Since it's been about sixth months when I removed both of my books from Amazon's KDP Select program, and between four and six months since my short story, "The Valentine's Day Curse" has been free, I thought it was time to report on my findings.
As I outlined in this post, "Is PermaFree For Me?" one of the main reasons of offering my short story for free was to see if it translated to sales for my novel, "Fractured Facade." My hope was people would become familiar with my writing and seek out my other book. I had also hoped that the downloads of the freebie would be so great that I would remain in the top 100 on Amazon awarding me a highly visible place. Another hope was that I would receive more reviews.
So let's look at each of these hopes -- first the reviews. In this PermaFree time period I have received a whopping two reviews, one in the U.S. and one in the UK, and both are 5-stars. But that's it. One of the reviewers on Amazon said they would look for other books from me, but according to my Amazon stats, they never bought it. Which brings me to sales.
Re. Amazon: Since I've pulled everything out of KDP Select, there have been zero sales. Yup, that's a big fat goose egg on Amazon. Since sales were non-existent there, I dropped the price of Fractured Facade to $3.99 everywhere for the summer. And that has made a difference on Smashwords, but not on Amazon. In fact, my downloads on Smashwords and the two sites I publish to through them, Barnes & Noble and iTunes for the freebie, have over-taken Amazon's numbers. And this is with The Valentine's Day Curse being in the wrong category at B&N and iTunes! It's been forever since I've been trying to get it placed correctly, and out of "Theatre." Frustrating indeed, but not as frustrating as coming to the realization that in my case Kindle/Amazon customers mainly download freebies, whereas Nook readers and iPad folks do not have a problem paying for a book. One plus is that I have broken into most countries via Amazon, with Japan and India being the sole hold-outs.
My main problem with Smashwords is that I don't get real-time figures. I will see downloads on my dashboard, but not know if they were samples or full purchases until the day I wake up and see that Apple and B&N have reported sales. And my hope that the free downloads on Amazon would keep me in the top 100 only lasted a couple of days after it first went free. With each additional month the ranking drops lower and lower. The only way to keep the numbers up is to promote it constantly and I don't want to do that. Once in a while I'll throw out a tweet about it, but that's pretty much it.
So, although my hope was that the freebie would translate into sales, it really hasn't happened. Well, I guess it has happened, just not on Amazon, and not as high as I had hoped on the other outlets either. But, I am selling books -- paperbacks, that is. And no, not online. My biggest seller has been just having a copy of my book placed on the counter at our auto repair shop. Customers pick it up and either read it while they are waiting for their car, or once they realize I wrote it, ask to buy a copy. They particularly like when I sign it for them. And out of all the outlets whether it's an eBook or paperback, local point of purchase is my biggest profit margin. Of course this does not translate to a "high ranking" anywhere but my pocketbook. And that's okay with me.
So in closing...for now "The Valentine's Day Curse" will remain free. Links to everywhere are on the sidebar. "Fractured Facade" is $3.99 for two more weeks before going back to $4.99. The paperback is available for $14.99. And if you are local and would like an autographed copy just drop me a line.
The mantra amongst authors is to sell books you have to write books, the more the better, series really are the way to go, yada, yada, yada. So what's been happening on any future book? Progress is being made, but "prolific" is not my middle name. And frankly, I've been having a little too much fun researching! You might have already read this on my Facebook Author Page, but for those who haven't, I'd like to leave you with this tidbit I found which was an actual Wanted Ad placed in June 1866 in the Alexandria Gazette and reprinted in the Roanoke Times:
Wanted -- One hundred seventy five men of all shapes and sizes, from the tall graceful dandy with hair enough on his upper works to stuff a barber’s cushion, down to the little hump-backed freckled face, bowlegged carrot headed upstart. The object is to form a gaping corps to be in attendance at the church doors on each Sabbath before the commencement of divine service, to stare at the females as they enter, and make delicate and gentlemanly remarks on their person and their dress. All who wish to enlist in the above, will appear at various church doors next Sabbath morning where they will be duly inspected and their names, personal appearance and quantity of brains registered in a book kept for that purpose, and published in the newspaper. To prevent a general rush it would be well to state that none will be enlisted who possess intellectual capacities above that of a well bred donkey. -- Alexandria Gazette