Final Results (Freebie Promo)

Final post in the series Lessons Learned from the INFECTED giveaway.

Okay, I promised a final analysis and now–two weeks after the promotion–I’m ready to deliver. Here you’ll see the good, the bad, and the ugly. Time for some results, flaws and all.

Thanks, random sign holder!

The Good

If you recall the results from Day One, my pre-promo sales of INFECTED were low (if not stable) and my sales ranking was a sad state of affairs (jumping between 40k and 100k depending on how recent the day’s sale occurred). INFECTED had never cracked the 20k sales ranking in its history.

The giveaway crushed those numbers.

Best sales rank post-promo, 12 January.
Best sales rank in the paid store, post-promo, 12 January.
January Sales Data: Red indicates the Free promo days. Yellow is a holiday.
INFECTED January Sales Data: Red indicates the Free promo days. Yellow is a holiday.

My post-giveaway numbers are (knock on wood) staying higher than they were before the promotion. The weekend after the promotion saw 79 combined sales and borrows and nearly paid for the whole promo just using those two days. Note that these numbers do not include foreign sales or paperback units, both of which have increased.

Another huge win in the ‘Good’ category is increased discoverability. This may seem strange, but before the promo I had to tell people to search amazon for “Click Your Poison” to find the book, because there were too many things called “Infected” in the kindle store (164 as of publishing this article). Now, I’m the #1 search result, which is huge.

Top INFECTED searchLESSON LEARNED: This is tangential to a promo, but important enough to share. When I originally wrote the story for INFECTED in early 2008, there was nothing out there with that title. When I published the kindle version a little over a year ago, I didn’t bother to check if the title was taken. Granted, you can’t copyright a title, but you don’t want to exist in the shadow of another book either.

The Bad

I did not crack the Top 20 overall free kindle books. This was one of my goals, and I’d missed it. I wanted to be the #1 free book if truth be told, but that didn’t happen. Still, I feel like I did everything in my power to promote the book. In the end, horror just isn’t as popular as genres such as romance. Nothing I can do about that. I write books that I would like to read.

MURDERED sales numbers have not seen a significant post-promo boost. In fact, the sales are worse than they were before the promo.

MURDERED January Sales Data: Green indicates the Free promo days. Yellow is a holiday.
MURDERED January Sales Data: Green indicates the Free promo days. Yellow is a holiday.

You’ll see there was a boost on the last day of the promotion which carried only so far as the day after. Why the drop? I’m not doing anything to promote the book right now, and the buzz is centered directly around INFECTED, so my new release is starting to stagnate. Will it go up once people have more of a chance to read the first book and start looking for more in the series? Time will tell.

The Ugly

The book has gained 12 new reviews since the promo began. This is a good thing. What makes it ugly, is that 1/3 of them were negative. From what I’ve read and seen from other authors, this isn’t all that uncommon. I’ve also heard that negative reviews can help your book, because it makes it seem more genuine. Pre-promo, my 48 reviews were all 4 or 5 stars, giving some people the (false!) impression that I’d paid or begged for positive reviews. If I’m lucky, this’ll shut some of those people up.

What makes some of these reviews ugly isn’t that some people didn’t like the book (I can deal with that), it’s that they actively tried to hurt my success. The first negative review was entitled, Don’t pay for this.” Not much of an opinion so much as a command.

Another reviewer attacked the originality of the book, stating that I stole ideas from The Walking Dead because I set my survivor group up in a prison. Tangent alert! When I wrote the book, I set my survivor group in a prison a year before the cast did so on The Walking Dead. It’s a smart place to go in the event of the zombie apocalypse. But Parallel Development does happen.

Okay, enough of that. Time for…

The Final Word

LESSONS LEARNED:
DO use BookBub.
DO prepare beforehand.
DO share word of the promo with your fans, and if people spread the word, DO say thanks.
DO NOT sweat over the results. What will be, will be.
DO NOT let the bad reviews get to you.
DO learn from your mistakes.

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INFECTED Promo Results (Day One)

As promised, here are my results and Lessons Learned from the INFECTED giveaway.

What did this do to you? Tell me. And remember, this is for posterity so be honest. How do you feel?” — Count Rugen, The Princess Bride

January 7th
With everything set up to go the night before, one last stat-check. Below you can see my pre-giveaway sales numbers and the ranking for INFECTED. In the spirit of honesty, I’m sharing my less than stellar numbers. Hopefully that means you won’t mind my bragging after the promotion, right?!

NOTE: CLICK ALL IMAGES TO ENLARGE

Sales numbers as of 1730, January 7th.
Sales numbers as of 1730, January 7th.

