woman on the edge of reality cover

Having faith in FREE or feeling the fear and doing it anyway

A little over a week ago I posted that I was about to try the new Kindle Lending Programme which gave me the chance to try offering Woman on the Edge of Reality free for up to five days. I must admit to having a lot of trepidation, I mean I had done very little marketing up till this point having hoped (vainly it turned out) that the fact that I had a lovely and loyal following with the Hysterectomy Association would carry me through … that’s not to say that they don’t still like me, just that I’d made that classic mistake and one which I’m always telling clients not to make and that is mixing up your markets .. it just doesn’t work!

Anyways, I was also reluctant because somehow non-fiction seems less personal than fiction and although the books before had also been my ‘babies’ none were in the league that this one had seemed to create. I was literally terrified that it would bomb and I’d look completely foolish and that everyone would hate it and post dreadful reviews and that I’d have to leave the country, change my name and get a new hairstyle … you get the picture I hope!

So now I’m feeding back on what I’ve learned so far …

I started quietly with a giveaway on Goodreads, after all a wise friend has said on many occasions that you shouldn’t be afraid to give books away to build your reputation and after Catherine Ryan Howard had also bashed me on the head about being prepared to send books worldwide in a giveaway in her book Self Printed I bit the bullet and did so.

Six copies were given away one month later and over 400 people requested it, I was hooked. In fact I should have known better than to question it anyway as I’ve used the same principle on the Hysterectomy Association with our free eBook for over 8 years, but somehow I’d forgotten all that learning … duh!

It felt like I’d given myself a bit of a springboard from which to take the leap into the water that I thought was going to be cold, horrible and slimy.

On Monday 21st May I made the Kindle version free and crossed my fingers to see what happened next. Initially I’d made it free for just two days but by the end of day one it had made it into the UK Top 100 Free books and was also being listed in the Top 100 Free on some categories too. I bit the bullet a second time and decided to use all five of my free days at once to see how far I could get it up the ‘charts’.

By the 22nd May (just one day later) it was at Number 37 on the Top 100 Free in the UK Kindle Lists and by the end of the week it finished at Number 6.

It was downloaded a total of 4486 times in the UK, 931 times in the US, 50 times in Germany, twice in France, twice in Spain and not at all in Italy. It was only after the free period ended that I realised that a lot of the time I’d be giving out the UK amazon address and not the US one. As far as I’m concerned though that didn’t matter, this is where I live and this is where I’d like to be successful too.

The end of the free five days came at 7.00am last Saturday morning and I was in bed … I completely forgot to check the exact place it had arrived at and I really didn’t want to check what happened next. My assumption was that the book would now bomb out of the listings altogether and return to its usual placement of one gazillion trillion million at the end of the book universe never to see the light of day again.

Having decided not to do anything but just wait I had to curb my insatiable desire to try to force things to happen by getting on Twitter, Goodreads and Facebook to try to keep it alive, even it was going to be hooked up to a drip and in ICU. I needed to find out for myself (and my clients) exactly what the effect of a freebie offer on Kindle could be without any further intervention on my part.

By the evening I could contain my curiosity no further – although I did promise myself (and Stevie) to stay away from any form of marketing whatsoever …..!

Shock, horror, scream, surprise … the book had maintained a listing … and a pretty good one at that because I’d started selling books too.

By Saturday night just 12 hours after the free listing had ended I’d sold more copies of the book (even if it was in Kindle format) than I’d sold since I published it in December (remember I told you I’d done NO marketing at all up to this point). It was at Number 605 Paid in the Kindle Store and had the following rankings in categories too:

  1. #24 Books/Fiction/Women Writers
  2. #34 Kindlestore/books/fiction/romance/contemporary
  3. #49 books/fiction/romance/adult and contemporary

Note: two of those categories are for PAPERBACK VERSIONS  of the book and not the Kindle version, which means that the Kindle freebie had a knock on effect too … that’s a brilliant result!.

I headed off to bed with a little spring in my step and with the assumption that this was just a bounce and that by the morrow it would all have sorted itself out and I’d definitely be back in obscurity again.

But here I am four days later and the status has been maintained, nay improved dramatically because the Kindle book is now sitting at Number 209 in the Paid Kindle Store and at Number 9 in Women Writers, Number 11 in kindle contemporary romance and Number 21 in adult and contemporary.

I have no idea whether this trend will continue or whether it will, at some point, revert to its previous status but I can tell you one thing, my faith in Free has paid off and I will definitely be doing it again.

Before I finish though I have to hold my hand up and say that I finally put all my online marketing experience into making this work for that free period. You could be forgiven for assuming that because I work with clients on this day in and day out that I’d have done it from the outset; but working in social media strategy and online marketing is a bit like the mechanic with the worst car on the road and the builder whose house is falling down – your own projects tend to be at the end of a very, very long queue.  Therefore, another thing I’ve learned is that I won’t be doing that again either.

I shall do regular updates on how things go over the next few weeks but for this first week though I’m trying my hardest to sit on my hands and do no marketing just to see what happens. Next week, if the listings are holding then I’ll do some more marketing and in a month or so when I feedback I’ll let you all know what works, what doesn’t and exactly how I did it.

