Come July 2nd my 90-day exclusive period for Fractured Facade in Amazon's KDP Select Program is up. I have decided to not click the auto-enroll feature.
Once upon a time, less than 90 days ago, I enjoyed the fruits of this program. The first time I offered a freebie I had almost 10,000 downloads and more sales in one month than I had previously experienced the prior six months everywhere else. The added bonus was my book was getting borrowed, which besides the freebie carrot, was a good reason to enroll my $4.99 novel. The "bad" part of having 10k free books downloaded, besides not getting a royalty on any of them, is that some will wind up in hands of readers who are not your target audience. Oh, and they will let you know via a 1-star rating.
Cut to the next freebie less than two months later. This time I took the advice of other writers who suggested I would have sold more books if my price was reduced. So I went with $3.99. Not as many downloaded, but well into the thousands and high ranking in the free charts. However, when it went back to paid, it plummetted back down to a lower level than it was when I first gave it away. Apparently the changing of the secret Amazon algorithms had struck! It took a day or two before the ranking went up, but by that time, I had probably lost any exposure and momentum I might have gotten. At this lower price point I sold 1/10th of the amount I had sold at $4.99, and worse yet, had only 1 measly borrow.
Now, I don't know if the following red-highlighted Prime Members borrow for free statement was always there under my "borrow this book" or if it popped up since my last freebie, but here it is: "With Prime, Kindle owners can choose from over 145,000 titles to borrow for free – including all seven Harry Potter books and more than 100 current and former New York Times Bestsellers – as frequently as a book a month, with no due dates." Frankly, if I were a Prime Member those are the books I would borrow since I only get one borrow a month. Those bestsellers charge about $12.99 for an eBook, so I would feel like I was getting my "money's worth." Although, once upon a time, I actually had borrows on my 99 cent short story, I haven't seen one of those in a while.
There's another reason I'm opting my novel out of Select. People are cheap. After reading comments on ENT and POI's posts, as well as across the internet from people who love, love, love the free books, some saying they will NEVER pay for an eBook, or, they're just waiting until a certain book goes free, I think the lack of sales might be due to people having come to expect something for nothing. As soon as they see the book on Amazon with "Prime Members can borrow for free" they assume it will eventually be free during a promotion. And they're usually right.
So, I've decided to run a test. I'm going to un-enroll Fractured Facade, leave it at $3.99 for the summer, and put it back on Smashwords, yet not opt-in to their premium catalogue just yet. In case I have a change of heart and want it to go back into Select, I don't want to have to waste weeks chasing down every location where the book is being sold. Smashwords takes it down pretty quickly, but the other outlets take their sweet time.
I still have a month to decide on what to do with my short story, The Valentine's Day Curse. I might just leave it enrolled, as one borrow (if it ever happens again!) equals over six sales. Also, I'd like to use it as bait when having a freebie, in the hope that someone will read it and seek out other books by me. I know that strategy works well for authors who have series, but I don't. However, I did have sales of Fractured Facade after giving away the short last time, so who knows.
Amazon seems to change things up all the time, so who knows what they'll decide to do next. I wish they had kept the algorithms where they were in the beginning of the year, but since they haven't all I have to say is, it was fun while it lasted.