Yowza! Impressive, right?
Yowza! Impressive, right? [/sarcasm_font]
INFECTED has been oddly steady over the past year, garnering almost exactly 2 sales per day (+/- 1). Usually, it’ll jump to somewhere in the mid #40k rankings, then return to the #100k block until the next day’s sales. MURDERED, as you can see, is still building momentum. Hopefully, that should be one of the side-effects of this promotion. INFECTED has never gone lower (higher?) than #19k in the kindle store, while MURDERED made it to mid #12k. Goal is to crush those records in the coming days. Well, time for bed!

January 8th
Good morning! With Kindle Fire Department set to announce me today, as well as a whole slew of free resources (most of them ask for a giveaway window and there’s no garauntee that they will feature your book, let alone when they’ll do it. It is a free service, after all. I’ll assess which ones worked and which didn’t in my final thoughts), we’re ready to kick off the free promotion. Let’s check the overnight stats:

Downloads as of 0600, Jan 8th
82 Downloads as of 0600, January 8th.
Blah
Numbers are already higher than paid numbers, not that this means anything.

This is before any site announced the giveaway, as far as I know. Interesting that one person bought the book before it went on sale… Thanks, whoever you are! The goal of the promotion is to get your rank as high as possible — it’s a race to #1. If you can make it into the top #20 or #10, then people will start downloading your book just from browsing the top free ebooks on amazon, thus increasing the snowball effect.

In addition to the websites listed on my previous post, it’s also important to do your own marketing. As such, I blogged about the giveaway, tweeted the heck out of it (including a link in my “welcome DM” on @clickyourpoison), and created an event on goodreads and on facebook:

An event is a great tool because it sends a notification rather than risking being lost in the feed. Be careful not to hound your friends too much...
An event is a great tool because it sends a notification to those invited (rather than risking being lost in the feed). Be careful not to hound your friends too much though…

Let’s check the mid-day numbers, after the promotion has been announced:

dfdf
909 Downloads as of 1400, January 8th.
BOOM! Big jump. Off to a great start.
BOOM! Big jump. Off to a great start.

Okay, so from what I’ve researched, these are awesome numbers. Especially for an author with a small fan-base who has never done anything like this before. Which leads us to the first lesson learned. Yup, I’ve already made a mistake.

LESSON LEARNED: Categories. See how I’m already #6 in Horror > Occult? That’s actually not a good thing this early into the promotion. I originally chose this category as “low-hanging fruit” because it’s easy to climb the chart (there aren’t too many books competing for space). Which is a good thing when you’re trying to keep your paid ranking high, but when you’re doing a free promotion, you should shoot the moon. So, I looked up the bestselling books most similar to mine and mirrored their categories. I settled on Science Fiction > Post-Apocalyptic and Horror > United States. I called Amazon customer support to get them to quickly change my categories, so hopefully within 24 hours the rankings will be fixed. Lesson Learned? Update your “shoot the moon” categories before your promotion.

Okay, took a hike just to get away from the craziness, then spent the late afternoon/evening posting on facebook groups and tweeting. I had joined several “zombie fan” groups on facebook in the weeks prior, and now used the opportunity to spread the word. When you’re offering something free, most people don’t mind.

Let’s check the numbers once more before bed, shall we? Okay!

Downloads as of 2200, January 8th.
2236 Downloads as of 2200, January 8th.
Already updated the categories, nice!
Already updated the categories, nice!

In addition to all the free downloads, that’s also 4 sales of MURDERED in 24 hours. Great first day, see you tomorrow!

Continue to INFECTED Promo Results (Day Two)

Free love, Fanfic, and Pirates, Argh

Okay, so last week I posted about my move over to Amazon. It’s currently in progress, but some of these sites take a couple of weeks from when you edit your book to respond. Which, really, is a major indicator that Amazon has their stuff together way more than the other retailers. If I make a change in price, or an edit to the manuscript, Amazon has posted the new information within a couple of hours, 24 hours max. The other retailers, I’ll remind you, take a couple of weeks. That’s ridiculous. If the other retailers moved as fast as Amazon, you could do your low-price promotions without going exclusive. But trying to wrangle them into appearing all at the same time (a pre-announced time) would be a bit like trying to herd cats. Good luck with that.

.

Now then, the results of my giveaway trial for “Corporate Zombie” using KDP Select. Prior to the giveaway, I had the story available for free on my website. Then I moved it to Amazon in August of 2012, to prepare for my future as a published author. I’ve sold a total of 27 copies at $0.99 since August. Last Tuesday-Friday, I gave away 128 copies for free in 6 different countries.