Oh, and by the way that water which I thought would be cold and slimy turned out to be warm and azure blue …. 🙂

Updated: 30/05/2012 I wrote this post yesterday morning and scheduled it for today (should have posted yestereday but hey never mind, you got tales of t’internet instead.  Anyway, it has dropped back to No.380 this morning and I’m waiting to see what happens next. I really wish I’d got a screen capture of yesterday’s results I think I’d have framed it and popped it on the wall in the office 🙂

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  1. Hi Linda, In reply to my Last Pirate at Fort Matanzas being the last of the books I produce–I have just placed pirate book chapters on Wattpad and in addition (yesterday) added the first few chapters of Slush Pile Inspector on Wattpad–I am known as Puppyfundriver (see avatar). Several of my friends are impressed with your site and they have asked me about the pirate book and your site. All my 5 books are available on Amazon & Kindle (2 novels, 2 novellas, memoir). IMO all writers, authors, literary agents, editors, publishers, and movie producers should read Slush Pile Inspector to relax and remove all stress from their lives. Thanks, Charles

  2. Hi Linda, I’ve been reading your advice on several topics, and based on one of your mentions of the importance of saying “Thank You;” I wanted to thank you again for featuring me on your “Thursday Throng” interview for Last Pirate at Fort Matanzas. Some of my friends expressed interest in reading my parody of the 16th Century treasure trade woven into an historical fiction surprise plot. Based on emails from them, it was obvious they had the impression that selling books was a “piece of cake.” And I guess that’s good not to break their bubbles thinking I live in a dream world fueled by royalties (far from it). My upcoming experiment is scheduled on KDP Amazon (US & UK) featuring 4 of my books on the ascending price clock from 1 Feb.-7 Feb. 2014. As far as “about me” material that you stressed in your posts, memoir Miss Williams should be more than anyone really wants to know about the author (poor boy somehow survives with advice from and for others). As stated in my interview, Slush Pile Inspector is a romp thru America with a protagonist as perhaps the world’s worst literary agent (big novel). Atlantic City Nazi is a showgirl before WWII — influential in regard to the Hindenburg tragedy (thriller spy novel with a moral of don’t get led astray because of what can happen). Tango Boat Dancers (novella) a fun ride based on problem solving (brainstorming techniques) used in business. Well anyhow, Thanks again. Charles

  3. Actually, the KDP tie only limits you to e-versions and not paperbacks or hardbacks – go for it, given that it’s easy to order just a few copies these days I don’t think you’ll regret it and imagine all the Christmas pressies you could have ready made Ruby 🙂

  4. Thanks for coming back to me so quickly, really appreciated 🙂 I think once I have come out of the KDP tie in period I will look to getting a few physical copies. I’ve registered with your site now, so really look forward to reading your posts. I admire your stamina. Best wishes.

  5. Hi Ruby, glad you liked the updates. I removed them from Seeker News because people started responding there insteado of here 🙁 Anyway, it’s an interesting question and not one which is answered quickly. You aren’t the first person to have asked either so I think a longer post is called for and I shall probably write one next week if that’s OK. In brief though – Yes, I do think you’re limited your options by just having the e-version. For example, you can’t do a giveaway on Goodreads with an ebook; you can’t send them out for review (unless the reviewer is someone like me and happy to have them on their kindle); giveaways work better when people think they are getting something physical to hold; how do you give people a copy if they ask you at a networking meeting? I have physical copies of all my books except the Twitter book and that’s only because I haven’t got around to it yet. I sell as many physical copies through my own online stores (on other sites) and through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Other Online Bookstores as I do e-versions of each book.

  6. Hi Linda. I’ve enjoyed reading your various articles through ‘Seeker News’. In particular, a very belated thanks for this article, which came just at the right time when I ‘launched’ my ebook on Kindle. I took your advice and went free for 3 days and had around 500 downloads altogether. The follow-up, as a paid version, has been pretty grim, but I understand how difficult it can be to raise the profile of a book on Amazon.

    I wonder whether you would be kind enough to say whether you think it is best to have a ‘paper’ version of a book – am I severely limiting my options by just going the ebook route do you think? Kind regards.

  7. What a lovely review and thank you and I’m glad you spotted the house as a metaphor too – looking back on it I could have made more of it but in the end the length of the book was about right I think. I’m amazed at the problems that seem to be caused by Amazon. My other website (the hysterectomy association) sells products both physical and virtual all over the world and people just buy from the one place wherever they are. The payment processor sorts out the conversions as I just have everyone pay in Sterling ….!! I’ve followed both your blogs and I’ll be interested to see what books you review next. You mention you’re an author, do you have a book handy anywhere to see 🙂 BTW, thanks so much for the tweet about it too – I really did appreciate it.

  8. Hi Linda, I’m one of the many who picked up your book for free! I’m a blogger and author and a Kindle junkie! I’ve also used the free days for my book, which got to No.23 and then bombed – but I’d expected that! One of my blogs is on book reviews, and I wrote about your book recently – I loved it!

    I was interested in your comment about which Amazon you were on and promoting, I had mine on both but the USA downloads far outstripped the UK. I found your book on the .uk list, but because I live in Austria and due to copyright laws, I had to download it on .com, ridiculous – and when I buy I have to do it on.de in Euros so I don’t get stung on currency changing! The UK and USA markets seem quite different and finding a book that appeals to both markets is difficult, I’ve had similar comments on this from other authors.

    Thanks for your wonderful book, I’d love to hear what you think of my review. My main blog about life in Austria is on http://annarashbrook.wordpress.com/

    Best wishes