Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Free Can Equal Sales

Thanks to support from friends on Blogger, Google+, and Twitter, I was able to sell a few hundred copies off the bat with the June release of ADVENTURES OF CASH LARAMIE AND GIDEON MILES and it's sequel, VOL. II. Then after the excitement died down, sales puttered along at ten or so copies a day. Not bad, but how to reach a wider audience?

Give it away seems to be the answer!

Kindle now provides the opportunity to offer your book for free for a limited time -- no more than five days to be exact. So I did it, and I stared in amazement when I hit the refresh button -- nearly one hundred copies had moved in less than a couple of minutes. Then I hit refresh again and another sizable batch flew off the virtual shelf. It went on like that for two days nonstop. I eventually ended up moving just over 3k. Now if folks had bought that many of my books, I would have pocketed a cool grand *dreams a bit* but I know that wouldn't have happened.

So what good did the free offer do?

Three thousand readers who weren't familiar with Cash & Miles now have it on their Kindle. If only a quarter of them like my heroes, then that's an improvement on future sales when, hopefully, they purchase the next book for $0.99. Additionally, I sold two hundred copies of the first volume that most likely wouldn't have been purchased if I hadn't decided to offer my book for free -- more than one person on Twitter mentioned they bought the first collection after getting the second for $0.00.

I hope you don't mind me posting about this, not bragging here, and many other writers out there are way ahead of me on this, but I thought it may be of use to a few. In a nutshell: free is good and can equal other/future sales.

Agree? Disagree? What are your experiences?


Martin Stanley said...

I did the same recently for The Gamblers - partly because I thought the book had run its course in terms of sales - and now I'm glad I did.

December was my best ever sales month and I'm pretty certain it was down to the promotion rather than people getting new Kindles for Christmas.

Now the book is installed on over a thousand Kindles worldwide and it's still selling in January, despite a price hike, so I'd say it's an experiment that is well worth undertaking (particularly for older or back-catalog material).

Chris Rhatigan said...

Yeah, if you can get your book into 3,000 hands, I think that's about the best promotion in the world.

I'm going to post on this soon, but I'm seeing the same thing with Pulp Ink -- lowered the price from $2.99 to .99, and we've sold far, far more copies. It's not even close.

Randy Johnson said...

Promotion is the key and that sort of thing is definitely promotion.

Oh, and Martin, I was unfamiliar with your work, but I now have THE GAMBLER in my Kindle. PULP INC I already have.

David Cranmer said...

Martin, My sales in December were also best yet and I know it was the free promotion. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. If you read Randy's comment below it looks like you have another sale.

Chris, I'll be interested in your post on this subject and I'm glad to hear INK is doing well. "Clouds in a Bunker" has received quite a bit of recognition and I have you and Nigel to thank for the exposure.

Randy, Finding fresh promotional avenues can be tough. This one I like and seems to work.

John DuMond said...

Count me among those who think that free can equal sales. Provided it's done right of course. And it sounds like you did it right.

I downloaded Vol. 2, then purchased Vol. 1. I'm looking forward to reading them.

A. C. Ellis said...

I hope you're right. I have a short story, Ghosts, up on Amazon for free. It is tangentially connected with my sf novel, Shadow Run. We'll see what happens.

A. C. Ellis

Icy Sedgwick said...

I remember offering my two self-published books for free and seeing a massive jump in downloads, but I can't guarantee that those people even read the books (I certainly got no reviews), and if they did read them, there's no guarantee they'll enjoy The Guns of Retribution (too different a style) Still, it's always interesting to see how these things pan out for other people and I'm glad that more people are going to be enjoying the stories!

Ron Scheer said...

Amazing how the word FREE affects people's behavior. Glad to see you building a franchise. There's a lesson in that, too.

David Cranmer said...

Thanks, John. I appreciate that and I hope you enjoy the books. Many writers are still trying to figure out some aspects of this eBook (Brave New World) business. So it's good to hear feedback from folks who are having success and how they got there.

A.C., I'll check "Ghosts" out. Thanks for stopping by.

I know what you mean, Icy. Our BEAT to a PULP: HARDBOILED is free today and tomorrow but I can't imagine sales spiking for my western releases. Too different in style like you mentioned.

Ron, Interesting because $0.99 is practically free. :) Btw I have a book coming your way tonight.

Dan_Luft said...

David, a lot of the new readers might not equate the name Cranmer with Grainger until after they've read the book. Maybe no spike but a slow swell. Thanks everybody for mentioning your books I'll be checking them out.

Jacquie Rogers said...

My sales took a hit in December (nothing offered for free, but I do have a 99¢ full-length book out)so I'll definitely be enrolling my new release in the KDP Select program. I'm hoping it floats both books.

Charles Gramlich said...

Thanks for sharing this kind of information. I wondered what the effect was likely to be so that is cool. Many writers keep this stuff close under wraps so I appreciate you sharing.

David Cranmer said...

Dan, Good point. On Twitter I'm under Cash Laramie/David Cranmer to help bridge that gap. And I'm a slow swell kinda guy. :)

Jacquie, I've entered three of my books in the KDP Select lending program. I'm still waiting to see if that pays off. So far almost one hundred folks have borrowed Hardboiled and Cash/Miles I & II.

You bet, Charles. I'll do a few more of these posts if I can shed any more insight.

Martin Stanley said...

Thank you very much for the purchase, Randy. I hope you enjoy it.

David, how many of your promotional days did you use in December? I ended up using three days (split into two sale periods - one weekend and one Sunday).

I'm interested in finding out what works best, and how and why, so I can use my final two days as effectively as possible. I keep being drawn to the final weekend of the 90 day 'exclusivity period'.

David Cranmer said...

I wish I had split it up, Martin. I ran my western collection for five days but all sales were in the first few days. With my Harboiled collection, I did just three days and will do the other two later in the month. I think splitting up the time is best.

Ruby Claire said...

Thanks for all comments.

Sales letter

Martin Stanley said...

Hi David, I noticed that my second sale period (only two weeks after the first) was markedly less successful than the first.

Definitely think I'll wait until towards the end of my three month period before doing my final promotional push.

After my promotion I put up the price, and even though it is £1($1) more expensive, the sales are still considerably better than they were before I did the promotion