Three days after the end of the giveaway, I’ve not yet had any new paid sales. HOWEVER, you can see that my numbers are tiny. In a “real” giveaway, you need to give thousands of copies away in order to see a difference. I only spread the word on facebook and twitter, and even then using only casual posts. So — lesson learned #1 — you have to advertise your giveaway. Yes, you need to pay to spread the word about your free book. It’s counter intuitive, but it works. I’ve seen the numbers from other authors.

During the giveaway, I recieved a new 4-star review on the story entitled “Great short story”:

A great little short story that is a real page turner. A refreshing variation on a zombie story, from the corporate side. I don’t think a 6-page story is worth $0.99, but as a freebie, a very good read.”

First this, then lesson #2:

Soap Box
“Not worth a buck? What is worth a $1? A can of soda? A snickers bar? Let me guess, you assume I spent 10-minutes writing a perfectly edited, plotted out, final draft of the story, happened to have a cover already created, and spent another 5 minutes slapping it up on Amazon. Sound about right? Sheesh.

Alright, off my soap box. Lesson learned #2: Most readers don’t value individual short stories. I already knew this based on my previous sales, but the event & review confirms it. So, if you have short stories, go with an anthology. I hope to “replace” my individual shorts with an anthology some time around this summer.

I also haven’t seen any sort of boost in my other titles. Which, I realized a little too late, is lesson #3: Link your other titles at the end of your books. Don’t expect the reader to find them on their own.

Silver lining: There are 128 people out there who were introduced to my work. Though I love this story, I haven’t had a sale of “Corporate Zombie” since November. So I don’t really feel like I “lost” anything.

Recap: Advertise, Anthologize, Link-ize.

Now for the fanfic and pirates.

Pirate fanfic
I imagine the mashup something like this.

While googling to see if INFECTED had disappeared from other e-tailers (see what I did there?), I found out that I’m much more on the cusp of “making it” than I realized. I’ve been content thus far with relative obscurity. People read my book, like it, tell me so, I feel good, and I write the occasisonal blog post that maybe 10-20 people read. But now, I’ve been noticed: someone wrote INFECTED fan fiction, and (unrelated) someone has pirated the book.

Gasp!

For the fan fiction, I don’t want to embarrass the author too much, but sufice it to say that it exists. I’m flattered. If you really want to see the link, I posted it on my facebook page.

The piracy, however, is a different matter altogether. There’s a website offering an INFECTED  .doc, .pdf, and .epub rip at the low, low price of $Free-95.

Yes, I realize the irony that once I’ve considered book giveaways I discover that someone else has beat me to the punch.

But, obviously, there’s little benefit to me on the piracy site. According to the website, the book has been illegally downloaded almost 200 times since January 24th. Which is more than I’ve had in paid sales over those last two months. The wound is still a little fresh and has left me dazed. I’m unsure what I can or will do about it, but if there are any of you out there with experiences in this arena, I’d love to hear them. I’ll do some research and make another update in the next few days.

Hmm… not fun.

UPDATE: Part Two

RESULTS — Online Oscar Pool

Okay, so I hope no one went out and put money on my picks. I voted with my heart, not with my head–that is to say… I got crushed.

Sad Oscar

Here are this year’s winning filmmakers:

Best Picture (3 pts): Argo
Directing (2 pts): Life of Pi
Original Screenplay (2 pts): Django Unchained
Adapted Screenplay (2 pts): Argo
Leading Actor (2 pts): Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln”
Leading Actress (2 pts): Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Supporting Actor (2 pts): Christoph Waltz
Supporting Actress (2 pts): Anne Hathaway in “Les Misérables”
Production Design (1 pt): Lincoln
Documentary Feature (1 pt): SUGAR MAN
Documentary Short(1 pt): “Inocente”
Animated Short(1 pt): “Paperman”
Live Action Short Film (1 pt): CURFEW
Foreign Language Film (1 pt): “Amour” – Austria
Animated Feature (1 pt): BRAVE
Film Editing (1 pt): ARGO
Sound Editing (1 pt): SKYFALL & ZD30
Sound Mixing (1 pt): LES MIS
Cinematography (1 pt): “Life of Pi”
Visual Effects (1 pt): “Life of Pi”
Costume Design (1 pt): ANNA KARANINA
Makeup and Hairstyling (1 pt): LES MIS
Original Score (1 pt): LIFE OF PI
Original Song (1 pt): “Skyfall” from “Skyfall”

Out of a possible 32 points, our winning entrant earned 26. I earned 9.

This is how I looked after tallying the results.

I’d like to think this means there were a lot of excellent contenders this year. However, I promised a free e-copy of INFECTED to anyone who beat me… and just about everyone did.

Winners, expect a confirmation email soon. Thanks for playing, everyone!