1. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    The result of an experiment

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by JayG, Jan 13, 2014.

    This year I decided to self-release a romance series I titled, The Sisterhood of the Ring. And because there were six novels in the series I decided to make the first volume free, as an audition, rather than supply the usual excerpt.

    At the end of September I released the first volume as both a Kindle release and through Smashwords. Since that time three more of the six have been released in the same way.

    The end of year figures are in, and though I'm not getting rich, I'm pretty damn happy. I noticed several interesting things I thought worth sharing.

    Total downloads for 2013 was 6787 The vast majority are the free download of Water Dance.

    That breaks down to: Amazon: 2500 Smashwords: 630 Barnes & Noble: 3237 Apple: 225 Diesel: 10 Page Foundry: 12 Sony: 173

    While sales of the others in the series only amount to a few hundred dollars, this does show some interesting patterns.

    First, the number of downloads through B&N is significantly greater than Amazon. And while the number of customer reviews on Amazon for Water Dance is four, B&N resulted in eleven. Are they more responsive there? Seems so.

    But what matters is that every site but Amazon came as part of the Smashwords release package, which includes those sites. So while many may look down on Smashwords, what they offer is actually more effective in reaching readers than Kindle.

    That's something else worth noting. When you release a series, each new volume results in very few sales for that title, because readers, if that story sounds interesting, will, rather than buying, head for the first in the series—in this case the free sample. Will those thousands of free downloads for Water Dance result in sales of the other novels down the line? One certainly hopes so.

    I'll let you know. But one way or the other, tonight, I'm pretty happy tonight.
     
  2. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    Congratulations @JayG the data is interesting. It's just me, but I would have a hard time giving away the first book. Even if it did point to better sales for the rest of the series.
     
  3. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    Interesting stats. Did you do any other marketing across the two platforms or just rely on people finding the series organically?
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    interesting info, jay... congrats on the sales!

    how many copies does that 'few hundred dollars' represent and over what period of time...
     
  5. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    thanks for sharing your download figures. It's the kinda thing few authors are willing to share, but so useful for writers to know! So if you publish via Smashwords, you're automatically on all the other sites (including B&N) except Amazon?

    @Fitzroy Zeph - there're authors who, instead of giving away the first volume, they write a short story prequel and give away that instead :)
     
  6. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    @JayG - thanks for posting this. From time to time, people will post regarding their self-pubbing "successes", and requests for specific data are almost never forthcoming. Your specifics, as well as the conclusions you draw from them, are very much appreciated. I wish you the best of success on the series.
     
  7. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    I went to several sites that do reviews, and have pages for it on my blog, of course, but that's about all. Who has money for more?

    The time frame for all but Kindle is from September 2013. Amazon took till November to price-match Smashwords. And on all of them there was surge each time one of the following stories was released (three so far) total sales is only about 150 for the others so far. Free appears to be a lot more popular than paying. :oops:

    Assuming you're approved, you get B&N, Sony, Apple, and several more that most people haven't heard of. There's also something in the works where you're included in a lending library site and get a percentage of the monthly fee if you're read that month.
     
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  8. AES256
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    AES256 New Member

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    I rarely ever post let alone sign in. First off, congrats on your figures. Second, it's not surprising. I've had similar responses with my works under various pen names. Not having written romance myself, I imagine the reviews are so few because people don't want it in their review history. Much like how the highest grossing erotica works barely have any reviews, but they sell thousands of units a week.
     
  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Re the free thing, do you have to pay anything for the publishing if you don't charge a nominal amount the platform can take a cut of?

    My friend who self publishes mentioned Amazon letting her have one of the books free each month on a rotating basis as a promotional thing. But I've never asked her if she had the option to make anything free for as long as she wanted.

    I was confused by the price matching you noted. Isn't that up to you and not Amazon?
     
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    The program that allows a book to be free for a certain number of days is through Amazon's Kindle Select Program. You get something like 5 days at a time. You can put the book on Smashwords, or elsewhere, for free (if you are not in Kindle Select) and Amazon should match that price. They won't charge you for it.
     
  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Thanks.
     
  12. AES256
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    AES256 New Member

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    You could do permafree. What you would do is load it into Smashwords and set it to $0.00 and Amazon's crawler will price-match it within 24 hours. KDP select is tricky and can be rewarding. I hate a 20K short on there a while ago, and during the 90 days I was lumped with a few good periods of where the pot was large and there wasn't a whole lot of books. Borrows came out to be 2.50 on average.
     
  13. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    Amazon won't let you keep something free, but they will price match. So if you release it through Smashwords, too, and make it free there, Amazon will match it and make it free, too. It took a bit over a month for that to happen, and I had to have three people report it before they did.
     

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