I went to Balticon this week-end, which was a blast. I met so many people from podcasting, many of whom I've known for years online, but never met in person. If you want to see pictures, friend me on Facebook.
Just before I left for Balticon (literally the day before), Amazon did an interesting thing. They sent me an email telling me they're doing a promotional on the first Prophet book by giving it away for free. Let me explain:
You cannot give stuff away for free on Amazon unless you're a publisher. The lowest an author can go is 99 cents. Giving away the first book in a series is an excellent strategy for spurring sales of all titles and boosting visibiltiy, but you're not allowed to do it. Unless... Unless Amazon does it for you. Occationally, they will decide to price-match a free title. Prophet Book 1 is free on BN, where Smashwords is allowed to count as a publisher, providing it with free status. It's been free over there all year. Amazon does not automatically match that price, but early Thur morning, magic happened.
Over the course of the next 24 hours, I gave away about 3000 copies of the book. The lowest sales ranking I saw for my free book was #38 (there are separate "sales" ranking catagories for free stuff). That's total, across all free titles on Amazon! My brother saw it at #31, but I was at Balitcon by then and having a hard time checking. For most of the next 2 days, it was ranked #1 free in the Epic Fantasy catagory. #1 paid was Game of Thrones. :D This delighted me.
Sales climed across all my paid books, but especially the complete trilogy of Prophet (for obvious reasons). The lowest sales ranking I saw for the trilogy was in the 2800's (which is the lowest I've ever seen any of my paid books on Amazon).
I was kind of surprised that I saw an uptick in paid titles so quickly. I had expected to see results build over the next few weeks and months as people had time to read the book they'd put on their devices. I may still see that, but some of the downloaders are either fast readers or they read enough of the story to know they wanted the whole thing. At $2.99, the whole trilogy didn't exactly break the bank.
Here's a summary of my sales since I started:
- Books sold in Dec: 36 (mostly via a promotion on my website)
- Books sold in Jan: 31
- Books sold in Feb: 88
- Books sold in March: 271 (my podcast gave an artificial boost that month)
- Books sold in April: 180
- Books sold in May: 352 (including 11 paper books)
- Books given away in May via Amazon: 5469
- Total Books sold: 958
I'm soooo close to that 1K mark. :) I'd love to see Cowry Catchers do the same thing as Prophet, but unfortunately, Smashwords can't handle the illustrated books. I use it's meatgrinder to format them, but it won't distribute them, because it thinks there's something wrong with them. That means no free copy on BN, so no free copy for Amazon to price-match. This is more of a handicap than I had previously considered it. I may email SW and try to get it straightened out. I've never directly contacted them over the illustration issue.
At the beginning of the year, I purchased advertising slots for Cowry Catchers with Kindle Nation. Those are kind of expensive, and the waiting line is long, but it's supposed to be the most effective paid advertising out there. Those slots will occur on July 4th, August 12, and Jan 9-13. We'll see if they produce the kind of response that Amazon's freebie produced.