Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
Back on the first of May I ran a Kindle Select promotion for Occasional Soulmates: three days of freebies. To pump up the volume, I listed the promo on a number of popular marketing sites, including the old reliable Ereader News Today, and to my astonishment more than 3000 copies flew out the window! This seemed extraordinary to me — just the kind of push the book needed to climb to the next level, i.e., organic word-of-mouth, gobs of new reviews, readers finding it via other means than my constant hawking. I also hoped for some new sales of Yesterday Road, discovered by readers who got Soulmates for free and decided to buy something else by the author (moi).
Friends, what I got instead was something of a shock. Have a look at my June sales:
Here’s what I glean from all this. One, as I’ve already heard on the indie street, just because someone downloads a free book doesn’t mean she actually reads it. I suspect that’s the case for most of the free copies of Soulmates. Second, just because someone downloads a free book and reads it doesn’t mean she’ll do anything else. There’s no mandate (thank goodness) to review everything we read. A thousand other free books are offered every flippin’ week, so our reader moves on to the next thing in the queue and forgets about this one in a nanosecond. Third, even if someone downloads, reads, and reviews a free book doesn’t mean the review will be positive. Of the handful of new reviews I’ve received since the promo, a couple were negative phone-ins of the sort that tells me the reader expected something completely different from what she got (for FREE). To be fair, a couple of very nice positive reviews came in too, but they haven’t helped to bring in any new sales. Everything occurs in a vacuum in this business.
The bottom line is that my Kindle Select promotion has had no effect whatsoever. Or, worse, it might have actually suppressed sales, judging by the June chart, in that a certain number of the 3000 downloaders might have actually paid for the book at some point. Not enough to make waves, but at least there might have been a few spikes on that startling flatline.
What to do?
First, I guess: Keep on keepin’ on. Nobody said this’d be easy. Nobody’s clamoring for another bit of indie lit fic by an author they never heard of. But I’m not about to quit just because this particular promotion appears to have failed.
More importantly, don’t put too much faith in schemes that seem to have worked for other writers. Your book is your book. You are you. What works for someone else might be completely wrong for you. Try to come up with new approaches, or at least stick to the long-term plan of getting new books into the hands of readers. Believe me, reaching a few hundred people with each book feels good, and that so many of them are generous with their praise and support makes it all the better.
It’s possible that, as the months go on, the 3000+ new owners of Occasional Soulmates will eventually get to reading it, and maybe I’ll begin to see the positive side of a free promotion.
For now, though, it looks like it’s back to the drawing board…