Sunday, May 18, 2014

Anatomy of a Free Book Promotion

Monday 12th May marked the official publication date of A Poison Tree, the third book in my Time, Blood and Karma series.

To give the launch party a bit of a kick-start, I decided to offer the first book in the series - Everyone Burns - free on Amazon worldwide for five days from 12th to 16th May.

In the run-up to the launch, I went to a whole bunch of websites specialising in mailing lists etc to promote free books (most of them are featured in the Author Marketing Club website: click HERE). None of these were paid advertisements, so in many cases there is no guarantee your book will feature - in the event most did,  some didn't. I also paid for an advertisement on BookBub for 13th May, which cost me a hefty $310, but BookBub has a mailing list of over a million readers of mysteries. Last time I used them I got a good result but achtung, it's not easy to get on there since they only accept a limited number of books per day. Be persistent if this is the route you want to go down.

As the free promo started I tweeted like a maniac, and used various retweet groups as well as Facebook and a Goodreads event. If you're short of time, you might want to skip the Goodreads event. I've always found the results to be disappointing, and sometimes I think we authors might just be p*ssing off the 'genuine' readers on there. I digress.

The first day of the free promo was mildly disappointing, but on the second day when BookBub kicked in the downloads soared, taking the book up to No. 4 in free bestsellers, and to No. 1 in the categories of Crime Fiction and International Mystery and Crime. The fame is short-lived, however, so celebrate quickly. 24 hours later the next BookBub mailshot hit the ether and Everyone Burns dropped down to No. 13, where it clung on tenaciously for another 24 hours, before sliding to a still-honourable No. 23. It ended its promo at No. 37, and No. 2 in Crime Fiction and International Mystery and Crime.

Total downloads over the five days ran out at just over 36,900. Here's a day-by-day graph for the geeks among us.

BookBub made a big difference on Tuesday!

If you are interested in how that equates to velocity of downloads, here is how frequently a book was being downloaded (daily average - of course this varies a lot depending on the time of day).

On average over the five days (120 hours),
5 books were being downloaded every minute.


Well, that's not so obvious as it might seem, my friends. Sure, around 37,000 downloads gives you some bragging rights - and allows you to boast about it on your tweets etc - but being a guy for the financial numbers, I always do a cold analysis of how the dollars stack up.

As an exercise, this is not so easy. You have to make some judgement calls. So let me share with you how I do this. You might not agree with my analysis, but that doesn't matter since you can easily insert your own assumptions once you know how I carry out the assessment.

Author warning: this might depress you. A lot.

I see the financial benefits as being of two types: (1) the 'bounce', and (2) further sales.


A free promo creates visibility for your book(s) - something we Indies need. When I've run free promos in the past, a 'halo' effect emerges. In the aftermath of the promo, you will sell more of that book than you would otherwise have done; and furthermore you will sell more of your other books too, both during and after the promo. In my experience, this phenomenon lasts about four weeks. Then you're back into obscurity again.

So my 'bounce ' impact I determine by the following formula:




So for example, suppose I sold a total of 1,000 books during this period, and I estimate I would have sold 500 regardless. Let's also assume my net royalty per book averages $1.50. If my BookBub advert cost $310, then my net 'Bounce' is:

(500 x 1.50) - 310 = $440.


In case you are wondering how I arrive at the figure for 'books I would have sold anyway' over this period, I take the average daily sales of  my books during the month immediately before the promo and then adjust it by whatever black magic factors seem appropriate (e.g. if I've just had a new book launch). I told you this wasn't scientific, but it gives you some kind of idea. Cause and effect is a dodgy phenomenon, and a slippery one.


This is where it gets really subjective, but what the hell. Disagree if you like.

Free book downloads are largely an impulse thing, and Amazon has made it so easy to do that for the reader if they think they MIGHT want to read the free book, it's better just to download it anyway then worry later about whether they want to read it.

The consequence of this is: THE VAST MAJORITY OF YOUR BOOK DOWNLOADS WILL PROBABLY NEVER BE READ. They will sit on Kindles and laptops feeling sorry for themselves, lost among all the other free and paid downloads, forever. Now then, if somebody doesn't read your book, how likely is it that it will spur them on to buy another one of your books? Not likely at all - in fact, forget it.

