Giving it away

Last week I gave my books away for free. There are a few reasons an author might do this. My reason was a pretty easy one. I've got a new book coming out in a couple of weeks, and I hoped to build a little interest in my work in advance. This next part is probably most interesting to other indie authors. Let's look at the results, starting with my two short stories.

BookCover-Soma

Soma

I ran a single-day giveaway for Soma, with no additional promotional efforts. This happened on a Tuesday. Soma is a short story, about 15,000 words, and it's usually priced at $0.99. As this was my first giveaway, I didn't really know what to expect, but I was pleased with the results. The giveaway also appeared to drive a few new sales of Onyx, which is part of the same series.

Total downloads: 276 (US), 22 (everywhere else)

Highest list position: #6, Free > Science Fiction > Short Stories

onyxOnyx

On the following day, Wednesday, I ran another single-day giveaway for Onyx. This title is also a short story, just a few thousand words longer than Soma, and is part of the same series. It's also usually priced at $0.99.

Total downloads: 239 (US), 20 (everywhere else)

Highest list position: #7, Free > Science Fiction > Short Stories

Each of these short stories are in the market to help promote my upcoming trilogy, The Movement Series. The first book is going to be out in a couple of weeks. The real surprise, however, was my standalone novel, The Man Who Ended the World.

The Man Who Ended the WorldThe Man Who Ended the World

Unlike the previous two giveaways, I thought I'd run this one over the weekend. It started last Friday and ran until midnight Sunday. Also unlike the other two, I decided to do a little extra promotion for the giveaway. I notified 16 different Kindle book blogs of the giveaway, and to my knowledge, at least 3 of them ran a short blurb about it. (Might have been more, but I didn't go back to all sixteen sites to confirm.)

In this case as well, The Man Who Ended the World is a longer title (about 50,000 words) and is priced more ($2.99).

Well, the giveaway went very differently than the prior two. Maybe it was because a more expensive, longer book has more perceived value. Maybe people were stocking up on books for the weekend. Maybe the cover design was more attractive. There really are too many variables to be certain.

But the book blew up. By 8:00 a.m. on Friday, I already had more downloads than either Soma or Onyx had received. By the afternoon, the book was being downloaded at a rate of about 50 copies per minute. The real magic happened when the book appeared on the overall Top 100 Free list.

Total downloads: 9,813 (US), 425 (everywhere else)

Highest list position: #30 overall on Top 100 Free books; #2 on Free > Science Fiction

Even better, the giveaway appears to have increased sales of my other titles. Onyx and Soma both moved into double-digit sales, and as soon as the free giveaway ended, The Man Who Ended the World had a sales jump, too. Not a significant one, but a noticeable one.

When my next book appears in the market, I think I'll be running a few more giveaways like this, just to see how it helps sales of the new title.