Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Do Free Books Net Sales?

I belong to the Kindle Select program which allows an author client to offer five free trial days for a 90-day period. I've already used up two days about a month back. The results were meh. I really didn't know what I was doing. Ya know, for good results you're supposed to advertize or announce that fact that you're intending to offer a free trial before the fact. You should do this a few days or more in advance. This builds anticipation, especially with your peers, friends and reader group (if you have one). Well I did no such thing. I announced on the day of the giveaway, and I don't remember hitting all of my groups and sites; the ones I normally visit and interact in.  So I didn't see any great leaps and bounds in rank and sales. It's no wonder.

This time is a little different. I announced two days in advance, the next day, and today I'm on free trial and announcing again. Since I have two days running free, I'll be blasting the word out tomorrow too. I hit just about every site and group I could think of, particularly places where I'm established as a contributor--there will be no fly-bys or spamming. I'll comment and interact as I normally do, then drop a hint or a BTW comment. Nothing intrusive. And always in the proper places. Otherwise you get moderators climbing all over you sending you those specials "warning" email messages, and/or pulling your posts. And that's happened to me a couple of times. I had to revisit those sites, where I voluntarily struck or redirected my messages. 

When I woke up this morning I had no preconceived notions on what the rank would look like. But nosy me, I checked it. It sat at around 4,700 for overall rank. Not real spectacular, but not anything to be ashamed about. Now you should know this is where your reviews (if any), genre, your book cover, synopsis and title really come into play when you lay down your Amazon link. The first thing the reader will do, to see if this book is worthy of file space on their e-reader, is peruse all of that good stuff. They also might click on the "Look Inside" feature and read a chapter or two. Cripes, I have four free chapters up for sample, and I don't know how or why Amazon decided on that major chunk of text. I'd heard and seen smaller samples. So, with all those ducks in a row, you can expect a free download. And that doesn't mean you're going to be read right away or even reviewed. I've only had a few reviews resulting from free books, out of five current titles. 

I tried to forget about the sales rank and went about my announcements. If you've read this blog, you know where I go--all over hell's half acre and then some. It's now 9:30 PM, same first free trial day, and my rank has gone to 639, with a #84 position for mysteries and thrillers, if I'm reading that right. That's quite a jump. For Amazon.UK it's even better--583 overall, and #41 in Fantasy, Futuristic and Ghost, and #55 in Thriller. Truth be told, I can't even begin to understand why England is looking this good, unless my membership in the SFF Chronicles is responsible for it, which is primarily a huge group of British writers. If so, bless the Limeys from across the pond!

Now, The War Gate is a single title, a paranormal romance/thriller, and I believe it to be just as structurally and entertainingly sound as Amanda Hocking's first paranormal title. And if it is, then word of mouth should eventually carry it into some sales. And I say some sales at first, and eventually a few more down the road. That would be a typical snowball effect. But the question is, or what's on everybody's mind, does free sales work at all right after the free trial period ends and the paid status returns. Well I'm going to find that out. 

Nine months ago my publisher did the free thing with one of my titles and it worked very well. Maybe 40 to 60 copies sold after the first couple weeks. I've been hearing complaints lately that it's not working all that well anymore. Of course there are a lot of variables you have to consider, one of them being the day/days that you launch. I hear Mondays are best, but it could very well be Saturdays, when people have their checks in hand. It's a seasonal thing too, with the later Summer months being a bit slower, and the Holiday season doing much better. I think the Kindle Fire just launched recently, so this might have a bearing on overall downloads, compared to months ago. 

Anyway, I'll report on my findings and list the data when the smoke clears. It will be interesting to know just how viable and effective a free trial period has on sales. Now if I had a series, I would watch my other titles for sales jumps just after going to paid status. I can see where a push to other titles could result if the book was read immediately. 

Oh, some thoughts on the A-list self-published e-book stars like Darcie Chan. I did some digging around because, as was mentioned in an earlier post, I wanted to know what some of these authors were doing to drive-up massive sales with debut e-books. I pretty much came up empty, except for the recent "buying hundreds of reviews" scandal, but instead read a USA today news release on Darcie Chan. 