My approach to quantifying the unit and financial impacts of this is to make the following assumptions:

a) Only 5% of my downloads will ever get read at all. Yup. Only 1 in 20. Does this sound pessimistic? If so, think about how many downloads you personally have made in the last 12 months - and how many of those have you actually read? If you haven't read a book within 12 months of downloading it, the chances are that you never will read it. How fast is your personal TBR list growing?

b) Of the downloads that ARE read, only 1 in 3 readers will like my book enough to put their hands in their pockets and buy another one. Btw, forget your four and five star reviews on Amazon. They are NOT an indication of how well your writing is perceived, since only a very tiny proportion of your readers will write a review. If readers in general only 'quite' like your book, the chances are they won't part with their hard-earned cash to 'quite' like another one. They have to LOVE it. We should always remember this, so we don't get carried away.

So, for my Everyone Burns 'further sales' my calculation runs as follows:

Free downloads (say)    36,900 
Downloads that will actually be read = 5% (say)    1,845
Further sales over next 12 months = 1/3 of this (say)    600
Extra sales per month over say next 12 months average units    50
FURTHER SALES Revenue at say $1.50 per book    $900

SUMMARY: given factors a) and b) above,  36,900 downloads will translate into 1,100 extra paid book sales over the following 12 month period. If I'm lucky.

OK, that's enough for now. My brain hurts.

You can, of course, get rather more sophisticated in your analysis if you want, and substitute your own assumptions and percentages for mine. But remember: all this is rather subjective. It just gives you an idea of how you are doing. If you review your actual sales for the six months after the promo, it might give you a better idea of what percentages etc you should be using, but be mindful that other factors - seasonal, pricing, competition, blog posts, change in the number of social media followers etc, further promos and book launches - will all muddy the waters of knowing.

Happy promoting! And ... um ... don't forget to keep writing too. Good books only, please :-)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Indie Book Release Fest: Electa Graham

Boy, it's a busy week for Indie book releases!

First, Christoph Fischer's wonderful Time to Let Go, and now Electa Graham's third instalment in her Cassandra Myles Witch Series. Plus keep reading for news of a FREEBIE. We all love freebies, don't we?

Hey, it's worth buying just for the cover!
(Although I am reliably informed that the
author is MUCH better looking than this)

Blood and Reign – Cassandra Myles Witch Series Book Three

Release – 16th May

Cassandra Myles has killed the Queen of the Dark Fae. Now she is their queen and she must bring peace to and unite the Light and the Dark Fae a job she feels grossly unqualified for. To make matters worse, someone is trying to kill her. Not many fae want a human queen, and fewer still are interested in peace, the list of suspects is long and the people she can trust are few. If that isn’t enough for a human witch to deal with, the man she loves has professed his love for her. This would be great if she didn’t feel it couldn’t possibly work, and would only cause grief and heart ache to them both. She has to find a way to convince him to move on, not to mention find her own tenuous resolve to do so. 

Can Cassandra do the impossible and unite the warring fae before they erase themselves from existence? Will she be able to send the man she loves away? Never underestimate a witch with her back against the wall. 

Click HERE to go to Amazon and buy a copy immediately! (And no, I'm not getting any commission for this, in case you were wondering. My reward will be in Heaven. At least, I hope so.)

And now for the freebie!

To celebrate the launch of book three in her epic series, the author is giving away FREE, GRATIS AND FOR NOTHING copies of the first book in the series from 16-18 May.

Yes, you heard me right, Blood and Loss can be yours for just a couple of clicks. No catches, no phuquerie, and no salesman will call. Simply click HERE

There, now wasn't that easy?

You can find Electa on Twitter @ElectaGraham

... And on her website

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Introducing Christoph Fischer...

I had the extreme good fortune to bump into Christoph Fischer in the writers' support group ASMSG, to which we both belong. No, ASMSG don't make hernia belts, in case you were wondering.

Christoph writes literary, human stories, and his The Three Nations Trilogy series is set in a historical context, namely a Europe riven by twentieth century warfare. I have already read and reviewed Sebastian and The Black Eagle Inn and I was blown away. My 5-star reviews are on Amazon under the handle of 'Diogenes'.

Well, now Christoph has a new novel launching this week - on 15th May to be exact (though for a few quid more, I can probably get you a black market copy) - Time to Let Go. Read all about it below, and see Christoph's links. He is definitely an author to watch!

