Saturday, May 14, 2011

Riding the Kindle Free eBook Train -Again

Some of my long-term readers might remember last year when Amazon posted my ebook, Monster in The Mirror for free, but still paid me commissions for each sale. I'd made a little over $2k in the process. Well they've done it again, but this time they've modified their sales agreement so that they don't pay the commission when an ebook goes free (you can prevent your books from going free, if you want).

But, even if I'm, not getting paid, giving away an ebook, especially if it's a novella or collection of shorts is a great way to introduce readers to one's work. It's not a guaranteed way to get readers to buy your other titles, but it does help. Especially if you have a good backlist (which I don't). I'm working to get a couple more titles that are almost finished out ASAP, so I can capitalize on all this free publicity.

So while ranking higher than War and Peace (again) on Amazon's Bestseller list looks good, it doesn't equate to success. Unless you can turn those free ebook readers into paying fans it's not doing a lot to advance your career.

For those of you who are curious, I've have over 5,000 downloads over the last several days, which has resulted in about 7 (Paid) sales over my average. So, it takes a lot a free ebooks to equal one sale. I'd estimate I get 1 extra sale for every 1,000 (or maybe 900) free downloads. Now, I know some of my fellow authors are doing better (a few worse). These are the one's who have lots of other ebooks for readers to buy.

So, with a little luck, by expanding the number of ebooks I have out, I can use this giveaway to build a bigger readership. Oh, in case you are wondering: Yes, I laughed out loud when I passed War & Peace in the rankings.


  1. Wow, Amazon discounted to zero and still paid you commission?

    That's full of awesome.

  2. Yes, they were experimenting with making indie ebooks free. The picked about a dozen of us; to amazon, paying a few authors 10k or so (total) to see how well it works, was just a small marketing expense.

    It was cool, but then they changed the terms. Now, if you list your ebook for free anywhere else, they can price match and don't have to pay any commission.
    Still, it's great exposure.

  3. Wow, Mike! You're doing great! Too bad about your commission drying up, but you're right about exposing yourself to readers. Great job~ keep those stories coming :)

  4. Haha, love the 'above War and Peace' pic, I so would've done a little dance at that too :) Good luck with it, hope you get some other books out so you can capitalise on it, it definitely is great publicity.

  5. Wow. This is some useful detail to keep in mind. Thanks for sharing it. Congratulations on outranking War and Peace!

  6. Bit late coming in here, but great stuff with the exposure. Releasing totally free ebooks is a tactic I'm looking into in the future to help build a platform, although my tactic will be doing so with the first book in a series I'm working on in order to have carry-over between readers of the free one to the next entry.

    Have you sales picked up since this? I know I'm a few months late to the party here, but it'd be interesting to know how you've fared in the months since, and if things have picked up at all following the promotion.

    Also, how many free downloads did the book end up serving before returning to full price?

  7. Yes, I see a bump from free ebooks, but I (currently) only have one book length ebook out and it's a shorts collection--so it's not a big bump. Also, you have to give out hundreds of ebooks for each sale you make.
    One nice thing though, is readers take their time getting to these free books, so there's a trickle-down effect.

  8. Oh yes, definitely, that's what I've seen from other authors using similar methods and my own expectations and usage habits. I've got numerous free books on my Kindle that I still haven't read, which I do intend to at some point - so I may well become a future buyer for those authors, even if now when I actually picked up the free title.