Monday, June 6, 2011

The Power of the Freebie (and Amazon)

If I ever doubted that people love free stuff, I'd know better now. And, if I didn't already know the potential for an author who sells through Amazon, my experience this weekend would have taught me an amazing lesson.

For nearly two weeks, I've had On Falcon's Wings free through Smashwords and its distribution network; see those links off on the right leading you to those sites? I've sold just over 70 copies through Smashwords, but I offered a freebie lately in the hopes of garnering one of those precious reviews. Without one, looks like your ebook's nonexistent on the site.

I learned that Amazon had decided to match my pricing on their Kindle e-books, when I woke up to 1,000+ downloads on Friday morning. You've already heard that I obsessively check my sales ranking, so it should come as no surprise that I was checking Friday morning, okay, so don't roll your eyes at my post here. The downloads data came as a welcome surprise, that only grew. By the beginning of Sunday morning, I had racked up 10,377 downloads and interestingly 6 returns - sidebar here: who in the hell returns a free ebook? I just have to know who says to Amazon, "Give me back my zero dollars!" Moving on.

That number of downloads led me to the highest rank of #12 on Amazon's bestselling free lists and, even better, #1 under the category Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Genre Fiction > Historical, where it has remained for the most part. This won't last forever; Amazon freebies are typically offered for a limited time. I don't know what the direct consequence will be when I raise my price back to $2.99 this month, but I am hoping that some people who downloaded the freebie will actually read it, and, I know this asking for a lot, leave a review. If they happen to buy Sultana or any of my upcoming releases this summer and fall, that'll be gravy.

It's been almost a year since I first self-published. My anniversary sale date will be July 11. Next month, when I host a followup with last year's Indie Authors, I'll report a year's worth of highs and lows for On Falcon's Wings and the lingering effects, if any, on sales after this Amazon freebie. For now, I'm enjoying an occasional check on the continued downloads and the many tweets and retweets, while keeping in mind that the work hasn't stopped. I still have to finish the two books I plan to release later this year, after all. As we writers know, sometimes the next book, if it's even better, sells previous ones. Unfortunately, the darn things won't write, edit, beta read or publish themselves! There's truly no rest for the weary writer.

Again, a great big thank you to my writing buds and several book bloggers, who've spread the word about the freebie.

P.S. Edited because I knew I'd forgotten something! Contrary to what I expected, all these free downloads; now over 14,000 (yes, I just checked!), actually earned me some royalties. There were 9 through Sunday morning at the 35% rate and the rest at the 70% rate. Are you as puzzled as I am? What is 70% of zero dollars? Don't quite know how Amazon arrived at the royalty they are assigning me on the freebies, but I am definitely not going to complain if they pay me for making my book free.

5 comments:

About Me said...

Over 10,000 downloads - that's great Lisa. A shame that they didn't all contribute just 50 cents for each one isn't it? From an aesthetic viewpoint, it must be nice to think of that many people reading Eric and Avicia's story. I wonder how many of them will buy Sultana as a result.

Lisa Yarde said...

Darling, if only they were reading it! Ok, confession time - I have tons, I mean tons of freebies on Kindle. I'll get to them. eventually. In the meantime, I keep downloading more books. The freebies aren't high on my list. So, how many will actually read or comment on mine? Remains to be seen.

S.L. Stevens said...

I don't understand either why someone would return a free ebook. It's electronic, so it's not like they're going to run out if you keep it. If you realize you don't want to read it after all, just delete it. Maybe people are so used to returning books they don't want, it was just a kneejerk reaction for those six people.

Lisa Yarde said...

Sam, it was the weirdest things I've ever seen, didn't even know it was possible.

Victoria Dixon said...

I agree, returning the free books was weird. I wonder if someone had a download issue and accidentally downloaded six copies, but just couldn't delete them. After all, it's WRONG to throw a book away! LOL Maybe it was just a technical blip...

Ebook Release Day! Sultana: The Pomegranate Tree is here!

After a year and a half, the ebook version of the novel is out. It's been like giving birth to a really big baby, who had some troubles...