While some authors have been shouting from the rooftops about the thousands and thousands of free downloads of their books on Amazon, shooting them into the top ten of all categories, declaring the KDP Select Program is the best thing to happen since sliced bread, I am sitting in a corner chomping on the heel of a stale loaf of Italian bread.
If one is to simply go by the number of downloads and rankings to gauge success then my experiment has been a dismal failure. However, if one is to be happy to have gotten a couple of hundred books into readers' hands, garner positive reviews (hopefully more will come!) and glowing emails, as well as a comparison to O. Henry by two, count them, two people, than my experiment has been well worth it.
I knew going into KDP I shouldn't expect the great results many other authors have experienced mainly because I was using a short story, normally priced at only 99 cents as bait. Although I did drop the price from $4.99 to $3.99 for Fractured Facade to coincide with this promotion, I didn't want to make it exclusive to Amazon. So my plan all along was to write a short story (that's the only way I would price anything I wrote at 99 cents) specifically for KDP Select. As I've stated before, since part of Amazon's terms is to have sole rights for 90 days, it's easier to put in a new book at its inception than it is to remove a book from all the other eRetailers.
I had hoped that since it was a Valentine's Day story I could capitalize on the actual "holiday" so used up three of my five free promo days. I wouldn't run three days in a row again. The first day is the day when the book received the most downloads. Apparently I goofed by not letting a million websites know it would be free that day as they send out notices to millions of their readers advising them of the daily freebies. I still had a fairly decent amount of downloads on Day 2. By Day 3 there was barely a trickle.
One of my major problems is my genre. The most popular downloads are very specific genres like Christian Fiction, Romance, Horror, Paranormal, YA, Westerns, Science Fiction -- you get the picture. What's my genre? Crazy New Yorkers? Besides the obvious "short story" label, the closest I could come to a specific genre was Contemporary Women Fiction. Now when people see that they immediately think the book should only appeal to women. Truth is, some of the best feedback I've received on both books has come from men, so the "label" doesn't help my sales. I've never fit neatly into a box, so I guess it's only logical that my books wouldn't either. But that's a post for another day.
I've also never been invited to sit at the "cool kids" table so other than my loyal friends, and a handful of locals, I don't expect to have the type of support a lot of other authors receive. In fact, these last couple of months have really opened my eyes as to who are "in my corner" and who are not. I have to say the Roanoke local media have really been super supportive of my endeavors, and I thank them. I won't forget who sat with me and who threw stones from their corner. Silence can be just as hurtful as stones.
Anyhow, I hoped that by offering my short story free it would entice readers to seek out other books I've written. Depending upon how long it takes a reader to actually read a free book they downloaded, and from talking to people they download hundreds, if not thousands of free books weekly, it could take a while to see if that scenario does indeed happen. Unless hundreds of new readers "find me" on Amazon, at the end of the 90 day period I plan to pull The Valentine's Day Curse out of the exclusive program and publish with Smashwords Premium again.
I have no idea how Amazon comes up with its rankings but I did break through the top 100 in short stories in all three countries. The best ranking I had in the United States came in at 34. In England I got up to 17. And in Germany I was number 4 for a whole day! They must not read a lot of short stories in Germany. It was fun watching the numbers and I could only imagine how exciting it is for those independent authors that make it all the way to number 1. Way to go!
All I know is that at least I've put my money where my mouth is. I've always said I wanted to write and publish a book. Well, I did -- two in fact -- and both have had great reviews by very different people, and some of them not even close friends! And even if they're not "best-sellers" more people have read my published work since October than they would have had I wasted my time writing the perfect query letter.
I've been invited to be a guest on Daytime Blue Ridge on Monday at noon, so I'm looking forward to that. By my calculations I will have to sell 450 copies of The Valentine's Day Curse, or 54 copies of Fractured Facade to pay for the cost of having my hair cut and colored for my appearance. I doubt that will happen by Monday, but I don't even care. I'm just happy to be doing something I love...writing!