It seems that not all e-book stars can claim that they did nothing to gain fame and fortune. Chan sprung for over $1,000 in page placement and banner adds, $575 for a paid Kirkus reivew, $35 for an e-reader news ad, and Lord only knows what else. I'm glad I got that information. I suspected it, but couldn't prove it. Should have done more investigative reading. It's really up in the air what the others have done, but won't admit to. You know that I will not pay for promotion, as already stated. So I can now see that I'm at a self-inflicted disadvantage. But truthfully, how many of you have $1,500 or more to spend on book adds? I'm sorry. I just don't have it. I have to buy ruled tablets, pencils, pens, antivirus programs and internet bills. Oh, and lots of antacid pills when I start reading all my rejections. I should own Tums.

Until we meet again...

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Rise of E-Book Gift Cards?

Here is a letter I just received from my publisher regarding a new e-book outlet that might end up becoming a ground-breaking resource for all e-book sales at bookstores. I think this is a revolutionary step in the right direction. You might mention this to your publisher and see what they think about it. It occurs to me that this might catch on in a very positive way. I''ll also try to include the contents of my e-book card.

"I do have a new avenue for sales. I had a conference call last week with the folks at Enthrill eBooks. They sell eBook gift cards in bookstores and other retailer outlets like grocery store checkouts. They are a startup company, and their eBook cards are mostly in Calgary at the moment. Here is a short video that shows their distribution model http://www.enthrill.com/edistribution/video-presentation
I am the first publisher to join and sell eBooks as a wholesaler. Which means that I will be the first publisher to have eBook cards at a convention. Other publishers have joined their retail distribution, however I am looking at the wholesale program as getting my foot in the door for their retail end of the business. This new type of eBook business should help save bookstores from closing with the rise of eBook sales.

I ordered 100 eBook cards for Planet Janitor, and I put a list price of 9.95 on the cover. I plan on raising the price on Amazon for the week of the convention. I don't want to undervalue the hardcover, with a 2.99 ebook. However, what I will be doing at the convention is offering 50% off of the eBook cards as a VCON special. I think this will help drive sales, having a 50% off deal. My goal is to sell as many as possible, so that Enthrill will be interested in pitching Planet Janitor to retailers (they will be watching the sales numbers from the convention). I've attached the PJ, eBook card so you can see what it looks like. I also included both short stories on the eBook card as an added incentive to buyers at the convention. If we can get this into bookstores it should be huge!

Let me know what you think,"
                                            *                                *                          *
 Planet Janitor: Custodian of the Stars
Chris Stevenson
Engage Books | Copyright © 2013 | ISBN: 978-1-926606-80-4
Enthrill Distribution Inc. and its licensors make no express or implied warranties with respect to the Card, the endpaperengine.com website or the availability of products or services. For Card activation information call 1-855-368-4745 or visit endpaperengine.com. Issued by Enthrill Distribution Inc. All rights are reserved. Terms for Card may change without notice. Please visit endpaperengine.com/terms. Images and copyright are held by the owner.
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Captain Zachary Crowe and the crew of Planet Janitor Corporation are adept at handling environmental clean-ups and close system jumps to collect precious ores and space trash. The problem is they have yet to complete an assignment without a mishap to add to their not so stellar
record. Scraping the bottom of the barrel, Orion Industries contracts Planet Janitor for a clandestine operation that no one else wants, offering them more money than they could spend in three lifetimes. The mission entails a 12 light-year trip to a newly found habitable planet in the Tau Ceti system. The crew will lose 26 years on Earth due to the cryo jump, but that is the least of their problems. What they find on Tau Ceti will rattle their wits, test their courage, and threaten their very survival.
Planet Janitor: The Moon is not Enough
While surveying the damage to a lunar mining facility caused by a meteor shower, a second job proposition proves too sweet to turn down. Captain Zachary Crowe must now enter the devastated base. But will the reward be enough to outweigh the consequences of taking on such a risky mission.
Planet Janitor: Journey Interrupted
The Planet Janitor crew are on the tail end of a salvage mission in the asteroid
belt when they encounter a ghost ship. Faced with a volatile substance onboard, the crew race against the clock to commandeer the vessel before it reaches the Exon Refueling Station. What they find on the ship will stress their abilities to the limit, and put their lives in imminent danger.
Note: I couldn't get the book cover to show, but you get the idea.