The Experiment Ends (And Other News)

As noted on Monday, I was trying a little experiment: I flung my Atlanta Burns novella, SHOTGUN GRAVY, up onto Amazon’s exclusive Kindle “KDP Select” program which purports to offer authors two key benefits: first, the ability to take part in Kindle lending which further grants authors access to a large “pot” of money monthly; second, the advantage (or, some might say, “advantage”) of putting your work up online for free.

As of late, a number of folks have noticed a phenomenon. You put your work up for free, and then when it once more re-enters paid gravity, suddenly the book becomes a Purchasing Magnet whereupon droves and flocks and herds and gaggles of Amazon readers come out of the woodwork to buy the recently-free book. A lot of authors have been attempting to jump this promotion’s bones (evidenced by the sudden flurry of “My work is free suddenly!” broadcasts).

Well, I figured, let’s try it.

SHOTGUN GRAVY‘s a novella that did well in its first month but kind of tapered off — it gets a sale or three a day, which is fine and adds to the whole pile, but it’s not exactly a rocketship to the money moon. Further, if I’m going to justify putting out the sequel, BAIT DOG, I figured I damn well better get the book into people’s hands. Free or not.

I originally put the book up for five days. You only get one five-day-period during your 90-day reign of exclusivity, however — so, I figured, I’d better chop it down to two.

Here’s how it went.

Putting the book up for free amassed a sudden burst of books distributed (I dare not use the word “sold” since, well, you don’t pay for a free book with anything but a stab of your finger on a mouse button). Right out of the gate, had about 100 people nab the book. Which was curious — where the hell did they come from? Are they real people? I don’t even know.

Over the course of the next 24 hours, I amassed over 5000 copies distributed free to readers. A nice enough number. Happy to have the book on a heap of Kindles, though one supposes that a good percentage of those will never read the book — perhaps I’m being cynical, but I know that the less I pay for a book, the lower it falls in my To-Be-Read pile. By yesterday morning, the book had reached #44 in the Top 100 Free and so I thought, now’s a good time to cut short the five days to two days. I went to end it thinking that I’d still get two full days of the promo — but within 30 minutes of asking the promo to end, it ended, lickity-split.

Which is fine, but I didn’t expect it to work that fast. Amazon can be notorious for veeeeeery sloooowly updating things — even a simple price change can take up to 48 hours to populate.

So, then. Results?

I did not initially see any boost in sales. Hour or two went by and the e-book didn’t move one whit. But then, ping — a sale. Okay, fine. Then another, and another. Steadily — and slowly, mind — the e-book sold about 60 copies. (This is as of 7:00PM last night.) It’s since not moved again in about an hour. The book crested to Amazon ranking #1,793. Further, it garnered another six reviews during that period (all four- and five-star).

(I’d politely ask that if you procured my book — or any book! — for free, leave a review upon reading it?)

Now, many have reported that a bigger sales boost occurs two to three days after the free promo ends. Not sure if that’ll happen here, but I’m damn sure gonna keep my eyes peeled.

Assessment of results?

Good, I guess. I’m happy to have the novella in the hands of 5000 more theoretical readers. I would have preferred they pay the buck for it, but if that means I’ve got more folks willing to chip in for BAIT DOG or other work of mine, that’s great.

This leads to the question, did I experience a sales boost of my other e-books?

I did not.

Quite the contrary, actually.

Soon as I triggered the free promo, my e-book sales over that two-day period were cleanly halved in twain. That’s kinda weird. I mean, I have no evidence that it has anything to do with the free promo — why would it? Surely it’s coincidence. Only thing I can think of is that there seems to exist some strange internal Amazon promotional algorithm that us Human Beings cannot access lest it overload our mental circuitry. Something about how books achieve rankings and show up under other books and appear on the main page and so on and so forth. If this is true, one could theorize that triggering the SG free promo… I dunno, rearranged the promotional eggs in the digital egg basket Amazon built for me.

Which makes little sense, but there it is.

We’ll see if sales rebound. Gods, I hope so — January has been a really stupendous month in terms of getting the e-books out there. Which leads me to…

Brand New E-Book Promo

Buy any of the following books on writing during the month of February:

CONFESSIONS OF A FREELANCE PENMONKEY

REVENGE OF THE PENMONKEY

500 WAYS TO BE A BETTER WRITER

And I’ll comp you a copy of:

250 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT WRITING.

If you procure via PDF, you don’t need to do anything. You’ll get 250 Things automatically.

If you procure via other methods (Amazon, B&N), send me proof of purchase to:

terribleminds at gmail.

Other Stuff

Let’s see, let’s see…

Just finished the first official (third unofficial) draft of MOCKINGBIRD. Off to the Robot!

Will today also finish the first draft of DINOCALYPSE NOW.

The Washington Post calls me a “death blogger” and “macabre mastermind” in a piece about my collaborative storytelling and art Tumblr project, This Is How You Die. Reminder, of course, that the How You Die blog is always taking submissions — text, photo, song, art of any variety, all about how you might die. (More information here.)

I also get a shout-out at Huffington Post courtesy of Amy Edelman and Melissa Foster in a piece called, “The Big Reasons Indie Authors Aren’t Taken Seriously.”

BLACKBIRDS gets its first official review (from Fantasy Nibbles, tee hee) — and it’s glowing! (“…a truly unforgettable heroine driving the action. The writing is razor sharp throughout, and I’m genuinely concerned that I might be a little bit messed up for enjoying this one so much.”)

Oh, and then the book gets another glowing review from New York Journal of Books! Woo. (“Author, screenwriter, and writing advice guru Chuck Wendig creates a compelling tale with an even more compelling protagonist in Miriam Black: a tough, street wise survivor who finally escapes her troubled childhood only to find that she can’t escape herself. Despite her fairly macabre lifestyle, Miriam has a strength and sarcastic wit that makes her very likeable and strangely sympathetic.”)

And My Bookish Ways throws DOUBLE DEAD into the review machine and gives it a 5 outta 5, baby. (“Double Dead is a terrifying, violent, American road trip through zombie hell.”)

Finally, TALES FROM THE FAR WEST — a rad-ass Wild West Wuxia mash-up short story collection based on Gareth Skarka’s Far West storyworld drops in e-book format (and soon, print). I’m in here surrounded by some of my favorite people — Will Hindmarch, Eddy Webb, Ari Marmell, Matt Forbeck, Jason Blair. My story — “Riding the Thunderbird” — is about a girl, an outlaw, and a herd of storming thunderbirds.