Sales Update (And Comparison…with coffee-induced musings)

There is a big effort in the indie author community to determine whether giving away “free” books is worth it or not.  Because we have no real data on how or why a customer decided to buy our book, this will forever be an argument based on very individualized experiences.

My first book was released in June 2010, well before the free promo/lending library was introduced.  Granted, it was a non-fiction by an unknown author with no economic or political career achievements to augment my work.  I might as well had my book cover say, “Statistics” by Joe Blow.  Yea, real seller there!  I looked wayyy back to those early months’ sales.  3 in June, 6 in July, and then 1 per month for a few months after.  I priced it at $2.99 then.

My latest book sold 9 copies in the first few days of going on sale, and has sold 13 more in November, or about 1 per day, at about $3.99 per copy.  I did a 1 day “free” promo for the book, resulting in about 220 downloads in the US.  So what possible factors are different with this book, than my last one?

I’m assuming a non-fiction political/economic book by an unknown author is probably much more difficult to sell than fiction, but I could be wrong.  I promoted A Cold Black Wave much more than the other, and I definitely know that resulted in at least a couple more sales (and a review) that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.  I ran the free promo, but it’s difficult to know how many sales resulted from that.  Strangely enough, I had about 50 free downloads in Germany and 2 actual sales.  It’s the only international purchases I’ve had, despite the UK downloading twice as many freebies than Germany.  I strongly believe those sales were a direct result of the free promo.

I promoted a two day sale of ACBW from $3.99 to $1.99, and received no sales.  I raised it back to $3.99 and received a sale shortly thereafter.

There are some people vehemently against the free promo.  It devalues our work, nobody makes money, and it creates a reader mentality of, “Why pay when I can get so many books for free?”  I’m not that against it, but I understand their case.  I’ve found more success with it than not. Promotional tools for Indie author’s are few and far between, so if you can get more sales with the free promo than not, then go for it.  Ultimately, you need to write a good story and get it into people’s hands and, hopefully, they start spreadin’ the news on their own.

Successful Indie author Hugh Howey, of the series “Wool”, described how social network’s ultimately fueled his marketing as people recommended his book.  This viral word of mouth was not something he controlled or paid money towards, it was the quality of his work that did its own marketing.

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