read, we knew the book had a good cover (based on a painting by Peter; designed by Al Pranke at amp13) and good initial reader comments. But we were stuck at 7 reviews (see The Reader Review Plateau and Other Mysteries). I kept waiting for the book to hit the magic number 10 before going free. That wasn’t happening. Tried changing the book description. No luck. I finally decided to take a chance and do a free promotion, knowing we wouldn’t even approach Bookbub.
We did use BookGorilla, EReaderNewsToday, EBookBooster (which submits to more than 45 sites), Masquerade Crew, EBooks Habit, EBookHounds, and Genre Pulse (more on that later).
(There are many more sites, some very good, but I've promised not to drive myself crazy or spend too much money trying to reach them all.)
We set the book free for 3 days.
The more I learn about publishing, the more I learn there's an awful lot that depends on your expectations. It's all relative. Obvious and clichéd but still true. On the first morning when we got 25 downloads, we were all thrilled. The book had been stuck and suddenly there was some movement. It was getting in the hands of 25 readers!
I’ll cut to the end of day 3 - between 8,000 - 9,000 downloads. Without BookBub.
But the best part was the sales, borrows, and reviews started coming in.
No matter how much we try to avoid it, there is always a moment during these giveaways when we think: if only each person had paid a dollar or even a quarter. But Peter said his father was a dedicated writer, a real artist - he definitely wasn’t writing to make money. He would have been delighted to have reached so many readers.
Some suggest raising the price, others say to keep it low. This time we set the book at 99 cents. And while I still don’t know how it happens, books do pick up a certain momentum after a giveaway. Three weeks later, the book is still selling. Not in the hundreds, but more than before.
With the new system for Kindle lending, it’s harder to tell how many books have been borrowed but we’re seeing an awful lot of pages read.
In the past, we’ve seen reviews trickle in for months after a promotion. If we’re lucky and that happens here and they continue to be good, the book will find it’s way to even more readers.
And that, in the long run, is why it's still worth giving books away.
Just a note about Genre Pulse. Too long a story to explain how we found James Fraser and Genre Pulse. But we’re glad we did. It’s not the most far-reaching way to get the word out about a 99 cent or free book but it’s one of the most interesting. They provide you with a link so you can see how many people click through and in their words, you can “compare clicks with KDP results to measure ROI.” We’re not there yet in terms of data mining, but we do like that you can see where all those clicks are coming from. In this case, it was 25 different countries.
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