I previously ran a free promo on Tube Riders in October that saw it reach #76 overall in the free rankings with just over 3700 downloads in the US and another 600 or so elsewhere. The result was roughly 60 sales/borrows (I count borrows in with sales as I receive more or less the same amount of payment for them) over the following month, before it fell off a cliff at the 30-day mark.
In the previously seven months Tube Riders had sold roughly 30 copies, so a bump of 60 was significant for me, even though my highest number in a 24 hour period was just 4.
I scheduled my next free run for December 20th to 22nd, hoping that my book would hit the Also-bought lists on Amazon around Christmas Day (last time, I had maybe just one sale in the 48 hours post-free).
My promo was again moderately successful, getting picked up on one biggish site (Freebooksy, the same as last time) and it shifted 3300 copies overall, just over 3000 of those in the US. I'm fully aware that a book such as mine has only limited mass market appeal - it isn't in the romance genre, doesn't feature good-looking vampires or angsty teenagers, for example, plus there is a scary guy on the cover - so it's unlikely to ever go really high up the free lists. Still, it topped a couple of genre lists (including one in Germany) so I was relatively happy although not expecting a big post-free sales peak.
Factors against me were -
a) I had less downloads than last time
b) ebook numbers are growing by roughly 1000 a day
c) it's Christmas, and more people than usual will be doing promos
After Tube Riders came off promo I was hoping for about 20 to 30 sales over the coming month. Possibly a couple more because of Xmas. However, after just under four days I've already beaten the total from the whole of October. Considering that up until December 22nd I'd sold 12 copies total in the whole month, that is a significant bump. I've reached my highest rankings ever in both the US and the UK.
Obviously Christmas has played its part. However, considering there must be far more books all vying for the same sales, in addition to the fact that I gave away less than last time, my ever-analytical mind has turned to considering other possible factors that may or may not have had a significant impact.
a) obviously it's Christmas
b) Tube Riders has more reviews than before - 13, compared to 6 when it did its last free run. The more reviews there are the more popular a book appears to be.
c) Some of the reviews are negative. I don't really worry too much about reviews because everyone is entitled to their opinion and reviews are not really for me but for other readers, but I think a couple of negative reviews actually provide a bit of balance. I'm always suspicious of a book that has ten or twenty straight five-star reviews.
d) I had already given away a bunch on a previous promo so perhaps they were logged into the system somewhere, giving it a higher bump this time around.
e) it's dark and cold outside and the book has a scary cover. I don't know, but I seem to get a lot of sales around midnight!
f) I've kept the price the same. Last time I juggled it a bit - moving it up to $5.99, putting it down to 0.99c for a bit. This time I've kept it at a steady $3.99 in the US and whatever that translates to elsewhere. I'm pretty much an unknown writer, however I think anything less makes it look cheap for what it is (it's 600 pages) while anything more would cause people to hesitate longer. I don't know. It's selling at that price so it's staying at it for now.
I can't prove or disprove any of the above, and I won't make any predictions on future sales. What it does do is give me confidence in knowing that with enough visibility there are people out there that will buy my book in decent numbers. I'm certainly not giving up the day job any time soon but as I intend to publish many, many more books over the next few years this is certainly a stepping stone in the right direction.
27 Dec 2012