Joanne Phillips

A Writers Journey



Free Promotions and the Short Story Collection

Last week I ran a free promotion on Kindle for my short story collection A Life Unpredicted. I wasn’t expecting anywhere near as many downloads as I had for my debut novel, Can’t Live Without, back in July (see link at the end for info on this promo). In fact, I didn’t know what to expect, and the results were quite surprising – both in good and bad ways. Here is a run down of what I did and what happened:

The book went free in the UK at 9.00 am, and a bit later on the US site. I spent all day listing the book on the relevant sites and tweeting etc. But by the end of the first day the results were very discouraging – only 181 downloads in the UK, 32 in the US, and the book was ranked at #163 overall. It did reach #3 in both its categories, which was nice. But, as I was by now starting to realise, folks don’t love short stories that much!

More listing and tweeting etc, and today one of the big sites, Free Digital Reads, listed the book. There were some which refused to take the book as they only list novels, but generally today the work I put in yesterday began to pay off and downloads increased – 900 UK, 500 US, and #21 overall by the time I went to bed.

On the last day of the promotion I did very little, and the book peaked in position at #20 overall and #1 in both its categories. Downloads continued all day, and by the time the book went back to paid-for (on Saturday morning) I’d had a grand total of 2093 downloads in the UK, 990 US, and 4 over the rest of the world 🙂 So, 3,087 in total.

This is less than a third of downloads achieved for Can’t Live Without, so let’s take a look at why this might be.

  1. The biggy – it’s a short story collection and not a novel.
  2. This promotion was midweek, whereas CLW was over the weekend.
  3. I didn’t get on the big list with Digital Book Today, which I think accounted for most of my US downloads last time.

Other interesting differences are what happened after the promo ended. Can’t Live Without went back to paid-for and within hours had shot up the charts, staying in the top 100 for over 3 weeks, gaining me literally thousands of sales. A Life Unpredicted, since the promo ended, has sold … 5. Not quite the same effect 😉

But the really interesting thing has been the effect on sales of Can’t Live Without. You’ll remember that ALU has three free chapters at the end, with a direct link to buy the book. Sales of CLW have increased over the last few days, both here and in the US. Not by much, but a noticeable turnaround on the typical downward trend or steady trend of trickle-sales. I haven’t done any other promotion of CLW this week, so the effect must be because of increased interest on the back of the short story collection.

Overall, I feel it was a great success. It cost me nothing (remember, the general feeling is that free downloads are not lost sales, as many of the readers would not have downloaded the book had it not been free), and I’ve now reached over 3,000 new readers, exposed them to my writing and given them a taster of Can’t Live Without. This can only be a good thing.

Thanks to everyone who supported my free promotion and downloaded a book, tweeted, Facebook shared or anything else. You are fab!

Free Promo Results for Can’t Live Without

It’s Free! Download A Life Unpredicted Free This Week

My first free promo of A Life Unpredicted starts today, and runs until Friday. If you haven’t already downloaded a copy of this collection of short stories, please grab yours now – the more people who download on the first day, the more chance of the collection getting seen by others. So please help me out – Tweet, share, and recommend! As always, I’ll share my results of the free promo when it’s finished, but as this is a short story collection and not a novel, I’m not expecting it to do as well as Can’t Live Without.

Still, we can try! 🙂

Click here to download A Life Unpredicted for FREE!

That Sinking Feeling

It’s Saturday evening, and I should be living it up with hubby in front of the TV with a takeaway and a bottle of wine. Instead I’m penning a blog post about plummeting book sales. I just need to vent! Don’t shoot me 😉

I’ve watched my sales and Amazon ranking for Can’t Live Without drop steadily since the wonderful uplift the free promo gave me back in July. The downward trend had been pretty continual until a week or so back when a couple of serendipitous promotional items turned it around temporarily. Very temporarily. For some time, CLW hung on around the 3,000 – 6,000 mark on Amazon, very occasionally going above or below this. The last six weeks’ sales have been 59, 48, 33, 30, 53, 37. This week’s figures aren’t in yet, but it looks to be around 20. And the big shocker is CLW’s ranking – it’s plummeted to 13,000. Not even two fantastic new 5 star reviews have helped to push it back up the chart!

The ups and downs of book sales

It’s all relative, isn’t it? Before the free promo, I was chuffed to get 1 sale a day, and a ranking of between 20,000 and 40,000 was amazing. I need to get my head around getting used to this again, and not stress it. Yes, I could probably turn this around again if I spent tons of time promoting the title, and finding new ways to reach readers, and maybe paying for some advertising. And I will do all those things soon, and more. But right now I’m writing. I’m doing a bit of promotion, but not tons. I’m in ‘creative mode’ and it’s just impossible to do everything at once.

This is the lot of indie authors. A little bit of success is so hard to maintain, as it requires complete and continuous effort. But you’ve still got to get the next book written, and then do it all over again. And when your book has been up there in the top 100, it’s really hard to see it fall … and fall … and fall.

OK – I feel better now. Off for that glass of wine. Thanks for listening 🙂

How Many Books Have I Sold So Far?

Back in July I did my first post about sales figures and downloads – it has always been my aim to share everything with my blog-followers, warts and all. Back then I was still £181 in the red, but hoping to break even in a month or so.

What a difference a free Kindle promotion makes! I’ve now more than covered my costs, and Can’t Live Without is finally starting to feel like a success to me. So my new committment is to simply post my download figures and paperback sales each month. I might even do a D.D. Scott and keep an updated sidebar of downloads on the blog.

First of all, here are the figures from July’s post for comparison (16th May to 12th July):

Number of copies downloaded from Kindle: 159
Number of paperback copies sold (all by hand so far): 21
Number of paperback copies given away as gifts/reviews/promotions: 10
Number of paperback copies taken for stock as sale or return by bookshops: 3

And now (up to 1st Sept) …

Kindle: 3,548
Free Kindle downloads: 10,210
Paperbacks: 86
Gifts/review/promotional copies (PB): 15
Stock for sale or return by bookshops: 10

Looking good 🙂 Sales have slowed a lot since the promo kept the book high in the charts for a few weeks, but now Can’t Live Without is showing up on quite a few Customers Also Bought pages, which I think keeps sales ticking over as I’ve been very rubbish at promoting the book lately. At the moment I’m averaging about 50 downloads a week. So, what do you think? Seems to me that the results show that the free Kindle promotion is really worthwhile – has anyone else had good results with this? And what about keeping up the momentum? Over to you …

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