You’re reading Part 2 of a three post series about the results of offering my book for free on Amazon through their Kindle Select program. You can start with Part 1 here.

BookDaddy Issues: One Act Play

Available in: Paperback and eBook

Needed exposure because: This is a pretty new title (released in July 2011) but it’s a harder sell. For starters, it’s a play and for some reason theatre people are some of the most resistant to eBooks. It’s also a 1 Act drama for adults from an author best know for a full length comedy for high schools. I really didn’t care about sales with this one, I really just wanted more copies out there in the hopes that it meant more productions. (Because, remember, giving copies away was how I got my original play to become so popular.)

It was free from: January 9th, 2012 through January 13th, 2012

Total free copies downloaded: 110

How did we promote the free promotion? As this book was actually by me, I shared it on Facebook and my friends passed it around a bit. I also did a blog post a day about the play, four on my personal blog and one over here. There were also a few tweets.

During the free promotion: Unlike with the other book, there was no immediate spike in sales which just farther convinced me those downloads were just from the work holiday. I had already set this promo up before the other promo ended otherwise I would have moved it to a weekend. Based on the increase I saw once I shared it on Facebook, I really think a large percentage of the downloads were family and friends, ie people I actually know in real life.

After the free promotion ended: Here’s the part we care about, right? What did giving the book away mean for sales after the fact?

  • Sales rank: It reached the bestseller list for Acting and Performance during the promotion but we started to slip even before the promo was over. After the promo, sales rank had an increase but nothing to write home about.
  • Paperback sales: We haven’t had a single paperback sale since the promo ended. Eep!
  •  eBook sales: We’ve sold 3 copies since the promo ended. Pretty much the same as sales have always been.

BUT… This book is a funny case and here’s why. From the numbers I just gave you, it looks like it was a failure, right? Except that I don’t feel like it was because even though there were less downloads, they were higher quality downloads. It’s like this: You could give a free sample to someone who just takes it and tells no one. But if your free sample ends up in the hands of someone who will talk your product up and give you word of mouth, you feel like you got a higher value for that second freebie other the first one, right?

Of these 110 free downloads, two of those people took the time to write up reviews of the book on Amazon which will help both this one book and my career in general for years to come. Several of those 110 shared the promo on Facebook so, even if their friends didn’t download a copy, they are at least that much more likely to have heard of me now and to buy my next book. And, most importantly, several complete strangers emailed me to talk about how much they’d enjoyed the play. Several were already talking about who they were going to show it to because so and so would love it.

So while this promo wasn’t a win for an increase of sales, it was definitely a win for increased exposure and clearly resulted in creating some genuine new fans for my work. I’m not sure that you can put a price tag on something like that. Anyway, my point here is that, no this promo didn’t mean much more sales for this title. But I still think it was worth doing for the reasons above.

Lessons Learned from this Promo: 
  • I’m really not comparing apples to apples here. The first book I did this promo with was a parody of a bestselling book with a variety of big keyword connections. This was a short play from an author best known for something completely different with almost no keyword connections other than my name. Do with that info what you will.
  • I really should have done this on a weekend, I think. I was in a normal selling mindset when I picked a work week not thinking that obviously people would be more likely to be reading and looking for books on the weekend or a holiday. The next promo will definitely be on a weekend.
  • Plays are still a really hard sell as eBooks.
  • It’s a hell of a lot easier, I think, to promote your own book then someone else’s. “My company’s book is free this week” gets retweeted and shared much less often then “My book is free this week.” Never underestimate the human connection. People are more willing to do you a favor then some random company… even if you own the random company. I owe you a whole blog post on this topic at some point.
Anyway, Part 3 of this series will be coming in early March because the final book’s free promo isn’t up yet.
Any questions? Let me know below and I’d be happy to answer.