Friday, January 6, 2012

Kindle Select Free Books

Like many other novelists, I've been making some of my e-books available to the Kindle Prime lending program, and taking advantage of the promotion to make my titles free for 5 days out of 90. This weekend, January 6-8, it will be bookfest, since three of my titles will be up for free download. (BAD TRIP SOUTH, HORROR TALES, and HORROR TALES 2) Yesterday I had put up WIREMAN, my first novel from 1984, for free and had more than 2000 downloads. The book made it up to 34th place out of the Top 100 Kindle/Mystery/Thriller titles and 311 in the overall free Kindle store of 15,000 titles.

Why are authors giving away their books? It appears that being generous this way introduces our work to some new readers and rewards our fans. It is publicity and promotion by the largest digital book seller in the world. More than one fourth of the 2000 downloads for WIREMAN were from the UK, and I had a few downloads from Germany, Italy, and Spain. As a writer, this makes me happy. Some might see it as having lost 2000 sales. But that's not true. It's 2000 people, the majority of whom have never read a Mosiman book before and might never have known of my work otherwise, and some of them will like my work enough to buy more books.  Some kind souls might even leave reviews.

My cash sales have increased, but I can't tell for sure by how much since the dashboard for Kindle Direct Publishing hasn't updated the past six weeks' sales data since December 31. Once it updates, I'll know for sure.

Is it a good idea for all authors to make their books free? I'd say no. I have 16 titles on Kindle so I can put 7 of them in the program and keep all my other books available for the Nook, Kobo, Sony, Diesel, and Apple. (Joining the Kindle Select program requires you make your books in the program available exclusively to Kindle.)  If I had 4 or less titles up, I would not join this program.  It means the book is completely tied up on Amazon for three months.

I see a mad rush of authors joining Select and making books free. I'm not sure this is a sustainable system or that it will be a good idea to use the program in another two or three months. The market may be saturated to the hilt by then, although over the Christmas season it is said there were 4 million Kindle Fires sold. That's 4 million readers looking for books. Still, I don't know how long it will be useful to authors to join the exclusive program and make free book promotions. Maybe I can write another blog about it in a couple of months, when I know more how it works out.

So far I'm having a good time, I'm getting more sales, more reviews, and a big promotional boost on the Kindle site. For right now that's great. I have no complaints. Stay tuned for updates...and enjoy a few free books on me.

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