*Hearty sigh* At first, I was thrilled about the whole free eBook price match Amazon decided to do this month. Then I started thinking about what it meant long term.
The ONLY reason free eBooks works as a promotion tool, is because you’re getting something that would not usually be free, for free. It didn’t devalue books (like .99 does), because after a while you simply changed the price point back to normal.
But that won’t be the case if this becomes a regular thing for hundreds of books. I thought it was great to begin with, because my free eBook trial was quite successful, but it won’t work as a promotional tool if everybody does it at the same time. It won’t be an incredible deal then. It will be The Standard. And making it The Standard like .99 is becoming, means it won’t work for everybody (anybody else hearing stories of Indie’s confused at why pricing at .99 isn’t catapulting them into the Top 100 Paid?)
See, I was tracking a few threads on Kindle Boards (I do that a lot), and I gave my best wishes, because I was happy this free eBook promotion was seen as a good thing (it can get bashed at times). I didn’t post any numbers because I’m over that mass download rush, and I was busy celebrating my first taste of the Top 100 Paid chart. Then I started paying attention to the download numbers and rankings the Authors were posting. They were low. Crazy low. These are free eBooks we’re talking about here. As in no money paid, these Authors are getting zero pence for their work (some of which are brilliant novels) for the chance to be seen amongst the masses. Free is the removal of the final and most difficult barrier between you and a consumer ... price.
I didn't post anything in the threads, because it was a celebration, and there were already a few downers making themselves known, but it did make me frown.
Okay, in Kindle UK, Demon Girl was in the 40’s on the free chart when this exodus from paid to free happened, (month on month I had been dropping ten ranks). I was pushed out of the Top 100 completely in a matter of days. That is how many more free eBooks flooded the store.
It’s not that big of a deal for me, since I’d already milked it. But the other Indies ... crikey. There were posts from Authors as they slipped out of the free chart again in days. How is that increasing visibility? How are these Authors getting the full benefit from giving their work away for nothing? I sat in the top half of the UK chart for over six months.
Okay, so in Kindle US my book went free at the same time as these other books, and I still did pretty good (17,000) and I’m at the bottom of the Top 100 somewhere, but still, it’s not as good as I would have expected to do in this kind of promo run. The knock on effect is not as big as I would have expected ... in fact it's not there at all. But why would it be when my second book is $2.99/£1.50, and this reader has a bazillion other free reads to get through first. By the time they've finished they would have forgotten all about my series, or lost the urgency to buy the sequel, and leave a review.... See what I mean? At least I had a good run in the UK to firmly plant myself in reader's consciousnesses. Demon Girl was climbing as a paid download on the US side by itself, I was just reaching 1,000 sales a month. So frankly, Amazon, you screwed me over royally, because if you'd done your homework (properly) you would have seen my book stopped being free via Nook and iBooks a month ago.
Being Indie is difficult at best, and I’m thrilled for the Authors books were made free. I just wish Amazon had done it in batches of 50 or 100 every two months or something so they got the most out of it (like I did). That way chances are all of them would have hit the top half of the Top 100 for a prolonged period of time to create a lasting effect.
Hopefully, these Indies will get more reviews and readers because of this, but I can’t help but think they lost out big time compared to those who’ve had a freebie run in the past. I mean, if any Indies going through this free promotion think I'm wrong please tell me and I'll tumble off my high horse.
Did I ever mention I prefer iBooks to Kindle? Well I do. The buying experience is so much better and it’s book orientated.
On a better note I was interviewed by Independent Author Network. I change to 'VF' halfway through the interview, so instead of being upset I'm going to be creative and call myself, Vulutrix Fletcher when it comes to this interview ;) Please take five to give it a read and comment, I'll be sure to return the consideration.
And, Kudos to whichever reader stressed Sony out enough to pull this off, but Demon Day is now in the Sony Reader store one day after approval from Smashwords.
Lastly, does anyone have a benchmark for iBook sales or an idea of what is considered good? I'm trying to figure out if I did reasonably. Since I switched Demon Girl to paid I've had 240 (you don't have to divulge your figures, just say nope, that's low).