On June 4, 2012, I wrote a blog entitled “Going Free as a Group–Does it Still Work?” I published the blog right before I banded together with seven other great authors to gain maximum exposure for our two free days (June 4th and 5th). The event was called #Reads4Free.
Quite honestly, I was a bit skeptical regarding what type of results we would get. After all, none of us had ever organized an event of that magnitude before. Right as the event was getting ready to start, I had resigned myself to the possibility that the countless hours we had poured into preparation would not yield the results we wanted. Results that were intimately tied to the excitement we all felt about the event.
FORTUNATELY, THE DOUBTS WERE ILL-FOUNDED
What occurred June 4th and 5th was actually a bit startling. Let’s start with some of the stats. Seven of the eight books involved hit the top 100 free books on Amazon. Doug Dorow’s “The Ninth District” topped out at #5 overall. Rob Guthrie’s “Black Beast” topped out at #9 overall. My second thriller, “Allegiance,” reached #15. Elise Stokes’ second YA adventure book, “Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula,” reached the top 35. The only book not to reach the top 100 still performed extremely well for its genre–anthologies–which generally do not climb as high as individual novels.
IN ALL, WE SURPASSED 75K DOWNLOADS IN THIS SINGLE EVENT
Gulp. Yeah. Over 75k books downloaded in the first #Reads4Free event. A first event where we undoubtedly had hiccups and mistakes. A first event where kinks will be ironed out for #Reads4Free redux.
Climbing the free charts is exciting and worthwhile in its own respect. It means you got exposure. People have your book in their reading device, and setting aside debates as to whether they will read it, the first step in doing so is owning it. However, we’re in this profession for another reason, as well. To make some money. Especially as indie authors, we are juggling a job (or multiple jobs), families, marketing, promoting, networking, events, etc., so more than anyone else, we are relentless about the pursuit of our singular dream–making writing our full-time and only job.
So, it was important to track books after the free event, and how they performed once they went paid. It was painfully obvious that the heyday of KDPS had passed. With the numbers of downloads each of our books received, some of those books should have gotten into the top 50 paid books as well. In the US at least, Doug Dorow’s book was the only one to reach that level. However, fear not (at least, not yet) because there was a positive impact on most of our books. Specifically, all of us had a nice bump in paid sales that we were able to maintain with other methods such as pricing and advertising.
Here are the things I took away from the event:
- Going free on your own and doing no pre-free preparation is absolutely off the table. Won’t work, and in fact, could hurt your rankings.
- Going free as a group that works hard and works together is still viable.
- Going back to paid is a rough ride, but through pricing and particularly, with some well placed ads, you can mitigate that transition.
That’s dem apples. If you’re interested in being a part of a future event, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.