Time to Let Go is a contemporary family drama set in Britain.
Following a traumatic incident at work Stewardess Hanna Korhonen decides to take time off work and leaves her home in London to spend quality time with her elderly parents in rural England. There she finds that neither can she run away from her problems, nor does her family provide the easy getaway place that she has hoped for. Her mother suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and, while being confronted with the consequences of her issues at work, she and her entire family are forced to reassess their lives.
The book takes a close look at family dynamics and at human nature in a time of a crisis. Their challenges, individual and shared, take the Korhonens on a journey of self-discovery and redemption.

Quotes from the first reviews:
“A moving and insightful tale”
“An engaging story of how life can get in the way of the things that should really matter and the things that your heart should hold on to”
“A must read for anyone that has dealt with Alzheimer’s”
“Have kleenex on hand and know that this emotional story will stay with you, but it is worth the tears”
“Having once worked in a hospital dedicated to the care of Alzheimer's patients, I found was a heart-felt and realistic story”
“I cried when I read the book, but I also smiled at the ability of the author to capture the essence of human nature so beautifully. I can't recommend this book highly enough! Treat yourself.”
“This is a heartbreaking story but at the same time it has some wonderful moments.”
“This is a book with great insight, written with understanding and feeling.”
“Christoph Fischer has done an amazing job with a difficult subject. He shows a lot of understanding of human nature and a great deal of insight.”
“A fabulous, thought-provoking read,”
“This achingly beautiful swan song is honest, poignant, and ultimately uplifting.”


Amazon US  Time to Let Go

Amazon UK  Time to Let Go

Christoph on Twitter  @CFFBooks

Christoph's Website

Christoph's Amazon Author Page

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Oh No! Not ANOTHER One of These Things!

OK, I get it. Really, I do.

You’re completely fed up with ruddy authors inviting you to book launch parties. Especially those authors whom you’ve made the fatal mistake of friending, only to discover the only time they contact you is when a new book of theirs comes out.

For those of you with whom I have already chatted, there ARE details below of a book launch, Goodreads Giveaway, and free copies of ‘Everyone Burns’ on Amazon.

For those of you with whom I have not yet chatted, feel entirely free to consign this to your bin, and accept my spammer apologies. Unless, of course, you really do want to know about a book launch and freebies – in which case, you are most welcome to join in the virtual fun and games.

A POISON TREE, the third book in the ‘Time, Blood and Karma’ mystery series is officially launched on Amazon worldwide in the week commencing 12 May. The relevant links are set out below (I don’t put them in the middle of a message because they give me a headache).

If you feel like throwing your hat in the ring, there are paperback copies available as a Goodreads Giveaway – again, just click on the relevant link below. I promise no salesman will call J

To further whet your appetite – that is assuming I’ve managed to whet it at all so far – the first book in the series, EVERYONE BURNS, will be free to download from Amazon from 12 to 16 May inclusive. Links once again (yes, you’ve guessed it) below.

OK, now you can get back to doing something important. Like putting out the garbage or making cupcakes or telling your partner you love them. Actually, scrub that last one. It sounds kind of cheesy.

A POISON TREE, available on all Amazon sites worldwide in Kindle and paperback formats. US and UK links below:

A POISON TREE Goodreads Giveaway (sorry folks, for US and UK readers only)

EVERYONE BURNS free to download on ALL Amazon sites worldwide from 12 to 16 May, inclusive. US and UK links below. Please check it is free before you download it!

Regardless of all the above, I hope you are having a happy and successful 2014!


Monday, May 5, 2014

Official Launch Date Looms...

A Poison Tree launches officially and with much merriment on 12th May. There will be singing, dancing and the consumption of alcoholic beverages. A modicum of lewd behaviour will be tolerated - just on this one occasion, you understand.

"You kill my wife and I'll kill yours." You must admit, as a proposition, it has an alluring symmetry to it.

It is 1999, and as the Millennium approaches, old certainties wither. For family man, David Braddock, his hitherto predictable world is undergoing a slow collapse. The people closest to him seem suddenly different. As desires and aspirations tangle around each other like parasite stems, betrayal is in the air. 
And so is murder. 

Fans of Braddock will finally learn the sequence of events that drove him into exile in Asia, while for new readers, ‘A Poison Tree’ is the perfect introduction to the ‘Time, Blood and Karma’ series. 

Also available on all other Amazon sites worldwide. Not yet available to Martian readers.